Bits of my weekend - Volume 4: Construction, fresh fruit, and BBQs

Sorry - no "Motherhood Mondays" this week. It had a fight with "Bits of My Weekend" and the latter won.  For more mommy ponderings, tune in next week! (Same bat-time. Same bat-channel.)

I sincerely hope you enjoyed the long weekend!  We really tackled ours head first - so there are quite a few pictures to share. I'm just AWFUL at being brief and concise. Particularly after jam-packed weekends. Maybe I just feel the need to process what I did so I can begin my week a bit more sane.  So here's a peek into my processing.

Phew! Memorial Day weekend - Vini. Vidi. Vici. For reals.

Early Saturday morning we loaded the girls up in the car and dared to travel to ....

We went in right when it opened, we loaded our cart with a new bunkbed, 2 mattresses, a bookshelf, cute storage boxes, new "everyday" dishes, and a good handful of impulse buys. We were ready to check out in 1 1/2 hours!  So we rewarded ourselves with freshly baked....


We did A LOT this weekend. But here's something that didn't get done. ::sigh::

We didn't get to assembling the new stuff from IKEA because Adam spent the afternoon prepping for Sunday. Then we took the train down to the:

(that's M86, crosstown bus that brought us to our friend's apartment in the Upper Eastside)

We had a great BBQ in their back patio (that's like a backyard grass, smaller than most suburban master-bathrooms and just a little bit of sunshine.)


The 5 Amigas and Jed hanging out on the couch.

Then Sunday I went to this place to hear this really good-looking guy talk about wisdom. Sheesh. He was gorgeous. (;-) )

The weather was too gorgeous to eat lunch inside. So we went to the benches by the American Museum of Natural History.

Qara - striking a pose by the Nobel Prize Winner monument. Maybe her name will be on there one day....?

Here's the before...

He started to put it together...

About 2 hours later, Qara and Elasia thought they should help:

It would still be another 4 hours before just the bed was finished. ::shakes fist at IKEA::   But you know what? Here's a picture of reason #35,576 why I love my husband. He organizes the dowels, nuts and screws in take-out plates.

I know. It's hard to fnd a guy like that.

Sorry to be mean, but the "after" pictures are going to be in a later post. Suffice it to say the girls slept in their new 10:00 PM. ha ha.

Memorial Day.

On my way home from the gym this morning I saw one of my favorite trees in our neighborhood and look what it had!!

Mulberries!  Yep. In the 'hood.  I live in an awesome neighborhood. I was even able to get a whole Starbucks Tall cup's worth!

Then it was time for ANOTHER barbecue! Yep. We like grilled meat a bunch in this family. (and grilled veggies...gotta stay well-rounded)  This time our BBQ was in the beautiful Maggie's Garden.


I was trying to get a picture of the ...I know there's a word for this thing...(10 points for whoever knows it) The wooden structure with grape vines crawling up it that provides a beautiful shady place to eat. ??gah, that's going to drive me crazy....??

wild strawberries in the garden.

Qara takes a whirl at our "vintage" Snoopy Sno-Cone maker.

Dirty kids + Bellies full of watermelon + lemonade = GREAT weekend.

How was yours?

Want to check out other people's weekends? Let me take you over to Michelle's blog.
Such a great tradition.

Much love from Hamilton Heights!!

AH New York: that YOU?!!?!

Although I was born here in NYC, my family moved to Florida when I was still in elementary school. Growing up in the Sunshine State almost demands that I love summer. Thankfully that worked out alright for me. (side note: the only pictures I took on this entry are the ones that have my kids in them. ;-) )

I LOVE summertime. I love sunshine. I love the big, overly pompous summer thunderstorms.  I love EVERYthing about the beach, from the obvious: seashells, soothing sounds, immensity of the ocean...   To the not so obvious: I love sneezing salt water from my nose the day after (ha. sorry if that's TMI), I love finding grains of sand in my hair even after washing it a gazillion times.  Why? Because they are reminders that the ocean is still out there and I can go BACK as soon as possible.

Yet, in this season of life, you know what I love most about summer?  The vibe here in Hamilton Heights.  It's incredible!

The music gets turned up (at ALL hours of the day or night), and the people seem to laugh louder. Everyone's sitting on the steps in front of their buildings.

Old men bring their domino boards out and challenge all these young "whipper-snappers" with their pants down to their knees to a serious game.

And when it gets really hot people open up the fire hydrants. I remember my first reaction to seeing this: "Oh NO!! What about conservation?! This is soo baaaddd..."  But then, as the years/summers passed, I started to watch (without judgement) what happened when the hydrants were open. Enjoying the cold water running in the streets is not limited to the children. Old ladies bring out lawn chairs right at the edge of the sidwalk and let their feet run in the water. Men wet "trapitos" or little wash cloths and mop off their sweat. Cars passing by get free washes. Most people (well, everyone that doesn't own a  multi-million dollar townhouse/gorgeous brownstone) don't have central A/C. If they do have a window unit, it quickly spikes up their electric bills. So, because most people in the neighborhood are always trying to save a buck or two, they rarely use them. So where do they go for relief from the unrelenting heat?  Outside. In the shade. Hopefully by an open hydrant.

Yesterday, the thermometer read 90!!! I could smell summer in the air. The sidewalks in our little neighborhood were packed with people wearing a lot less clothing then they should have been wearing. I could feel it.....Summer - is that you?!?!  And then I saw it....

Please don't call Child Services, even though it seriously looks like my two girls are going to keep running to the right and into 4 lanes of traffic zooming up and down Broadway. They even hesitated when I told them they could walk across the street and get their feet wet. Their faces said, "Really? Our slightly over-controlling, borderline OCD mother is going to let us do something spontaneous?"

Finally I showed them where they could play in the water from a safer spot.

I loved hearing their shrieks and watching them muster up the courage to get more and more wet.  We sloshed our way back to our apartment, dried off and ate some ice cream. Maybe if we act like it - summer will stay around for a while.

I love this city.

MMS: On a lighter note...

Motherhood Monday: Shout out to mothers of preschoolers! (And those who remember those trying years with fondness...)

Something about this video made me smile, feel understood, laugh out loud and yet I found myself with tears in my eyes by the end.  I blame it on the lack of sleep.

Kick back and enjoy! You are daily doing the impossible (but to make things even TRICKIER, you may be doing it invisibly too) and for that I applaud you ALL!! Feel the Mommy-love tonight!

(Note: I'm probably never going to repeat how I feel about Taylor Swift in public again - but whether you're a fan or not - I hope you enjoy this parody as much as I did!)

Bits of my weekend - Volume 3: Face paint, flowers and sugar - Oh My!

Phew - what a weekend! Looking forward to exhaling tomorrow, that's for sure.

Friday night: I have to keep reminding myself that although he may get home at 8:00 PM most nights, piggy-back rides with daddy right before bedtime are gonna be some awesome memories for these kiddos.

On our way to ballet Saturday morning: Elasia said, "Mom! The sidewalks have DIAMONDS in them!! I LOVE NEW YORK CITY!!" I replied, "Me too, baby. I love it too."

During our walk we discovered that down these stairs are...

REALLY beautiful flowers. Elasia and I are both a little obsessed with flowers this spring.

Saturday afternoon: our ultra-exciting car ride to Queens to celebrate our friend Janelle's 3rd birthday.

                      There was face painting, a COTTON CANDY MACHINE (!!!) and the mandatory tattoo application that makes every party a big success. (It was SUCH a great time!)

Sunday morning: Amazing time at All Souls Christian Church.

a small peek at our picnic in Central Park. (Ultimate frisbee, LOTS of things for kiddos), and great company.

My watercolor artist extraordinaire. (with more face paint!)

Our fancy pink roses growing in the community garden right next to our apartment building. They were just SO beautiful this weekend particularly. It's like they all decided to bloom and show off or something.

And finally...

All the "in between time" this weekend was spent staring at this guy who was hard at work - changing the world socially AND saving the world's financial markets ....all at the same time, I'm sure. (Note the laptop AND blackberry in use. Busy busy busy guy.)

That was my weekend, how was yours?
Much Love from Hamilton Heights!

To check out other people's "Bits of My Weekend" (come on, you know you're curious...ha ha.) visit the incredible Michelle's Blog.


My momma always taught us to "Laugh a lot. It's free and good for you." My husband knows the quickest way to my heart is humor. My closest friends can tell you that even though I dole out smiles and laughter generously, I'm not being insincere. I've just got a BROAD range of what I define as funny. And I love to laugh. If it's remotely funny - I'm laughing. Big belly laughs are my favorite. Closely followed by those deliriously silly I-know-it's-just-'cause-I'm-EXHAUSTED-that-this-is-so-funny-I'm-crying ones. (But those are harder to get)

Confession: I don't have the most quiet laugh either. When I was younger and would spend the night at my friend Juliette's house, we would ALWAYS get in trouble for being up too late. While she would be giggling quietly at something funny, I was trying to muffle my donkey-like ga-faws with a pillow - but it was no use. Man, did we get chewed out.  ::good times, good times::

So I thought I'd share some things I rely on for a good laugh or even just a sincere smile when life is just too lame to breathe.

"A joyful heart is good medicine..." So (lift up your glass of something delicious...right now my imaginary drink of choice it a Thai chile-cilantro martini...yum)'s crow's feet around our eyes!

(fair warning: some of this stuff is HYSTERICAL, some just so-so, some may have ::gasp:: potty mouth words, etc. Look on at your own non-judgemental leisure.)

Some links:

For the quirky Emo-types - so witty and funny:

He's brilliant and very VERY funny:

(ha ha. I had to put the one with flowers and a kitten. Because it's awesome.)

(The links could go on and let's move on to videos)

I LOVE karaoke. Especially Asian karaoke. (I ::heart:: Asia.) Especially this karaoke of Carrie Underwood's Jesus Take the Wheel.

Also - I have a soft spot in my heart for Taylor Swift. YIKES. I just said that out loud. Oh well. It's out there now. So enjoy this funny one.

Cute kid. Priceless moment caught on tape!

This is a friend of mine who ALWAYS brings a smile to my face. And if you are or have a friend/loved one who is Filipino - you're gonna LOVE her too. This is just a taste (she's all the characters AND does the editing herself!) Subscribe to her on Youtube and check out her website!

What are some of your favorite things to watch/read when you need a good chuckle?

Motherhood Mondays (MMs): Stars of the show I'm watching...

Gah. I love people.

Sincerely - I just LOVE them (generally speaking, of course). I love people's stories, their unique expressions of personality, warts, quirks and all. So for today's Motherhood Monday reflection I wanted to highlight a couple of moms who are like movie stars to me. I'm fascinated with these everyday heroes, I love how they live life. I love how their uniqueness comes out in the way they "mother". I feel this way about SO MANY more than 2 women, but I only have time for these precious ones tonight.

No one's perfect, but these ladies are beautiful in the kind of complex way that makes you put your hand on your heart when you talk about them. (and they seriously have NO CLUE I'm typing this for all the internets to see...)

Let's start with Portia.
This is a picture of Portia's apartment wall and that's one of her precious little girls admiring her artwork. Portia is a work of art herself. She radiates passion for life and if there's a proverbial "box" you can bet Portia is NOT in it.

Or anywhere near it.

Her two girls eminate sunshine and love in a way that you know originated from their free-spirited momma. They are the kids running around naked at the beach. They are the family finding coconuts on their walks (they live in Florida) and bringing them home to drink the water inside. Portia knows it's more important to cuddle and listen then to make sure everyone's in bed by bedtime.  Portia is changing the world through her zeal to live life to the fullest and she's not afraid to experience what that "living" may feel like, no matter how vulnerable that may make her.
She's a beautiful woman and an excellent mother.

Then there's Cathy.
I'm going to try not to weep as I type this. Why? Because I'm a big sappy mush?

Well, maybe.

But that's not the primary reason.  I might cry because deep, real LOVE usually brings me to tears. This lady embodies such revolutionary love, it's a tricky thing to articulate. Yes, she has 3 kids that are wonderfully cared for and loved - but beyond that....Cathy loves people with an almost reckless devotion. She peers into people's lives, sees beauty and holds on to that knowledge even when the other person forgets it themselves. While it seems most of society is focused on things that will only be around one or two generations (money, fame, status, getting your kid into the most elite private school, eating the best organic food, blah blah blah), Cathy gives herself entirely to things that will truly last.

Is she amazing because of her work among the desperate and overlooked in Africa? Yeah sure. Is she worth introducing to the world because of her work with handicapped kids here in NYC? I guess so. But one of the things about Cathy that silences me is her ability to deeply love, over and over without expecting anything in return. In the face of hurt, misunderstanding, and all the mess people can make - she keeps loving. It's breathtaking. I wish you could see it. No. Better yet, I wish you could experience it.

I need to get her autograph one of these days.

Hopefully I didn't gush too much. I'm not trying to create a cyber-kumbaya circle where we all go around the room and tell everyone we love them. It's just that, as a mom, I've learned to be impressed with different things than when I didn't have children. And my personality almost demands that, when I'm truly wowed with something/someone, I have to share it.

These women impress me. And so many more do - daily. To all the unsung mommy heroes that march to different beats and love so dangerously that it changes lives - you are worth the spotlight too. You are Stars.

Bits of my weekend - Volume 2

With minimal narration - here's my past weekend!!

Saturday was Adam's birthday!! He turned 29! (I know, I'm such a cougar....I'll be 30 in June.)

 Good morning and Happy Birthday Daddy!! (early morning wake up and cuddles)

Ingredients to make Challah French Toast - special birthday breakfast

Yum. (and for the occasion - PORK BACON! double yum.)

I mentioned last week how the building where Elasia takes ballet classes looks like a castle. Here's a peak inside.

3 happy ballerinas and 1 grouchy little sister who's a little bitter at being too young to take classes.

Adam's birthday was also the same day as our block's first street closing. (we live on an AWESOME block with a rather organized association that "organizes" cool stuff.) The whole block was closed to traffic and everyone cleaned up the flower beds around the trees and planted new ones. Then afterwards, we all BBQ'd, drank some cold ones and let our kids run around using those toys we stuff away in our closet (purposefully singular) that only get used on such occasions or when schlepped to the park. (i.e. toddler tricycle, sidewalk chalk, beginners roller blades, etc.)

Qara watering newly planted pansies
It says "Adam is 29" :-)

Who's that HOT chef at the grill? Oh it's the birthday boy. Almost equally as attractive, my delicious grilled kielbasa....yum.

He was trying to get all Bobby Flay and grill honeydew melon to serve with the pork chops. Great idea!
Her skin was her preferred canvas. My cute little Avatar baby...

As a surprise, I took Adam to a ninja castle for dinner. Oh. my. word. What a hilariously great place for people like us. (read: LOVERS of cheesy themes particularly all things ninja and yet appreciative of sophisticated food.) And pre-teen boys. But that's another story...

It was really dark and ::MYSTERIOUS:: in there so the pics are pretty poor. (plus I'm afraid to divulge too much information and then get killed by a ninja in the middle of the night.) But this is a pic of a MASTERPIECE sushi roll that involved fresh crayfish, spicy peppers, and pop rocks. (yep. the candy) WOW. sooo good.

It was a multi-course affair (I lost track of how many as I inhaled everything and mumbled appreciation to our servers/ninjas throughout the meal) So I'm just sharing pictures of the few I was coherrent enough to take a photo of.  This is beef brisket slowly baked in a vidalia onion with pink peppercorns on watercress.  

Dessert: smooth chocolate mouse on rich chocolate cake, topped with a dark chocolate ninja star.

And oh the saki.....::sigh:: so good.

Sorry, no pics of Sunday.
It was a wonderful day. Fantastic church service, delicious fish and chips at a top secret harlem jewel of a place and a costume party for a dear friend of ours. (I'll try to ask around for pics of that - so hilarious!!)

Much love from Hamilton Heights!