I Heart NY

I Heart NY

This past Monday night, my family had the pleasure of being included in our friends’ Holi celebration.  Holi is a Hindu spring festival also known as the festival of colors.  After a delicious pot luck meal, kids and adults alike ran around spreading brightly colored pigment on each other.  With our faces covered and all of us laughing, it was really special and pure fun.

On Tuesday, I noticed Samantha writing what looked to be Chinese.  She explained that one of her friends is teaching her Chinese on their bus ride to school.

This morning, while walking home from the gym, I couldn’t help but feel in awe looking at the beautiful sunrise reflected against Manhattan’s skyline, the Chrysler Building shining like a jewel.

On the subway up to work, two gentleman sitting next to me (one of whom was dressed in a gigantic fake fur jacket) discussed, in detail 1. how to make “ice” 2. how to smoke crack and 3. the finer points of why black people smoke crack, but white people, especially white people in trailer parks, smoke ice.

It’s been really cold and snowy all winter here, bringing out some fabulous winter fashion.  Joe spotted a woman yesterday sporting a fur muff.  The only other person I know who actually uses a muff is Samantha’s American Girl doll, Molly.

New York,  I love you!

 
Three things:

1. How do I get invited to a Holi?

2. I have a muff

3. I have to get out more

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More Photo Fun

More Photo Fun

A roundup of some interesting photo projects I’ve run across lately.  They’re not the most aesthetically challenging, but they’re pretty fun:

This one is a clever/stupid/hilarious/masochistic take on self portraiture:

http://laughingsquid.com/stuff-being-thrown-at-my-head-a-whimsical-self-portrait-series-by-kaija-straumanis/

I found this utterly fascinating:

http://www.splendidtable.org/story/photographer-takes-voyeuristic-peek-inside-refrigerators

Reminded me of the Switcheroo project I mentioned a while back:

http://flavorwire.com/441624/hip-20-somethings-swap-clothes-with-their-grandparents/view-all/

While I was in Paris, I was fortunate enough to see the Henri Cartier Bresson exhibit at the Pompidou Centre.  It was one of the most comprehensive shows ever compiled of his work, and I was completely bowled over seeing the iconic images I’d studied in art school as well as so many beautiful photos I’d never seen before.

 
There is a snake in the FREEZER!! Absolutely fascinated by the peek in the fridge…which of course is why we are best of friends. The stuff being thrown at her head was quite entertaining as well. Some damn clever folks out there!

image of Truman Capote c/o fansinaflashbulb.wordpress.com

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Paris avec Les Enfants

Paris avec Les Enfants

We just got back from a week in Paris and the best word I can use to describe our trip is magical.
It’s not that everything was perfect and the children behaved like angels, but there’s just something about that city. And, for the most part, everyone really did a great job traveling, and a good time was had by all.
There are loads of blog posts about traveling with children (though many of them are about babies and toddlers as opposed to older kids).  And, surprisingly, there’s a lot of info specifically about Paris with children.
Here’s one of the Paris lists I found most helpful because it was from the perspective of the kids themselves:
I don’t want to re-invent the wheel, but here are a few of my tips for travelling with kids and some specific Paris tips.
1.     I think the most important part of travel with kids is knowing your particular children, how they respond to change and figuring out the appropriate time/age for a specific trip.  When we were at Disney Land last year (Sara Rose was 5 and Sammy was 7) they were both at ideal ages.  All they wanted to do was go on ride after ride.  They were too old to go deep in all that princess crap and a little too young to be impressed by all the marketing of Disney goods they were surrounded by.  There was no whining, no diaper changing, no arguments, just fun.  I remember looking around at people with kids in strollers and thinking, “Why? Why would you bring such a little kid here?  What a drag to navigate around the park with a stroller and the kid is too little for most of the rides anyway.”The first time my parents took me to Europe, I was 4 years old.  Sara Rose was a very different 4 year old than I was, and I knew if we had gone then, we would have had fun, but it also would have been difficult to deal with her pre-k tantrums and difficulty moving from one task to the next.  So, we waited until this year, and it felt right for our family.
2.     The key to a happy plane ride with kids—snacks, snacks and more snacks.  I tried to keep it healthy on the way to Paris (fruits, vegetables, nuts) and, surprisingly, when presented with these choices, kids will usually go for it.  Joe is not such a fan of the healthy snack on vacation so he brought along more junkie alternatives including, on the way home, exotic chip flavors like pickle.
3.     Rent an apartment, don’t stay at a hotel. Even before we had kids, Joe and I started doing this.  It’s a great way to really get into the local culture.  In Paris, each morning, one of us would go to the local boulangerie and pick up fresh croissants and baguettes and other goodies to share for breakfast at the apartment as we planned our day’s activities.  In LA, we rented a cottage in Venice Beach, which was perfect (http://www.letters2slinkie.com/la-vacay/)
4.     Travel with friends.  This may be tricky if your travel styles are different, but as long as you go in knowing that  you’re all okay with spending all your time together or maybe some time apart (depending on how things go), it’s a win-win.  We went with another family to Paris, and it made the experience that much more fun.  The kids had other kids to play with, we had other grown-ups to hang out with and we were even able to babysit for each other so each couple was able to enjoy a date night sans kiddos.
5.     As for Paris specific suggestions:
The flower and bird market on Sundays was a big hit for us (and a nice alternative on a day when many shops are closed).
The kids enjoyed the escalators at the Pompidou Centre as much as the art.
The girls really got a kick out of the Pont des Arts (Love Lock Bridge).
If you go in Winter, the ice skating rink at front of the Hotel de Ville is in such a beautiful setting—but bring gloves—they’re required.
At least one carousel ride/day is mandatory (and easy to do—they’re everywhere!).
And, lastly, if you want to go up the Eiffel Tower, go up at night—the lines are much shorter and the lights on the tower and looking at the sparkly city below are truly breathtaking.
What are your best travel tips?
1656067_10202955052379417_2018291059_n ?
Carousel Sammy
Carousel Sara
Top of the Tower
Pompidou Centre
Crepes!
 Louvre 
 Pont des Arts
Eiffel Tower selfie
 
First off, jealousy is running deeply through me on so many levels but I will leave that aside. Great suggestions on renting the apartment. We have not done that yet, but have had great luck with house swaps (http://home-exchange-usa.com). As you know, we too have our favorite family to travel with where all the kids have a buddy as well as the parents, which adds built in entertainment even when we don’t have the energy to make it out of the hotel/rental. I am craving a european adventure and my dream would be to take each child individually on their own adventure of their choosing. I met a woman recently who treats her children to a trip upon graduating…elementary school, middle school and high school. Three kids so unfortunately pretty costly, so I can only dream….or dream smaller to make it a reality. So glad you had such a great time, it just reminds me so much of all our adventures we were so fortunate enough to share in our youth. And offering it to your children will hopefully, spur the same cravings for them as they get older.
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Story Corps

Story Corps

Do you know about Story Corps? It’s one of those things that pops in and out of my life, but every time I’m reminded of it, I remember how completely and totally awesome it is.

Now celebrating its 10th anniversary, StoryCorps is an independent nonprofit whose “mission is to provide people of all backgrounds and beliefs with the opportunity to record, share, and preserve the stories of our lives.”
Since 2003, they’ve collected and archived more than 45,000 interviews with nearly 90,000 participants. Each conversation is recorded on a free CD to share, and is preserved at the American Folklife Center at the Library of Congress. StoryCorps is one of the largest oral history projects of its kind, and millions listen to their weekly broadcasts on NPR’s Morning Edition, which is exactly how I was first introduced to it.
 
It’s impossible to choose a favorite story.  Each one is so special for both the participant and the listener.  Here’s just a few that really touched me:
What story would you tell?
 
I LOVE Story Corps! I am always so excited when I unexpectedly hear it in the morning. The stories are always so moving and a breath of fresh air amongst the other intense news of the day. Thanks so much for the link, I can’t wait to listen to more.
image c/o avrilcarpenter.com
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Queen B

Queen B

I never had any feelings about Beyonce one way or another.  She seems talented.  She’s definitely had some catchy songs over the years.

After her performance during the Superbowl half time show last year, people were up in arms about her not being a good role model, using her sexuality to get ahead, and this being a step back for feminism.  This same debate was re-ignited after her Grammy performance Sunday night.

In December, out of nowhere, she dropped her fifth studio album, Beyonce.  It happened to be the only thing on my nano, and due to my complete lack of technical anything (remember my recent discovery of the kindle) I was unable to add anything else or delete the album.  I’ve now been listening to it for over a month.  And I love it.  And I love B.  And I understand the controversy, but, at the end of the day–she’s a mega powerful superstar (with a family) who seems to be in charge of her own career.  I think that’s pretty damn impressive and a step in the right direction for feminism.

Refinery 29 posted an interesting article on the topic this week.

image c/o wallalay.com

 
These posts are making me realize how out of pop culture I am! I watched some of the Grammy’s but missed that performance. I have to say, I think Beyonce is stunning and would watch her do anything and probably think it’s okay. But that is tonight…perhaps tomorrow after I watch the performance (on youtube if possible) I would feel differently. I certainly did not like Miley’s performance those few months ago but realized it was neither here nor there for my kids. Just another Madonna moment, and we all survived with pretty good morals.
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Him

Him

I am loving me some Joaquin Phoenix right now.
Last week in a rare moment alone, I snuck away and saw the new Spike Jonze movie, Her.  The movie got a ton of press, but if you didn’t get the trickle down:
Her is set in the near future and is the story of a writer, heartbroken after a recent breakup, who develops an intimate relationship with his newly purchased operating system that’s designed to meet his every need.
I thought all the performances were great, but particularly his.  He’s in every seen of the movie, which must be so challenging.  And, to make things even harder, he’s often acting alone because the OS is there in voice only (think Siri).
I’ve noticed Joaquin here and there over the years and find him on again off again sexy.  He was vaguely on my radar when he made that fake documentary/said he was quitting acting for a career in rap and appeared on David Letterman.
This interview with Terry Gross cinched the deal for me. Joaquin, if you’re reading this, you can reach me via the comments section.
image c/o notaparticularlygreatdancer.wordpress.com from the movie gladiator
 
Because you are mentioning your interest in him and the movie, I would now consider going to see it. Otherwise, neither him nor the movie intrigued me and it was one I was just going to let pass me by.
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What the F#$k is the Polar Vortex?

What the F#$k is the Polar Vortex?

Baby it’s cold outside.

I’m not going to complain about it, and, unfortunately, I have no great strategies for how to deal with it.  It’s not pretty.

But what the hell is it? How have I lived 45 years and never heard the term “polar vortex” before?

As best as I can tell from the tiny amount of “research” (aka. trickle down info) I’ve received over the last day, it’s really, really cold air that normally hangs out in the North Pole, but has now decided to join the rest of us for a variety of weathery reasons.

As for those of you thinking you’re clever and saying, “global warming?!” As if cold air cannot possibly be explained by that phenomenon, here’s a little explanation from Scientific American that explains how the two are connected:

“More and more Arctic sea ice is melting during summer months. The more ice that melts, the more the Arctic Ocean warms. The ocean radiates much of that excess heat back to the atmosphere in winter, which disrupts the polar vortex. Data taken over the past decade indicate that when a lot of Arctic sea ice disappears in the summer, the vortex has a tendency to weaken over the subsequent winter.”

For more interesting quotes and info about our friend, the vortex, here’s a link to NPR.

Until then, have a few drinks and snuggles with those you love.

PS. Polar bears are so darn cute.  Seriously. If you’re bored under your blanket, drinking your warm beverage of choice, google image polar bear.  You will not be disappointed.

 
     

Well, you pretty much summed up what I understood from a program I heard on NPR yesterday. A long explanation, a vague understanding. Truthfully, it was super cold in DC yesterday, but if there was not all the media hype about it, I would have just thought it was a pretty cold day and carried on. Why does the media feel it necessary to make people so anxious about stuff?!

PS: I had  lived 43 years and had never heard of a derecho…but that is another discussion.

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Book Club

Book Club

Happy New Year!

So we missed the boat on holiday gift guides and end of year round ups.

I’m not sure I’m ready to make any big announcement regarding resolutions for 2014, but, I did receive a Chanukah gift this year that changed my life and is worth mentioning…a kindle.  I realize these have been around for nearly a decade, but let’s face it, I’m a slow adopter.  I had a flip phone until last year.  Seriously.

But I digress.  The point is, I love my kindle.  It’s the absolute perfect size and weight for subway commuting, which, as it turns out, is when I read the most.  And so, since receiving this phenomenal little gem, I’ve read more in the last six weeks than I read the whole rest of the year.

Two books worth mentioning:

1. The Twentieth Wife–full disclosure–I actually read this in paperback, but only because I didn’t have the kindle yet, but I may just re-read it as an e book for kicks. This book was recommended to me by my dear friend (and faithful reader of L2S), Sanyukta.  It’s historical fiction about an Indian empress.  It truly unfolds like a movie and is an absolute page turner.

2. The Goldfinch–so incredibly good.  I think it’s ruined me for the next several books I read.  In short, it’s the story of a boy who is orphaned after his mom is killed in a terrorist attack in NYC.  This is such a simple explanation of such an extraordinary book, but I really don’t want to say much more except, read this now.  I had read a bunch of reviews of this one, but when my friend, Alyssa recommended it, it was a no brainer.  She has the distinction of ALWAYS recommending books that I like.

So there you have it.  A little technology is definitely going a long way for me in 2014.

What were your favorite books that you read this past year, and what are you planning on reading in the next 12 months?

image c/o newyorker.com

 
     
Sorry for the late response. It brings me such joy to know you are reading again! I suffered through many years of no Slinkie book recommendations, so thank you to Joe and your Kindle for bringing you back into the world of books and sharing the good ones.

I have recently read an odd collection of books that somehow all had to do with death (maybe some divine intervention there). Leah offered her favorite book, The Fault in Our Stars by John Greene which was a beautiful love story about two teenagers living with cancer. Highly recommend to adults and teens alike.

The Lovely Bones and Defending Jacob were two oldies I devoured simultaneously. We are back in carpool season which means, books on tape for me in the car. A bit challenging listening to one and reading the other, but enjoyed both. Duct Tape Parenting is a parenting book that has recently changed my life. Lucas happened to see on the coffee table and blurted out after seeing the title and the illustration of parents with their mouth duct taped, “Now THAT’S a good idea!”

I just picked up The Woman Upstairs so will let you know about that one soon.

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