Bits of my weekend - Volume 12 A Visit Down South!

For my birthday Adam bought a plane ticket for me to visit my dear friend Deb in South Carolina. I've been counting down the days until this trip! My parents flew in to help Adam with the kiddos and I was on my way!

I had such. a. great. time.

I just love this woman. There's a reason we've been friends for 11+ years.  She's golden. Here's a glimpse into our weekend! (and, it'll be no surprise...there are  lots of pictures of food...:-) )

Their beautiful front porch. For this New Yorker it was a novelty. It even had a swing!!

Saturday morning: One of my favorite breakfasts!

Then we were off to the gym - trying to make a way (calorie-wise) for the festivities to come!
(note: this gym was SO impressive! A movie theater/cardio room, FREE childcare, pool...the amenities go on and on. And the price per month?!?!?!  Let's just say it's 1/3 of my NYC gym membership.  Geeesh)

Mmmm, lunch. Nachos.

Yes, this is a peach-shaped water tower, despite the fact that it looks like someone's rear-end when you drive by it.  And now I digress from my junior high moment of levity.  ha ha.

Saturday evening was Girls Night out. Started with...


Then we drove into Augusta, GA to have dinner here:

Oh. My. Word.  Okay, look - I'm Puerto Rican. I grew up eating REALLY delicious pork. But the pork chops with carmelized onions, apples and feta cream from this place brought tears of joy to my eyes. Yum.

They're known for their towering slices of creative cakes too.

then in true Girls-Night-Out fashion, we were off to see:

Overall opinion of the movie: Eh, it's alright. Probably didn't help that I just saw Inception a week ago and my mind is still reeling from that. Hard to live up to those standards. But worth the money.

Sunday morning:
Deb's mom had these waiting for us on the kitchen counter, bought from a local Mennonite farmer's market. I don't know WHAT it is about Mennonite people, but every where you go, if their baked goods are for sale -buy it. It's ALWAYS GOOD.

We drove in to Charlotte, North Carolina to explore/be tourists before I flew out early Monday morning.
On the way, I asked Deb if we could PRETTY PLEASE eat at the Cracker Barrel.

Gotta love the rocking chairs outside. All those calories in the "Old Timer's Breakfast" never tasted so good!

Driving in to Charlotte we noticed ALL the water fountains were purple. I googled it on my phone. The reason: McDonald's was introducing their new purple colored smoothies, now available on their menu.  Really?
 And then I thought to myself, "We're not in Kansas anymore, Toto."

We met up with some friends who live in the area for light dinner and coffee at this impressively trendy cafe' in Charlotte's artsy-fartsy area known as NoDa. (for NOrth of DAvidson)

It's called Amelie's French Bakery. It is here that I encountered this fabulous treasure:

I have a hit-or-miss camera phone - so sorry it doesn't look as decadent and luxurious as it really was. This, my friends, is a chocolate Creme Brulee'.  Yum.

The layout of this place is so whimsical and creative. I found myself missing what was going on at our table because I would get distracted by all the pretty things  - everywhere.  They have the most unique chandeliers/light fixtures.  Here's a few shots of my favorites.

tile mosaic one

kitchen utensils chandelier

marbles, stones and gems

classic yet whimsical

sassy lighting!

So pretty - ooo la la!

Then I flew back in to NYC this morning.  It's so good to see my babies, but I will absolutely cherish this extravagant weekend with the bestie.  Good times.

Much love from Hamilton Heights!!

Motherhood Mondays: tribute to Erma

Erma Bombeck was such an interesting lady and her legacy is a role model-type example for me. She was a popular American humorist and a very real mother. Through her writings she came along side the mothers of the U.S. and Canada and made them smile, helped them retain that ever-elusive "positive" perspective, and reminded them that they weren't alone.

I like reading her stuff. I would've just loved her if I had gotten a chance to be her friend. From what I've read, it seemed like even if you disagreed with her politically - if you were a mom, she made you feel like you were on someone's radar or at least understood. (Want to read more about her? Click here.)

So today's Motherhood Monday is a tribute to Aunt Erma. We could use a few of these voices now-a-days.
When God Created Mothers
by: Erma Bombeck

 When the Good Lord was creating mothers, He was into his sixth day of “overtime” when an angel appeared and said, “You’re doing a lot of fiddling around on this one.”

And the Lord said, “Have you read the specs on this order?

• She has to be completely washable, but not plastic;

• Have 180 movable parts... all replaceable;

• Run on black coffee and leftovers;

• Have a lap that disappears when she stands up;

• A kiss that can cure anything from a broken leg to a disappointed love affair;

• And six pairs of hands.”

The angel shook her head slowly and said, “Six pairs of hands... no way.”

“It’s not the hands that are causing me problems,” said the Lord. “It’s the three pairs of eyes that mothers have to have.”

“That’s on the standard model?” asked the angel.

The Lord nodded. “One pair that sees through closed doors when she asks, ’What are you kids doing in there?’ when she already knows. Another here in the back of her head that sees what she shouldn’t but what she has to know, and of course the ones here in front that can look at a child when he goofs up and say, ’I understand and I love you’ without so much as uttering a word.”

“Lord,” said the angel, touching His sleeve gently, “Go to bed. Tomorrow...”

“I can’t,” said the Lord, “I’m so close to creating something so close to myself. Already I have one who heals herself when she is sick... can feed a family of six on one pound of hamburger... and can get a nine-year-old to stand under a shower.”

The angel circled the model of a mother very slowly. “It’s too soft,” she sighed.

“But she’s tough!” said the Lord excitedly. “You cannot imagine what this mother can do or endure.”

“Can it think?”

“Not only can it think, but it can reason and compromise,” said the Creator.

Finally, the angel bent over and ran her finger across the cheek. “There’s a leak,” she pronounced. “I told You You were trying to push too much into this model.”

“It’s not a leak,” said the Lord. “It’s a tear.”

“What’s it for?”

“It’s for joy, sadness, disappointment, pain, loneliness, and pride.”

“You are a genius,” said the angel.

The Lord looked somber. “I didn’t put it there,” He said.

Bits of my weekend - Volume 11

What an INCREDIBLE weekend.

Prime highlight: My parents flew in!  One of my birthday presents was a plane ticket to go visit one of my best friend's (and probably one of the most brilliant people alive) Deborah !! (The hubs scored MAJOR points with that one.)  So I fly out next Thursday and return Monday and while I'm gone the 'rents are here to help out with the kiddos!

Here's what went down this weekend:
Friday evening:
On the way to the airport we stopped by Nadal 2 Deli (which is my FAVORITE neighborhood deli...ever) to pick up sandwiches and couldn't pass by this new display without salivating and taking a pic.

Saturday Morning:
The 'rents took us out to breakfast, such a fun tradition

Our good friends GAVE us their fish AND tank AND equipment. It was quite an endeavor, but we like our 26 new children. didn't survive the move. :-/

This is their adorable kitten Nacho, thinking he's about to get a rather posh lunch.

Finally (after 7 hours of work work work...) the fish were settled in their temporary tank in our bedroom. (We're waiting for a larger stand to put them into the 29 gallon tank)

Qara really likes the angel fish. Awww....

set up for All Souls Christian Church early Sunday morning.
(See that fuzzy guy all the way to the right? In the blue shirt?  He's one of the pastors and I think he's hot. I have a pretty big crush on him. He was the preacher today too. It was hard to focus.)

After church we grabbed a few sandwiches and snacks and headed to the Hudson for some FREE KAYAKING.  Since I was born in NYC, I have always been pretty leery of getting water from the Hudson River on my body. I just always figured it was a sure-fire way to grow a third arm or something. But good friends of ours were going, they said our kids could do it too, my husband gave that one oh-so-convincing look..... That's all it took. I was in line waiting to get into the green water.

That's our good friends and that's my "I think this is going be" smile. Elasia isn't masking how she feels about this.

And OF COURSE (much to Adam's wonder and amusement) I FELL in the WATER!! Elasia and I were in the same kayak and happily paddled all around the marked area. When it was time to come back in, I positioned the kayak right next to the dock and she was safely lifted out. The lady assisting us said, "Now push up with your arms and using your upper body, lift up and over on to the dock."  Sounds easy, right? 
I lifted up and some how at the SAME moment she let go of the kayak and it drifted away from the dock simultaneously. I doubted my lifting skills and decided to sit back down and try again, only when I sat back down there was NO kayak to sit in!! Only green Hudson River water!!! I remember thinking as I splashed in the water..."just don't get it in your mouth, don't get it in your mouth!!" Ha Ha. It was actually really funny and ...dare I say it...rather refreshing. It was 95 degrees outside.

This is me, soaking wet and in a rather chipper mood. This is also how Elasia felt about it. (But she did have a GREAT time, and we all actually want to go again sometime really soon.)

That's my weekend!  Don't forget to check out other's weekends at Michelle's Blog

Much love from Hamilton Heights!

MMs: On being that "one mom".

I've always known her.
She was always someone else's mom...until recently.

 She had an amazing "top secret" recipe for chocolate cookies, lasagna, name it. With her preschoolers, she knew over 100 fun things to do with a paper plate, coffee filter, and toilet paper roll. She "distracted" instead of getting frustrated. She actually deeply enjoyed her children and didn't have to give herself pep talks that she had made the right decision. (to stay at home, to go back to work, whatever it was...)

She had consistently shaved legs.

She always had a batch of homemade play-dough on hand when her kids were antsy. She only uses agave nectar as a sweetner.

She stopped being someone else's mom about 4 years ago. That's when I had Elasia. And this "person" that I had subconciously created in my mind - that had actually robbed me of hours that could have been spent being grateful for my own PERFECT-for-me mother - then morphed into "that ONE mom".

When Elasia was born, I didn't realize it at the time, but I had postpartum depression. So that ONE mom was the one who could get out of her PJs before lunch time. She never broke down in uncontrollable sobs when her newborn woke up "early" from a nap. Her house may not have been perfect, but at least she could get the laundry done before her husband would have to wash a pair of underwear in the sink out of desperation. She lived in a constant state of "I was MADE for Motherhood - this is GREAT!"  She made me sick and envious at the same time.  She gave me great ideas every once in a while, but mostly she just made me feel smaller and smaller and.....smaller....until I had almost lost who I was.

After the birth of my second child, I still felt "behind" in life, but I didn't feel like that dark cloud was going to swallow me alive every day. I started to watch my newborn and my 17 month old interact so beautifully - birds seemed to chirp, the sun shone brightly and I could breathe.

Fast forward 3-4 years. I woke up one morning and realized I had nothing on the agenda! I decided to pack the girls up and spontaneously drive to Connecticut with a friend of mine. We had a PERFECT day getting our "suburban" fix: going to a mall and eating in a food court. My kids loved it. We drove back into Manhattan that evening and I had a crockpot of wonderful dinner waiting for us.

After dinner, the girls and I snuggled and read books before bed time and for some miraculous reason they didn't protest as I left the room.  I felt content. And then it hit me: I WAS that ONE mom!!!!


This should have made me feel accomplished, almost victorious, like some life long enemy had been defeated. But instead, I felt hollow. Why? Because I KNEW me. If I really "was" that ONE mom, then I was an incredible dissapointment. Not everyday was that perfect, in fact, they were an exception.

Call it "mommy guilt", "unhealthy comparisons" or whatever pop-psychology term that fits, here's what I started to learn that night:

On one side of the coin: That ONE mom must die.

She doesn't deserve to exist in our minds robbing us of the precious time we have in this life with our loved ones. When that ONE mom is haunting me in my mind, I am blind to see how priceless the moments are that I have with my kids. Always thinking of what I can't do/haven't done, I don't appreciate what IS actually happening that is oh-so-very good.

On the other side of the coin: I am that ONE mom!

The idea that someone else is a better mother than I am is toxic. It has to end in my mind. I was, in fact, created to do this. And these babies, who WERE pieced together and formed in MY womb, were literally and figurately made for ME. In order to appreciate who we are as mothers we've got to KNOW who we uniquely are as a person.

Who I am:
I am not always a "nice" person, but I can be pretty darn funny. I'm not always the most organized person, but I can make people feel loved and at home in my little apartment. I'm not the best "think-ahead" planner, but I'm laid back enough to enjoy spontaneity. I love to dissect philosophy and laugh A LOT. I love stories. I'm really bad at "seeing" messes that my husband knows exists before he even walks through the door.  I can come across as bossy when I'm actually just excited about helping out. I'm really bad at keeping in touch with extended family and friends, but I'm fiercely loyal.....

This person - Evita - is who my children need. On one hand, they don't NEED that ONE mom to raise them.  On the other hand, I AM that ONE mom in their lives.  Elasia and I love people together. Qara and I make people laugh together.  We are a family team. And I was hand picked to play my unique part.

Honestly, this is a daily fight for me. I don't want my time wasted in useless comparison or feeling inferior. I still haven't figured out how to balance being a housekeeper, mom, and wife along with all the other roles I play.

And yes, I may have a killer (and top secret) lasagna recipe and YES we have picnics in our living room and make crafts with all kinds of things. But that's not because I'm striving to be someone I'm not. It's because that's who I am.

That ONE mom.

Bits of my weekend - Volume 10

Up and at 'em and off to the gym

I came home to a mini-band in the girls room:

(this is one of the few pics I have of the finished bunkbed...the girls LOVE IT)

Lunch. So good it was noteworthy.

THEN - it was off to Queens for a bitter-sweet goodbye party to such incredible friends. Florida is one lucky place. :-/

I inherited a few REALLY awesome books from the friends that are moving. This one was a cookbook that made my heart beat faster and my eyes pop out of my head.  Just love it.

and the rest of Saturday:
I spent prepping to speak at church on Sunday while Adam FINALLY got to get much needed rest.


My cutie-pies on the way to All Souls Christian Church.

How we spent our afternoon - GO SPAIN!!!

Great friends came over to watch the game with us - this is JJ. He's a cuddle-bug. Sometimes.

And a MAJOR highlight!!!!
Sunday night we went to.....
Can you read/guess what this playbill is for with my poor quality camera-phone pic?  It's for A Winter's Tale, which is the Public Theater's produciton in Central Park as a part of the annual "Shakespeare in the Park" tradition.

It. was. wonderful.

That was my weekend - it flew by! How was yours?  Don't forget to stop by Michelle's blog to get a peek into other's weekends!

Love from Hamilton Heights, NYC!

MMs: Stay tuned...

I've had an idea in mind that's been mulling around for a few days. I think it may need a bit more time marinating before I can articulate it properly. Tune in next Monday when I try to get it out.

In the meantime - enjoy the video. One of my new favorite authors, Katherine Center, wrote the essay for it. (the words are below) and the pictures and thoughts are just beautiful.

Remember what we're doing as mothers truly matters.

WHAT I WOULD TELL HER: (If I knew what to say.)

You are a miracle.

And I have to love you this fiercely: So that you can feel it even after you leave for school, or even while you are asleep, or even after your childhood becomes a memory.

You’ll forget all this when you grow up. But it’s okay.

Being a mother means having your heart broken.

And it means loving and losing and falling apart and coming back together.

And it’s the best there is. And also, sometimes, the worst.

Sometimes you won’t have anyone to talk to.

Sometimes you’ll wonder if you’ve forgotten who you are.

But you must remember this: What you’re doing matters.

And you have to be brave with your life so that others can be brave with theirs.

The truth is, being a woman is a gift. Tenderness is a gift. Intimacy is a gift. And nurturing the good in this world is nothing short of a privilege.

That’s why I have to love you this way. So I can give what I have to you. So that you can carry it in your body and pass it on.

I have watched you sleep. I’ve kissed you a million times. And I know something that you don’t, yet:

You are writing the story of your only life every single minute of every day.

And my greatest hope for you, sweet child, is that I can teach you how to write a good one.

Bits of My Weekend - Volume 9

As seems to be a pattern, I'm going to include Friday. We went (with some great friends) to the Victorian Gardens in Central Park. I HIGHLY recommend it for kids...under 12 or so...and people older that are still pretty young at heart.
My fearless Elasia decided she didn't need to hold on.

Qara and our little friend Addison hopping around

this ride was the cause of a mini-heart attack for me. I will now never make fun of my mother for gasping and closing her eyes during all of my crazy antics. While I LOVE roller-coasters and extreme rides, when it's my BABY up there....geeeesh.


Candadian White Bread, sent in a care package to us from my wonderful Maine in-laws.
Fact: This bread is made in Portland, Maine - not Canada
Fact: Most of Maine might as well be Canada
Fact: This bread is the reason I break our "high fiber whole grain" bread rule.

new favorite playground (83rd and Riverside)

Qara learning about currents

Handy to have a sister/permanent see-saw partner

sandbox fun

hiking a mountain trail? Nope, just outside that same playground is a little nature trail and butterfly garden

perfect after a hot hike!

Catching a World Cup game with a princess on his shoulders. ...what? Doesn't every body watch soccer this way?

I took a nap and woke up next to this guy:

very creepy.

and this was the rest of Saturday evening.

After a terrific church service and a long lunch, our plans to see the BEST FIREWORKS in the nation fell through. Toddlers didn't nap. We were exhausted. I was horribly disappointed. Then we decided to throw an impromptu "Happy Birthday America Party". Girls made decorations and glitter fireworks, I made the good ol' U.S. a cake, and we had a picninc on our living room floor.

Elasia's fireworks were particularly brilliant

gotta grill, right?

Adam set up the picnic...
(that's apple juice in the cooler for the them and 2 "cold ones" for mommy and daddy)

it was Adam's idea to dress in red, white, and blue. He's a keeper. :-)

decorating the cake (pretty last minute, thrown together)

Happy Birthday, America!!

234 years old! We only had 14 random birthday candles and I found this 2 from Qara's last birthday = Almost Perfect! ha ha

And after watching the fireworks on TV....

Plan B ending up being just perfect.

Happy Independence Day weekend everyone!  Don't forget to stop by Michelle's blog ( to get a sneak peek into other's weekends.)

Much love from Hamilton Heights!