jumping-3

The Eagle Has Landed

So, Tuesday was kind of a big day around here.

Seth, having conquered the 20m jump in his alpine gear, the previous Friday, was given his first set of nordic ski jumping equipment—boots, and some wide, flat, long skis with no edges and special bindings that allow the heel to flex away from the ski. You know, for flying.

nordic gear with lindsey

PCNSC Coach Lindsey Van helps Seth select his Nordic Gear. “You want it hard, easy, or fun?” She asks. “Easy and fun,” he responds. “Well, it won’t be both. But it will be fun.”

IMG_0217

Mission accomplished. Cool boots. Giant skis.

He practiced some in-run position drills (skiing under the hoops helps form). As they made their laps, my friend Stacey came over to tell me, “I hope you don’t mind, but I just told your son to suck it up,” she said. “He was complaining about the boots.” Good, I thought—it came from someone other than me. That left Jeff and me the room to  pep-talk Seth through the first uncomfortable, awkward moments in the new gear, the adjustment to the new learning curve, and the frustration that came along for the ride.

IMG_0216

He took some jumps—which was a lot harder on the new gear than he thought it would be. But all I could do is yell—”That’s my kid! THAT’S MY KID!!!”

Which is what was happening when my friend Valerie showed up to watch, with the stars of a movie she produced, called Eddie the Eagle. The film is based on the life of Eddie Edwards (Taron Egerton), a British ski jumper who defied the odds to compete in the 1988 Olympic Winter Games in Calgary. His coach is played by Hugh Jackman. Which was, it turns out, just enough excitement to make Seth feel better about the steep learning curve he was encountering on the new skis.

Hugh and Taron watched the kids fly, and enthusiastically congratulated them on their skills. It was hard to tell who was having more fun, really. But I got a hint, a few hours later. (More on that, in a moment.)

As it happened, Eddie was the “Townie Tuesday” screening, for which Sundance Film Festival officials had distributed free tickets to locals. The kids were bummed that we were not taking them to the 9pm screening. But 9PM! On a school night! Not even I, “Fun Mom,” am that irresponsible—and I can bring it. So, we got them settled at home and set off toward town, for the film. My friend Sarah scored great seats at the front, and saved some. In turn, we saved three for our jumping pals, Stacey, Julie and Coach Lindsey.

Which turned out to be fortuitous, because Taron and Hugh came to the screening to introduce the film, shared their visit to UOP with the audience and wound up in a chat with Lindsey. You can watch the whole exchange, here:

And then…we watched the movie and loved every minute of it. Everything from the writing and acting to the direction and the music—oh, the 80s synth wonderland of a score! My bone to pick? The cinematography—it captured, all too well, the spectacular heights and the death-defying crashes, which are, of course, part and parcel of the sport. I tried to comfort myself with the idea that some things are exaggerated for dramatic and comedic effect, but having just spent the evening watching a practice in which more kids fell than usual (icy course), those moments hit a little too close to home.

However, I’m thrilled to say that the aspect of the sport that Eddie the Eagle captured best is the one I love the most, and one that the PCNSC embodies—its spirit. The essence of jumping is as much heart as it is skill, and if you have heart, you’ve won. And, by the way last Tuesday went, I’d say everyone involved was a winner.

daniel emily seth crop

Fly Boy and the 20

Last Friday was a “Chamber of Commerce” day at Utah Olympic Park—the morning had offered cloud cover and sub-zero temperatures, but by afternoon, as happens in Utah, the sun was shining, skies were blue, and the thermometer was hovering around 30 degrees. With all  the sun reflecting off the snow,  the ambient temperature felt 25 degrees warmer than that. Kids and adults assembled in the training area for Get Out And Play were shedding warm layers as though they’d suddenly arrived poolside in the tropics.

With much of the Nordic team and all of the coaches in Steamboat for a competition, the substitute coaches introduced themselves: a current US Ski Team member and the president of Women’s Ski Jumping USA—my new friend Julie. It’s not enough that the kids’ coaches are all highly accomplished ex-Olympians. Park City’s bench is deep, man. I laughed out loud at the irony of our overqualified “subs,” then joined the other mom chaperones, to watch the freestyle and nordic groups begin their warmups.`

 

daniel emily seth crop

Happy Jumpers

 

My friend Liz was there, for the first time, chaperoning her school group, and seeing her kids learn tricks of the Freestyle trade. Our kids have done karate together for years. We are fond of each other’s kids. “Look,” I pointed. “There goes Seth, he’s jumping the 10 meter.” I could feel her tense up as I did—as though he were her own. I know the feeling—every time I see her kids huck themselves off a jump or over a rail, I gulp. He landed it, we both began to breathe normally, and then something amazing happened. He rode the rope tow lift up, but this time, he rode past the point where he usually exits to ski to the 10m start, not letting go until he could ski across to the 20m start.

“He’s not going to jump the 20—” I said, to everyone and no one in particular. “Is he?”

“He’s got to have his first time, some time, right?” One of my pals offered. I supposed so, but I’d been under the impression he wouldn’t be on the 20 until he made the switch, at some yet-to-be-determined-date, from his alpine gear to nordic boots and skis. Perhaps not.

We watched as he engaged in a few minutes of conversation with Julie. He took off his skis, climbed up to stand next to her on the coaching platform, and I inferred that she explained how he should position himself on the start bar. I tried to remember how to breathe. And then, he talked to her for another moment, grabbed his skis, walked down the steps, clicked in and skied down toward the 10-meter start. Oh, ok, maybe, just maybe, he was just curious. Maybe he wasn’t yet allowed. I had begun to formulate questions to ask him about what he learned up there, so I’d be ready when he landed the 10, again—and then he skied over to the rope tow, again, grabbed hold and rode up.

“Oh—oh! He’s going back to the 20…” I witnessed this moment with a bit of reverence. Here was my child, working out for himself, exactly how far he wanted to push, exactly which goals he wanted to accomplish, today. This, I thought, was the second of many decisions that solidified jumping as “his sport.” The first was that initial jump, three weeks earlier, from the 5m. Now, as then, he didn’t need his parents’ advice or input—just some good, supportive coaching and a boost of confidence. Here’s Meg’s video of our view from the bottom…

Here’s Julie’s video of our view from the top…

 

and here’s the trailer Seth and Lance made with some more footage, the next day.

IMG_0810

Family Reunion Ski Trip Tips | The Official Blog of Deer Valley Resort

Spending a family reunion on skis is one of the most fun excuses I can think of for getting the gang together. And while my cousins like to travel around to other canyons, while they’re here, our family ski days are centered at Deer Valley.

Well, as “centered” as our brand of multi-generational mayhem can be.
Click the link, below, to steal our sanity-saving, fun-making tips for an awesome family reunion on the slopes.

Source: Family Reunion Ski Trip Tips | The Official Blog of Deer Valley Resort

12523546_501958129986634_1128352223_n

Do you Ski at the Sundance Film Festival? | The Official Blog of Deer Valley Resort

In my life as an avid skier and a journalist, my worlds collide in funny ways. The Sundance Film Festival—which brings a huge contingent of my professional community to my front door—is a great example of this. Last year, for instance, an interview with a favorite actor proved to me that not skiing can be a win. (WHAT?!)

[Click the link below to see the full post, and to find out which actor saved me from myself.]

Source: Do you Ski at the Sundance Film Festival? | The Official Blog of Deer Valley Resort

Skiing Success Tips from Skifest | The Official Blog of Deer Valley Resort

Everything you need to know about having a great ski day, you can learn at the Deer Valley Resort Celebrity Skifest. Here’s what I found out when I chatted with some of the competitors in Deer Valley’s annual opening weekend event to benefit the Waterkeeper Alliance.

[Click below to learn how you can improve your ski day experience!]

Source: Skiing Success Tips from Skifest | The Official Blog of Deer Valley Resort

Seth on the fly. (photo credit: Stacey Border)

Fly, baby, fly!

“Can we go back to UOP tomorrow, so I can jump again?” Seth asked me.

“Not until Friday,” I told him.

“Oh,” he said. “That’s sad.”

Seth and I were cuddling on the couch, talking about all the fun he had learning to Nordic Ski Jump at Utah Olympic Park today. Because, what’s better than spending a Friday afternoon, when you’re eight, learning how to fly? I’ll tell you what’s better: Being 42, and watching your kid learn how to fly.

seth on the fly

Seth on the fly. (photo credit: Stacey Border)

I’ll admit, in the moments before he took his first run, my heart was in my throat. And then—he flew. First off the 5-meter hill, then off the 7-meter hill, and then, off the 10 meter. Like he had been doing it his whole life. I couldn’t contain my excitement. Neither could he.

 

He sure made it look that easy.

The odds may have been stacked in his favor to love it. He loves skiing, he loves the idea of getting “big air,” and one of his BFFs, Josie, has been doing it for a year, already.

IMG_0740

Check out Josie’s cool jumpsuit and nordic skis—almost as cool as that big grin she wears when she’s jumping (well, and most of the time).

She, too, fell in “love at ‘first-jump’,” according to her mom. Josie and their friend Daniel kept offering tips and encouragement to Seth.

Plus, the coach, Anders Johnson, a three-time Olympian who was the youngest Olympic Ski Jumper in history, is the son of a friend of ours. (And he’s a great guy who easily translates his love of the sport for the kids.) Um, cool much? (I sent his dad the following text, today: “Your kid coached my kid at UOP today. I’m a little farklempt.”)

Cooler, yet: Seth went to UOP as part of Park City Youth Sports Alliance Get Out and Play. See, Park City School District has half-day Fridays, and YSA offers lessons in multiple disciplines of several sports, on Friday afternoons:  skiing (alpine, nordic, alpine freestyle, nordic jumping), snowboarding (recreational and freestyle), skating (hockey, figure skating, speed skating), and more. YSA grants scholarships so that students who wouldn’t ordinarily get exposure to these lifetime sports get to play, too.  Kids are bused from school to sports venue, and back.

Parent volunteers buckle boots, adjust helmets, help the kids get themselves and their gear on and off the bus, offer snacks and the occasional comforting hug after a fall. I was one of those volunteers today: they let me run the rope tow —which was almost as cool as the time I was volunteering at the ski jumps during the Olympics, and someone told me to put a tank full of hot chocolate on my back and climb the steep stairs next to the jumps, so that I could offer the judges a cup of cocoa.

But nothing was as sweet as hearing my boy whoop and holler as he landed each jump, and then tell me how much he loves this sport.

So, after he asked, nicely, the third time, if he really had to wait until Friday, to jump again, we signed him up for the Hoppers program at UOP, so he can jump Tuesdays, too.

“I don’t care if I’m good at it or bad at it,” Seth said. “I just want to keep doing it.”

IMG_0741

This grin—proof of fun.

 

zizmor

Dr. Zizmor and the Bethenny Effect

You guys. Dr. Zizmor is retiring. I don’t even know how to process this. I haven’t lived in New York City for 14 years, and yet, so inextricably linked is this man—or, rather, his image—to my life there, I am feeling a distinct loss, imagining New York City subways without his rainbow-themed ads, his smiling (smirking?) face.

For the uninitiated: Jonathan Zizmor, MD is a dermatologist whose ads, like this one, have appeared on NYC subways for, well, a very long time.

When I first moved to New York and saw Jonathan Zizmor, M.D. looking down at me as I clung to the grip pole, I was mystified. My thoughts ran the gamut:

“What kind of doctor advertises on the subway?”

“What kind of person chooses a doctor based on the ads on the subway?”

zizmor

“I feel wrong even reading these ads.” And, yet, I was a captive audience. I had to read them. Even as I was reading the newspaper or a book, my eyes drifted upward to this man’s smiling face, and his promise of an improved face, body, skin. Wondering, all the while, “Doesn’t he know this is cheesy? Does he really think people sitting in the subway are going to read these ads, and think: ‘Yes. TODAY is the day for all those dermatology procedures I’ve been putting off, and I’m calling Jonathan Zizmor, MD to help me.'”

My zealous wonder (I would bring up these ads at dinner, with alarming frequency) was informed by the fact that I worked for women’s magazines, where the editors cultivated relationships with the best and brightest medical experts. The very thought of calling a doctor from a subway ad was preposterous.

Only today, as the announcement of his retirement at age 70, appeared and reappeared all over social media, did I figure out the fact that creating familiarity was Dr. Z’s stock in trade. It reminded me of an experience years ago when Jeff and I were at a party during the Sundance Film Festival.  We saw a familiar face across the room, and commented to each other that we couldn’t place her—one thing was certain, we knew we’d had dinner with her at our house. It was mildly embarrassing, therefore, that we couldn’t remember her name. Still, we found it irksome that she hadn’t come over to greet us.  Finally, we saw her speaking with another friend of ours, and when their conversation wrapped up, we asked the friend to ID her. Oh, said our friend, it’s Bethenny Frankel. We laughed and went over to introduce ourselves. “Bethenny, we were over there at our table getting mad at you because we thought you’d been to our house for dinner, and now you didn’t have the decency to say hello!” Bethenny cracked up. “You know, we have had dinner—if you watched me on TV while you ate. Right?” Right.

This is the genius of Dr. Z. It’s the Bethenny Effect. If you’ve ever taken the subway, you know Dr. Z. I’m willing to bet that he improved the skin of millions of subway riders, for all the years he worked, just by dint of the fact that he was an omnipresent evangelist for good skin.

And, maybe this was the magic—riding with Dr. Z made you forget, for just a minute, that you were in a grimy subway car. Maybe you were thinking about making the world a better place—surely that was the idea behind the rainbow? Whatever the case, Dr. Z was there to take you away from the guy with leg sprawl, next to you, and from the other guy crushing up against your back. So, thank you Dr. Zizmor. I wish you all the best in your retirement.  Though it begs the question: What ad will replace Dr. Z, in the city’s zeitgeist?

 

sillymomlance

Picture Perfect, Hold the Card

My friends, I love your holiday cards. When those stacks of beautifully addressed envelopes arrive, nearly daily from November through January, I get excited. I can’t wait to see your family photos, to read about your family’s year.  And, yes, I feel a pang of guilt, because we don’t send cards, ourselves, in spite of the fact that we usually have a good photo to use.  See, every year, for the past four years, we’ve met up with another family, so that Jeff can photograph them for their holiday card portrait. Then, they return the favor so that we have a cute family photo, too. It’s not all in vain—it shows up on Facebook. But, sorry, no cards.

My holiday card policy has a little to do with the fact that it’s not a Jewish tradition.  (Jordana Horn makes a good case, on Kveller.) Still, I love receiving cards, and any excuse to send good wishes to people is a good excuse, so it has crossed my mind to send them. But then, there’s this: I’m primordially disorganized—I would have to muster my entire Getting My Shit Together Department in order to send out cards, and because of the first reason, I can’t make myself do that. Clearly. But having the photos is wonderful—and the out-takes, all the more so

Every year, we’ve gotten a little better at the photo. This year, we were able to complete both family portraits, plus some candids of the kids goofing off together with Lola, the other family’s dog, in under 30 minutes.

Part of this is that it was cold, and we wanted to go indoors. But, really, I think some of the magic is that you don’t have the stress of having hired a professional, which creates pressure that it MUST turn out well, for what it costs. And, there’s a certain amount of ice-breaking that simply doesn’t need to take place between close friends. We know what jokes to tell from behind the camera to make the subjects laugh. (Hint: the less “appropriate,” the better.) Or, you know, Mom can just go in for the tackle…

And we know we’re going to have a fun afternoon or evening together afterward. This year it was a playdate at their house, with some pizza and a great dinner table conversation. Anticipating more fun makes the moment just that much more charged with good photo mojo.

So, here’s where things stand: We get amazing photos because we tripped over a system that works. We like sharing them (three cheers for the Shutterfly photo plaque that I sent to our families for Chanukkah!). But cards? A bridge too far, for this disorganized mama.

And, so, with our heartfelt wishes for a wonderful 2016, and my thanks for your support of this site, I’m sharing our family portrait. What’s your favorite way to capture a fun family moment?

familyshot

Cute hair don't care.

Haircut Magic

I have a thing about going out the night after a haircut. When hair gets the expert treatment, the hair should greet its public. You know I’m right. It’s not necessarily a date night—I just need to know that I didn’t “waste” the blowout on a night at home. Because, there are good hair days and there are salon days. But, it turns out, the blowout has special powers—more on that in a minute.

Last week, on salon day, Jeff was out of town, so I texted him a Selfie—maybe he could take to dinner a photo of his chatty wife, and get a quiet evening out of the deal? (He sent an enthusiastic, complimentary text, so that was nice.)

IMG_0357

Cute hair, don’t care.

Regardless, I had big plans: Seth’s third-grade concert, with Lance as my date. Throughout the afternoon, there were opportunities for the hair to see-and-be-seen. I bumped into two friends—moms of kids in Seth’s third-grade class—at the craft store (don’t ask). They gasped in admiration of hair-magician Bratis’s skills. “I’m going to have the cutest hair at the Third Grade Winter Concert, tonight,” I told them. “Or, you know, you can take up the challenge. Whatever.”

`Then, when I was at school, picking up Seth, the new music teacher complimented my hair. “I did it for the concert,” I said. “It’s the hottest ticket of the year.” Little did I know the truth of that statement.

IMG_0362

Pregame pic with the awesome Ms. M. The kids love her. So do I. 

Fast forward to 6pm. We arrive at the concert. Lance and I kill time taking funny Instagrams.

IMG_0363

Goofing off with my date.

Then, one of the Michaels Moms appears with a beautiful ‘do—and says she was tempted to go for a blowout, just to show me that she’s got game. “But I decided just to comb it,” she said, with a knowing wink. For the record, it was styled in pretty waves. Comb it, my ass.

Whatever effort went into our hair for the Big Night Out was totally worth it. I’ve been to a million (OK, maybe a dozen or so) elementary school concerts. Children have stood on risers to sing songs about every possible holiday that happens to fall in December. For HOURS. Maybe even months. But this? No kidding, not a single holiday was referenced in the musical numbers about snow and cocoa and spending time with family. The grade was broken up into teams, which rotated through singing, dancing, drumming, bell-ringing.

IMG_0368

Singers—that’s Seth, in the red. Note the privacy shading on everyone else’s kids. 

 

seth bell standing (1)

My hipster bell-ringer

The students even conducted each other. That’s right, third graders. Layer upon layer of musical education, on display—and tied up with a bow in—wait for it—20 minutes. This music teacher is my hero.

Maybe the good hair day was a good luck charm? I’m just superstitious enough to consider booking a blowout before the next school concert.

 

 

 

bari nan cohen headshot grin

You can’t airbrush confidence

I accidentally schooled myself on confidence, today. Or, rather, got schooled by my dad and a bunch of friends. (Thanks, Facebook.) I had to upload a photo to Facebook in order to upload it to the press credential application site for the Sundance Film Festival.  Jeff had sent me some head shots, early this morning, that he had taken a few weeks ago. I sent him a thank you text (he’s working out of town, this week), and he replied, “Are those ok?” Meaning: will they work. My response was, “They’ll need major retouching for social media but they are just fine for Sundance. After all, they usually lose the jpeg file and I have to retake my photo at credential pickup.” Yes, I write verbose texts. Sue me. And, bad wife, I forgot to tell him how nicely they were framed and lit—very nicely, indeed.

Jeff, to his credit, didn’t dignify that with any sort of “Oh, stop, you look great.” Which is not to say he didn’t think it, but he knew better than to argue with me about my vanity at the exact moment he knew I was juggling my fussy coffee-brewing routine (because he’s too far away to make my espresso) with my fussy-breakfast-cooking-routine. (Don’t ask. It’s the one meal I can cook well, reliably, so I always fix a hot breakfast for my family, but it’s usually more than one, because we all like different things. And I can’t bear to part with this ritual.)

And as I went about that routine, I pondered the images. Which is to say, I started mentally searching my calendar for a good time to book a facial—a microdermabrasion facial, perhaps. Something to really erase whatever the fuck happened to my skin, for instance.

An hour or so later, when I quickly uploaded the photo to Facebook, in spite of my insistence to Jeff that I’d need him to retouch these before using them in any public forum, it was a conscious decision to accept these beautiful photographs. “Fuck it,” I thought. “Just yesterday I saw this great tweet from Amy Schumer, with her bare-all photo for the Pirelli calendar, and I thought how awesome that she is using her fame to show off true beauty—humanity, confidence.” I published it without comment. And then, my dad and a bunch of friends took over, pouring on the kind words. Which, bias notwithstanding, I knew were heartfelt. I thought: These are cute photos, and they look like me. Not some airbrushed version of me, not some professionally-styled version of me. Just me, on a Sunday in November, age 42 (fully clothed, you’re welcome), feeling happy and, yes, confident. No airbrush, required.

f07310_ec981f3d656d4ae69e6aa1a4127feb47.jpg_srz_p_900_1332_75_22_0.50_1.20_0.00_jpg_srz

Irreverent Parenting Movie Night

My kids know their parents are rules people. After all, we’re forever nagging them to clean their rooms and do their homework. We make our bed (Ok, Jeff does), most days. They eat a variety of healthy foods, provided by us. But our choices for family movie nights may be considered, um, irreverent by some  people. I’ve made it clear that we’re not big on policing language (grammar, yes, but not actual language).  So, our children can quote a line or two from Trading Places. They’re well-versed in the world of 007. They’ve seen The Martian and Interstellar. And they may or may not have caught a few minutes of Get Shorty before turning to their parents and saying, “Are you sure you want us to watch this?” Which may have been why my younger son was interrogating Nate the venue manager, at the Park City Film Series, while we bought our tickets to see Meet the Patels, last night.

“What’s this movie rated? Is it PG-13?” Seth asked. “Because I am here with my parents, just in case it is. I’ve seen lots of PG-13 movies.” He need not have worried (nor thrown his parents under the bus) as the film is, in fact PG. But, you know, it’s good to have your film-ready bona fides, when you’re 8. (I like the idea that our kids think we’re more lenient than we are—after all, they’re not allowed to watch Homeland with us. That is solidly off-limits.)

FYI, You don’t have to be in town for the Sundance Film Festival to enjoy independent film in Park City. In fact, some might argue that you’ll enjoy it more if you’re simply taking in a film on a weekend evening, as part of the Park City Film Series, purchasing tickets and popcorn (local’s tip: BYO-Bowl for free refills!) just moments before the film starts, with little or no time spent waiting in line. (Yes, I’ve met lots of interesting people while waiting in line for a film at Sundance, but that’s a story for another blog post.) At the PCFS, your ticket also doubles as an entry in an “opportunity drawing,” for a series of door prizes. On this night, a local Indian eatery had donated baskets of naan and chutney, there were gift certificates for pizza and coffee, plus a freshly-baked loaf of Volker’s bread. Which, to our surprise and delight, we won. (Most of it made it home, improbably enough.)

f07310_ec981f3d656d4ae69e6aa1a4127feb47.jpg_srz_p_900_1332_75_22_0.50_1.20_0.00_jpg_srz

Patels delivered on the promise of a great night out for our group of several families with kids in grades 3-8 (who were pretty stoked to be out on a school night–bonus points in the Irreverent Parents column!).

A documentary co-directed by siblings Ravi Patel (an actor in It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia, Grandfathered) and Geeta Patel (Mouse) , Meet the Patels focuses on Ravi’s quest for love and marriage, within the confines of a modern Indian matchmaking system. It’s highly relatable—and in plumbing the arranged-marriage system of Indian culture, underscores the similarities between many ethnic groups who value marriage within their own cultures. Ravi navigates Indian-specific online dating sites, plus a series of set-ups engineered by his parents using a system called “Biodata,” a collection of dating resumes circulated among Indian-American communities, and a marriage convention—all while wrestling with the fact that he’s fresh off a breakup from the white woman he was secretly dating. (With a few minor tweaks, it could have been a film about the Jewish dating scene—after all, Jeff and I met at one of a series of Jewish camps we both attended, and while the overt message wasn’t ‘find a spouse,’ such controlled environments upped the odds that we would.) With hilariously poignant color-commentary from Ravi and Geeta, plus scenes in which his parents explain the success of their arranged marriage, and interviews with other Indian-American young adults, it provided a unique window into the joys and peculiarities of Indian-American immigrant culture.

The kids were into the fact that the live action scenes were intercut with animated bits of narration and dialogue—segments that served to give Ravi the room to deal with some of the more emotionally-charged conversations, off-camera, and still convey them to the audience. I doubt there was a person in the theater who wasn’t completely charmed by the family–and Ravi’s story.

As a parent, I saw a lot of value in the heartfelt but humorous take on the way cultures grapple with identity and change. Ravi makes a lot of jokes in the movie that, as an actor, he makes up for his parents dashed dreams by playing the doctor he figures they expected him to become. Yet, it’s clear throughout the film that his parents’ American dream for their Indian child is that he be happy in whatever path he chooses.

Later, driving toward home and bedtime, Jeff declared the film “99% appropriate,” and the kids quickly (and accurately) jumped in to identify the 1% moment. Which means, of course, that even with all the positive family messages, the thoughtful pondering of cultural norms, the theatrical absurdity that crept hilariously into Meet the Patels, we’d managed to stay on-point, at least a little, with our irreverence. Thanks, Patels.

Morning Meetings: Creating a Safe Space for Learning | Edutopia

  I can’t get enough of this video.  “Morning Meetings,” was reposted by a fellow parent of public school students/graduates, who was also my houseparent in boarding school.  (OK, so perhaps it’s tied with “https://www.youtube.com/embed/p6ZojleXMn4” target=”_blank”>You do NOT understand weddings. At ALL.” because JoJo rules the world,…

My tooth(less) believer—for now.

Tooth and Consequences

“Dang it!” We were doing something, or rather Seth was, and whatever he was doing didn’t go as planned. So, this expression flew out of his mouth. Before too long, it became his go-to; a one-size fits all phrase to express his great disappointment in a moment, an action, a circumstance.

It took me a while to correct him. Finally, when I heard it three times in the course of an hour, the very first hour he was home from summer camp, I said, “Seth, when you use that phrase, it sounds like you don’t know enough words to express how you feel. We know this is not true. Will you please, please use the words you mean, next time? Like: That’s disappointing.”

“Ok, Mom.” I think he was too tired to argue. Or to point out that his parents have been unapologetic about our actual potty mouths, for just about his whole life. To be clear, in our house, there are no “bad words,” but we try to emphasize that there are certain words that cannot and should not be uttered by children in public, and that a person should do his or her level best to be descriptive in conversation. Sometimes, that means my kids’ parents are explaining to one another how few fucks we give about a certain situation. But other times, we just plain say what is on our minds: “That’s annoying. That’s disappointing.” “This is crap!” Ok, that last bit is what we might say when the dogs poop in the house. Anyway, you get the idea.

At bottom, I don’t want my kids using cop-out language. The more specific they are, the better communicators they become, the better understood they are by the world around them, and frankly, the more able they are to process their actual feelings. So, that’s the “why.”

So, last night, we’re at dinner, and Seth loses a tooth. Or he pulled it out, perhaps. Anyway, the tooth that was previously in his mouth was now, along with some blood, in his hand. I wrapped it in some tissues, tucked it into my purse, and sent him off to wash his hands, and rinse his mouth. Which he did. Upon returning home, he asked for the tooth, was presented with a piece of cling wrap in which to encase the tissue-wrapped item, and tucked it under his pillow.

Lance, by now, was goading him about whether the Tooth Fairy is real, and whether it’s actually you know, me. “How will the tooth fairy know to come to the house?” Seth asked. You could tell by the way he asked that he was walking that line between knowing it’s me and wanting to believe it’s a real fairy. Lance says, “Oh, no problem, I’ll send her a text.” I heard this as background to my putting away my shoes, brushing my teeth. And then, I realized I never should have given that kid a phone. Ping! Ping! My iPad and iPhone were competing with each other to tell me I had a text. Let me be clear: I give a fuck about my kid believing in the tooth fairy until he is 40, so this was not ok. Thusly, when my beautiful firstborn child arrived at my side, smirking,

My tooth(less) believer—for now.

My tooth(less) believer—for now.

to tell me, “You have a text,” I did what any good mother would do: I flicked him on the forehead, with my finger, while announcing, “I flick you on the forehead!” in a silly accent. Because silly accents make flicking your child’s forehead okay, somehow. No, not really. But I stand by my flicking. Because Tooth Fairy, dammit.

Actually, Seth thought the flicking was so much fun, he kept taunting me: “You’re the tooth fairy!” And then I would flick him. And then I would flick his brother, twice, for not knowing better than to ruin his brother’s (MY) fun. One important detail, here, is that Lance is almost my height. So he thinks he’s almost as powerful as I am. Eventually, he will learn that is never to be. No child is ever more powerful than his or her parent, ever. For now, he thinks it’s a real thing. So he tried to flick me. Seth got in on it. They conspired, without exchanging a single, actual word, in fact, to tackle me onto my bed so they could flick me. Well, no. No. Definitely not happening. “Get out, go away, leave my room!” We’ve just finished a remodel, and there are still odd objects, like mirrors and sculptures propped against walls in my room. We were in a particularly tight corner, and there was a mirror, and I said, “If you don’t leave now, that mirror is going to get broken, and this won’t end well.” So, they started to leave. Because they are not idiots, in actual fact. As evidenced by the ploy Seth attempted: “Mommy,” he said, arranging his features into his “I’ll always be your little baby Sethie” face, “I just want a little hug.”

“Nope, nope, sorry, not now, not happening, I love you, get out.”

And as he walked away, he tossed me a faux sad look and said, “That’s the first time you ever said no to a hug.” And then: “That’s disappointing.”

And then I was so busy doing my happy dance about the fact that he not only skipped the Dang It, but used the little lesson against me in a knowing, ironic zinger, I almost forgot to leave the money under his pillow, and definitely forgot to write the traditional tooth fairy letter that some idiot decided was a good idea when she only had one kid, and no actual idea about how many teeth fall out of a kid’s head during childhood. But that’s another story. Which I promise to tell, later. Sorry if that’s disappointing, but right now, I’m not sure I can find a fuck to give.

Would you turn down free gold? I think not.

Free Gold? It’s a Trap.

The “Leprechaun Trap” assignment sheet came home from school, about ten days ago, with Seth, my second grader. I remember grumbling my way through the experience of building one, four years ago, when Lance was in second grade. Lance, if memory serves, thought the whole exercise was cruel and unusual punishment—for the Leprachaun. “Why are we trying to trap him, Mom? What do we do with him once we have him?” I thought it was cruel and unusual punishment for the parents.

Truly, I was at a loss to answer his questions. Obviously, I don’t have any Irish heritage on which to hang an elaborate story of why the Leprechaun needs trapping. And, by this point, we’d already had the opportunity, shall we say, to make it “our little secret” that Santa isn’t real, and then hang out with him, anyway—did I really want to go this route, again? Was it necessary? I fell back on, well, science. I explained that building the (humane) trap was a good way to figure out how things work. And then I teased my firstborn, non-trouble-maker,  that maybe it would help me figure out a way to build a trap for him, in the event he got up to too much mischief. Talk about cruel and unusual.

We seem to have, in our house, arrived at the juncture where we’ve deemed that Halloween, St. Valentine’s Day, and St. Patrick’s Day, are not Jewish holidays, obviously. For these holidays, we fall into the category of American Jews who sort of hover around the sentiment of certain holidays, making clear to our kids that there are religious roots from another faith, but there are also reasons to participate, in the same way that we might invite non-Jewish friends to a Pesach seder or a Purim Shpiel. Heck, we’ll even go to a Christmas party, but in our home, the sanctity of that holy day in Christianity is observed by not observing it for sport (no “winter tree” or “Hanukkah bush” in our home, no sporting exchange of gifts.) This, from a girl whose mother bought egg-dye kits every year around Easter, because it was fun—and because it made all the egg consumption around Passover just a tad bit more colorful. Whatever.

Still, the whole Leprechaun Trap thing stressed me out, to be honest. My selfish, evil side has been hard at work, wondering whether it would be frowned upon to petition to get a condition called “lack of craftiness” recognized by the ADA.

Yes, the overdrive of Holiday Land—the kinds of Let’s Make Everything a Dress-Up, Interwebs-Worthy Production Number may be driving me to make jokes that could be, conservatively, classified as being firmly planted in the County of Poor Taste.  Yet, I’m not alone in my rallying cry for the overwhelmed and under-enthused. Writer Kristen Howerton summed it up pretty well, over on HuffPo, today. Not that I don’t appreciate the magic of childhood, and the hilarity of some people’s Leprechreativity.

But there’s another layer that gives me pause—not my family’s specific situation, because my kids know who we are, and what we’re about, so navigating Halloween, Christmas, Valentine’s and St. Patrick’s Day isn’t, by any stretch, a hardship. Christmas, for instance, may get us a little riled up about the fact that there seems to be no other topic to explore at school, no corner of the curriculum that isn’t touched, in some way, by this holiday. But, actually, I get good and freaked out when I think about families who can’t afford the time and resources to go gangbusters, even if they’d like to do so, and yet are bombarded with subtle and not-so-subtle messages about the look and feel of the season—whatever the season.

So, my question is, how much of this is fun diversion, and how much is pressure to conform to an ideal that may seem out of reach, for one reason or another?

That pressure seems, in some way, to be avoidable. I’m all for the educational value of learning customs and traditions, of exchanging messages of friendship and good will, of holidays whose celebrations revolve around candy. These are all good things. But it’s the ramped-up, everything-is-a-craft situation that adds a layer of pressure that feels unnecessary. (Some parents aren’t lazy, or un-talented, like me. Some have strong religious convictions that dictate against even causal observance of holidays; others simply have no time, amidst the working of multiple jobs and trying to keep their heads above the water line, to get all crafty.) I’ve gone so far as to write impassioned emails to the teachers and administration at our school, pointing out the insidious trickle-to-tsunami of well-intentioned, all-in-good-fun overblown Spirit of the Season for just these reasons.

Still, during the rest of the year, my protests are, for the most part, perfunctory. I buy store-bought Valentine cards, and if the theme my kid wants to use has an option for including a pencil, then, I’ll go all out and buy the pencils. Under no circumstances do we craft our greetings. St. Patrick’s Day, when I was a kid, was all about wearing green—I don’t remember the pinching-if-you-don’t tradition, but I’m sure it was there. I don’t remember building a trap. When it came up, four years ago, the assignment was a required piece of curricula. Yes, I I felt a twinge of “why do we have to make a big thing about this?” but I, kind of, got behind it on the premise of encouraging creativity and engineering, in a way that captures the imagination of a second grader.

This year, however, when the Leprechaun Trap assignment came home labeled “OPTIONAL,” I swear to you, I almost danced a jig. You know, because I’m so Irish. It felt like a very tiny step toward progress.

Still, when I was on the first of what will be many Marie Kondo-inspired closet-cleaning binges, two weeks ago, I collected some found objects (almost-finished rolls of paper towels, never-used Velcro rollers for my hair, a shoe box) and offered them to Seth. “You want these for your Leprechaun trap?” He accepted them, but said he wasn’t sure what to do with them. I told him I was sure he’d figure it out. He’s an engineering-minded kid, after all. I tried to get myself to suggest we work on it a few times. Then, I tried to suggest that he work on it with one of our friends who was helping with the kids while we were out of town for a long weekend. I tried to remember to do it on Sunday night, the night before it was due, when we got back from the trip. But, of course, I was too tired and blissed-out from looking at scenery like this, all weekend.

View from a spa pool. Not a bad place to start the day.

View from a spa pool, Terranea Resort. Not a bad place to start the day.

Monday morning, I took a final swing: “Do you want to try to make a trap before school? We have time…” Seth demurred. He was okay, skipping it. And, for once, I was okay letting go of something “optional,” thinking of it as another in my line of quiet protests against the overdoing of holidays in general, and a good exercise in giving my Type-A, do-it-all nature, a small respite.

Then, this morning, Seth lingered in his room after getting dressed. This isn’t unusual, and, often as not, he’ll emerge from his messy den of creativity, having created a new Lego structure or art project. Today, he announced, “I built a Leprechaun Trap!” And, sure enough, he’d used the box as a base, and the towel tube as a tunnel/ramp for entry. The rollers were propped up on either side, inside the box, with paper towels sticking out like flames.

Would you turn down free gold? I think not.

Would you turn down free gold? I think not.

And, dear reader, different versions of me had different reactions.

The “Type-A” Me: Crap, you couldn’t have done this, YESTERDAY? What a bummer you won’t get to share this with your class!

The “Proud Mother” Me: My kid is SO creative.

The “Ashamed” Me: Why don’t I do enough to capture his creativity?

The “Don’t Be Silly” Me:  Duh, left to his own devices, he is plenty creative.

The “STEM Fan” Me: Look! My kid is an engineering GENIUS!

The “Facebook Addict” Me: I must post a picture.

The “Trying to DeClutter” Me: If I take a picture, we can recycle it.

Seth, said: “Don’t worry, I’ll just save it to use next year!”

Practical me will have to duke it out with Decluttering me, over that one.

So, what do you think of Leprechaun Traps? What’s your take on holidays in school? Are you gung-ho on all the crafting, or wishing all the craft stores would simply…fade away? Let me know in the comments!

One of these things is not like the other...

Reality? Check!

Twice a week, for the past seven, I have revisited an old fear—the fear that I have, somehow, messed up the transfer of the baseball schedule from the Basin Recreation Pee Wee Baseball League website to the iCal app in my phone.

This is a fear based in my very real lack of executive function. A fear based in the fact that, yes, I’ve messed up the times of games more than once in my kids’ Park City sporting careers. I’ve been known to miss the first day of ski school, to get the start time wrong for the karate class/piano lesson/tennis lesson that starts at the same time every week. Tonight, the fear became a reality again—and I reveled in the moment. Because, you see, we’d gotten almost to the end of the season and this was the first time I had screwed up. Yep, we claim the very smallest of victories, as they belong to us. This is my reality.

My first clue had been when I didn’t see any of the cars belonging to the parents of the Mets, which is Seth’s team this year. I saw, in fact, nary an orange jersey heading up the hillside to the baseball fields. It was three minutes to first pitch, and, well, usually there are more than a few of us straggling up the hill together. I articulated my concern to Steve, dad to one of Seth’s good buddies, who noted that he was substitute coaching for the Astros. “The regular coaches always seem to be out of town on the rainy days,” he quipped. Given that, this morning, the weather had looked like this….

IMG_7125

…it could have been a lot worse. 

My neighbor, Jenny from the Block, was there to witness my parenting foul ball. “Um, I think I just saw a bunch of Mets,” she said. “They were leaving.”

Seth got very upset—”But it’s my last game!!!” It isn’t. Potato, po-tah-toe. It might as well have been. The world looks very different to a seven year old at 6:30 PM, than it does earlier—like at 6:29, when we had discussed, in the car, that he would have one more game after this.

Then, he said, “Wait! Maybe I can play for Xander’s team!”

Jenny from the Block encouraged him. “Go ask.” Validation from Another Mom. Which, we all know, is better than validation from one’s actual mom. I love my village.

“They’re all always short a player or two,” she reminded me. In fact, the Mets had loaned the Astros a couple of players the previous Friday evening.

Seth jogged out to the spot where the boys were warming up, and asked Steve if he could play. “Sure! The more the merrier!”

 

One of these things is not like the other...

One of these things is not like the other…

I settled into my spot, next to Jenny, while she regaled me with tales of the Great Squirrel Takeover in her house, this week. You know, the week she’s home with three children under five, while her husband is on a business trip, and there turns out to be an invasive squirrel presence in her house. We giggled. She let me hold her baby. I watched mine gamely become an Astro in a Mets Jersey.

Earlier in the week, I had riffed on Facebook about a blog post I’d seen, touting Seven Days of Reality, reminding us all that parenting, in particular has fewer shiny, happy moments than Facebook posts—particularly those labeled #100happydays—would lead you to believe. My reality, tonight, seemed pretty good— I scored an evening holding a cuddly baby, I let my kid see he could solve the problem, himself, and achieve the goal of having fun learning to play baseball, regardless of what his jersey says on the front. A previous version of myself would have been really rattled by the whole thing, and gone the whole high-blood-pressure, self-flagellation route. This version of me? She giggled at the absurdity, and the dumb luck that she’d already, on this day, gotten to kids to two different camps, two miles apart, with simultaneous drop-off and pick-up times. She’d lucked into lunch with friends, run a writer’s workshop for five children at her dining room table, gotten her younger son to karate more or less on-time, fed both kids, and then gotten the kid to a baseball game. The fact that it wasn’t the correct baseball game? Minor detail.

Did I mention, though, that this game was a 6:30 start? PM. In the EVENING. For first-and-second-graders. (“I want the name of the MAN who set the Pee Wee baseball schedule,” I’d quipped, earlier. “Because nobody’s MAMA set a game for this hour!” I got an Amen from the other moms. Yes, I did.) So, it surprised me not at all when, following the insult of a pitch hitting his wrist during his last, reluctant, at-bat, the child came screaming off the field, howling in pain, and progressed from a happy, seven year-old playing ball with his pals, to a miserably major-league walking melting-down. It was soooo not his fault. We both knew it.

“This is all YOUR fault, mom!!!”

“Yep, you’re right, it is. It’s my fault you are having fun playing with Xander.”

“It is NOT FUN! It’s not my REAL TEAM. I want to play with the METS!”

“Think of it as the All-Star Break,” I suggested, silently patting myself on the back for this totally relevant sports reference. “Regular season resumes on Friday.”

“No! This is awful, and it’s all your fault.”

“Yes. Hey, look at the puppy!!!” (Silent thanks to the mom holding a puppy. Brief giggle break.)

“It’s all your fault. And I want to sit on the blanket. Will you get up? My WRIST HURRRRRRTS!!!”

“And it’s my fault. So, yes, I will get up.”

Another mom, who had zipped up to the game on a break from work, popped over to check on his injury. “Are you feeling better?”

“Noooooooooooo!” Other Mom and I giggled, silently, to each other, so as not to further offend the child. I complimented her shoes. She said, “My husband calls them my clown shoes.” I said, “My husband would call them that, too. I love them.” We smiled, our sisterhood of the clown shoes, of the miserable seven-year-old, of the Pee Wee Baseball Motherhood.

“Love the 6:30 game, don’t you?” I asked Jenny. “Never mind. I’m going to let him play on the playground for a minute to see if his wrist is really hurt.” We agreed this was a good plan. It was pushing 8pm, by now. I was, still, calling the evening a success.

As we left, I said goodbye to Steve. “Thanks for letting Seth play for the Astros!”

“Hey, this isn’t the pros—anything goes.” Man, oh, man, I love my village.

The wrist, for the record, is fine. Reality? It doesn’t bite.

1268419_10151971525742845_543757598_o

Superhero Seth at 7: Seven Fun Facts

So, Lance always gets all the credit for making me a mom. He’s my first born, so that’s how it goes.

Seth, on the other hand, gets (and claims, at every turn) the credit for being my best Mother’s Day gift, ever. May 13 was a Sunday, Mother’s Day, in 2007. It was, of course, memorable. Although, I have to say, the pain-free version of Mother’s Day is always preferable. (Yes, yes, worth it all. Childbirth amnesia. Yada, yada.)

His birthday is today. He’s taking pencils as gifts to his classmates, a book to donate to the classroom library, and he’s been promised a cake by his reading tutors at Educational Advantage. He will cheer for his brother at the Park Record Spelling Bee. These are the trappings of Seth’s seventh birthday. The trappings of his life are first grade, religious school at Temple Har Shalom, and sleeping every night with our “bonus” family member, a blanket bunny named Dine Dine, that I hope he sleeps with, always. These are seven facts about Seth at seven.

 

Image courtesy Nixi Photography

Photo credit: Nixi Photography

1. He is, in his own mind, a superhero. Not just one in costume—but the Clark Kent side of Superman. And the kind of kid who’s so charming and fun, he’s bound to come up with some hair-brained scheme, and then charm his friends into going along with it. We try to guide him toward using his powers to good.

Image

2. His greatest superpower is empathy When we spend time with his grandparents and great-grandparents, he is solicitous and mindful. He knows, instinctively, that when his great grandmother forgets who he is, it’s her brain’s fault, not her intent. He offers to take my mom to find the restroom when we’re someplace that he knows she hasn’t been to recently—he knows she’s given to forgetting things.

3. He is both humorous and earnest. Sometimes he is both things at once, unintentionally. The other day, he was filled with angst about having to keep his Mother’s Day gift to me, a secret. I tried to play it off as no big deal, but that made him more upset. So, I proposed a solution: “Tell me about it, but save some details and I’ll be surprised by those.” His response: “MOM! I can’t do THAT! You know that I am FILLED with DETAILS and I always HAVE TO SHARE THEM. I CAN’T NOT SHARE THE DETAILS.” I bit my cheeks so I wouldn’t laugh. My cheeks bled. Other times, he just goes for the joke, because it’s there, and it must be told. I have no clue who modeled this behavior for him. Somewhere along the line, he picked up on the homonyms “duty” and “doody.”

4. He is coordinated. By the standards of his gene pool, he’s an Olympic level athlete. Sports just come to him. Balls? He throws them with a strong arm. He got every other recessive gene in our family—blond hair, blue eyes, colorblindness. So this “athletic” gene must have hitched a ride. And he’s a snappy dresser and a ridiculously good dancer. The kind of dancer around whom circles of people form on Bar Mitzvah dance floors. He gets that from his grandmothers.

Image

5. He is an expert cuddler. And he’s excellent at giving shoulder massages and foot rubs. He is learning the art of the stealth tickle, though “stealth” as a skill, is an uphill climb, for our boy. But if you tell him he’s cute, his stock answer is, always: “I’m not cute, I’m tough!” and then he slams his fist into his palm, for emphasis. (Sorry, Seth, but that makes you even cuter.)

6. He is an obsessed fan. Of Star Wars, of Billy Joel, of Lego—he builds countless creations out of his imagination, every week, and of all things superhero. For years, it was Buzz Lightyear. The kids’ rooms at the dentist are decorated with Toy Story decals, in his honor. He is, too, an obsessed fan of his family. Especially his big brother. This could help mitigate some of the issues I foresee with item #1, above, since his brother is not given to impulsive flights of fancy. This, I think, is lucky, too.

Image

7. He is just getting started. Right now, he’s finishing up his first year of a Dual Language Immersion program in French. What he lacks in vocabulary, he makes up for in accent. It is perfect. And hilarious. He is mentally preparing to ride his bike, well, this summer. He is ready to tackle the next challenge, and the next. I am so grateful he showed up when he did—but any day of the week, that kid’s arrival was a gift, and every day of the week, I’m grateful.

Happy 7th Birthday, Seth. You’ll always be my baby.

Love,

Mom

 

 

Juice Fast, Schmuice Fast….I Want a Burger!

It started out innocently enough. Or, perhaps, not innocently, at all. My kids got sick.

Obviously, there was only one thing to do: I bought enough produce to feed an army, and then I set out to puree it into a variety of tasty combinations. It was my reflexive response to both children falling ill on the second Monday of the new year.

Salad in a glass

Salad in a glass

After the strep cultures (one positive, one not yet positive), there was a prescription to be filled, and a request for yogurts, and for chicken soup. Which I was more than happy to make, from scratch, because it’s one of the few things I do well, always.

As I chopped, sautéed, simmered, and stirred, I thought: Immunity. Must. Boost. Immunity. This would be my own kind of Survivor challenge—husband away for the week, children sick and hanging out ON MY PILLOWS in my bed, Sundance Film Festival looming. I would make many juices and shakes, in an effort to scare germs away.

Then, my dear pal Florida Keys Girl posted, on Facebook, that she wished she were the type of person who liked kale smoothies. I felt, in that moment, fortunate (and a little sorry for her). I LOVE kale smoothies. I like to drink my lunch—most of a salad, plus some protein powder and almond milk, and I’m good. It’s quick, effective, and I can sip while I work. Salad requires two hands (or one hand and more coordination than I posses), and a table. A smoothie is a one-handed operation, to be executed anywhere. The couch, the car. I can type and sip. I can drive and sip. And I am easily distracted. Often, I make a salad and forget to finish it. I’m not like this at breakfast or dinner, mind you. I like to eat. But lunch is hard–it’s a flow-stopper. One would argue (and I have argued) that the midday meal should be savored, enjoyed and treated like a proper break, a mental reset, if you will.

But, seriously, I don’t have time for that. So, I drink my lunch. And, yes, dear reader, it would be more fun to drink, say, martinis, for lunch. Or wine. Florida Keys Girl makes this point even more persuasively, by the way.

But I have to drive places in the middle of the day. So.

Anyhoo, I set out to follow this one-day Juice Cleanse. It had shown up in my e-mail, because health writers get those sorts of things in our e-mail in-boxes. Nevertheless, a juice cleanse is something I never, ever thought I would do. When other people announced their juice cleanse intentions, I would say things like, “I like food.” But I was starting it in the middle of the day. So, I reasoned, I could make half a go of it. So, I had about half the juices and smoothies (“Dad,” said Lance to Jeff on the phone, later. “She was running the blender, ALL DAY!”), and then I made soup for the kids, and decided I should eat some. Hey, it was liquid. With noodles. Yum. Of course, because I’d only half-cleansed, I was still hungry. So I had grape nuts. And almond milk. Which is a smoothie ingredient. Which is good for you, right? Right.

Grape Nuts in Almond Milk = smoothie? Maybe not.

Grape Nuts in Almond Milk = smoothie? Maybe not.

The next day, I made another round of smoothies and juices. All hail the Blendtec. These juices were filling, I figured, because I had not used a juicer to get rid of much of the fiber. Yes, I thought. I can do this. Then, for dinner, I made quiche for the kids, and, well, eggs are liquid until they’re cooked, so I ate some. And the roasted fingerling potatoes. Because, vegetables have a lot of water in them, so same diff.

Still, I couldn’t help notice that the Juice Cleanse had some mojo.

People, over those first days, there was, I dare say….a lot of peeing. Wow. Who KNEW? By the second morning, I found myself feeling decidedly not bloated. Which was sort of a surprise, because I hadn’t realized that I was bloated, at all, in the first place. Maybe this had some merit. Especially since running the infirmary here at the Rothchild Ranch had 86’d my gym workouts for the week. And (the ultimate insult) my Wednesday ski clinic. Anyway, I figured that not-bloated-feeling meant my two half-days were adding up to something. Then, a three-day cleanse came into my in-box. And I thought…maybe I can do this. I could try to do three full days, next. Or maybe two—since I had the equivalent of one day under my belt. Hmmm….

Day three as Nurse Mommy—one child goes back to school, the other does not. I make my morning smoothie. And then, I make a green juice–my favorite from the previous day. Avocado. Broccoli, kale, chard, arugula, lemon.

there's broccoli in them there smoothies

there’s broccoli in them there smoothies

Then, a berry smoothie. The cleanse instructions say you’re not supposed to wait more than two hours between smoothies (Courses?). But this is my issue—I can’t remember to stop working to eat lunch most days. Hence, the salad smoothie at 2:50 pm, most days. So, I got three drinks in eight hours, not six, and then I had a big gap in the hours that consisted of: pick up kid, collect assignments for other kid, pick up antibiotic for second kid who FINALLY got a strep diagnosis confirmed, buy more smoothie ingredients, unload said ingredients into fridge, prepare snacks for kids, take healthier kid to karate, call spouse on business trip….HOURS, and no food. Nothing but the smell of burgers grilling at the bar next to karate. Suddenly, there were no other foods in the world that seemed as appealing as a burger. Still, I went home, I made up for lost time, sort of. Green juice with celery, spinach and cucumber. Then, coconut water, berries and protein powder.

Then, while helping a child with homework, I roasted the remaining head of kale. Because it’s yummy. And I couldn’t blend another damn thing.

Kale, chewable version. How novel.

Kale, chewable version. How novel.

More peeing. I must be doing something right. Except there are four drinks left unmade in my day. And I’m good at juice cleansing until 10 pm. Which is, I’m told, a very bad time to eat. There is actual food in the fridge. Things I could chew, swallow. Feel in my belly. Enjoy. I’m all for this. Except—I’m feeling, good. Energized. Plus, I don’t want to feel bloated. Yet, I can’t shake the feeling that the only juice worth drinking is grape–aged grape juice. From Napa. Or Sonoma. Or Burgundy. Or the Loire Valley. Or Trader Joe’s in any other state than Utah. (I can hear my pal, grapefriend, cheering madly from the bleachers.)

I’m pretty sure that I’ve confirmed that I cannot live on salad smoothies, alone. But I’m glad I have this little weapon in my arsenal—fun new recipes, and a nice little pick-me-up to remind me why I should not eat too many burgers.

All of which just underscores my favorite mantra: Everything in moderation. Including moderation.

In which I meet the Baker Twins—and get inspired

You guys—the coolest things happened during the 2014 Sundance Film Festival. No, I did not meet Robert Redford (this time). I did not hang out with Zach Braff, or Kate Hudson. Instead, I got surprised by a film and some very cool up-and-coming talent—and inspired to push my own creative endeavors, further (more on that in another post). THIS is what Makes. My. Sundance. It’s the week when I have my choice of films that may never see a mainstream movie theater. And the week when I get to meet interesting producers and directors just standing in line. The week in which I always say, “Yes,” to interviewing an actor I’ve never heard of.

Enter, Shauna Baker, from a film called Drunktown’s Finest. Like Braff’s film, it was funded, in part by a Kickstarter campaign. Unlike Braff’s film, it was inspired by a story on ABC’s 20/20 that reported on Gallup, NM as “Drunktown, USA,” because of the high incidence of alcoholism and crime rooted in the nearby Navajo reservation. Filmmaker Sydney Freedland, who grew up on that reservation, made the film to highlight the struggles of coming of age in such challenging circumstances. Her presentation was artful—because while the circumstances these characters face may seem dire and hopeless, the overriding message is one of strength, resilience and community.

A few hours after screening the film, I met the Baker twinsImage

Shauna has a sister, Shannon, and they have built their careers together. The twins were born in the Stellat’en First Nation Reservation, as part of the Carrier Dene Tribe in British Columbia. I set out to get their perspective on why this is an important film—but I got a great chat on lots of topics, ranging from Cross-Fit (“You have to go to an all-women’s gym,” Shauna explained, in a no-nonsense manner. “It’s all about empowering each other. And you have to eat Paleo—which is basically how we grew up eating—or else you’ll bulk up.”) to building a successful acting career. (“I got my degree in business,” Shauna explains. “So from the start, I knew we’d have to treat this like a business.”)

These are women who can hunt and fish—and clean the animals they have killed—but cannot speak their tribe’s native language. “Our grandmother speaks it, but it’s a dying dialect,” explains Shauna. “She’s the one who insisted we go to college. It was a priority in our household.”

It’s that blend of tradition and modernity—an understanding of the value of both—that has led them where they are. “It was my dream to be in entertainment,” Shauna says. “But I didn’t know how to do it, and Shannon was the one who said, ‘Let’s do this, together,’ We can figure it out.”

I didn’t know how else to ask, so I just put it out there: Did their teamwork approach, the fact that they have each other, help them succeed in life “off the rez?”

Their answer was unequivocal—and practically in unison. “Without a doubt,” they said.

Interestingly, the interview could well have been for a business magazine, as the women detailed their strategy for creating their careers. Their story is equal parts bootstrapping discipline and adventurous moxie. “When we were first booking modeling jobs, we had a “business line” which was our only phone line,” Shauna says. “So when people called, they thought they were talking to our agent or an assistant, not us—it made negotiating our rates so much easier.”

Some modeling gigs followed, then an appearance on Tyra Banks’ talk show, a “fluke” of a role on Smallville—“And then I said, let’s try acting,” Shannon says, making it sound for all the world like a whim. It’s clearly anything but. “Being at Sundance just gives us the opportunity to be around talented people, to inspire us to work on our craft, more,” Shauna explains. “That’s what people don’t get—it’s not luck, it’s work, it’s dedication.”

So, tell me, when is the last time you were inspired to improve at something? What’s the “Sundance” in your life that gets your creativity flowing, your drive rebooted?

BLURRED LINES AND BODY IMAGE

Good Body Image: You know you want it.

I have to give a big shout-out to my scratched cornea for upping my self-esteem and giving me a new perspective on that catchy Robin Thicke tune, Blurred Lines.

Bear with me. First, I’ll admit, I have been conflicted about the lyrics—for all the reasons you’d expect. Still, I totally dug this version with Jimmy Fallon:

But I hadn’t given the song much thought until I scratched my cornea and was stuck wearing my glasses to exercise. By the way, I happen to really like my glasses. They’re sorta retro, with funky purple and green frames, and there are flowers on the inside of the temple pieces. Flowers, people. Do you know how happy this makes me? Yes, I bought them in the tween department at the optometrist. And yes, I totally rock progressive bifocals in them. Which, it turns out, makes it way, way easier to read the monitor on the spin bike, even if I feel kinda grossed out by the combo of sweat and specs.

But, out of necessity, I muddled through TRX and spin and circuit training classes for the better part of a week, before I got to my favorite Wednesday morning yoga class. Whereupon, I rolled out my mat and parked my glasses next to it. Because, seriously—I couldn’t possibly manage a yoga practice in my glasses. Plus, I do a lot of it with my eyes closed, so I figured I could just take it a step further, and up the ante on drawing my focus inward. (I can do this—extroverted as I am, it’s a little complicated, but I get there. Sort of. A guy who works out in a lot of the same classes as I do, stopped me after a recent yoga class and demanded to know what I do for a living, because, it seemed, I gave off a big old aggressive ball-buster vibe, even in the Zen yoga room. Sigh.)

“You’re far from plastic…”

So, anyway, there I am, humming along to the big, group Om, trying to find my inner something or other. I’m in up dog, down dog, and then, somewhere in the middle of Warrior I,  I opened my eyes, and let my gaze fall just past my fingertips, toward the mirror in the front of the room. Again, I have a hard time maintaining inner focus, so I usually use the mirror to spy on my fellow classmates and see who’s better at Yoga than I am. You notice how I completely miss the point of the class and get all competitive about it? What the hell? Right. So, I’m trying to spy with my uncorrected vision, which, admittedly, isn’t going to be super-effective. And I notice this lithe, strong figure. “Wow,” I think to myself, “That woman has a cute figure! She’s so petite, her waist is tiny, she has cute curvy hips and super-toned legs. Where’d she come from?”

Suddenly, I realized I knew her—“That’s ME!” I almost said it out loud, but caught myself.

“You’re a good girl!”

And it hit me—when I have corrected vision, and I’m in the middle of a workout, my focus is trained on my (admittedly, perceived) flaws. The “squeezy parts,” courtesy of childbearing and a bout with Cushing’s Syndrome. Lumps and bumps that don’t even show up in street clothes.

In the past year, I’ve spent an inordinate amount of energy on getting in the best shape of my life—partly because I desperately don’t want to get sick again. It’s unlikely I could get Cushing’s Syndrome, again—it strikes only one in one million people, so the odds of a tumor growing on my remaining adrenal gland are not high. Also, I know that exercise won’t prevent Cushing’s, in the first place, but I figure if I can keep myself in good overall health, I can put myself in better stead to fend off other diseases.  Fitness, as my friend Kathy Smith likes to say, is like building a great foundation for your house, so no matter what happens to the structure above, you’re always working with a firm, solid foundation.

The result of all this sweating is that I’ve gotten rid of some 30 pounds—and all the clothes that used to fit them. I’ve developed a minor shopping addiction—skinny jeans, cute tops, dresses—all in sizes I hadn’t seen since high school. But there are lots of days that the only evidence I have that I still look the same as I did the day before, or the week before, is that all these teeny-tiny clothes, still fit, no problem. Because when I look in the mirror, I zero in on the “trouble spots,” which, really, are no trouble to anyone but me.

And so, the blurred lines. I could see a pretty shape, a healthy shape. And not a single detail to distract me from the overall picture—the picture of health. So, in the spirit of Jimmy Fallon’s Thank You Notes:

Thank you, scratched cornea, for giving me a reason to not see what I shouldn’t, and to focus on what I should.

The seven stages of spin class

There is nothing quite like the workout you get in a spin class. So few activities offer a ten-plus calories-per-minute burn rate, with a soundtrack and motivating instructor. So few activities offer you the opportunity to pedal for miles and miles without leaving the room. In Park City, you’re not just taught, but coached. Competitive cyclists take these classes, weekend warrior triathletes. You get tips for your mountain bike ride and your road ride—whether you engage in those sports or not, the assumption is that you do, and you’re crazy if you don’t. And, somehow, I keep going back—maybe it’s the view of the luscious lap pool, empty, beckoning to me as I crush mile after mile on my stay-put bike, in a room full of other sweaty people. Maybe it’s the fantasy that I could be one of those super duper athletes one day. Or maybe it’s the full seven stages of class—not the cycling-defined stages, mind you, but the mental stages. Herewith, my play-by-play:

1. Anticipation: I’m setting up the bike. Every time is like the first time. I usually get a bike that was last ridden by a 7-foot tall bodybuilder who has tightened the bolts to the point where I have to call upon a stronger-than-me person in the room to help me loosen them. Yeah, I’m badass. Once I’ve brought everything into alignment, I take a stab at figuring out whether the computer will work this time. I start pedaling. I wonder about the playlist, and how many climbs versus isolations we’ll be doing.

2. Self-Hating
Class begins—warmup is way more RPMs than I’m mentally prepared to hack. Yet, here I am, hating myself for getting on this bike in the first place. I am gasping for air, grabbing for my water bottle at ridiculous intervals. I am convinced that I’m not keeping up with the class—then I’m mad at myself again for getting competitive in an individual sport. Oh, yeah, and indoor cycling isn’t exactly a sport, so much as it is an imitation of a sport. The instructor just announced our first sprint. I want to die.

3. Self-Loathing
The sprint. My legs can’t pedal fast enough. The super-triathletes in this room are going like mad. I’m sucking wind, barely. Cue water bottle distraction. We’re sprinting, we’re sprinting, and I’m thinking: “My kingdom for a hill climb.” And then, it happens. “Turn it up to your 9 or 10, and let’s climb.” Suddenly, I’m in the land of “be careful what you wish for.” My quads are burning, my breathing is too rapid. I’m pushing myself to keep some insane cadence. I check the clock, which is reflected (backwards, of course) in the mirror. I’m good at reading reflected time—but now I’m wishing I did not have this gift. It is the sixth such time I have checked the clock since class began at half-past eight. Dammit all to hell, it’s been 9:05 for the past TWENTY MINUTES. I hate myself for myriad reasons, now.

4. Nausea
And reason number 7,364 is that I now feel like I need to puke. Which is, by and large, considered bad form in the spin room. More water. We’re still climbing, but there’s talk of something called isolations, wherein you make your upper body stay still and only “spin” your legs. I can do these fine, when we’re climbing. When we are supposed to do it at speed, I turn into a spaz. Or, should I say, revert to my spazzed out self. Oh, well…here goes nothing.

5. Euphoria
Somewhere in the last eight minutes, the endorphins kicked in. Give me a climb! I’ll turn the dial up to ELEVEN! Tell me to spin it out while isolating! I’m IN, baby! BRING IT. Oh, and I just said all of that out loud. My fellow spinners give me looks of mild amusement—or maybe that’s just the smile they have in their expressions arsenal reserved for people they think are deranged.

6. Free Love
It’s minute 46, and I love each and every one of you. Not just “you” who are spinning in this room with me, but you who are reading this post. I love the world. I love climbing. I love isolating. I love when the teacher says, “Sure, we can recover—after class!” I love the fact that the miles-ridden indicator on the computer is nearing 20. I love that I’m thisclose to having burned 600 calories in an hour. I love that I’ve just ridden almost 20 miles to NOWHERE. I am the spin-room equivalent of the drunk frat boy, and his alcohol-infused love of all in the room—nay, the world. I AM LOVE.

7. Sweet Relief
“Sit up straight and give yourselves a hand! You did it!” Oh, yes, thank you to all holy spirits—from all religions and spiritual worlds, actually. This workout has reached its best moment: It has ended. And now, I’m off to find food—and eat with impunity.

Well-padded children, photographed by Heli-Mom

Just Remember, This Was Your Idea…

We watched the Opening Ceremonies for the 2012 Olympic Summer Games in London, and while I remain baffled by most of the content of last night’s presentation, I feel like we’ve embraced the spirit of sport with renewed zeal in our house.

To wit:  I went out on a limb to conquer my fear of riding my mountain bike down hills. This is not to be confused with the super-extreme body-armor-required sport calledDownhill Mountain Biking. I just want to ride some single track and go downhill and not think, “I’m gonna die.” So I took a lesson—which I’ll write about for the Deer Valley Blog, soon. I did this because, unlike in the family skiing hierarchy, I’m the wuss biker in our family. The kids haven’t done single track, yet. But they will, and they will leave me in their dust if I don’t up my game. Which is the same motivation I had to learn to ski in the trees. So, the lesson. And the charity of a bunch of girlfriends who love the sport and want me to love it enough that they will actually do wussy rides with me to build my confidence. Which seem to me to be karmically appropriate (and still, so generous), since that is my vibe when I ski with my friends who ski, shall we say, with a lesser dose of balls-to-the-wall than I employ. (Which, until the Mahre Training Camp at Deer Valley Resort, wasn’t that much, but that’s another story, altogether.)

And while I always had a healthy respect for friends who learned to ski as adults, I had no idea, NO IDEA, what I meant by that until I tried to overcome my fear of the downhill ride. The whole way down, I wanted to call my pal, Grapefriend, with whom I’ve discussed that very phenomenon, to say, “I know what they feel like, those newbie adult skiers! This is freakin’ scary, sister!”

And, in the spirit of scaring the rocks out of myself only once in a week, I decided not to try to keep up with my kids in their new chosen sport. They can skateboard without me, I thought. And then I realized, since they don’t yet know how to skateboard, and they had these shiny new boards to try out, that I had to accompany them to the skateboard park. And it was 4pm, and I thought (incorrectly) that I had already maxed out on feeling old. As in: every minute I spent in Zumiez, the skater shop in the Tanger Outlet Mall near our house. It is this chaotic, well-stocked place (staffed with polite, clean-cut kids, in fact) that seemed to scream at Jeff and me: “You are out of your depth here! Abort mission!” Our kids, high on the whiff of excitement and rebellion that emanates from the sound system in Zumiez, would not stand for anything less than leaving with sweet new rides. Still, we giggled a lot. Jeff found a “Nerdy Bird” T-shirt for me, which he said he’d only buy if he could also buy me the Daisy Duke-sized gym shorts with the Corona Extra logo on them. And I said, fine, if you’re willing to hire me a personal trainer five days a week, and then he put them back. He tried on three hats with a logo that spelled out OBEY, and we had a good laugh. Mostly because they are that big-huge-boxy style baseball hat that makes a 40something guy in ironic fashion-forward horn rims look…well, absurd, really.

photo: courtesy Zumiez.com, where you can buy this hat, if you want. Jeff’s birthday is in February.

Connor, the nice high-school kid, egged us on. He tried to get us to buy our own boards.He was unbelievably patient with my kids, and kept extolling the virtues of helmets, knee pads, elbow pads, wrist guards. I LIKED this boy. And when he asked me if I followed his mom on twitter (and we figured out that, yes, we follow each other!) I tweeted to her about how great her Connor is. And felt for all the world like an old biddy. But whatever. The kids were happy, and also asking if they could learn to race Downhill Mountain Bikes like Connor, who also coaches the youth mountain bike club in town. My darling husband made sure to put me in my place when I told Connor I was working up my nerve to ride down hills. “You know that’s different than Downhill, right, Nan?” “Yes, I was about to say that the Downhill guys totally smoked me on the hill the other day, and yet, were VERY polite about that, and I like that Mountain Bike Racer people are polite.” Sounding ever more like the old biddy. So you can see how that maxed-out feeling had been achieved.

Connor, left, trying not to laugh too hard at the crazy Rothchilds

Which brings me to 4pm, when I marched into the skate park at City Park, determined to support my kids’ latest dangerous sports endeavor. And there was no way around looking or acting like a helicopter mom. So, I owned it, and very loudly told my kids to rub dirt in their scrapes and try again. And very loudly explained that every good rider in the park had fallen a ton when they first started. Because maybe the people who belonged there would decide I was ok if I was loud and pushing my kids to be tough. This, of course, was all guesswork. I made friends with another skater’s dog. I didn’t narc out the guy who was smoking in the corner. And I wished, fervently, that I had been a cool skater chick as a kid, so I would know how to teach the boys–and so that I might have a hope of earning a place of belonging in this foreign land.

By the way—no skater chicks in the park, save a lone in-line skater in derby garb, who was adorable. And who looked not at all like Florida Keys Girl and I looked some 20 years ago, when we took to the outdoor rink at Chelsea Piers in New York City,  in effort to become fit, cool in-line skater chicks—in a day. Um, so, anyway……There I was, not sure how to feel about the fact that Jeff was on a plane, bound for a conference. We would have been TWO useless grown-ups there, if he’d been present, after all—but I hated for him to miss the whole scene. I cemented my heli-status by videotaping incessantly and sending footage, via text, to Jeff-on-the-plane.

One little guy’s mom sat on a blanket on the other side of the ramps’  gates, venturing in once—to give her boy a rain warning, shooting me looks of empathy and solidarity (and not at all pity-fueled) before scurrying out again to her blanket. That kid was a seasoned-enough boarder, age 9, who told me, with a world-weary air about him, that he had learned a lot about riding by getting knocked over by the expert skaters in the park. Seth asked him why he wasn’t wearing any pads or helmet, and he said, “I’m practically a professional.” But when my kids—the only ones in full protective padding (I resisted the urge to buy a couple of rolls of bubble wrap and just swaddle them in it—aren’t you impressed?) on elbows, knees, wrists, and only two of five wearing helmets—told their new buddy that he should be in a helmet, at least. “I agree,” he said. “But my mom can’t find mine.” He was matter-of-fact, noting that he’d like some pads, too, but his parents weren’t in a hurry to buy them. With a “whattayagonnado?” shrug, he rolled over to try his next trick.

Well-padded children, photographed by Heli-Mom

I watched as Lance gained confidence and a little speed—trying new angles and turns over and over, figuring things out, making up “beat you to the other side” games with the other boy. Seth vacillated between fear, frustration, falling and regaining his courage, teaching himself to scoot, balance, glide. Quickly, he deemed himself “A PWO-Feshhional.”

All the while, my mind raced—did I have any friends who skate? I have thrown myself into improving or learning other sports—maybe I could learn skateboarding? I recalled the time my friend Juliann broke her leg, benched for the entire ski season, because she’d decided to hop on her longboard, in flip flops, to go get the mail. And how the paramedic had to repeat the report twice in his radio-call to the ER, “38 year-old female…..SKATEBOARDING accident. No, not 18…THIRTY-EIGHT…” Sigh. Frankly, the prospect of missing a ski season is the thing that’s keeping me from acting on my Eureka moment….The one when I realized I have a Facebook Friend who is a legit skater chick, who is definitely in my age bracket, and often— like me—decries the fact of our age bracket, because, we feel SO MUCH YOUNGER AND COOLER THAN WE ARE. We have mutual friends here in Park City. Skater Chick lives in the Skater Chic capital of the world: Southern California. And in my new fantasy, she comes to Park City to visit our other tragically-hip-minded friends and, charitably, teaches me to ride. Or, maybe she can just tell me about shredding, over drinks.

All the while, Jeff’s parting words as he left for the airport, rang in my ears…”Just remember, this was YOUR idea…” So, as soon as we got home, from our Apres-Skate Slurpees and First Aid Stop, I signed them up for Skateboard Camp at Park City Recreation, which, of course, has classes for everything, as long as you are willing to sign the waiver.

Ski jumper!

Nine years as a mom? Really?

Watching Lance turn 9 has been a treat. And a study in amazement, disbelief (9??? ALREADY???)

Our first family photo

One of my dear friends is fond of saying, “Every age is my favorite age.”

I get it. Because that’s how I have felt every minute of the last nine years—ten, really, because the moment I learned I was pregnant with my firstborn, I was in thrall with the very idea of being a mother. From the moment Lance was born, I was in thrall with the idea of being his mother. And there hasn’t been a minute of his life that I haven’t found something to wonder at, to marvel at—even in the inevitable moments of exasperation and frustration.

This morning, talking to my mother-in-law, I shared the fact that Lance’s birthday party guests are all friends he’s known since birth.

And I noted that he had a couple of play dates this weekend that were so easy—the kids getting along seamlessly, the parents having the ability to trust them to entertain themselves, that I wanted to just freeze him at this age. “At least you know it won’t last forever,” she remarked, wryly.

Still, I could remember how every year has been a good year, how lucky we are to have been blessed with a child who has been healthy and happy for his entire life, who has known the security of a safe, loving home, supportive parents and a village of people around him invested in his success as a human being. The tween years may loom, but these facts, I hope, will carry us forward through the challenge of helping him grow into each phase.

As I toured an online album of his first weeks of life, I found myself reliving the profound amazement, disbelief and gratitude that this precious little person had been entrusted to us. That feeling has never faded, but sometimes it takes a backseat to the daily juggle of school-homework-karate-dinner-bedtime.

On this day, I want to wish our Lance a Happy 9th Birthday, a year filled with wonder and fun. His curiosity amazes me, his passion for all things tech-y, his ability to push himself to do things that scare him, to absorb the lessons life hands him, to talk about his feelings, to devour books—big, long, complicated books, to tell jokes—good ones, to find the humor in almost any situation, to be able to dive into his religious studies with interest, to have a clear idea of what he wants, and to have a handful of friends who truly “get” him is more than I knew how to wish for him in those early days of his life.

Ski jumper!

Pizza chef!

My rider of bikes, skier of mountains, teller of jokes, giver of hugs, cooker of meals, lover of dogs, guardian of little brother, and cuddlier of mom and dad—I can’t wait to see what you do next. Happy 9th birthday, kiddo. You’re the best!

My four year-old stylist rocks!

I’m not ashamed to tell you that my four year-old dressed me today. I’m very lazy about my style. I live in the mountains and feel like I need an excuse to dress nicely. Seth, on the other hand, is big on dressing up, looking “handsome,” and finding the occasion in the everyday. Hence, he often shows up to school or some other function in full cowboy regalia, including leather vest, or a preppy look with sweater vest and khakis. When he dresses me, he does it because I just helped him get dressed, and his sense of fair play dictates that he should return the favor. He knows my basic style includes some sort of sweater—light fabrics in spring, heavier knits in winter—and jeans.  And that’s when I’m “dressing up.” Much of my day-to-day look involves fleece. And yoga pants. Not that there’s anything wrong with that. (Just ask my friend, Florida Keys Girl, who once said, “I don’t actually do yoga, I just like the pants.”)

So this morning, he marched into my closet and announced: “I’ll get your sweater.” A moment. And then: “Mommy, how about this jeans sweater?”

Ah, yes, my very favorite denim jacket, purchased about 12 years ago, when I was shopping with my friend and colleague, Sue, after we wrapped a photo shoot. Wearing this jacket always takes me back to that day—we’d rented a convertible to tool around LA, driven up the coast to Gladstone’s On the Beach, and then, to the Santa Monica Pier for shopping. The denim jacket looks broken-in in just the right way. I smile every time Iwear it. Sue, you see, is a lot of fun, and a great friend who I don’t see nearly enough. Later, I enhanced the jacket with a brooch in the shape of an apple, festooned with rhinestones in the pattern of an American Flag. I bought it in an Israeli-owned accessories store in Grand Central Terminal, on my first trip to NYC after 9/11, just weeks after we’d moved to Utah.

Ok, so what to wear with a “denim sweater”? Jeans were out. Dammit. The Old Navy black cropped-and-cuffed pants (yes, I know, I’m 5’1 and have no business in a cropped pant. I should go to Banana Republic and buy these.); a black t-shirt from eco yoga, with an abstract black and grey silk-screen that has some rhinestones scattered in the pattern, just-so. And, my trusty running-around-after-kids shoes, Dansko Sela sandals.

So, thus suited, I plopped down on the floor to put together a big puzzle with my “stylist,” then managed the dogs, loaded us into the car for errands and day-care drop off, and headed to my mobile office at Park City Coffee Roaster. In the parking lot, I ran into my friend Joanna, who said, “Look at you, GLAM GIRL! Do you have a meeting?” Which shows you how much more frequently I cheat with jeans and a fleece, or yoga pants and a fleece, or shorts and a fleece.

I think, too, that my accessories for the day—my new every day accessories—might have added to her shock. I used to carry some amalgam of canvas totes and reusable shopping bags, plus a tiny little purse from H&M. But last week, while I was visiting Naples, FL with my husband, I splurged. Actually, it was at his express urging, plus a well-timed chime in from my high-school pal Rosana, who happened to be there, too.

So, I now carry this great LV monogram zip-top tote to take the thinking out of what bag I’ll carry.

The tote, for the record, holds my laptop, an iPad, snacks for the kids (and me), miscellaneous paperwork that I always seem to need on-hand, and a pouch filled with band-aids, ibuprofen and lip gloss. After dark, I take out the electronics and it’s lightweight and still polished-looking.

I’ve never been a label-hound. Frankly, I don’t love logos. But I scoured for a logo-free tote that met all my needs, and, still, this one best fit the bill. And, I reasoned, if I can afford this bag, I can afford to donate a similar sum to charity—so everyone wins, right? Oy, the guilt.

Then, I splurged again on Tom Ford sunglasses—because I’d never had a really, really nice pair of shades before, and these were really pretty.

I mulled this as I booted up my MacBook in the Roaster, and wandered over to my former colleague Marlien’s site, LeCatch. Because procrastination is the writer’s first line of defense.

Still, I’m glad I went there. Marlein’s style choices reflect the closet of my dreams. That is, a mix of designer and trendy-chic-on-the-cheap. She’s likely to pair a skirt from H&M with a JCrew top and a designer bag. I wasn’t an expensive-bag kind of person until a week ago—and I bought the one I did because it meant I didn’t need a bunch of bags. And, frankly, the whole of my wardrobe is early-century outlet mall, at best. Every few years I buy something a little more upscale—a piece here or there—and pair it with basics from TJ Maxx. But reading LeCatch is giving me the courage to figure out which items in my closet  should be swapped out for better-grade items, and which I can wear with impunity. Granted, I’m still recovering from investing in an expensive bag and shades—so you’ll find me trawling TJ’s for deals as a way to “cancel out” the splurge. But maybe I need to get used to the idea that investing in a few great things is better than a closet full of also-rans. And maybe, just maybe, LeCatch will help get me there.

As for you, dear reader, LeCatch is your must-read. Why? Because my stylist is not for hire—it would violate all sorts of child-labor laws.

So go check it out–and let me know when you last splurged—and on what?

Toasting the Filmmakers

The Sundance Film Festival knows how to throw a party.

Yes, the place is silly with parties—but there’s a certain vibe to the official SFF parties. For one thing, they keep the films—and filmmakers—center stage.

To wit: The Salute to the Filmmakers party was held at the swankiest slopeside venue at Deer Valley Resort—the St. Regis Deer Crest Resort, on the Astor Terrace. You have to ride a funicular to get to the hotel from the entrance drive. It’s elegant, understated, unmistakeable luxury. There’s no better way to send the message that the filmmakers make the festival what it is. Also, they custom-ordered the weather.  It wasn’t a typical January day, no sideways wind, no swirling snow (though we locals would like that), still cold, yet the outdoor venue was nothing short of festive. This was helped along by a welcoming open bar and a buffet of perfectly cooked lamb chops, seared beef with sea salt, and nitrogen-frozen raspberry Grand Marnier ice cream cones.

I ate. I smiled broadly. And then we ran into our friend Shannon Bahrke, an Olympic medalist in freestyle skiing (I’ll tell you the story of the first time I met her another day), founder of Silver Bean Coffee in Salt Lake City, and Ambassador of Skiing at the St. Regis. She was fresh from a trip to Europe, where she cheered on teenaged freestyle skier at the Junior Olympics. And I do mean fresh. “I don’t have jet lag!” she boasted, as we posed for a photo op. “I’m working! I’m skiing! I’m going to the gym! There’s no time, really.”

Shannon Barkhe, Bari Nan Cohen

Maybe the party should have been called Shivering with Filmmakers?

I had every intention of shooting the breeze with filmmakers—but, I have to say, I felt funny interrupting them, as they shared the moment with their families and friends. It’s a special thing to make a film—even more special to have it screened at the Sundance Film Festival. And, really, it felt good just to bask in their glow.

Buy the November issue of Prevention Magazine!

Jillian Michaels is on the cover of the November issue of Prevention, and I wrote the cover story. It was an incredible experience, and not just because Jillian and her team are a group of lovely, warm, funny people. All of this is true, and made it ever-more enjoyable to do my job that day. Of course, we talked about The Biggest Loser, her new gig on The Doctors, on Dr. Phil, where she’s arrived in the adoption process (and even how she’d advise people to do it differently than she has!), what kind of mom she thinks she’ll be…and even her own troubled teen years.

Jillian's Prevention Cover

Pick up a copy on newsstands today!

But being privy to Jillian’s process, as she coached three Prevention readers toward better, more fulfilling lives, was, quite frankly, humbling to watch. Yes, we called three readers and got into the nitty gritty of their lives for this story, too.

Truly, this is a woman who puts her heart into her work. She so quickly saw to the core of their roadblocks, and engaged them with compassion. When the interviews were completed, she and I got the chance to talk. That’s when she said, “You really love what you do, too. It shows.” I was over the moon—because she’s 100 percent right. And I’m glad it shows. What got me pumped that day was being part of a project that included learning about the three dimensional life she leads, and the way that she invests herself in helping people.

Not to get too soap-boxy, but every work day is another opportunity for me to find ways to engage other people about the things that matter most–our health, our well-being, our relationships. It’s even more fun when I’m collaborating with people who get that.

100% Chance of Snow

That’s tonight’s forecast. And tomorrow’s.

And…

I am SO ready.

View from our kitchen door

This is what autumn snow looked like last October

Except for the fact that I don’t currently own a pair of functional skis. But I can’t get bogged down in the details (and, also, I can take comfort in the fact that Florida Keys Girl stores her skis in my garage, so I’ll be able to start the season by making sure her oft-neglected boards get some action.  (Anyway, she just got a dog, who is so cute my Little Guy insisted on eating dinner with this new pup’s picture displayed on the screen of our kitchen computer…my point is, I will be surprised if she and Florida Keys Guy can tear themselves away from little Babka for as many ski days as they usually spend in Utah. Which means it falls to me to see to it that her skis don’t feel neglected, what with the new family member and all.)

Anyway, I had to smile this afternoon, when I heard “100 percent chance of snow” during my favorite afternoon show on KPCW, as host Randy Barton started handicapping the snow line—official reports called for somewhere in the mid 7000 feet range, but Randy noted the temps and started calling for a lower line. We’ll see.

The truth is, I’ve been antsy for a couple of weeks—and started gabbing about it with some of the folks at Deer Valley who are charged with preparing the resort for the season. You can find out about my skiing daydreams—and get some inspiration from some people who really have the inside track (ahem)  on perfect ski days at my Deer Valley blog. What’s YOUR perfect ski day?

The Bagel

Picky eaters no more?

I’m Babbling about how to eat out on vacation…with kids. No typos there, I swear.

The behind-the-scenes babble is that we just got back from a vacation where, in spite of the kids behaving mostly like kids, they did, in fact, branch out, try new things, and, once they relaxed into the process, had fun. They also indulged in a fair amount of comfort food. Witness: The bagel.

The Bagel

Little Guy chows down on an old standby

At Bonefish Grill in Boynton Beach, one kid in our formerly-known-as-kosher brood tried fried shrimp. But it was from the kids’ menu, and tasted so bland he peeled off the breading and then declared the seafood unseasoned. One grownup taste frm proved the junior taste buds to be accurate. So dad fed the Big Guy some steak off his own plate, and both kids tried the garlic mashed potatoes – Little Guy tends to say he hates things on sight, so the fact that we got him to eat “different” (read: homemade) Mac-n-Cheese that night, plus “hated” mashed potatoes served as a win. And a dessert-earner. Hello, Rita’s! As Ski Dad put it: “I never thought to put custard and Italian Ice together in the same dish. Why did I never think to put custard and Italian Ice together in the same dish??

Anyway, we didn’t go full-on fine-dining, but even someplace like Bonefish, which is a casual dining restaurant, was a stretch given the extreme heat and everyone’s general grumpy temperament at the end of any given day. I am looking forward to many more opportunities to exercise that checklist.

paul-rudd-photo-sundance

Love That Max : 5 things I learned about people with disability watching new movies

I’ve attended the Sundance Film Festival for 15 years, now, and every year brings me a favorite moment, or two. This year, I seemed to have a zillion: I got to hang out with Paul Rudd at the premiere party for his film, The Fundamentals of Caring. 

 

Chatting with Paul Rudd at his premiere party at the  Acura Sky Lodge. 

 

Eddie the Eagle stars Hugh Jackman and Taron Egerton visited the Park City Nordic Ski Club jumping practice at Utah Olympic Park. I witnessed an awesome Q&A with the stars and filmmaker of Life, Animated. 

But one of the coolest moments was the least expected. I arrived at my reserved seat (thanks to the publicist for the film) at the premiere of The Fundamentals of Caring, only to be joined moments later by the author of the book on which the film was based, and then discovered that my nearest seatmates were given VIP tickets in the waitlist line. “This is the best day of my life!” one of them said. “These seats are the BOMB.” To me, that’s the essence of Sundance—folks who are fans of film who would have been thrilled with any seat, being treated like VIPs. (Later, during the Q&A, they realized the woman who had given them the tickets was a producer of the film. Class act.)

 

IMG_1068

 

But the reason I saw these films, in particular,  was because I had a very a cool assignment, writing a guest post for Love That Max, about the way films give us a window into the world of people with special needs. Watching these films offered me a reminder of the strength and resilience that lies within all of us—it’s just a question of how we choose to use it that determines our success. It’s one of my favorite pieces, to date, and I’d love for you to read it, and let me know what you think. Oh, and if you’re so inclined, please share it.

Source: Love That Max : 5 things I learned about people with disability watching new movies

 

IMG_0726

Endurance Test

Dudes, I’m getting after it, today. I went to my annual physical, and I remembered to fast and to abstain from coffee, beforehand. That was hard, man. Hard, like mining coal, you know? I mean, mining coal without the benefit of coffee. (My kids and husband were all, “Gee, we’re really sorry you can’t have coffee, today.” Because, they KNOW. I mean, once, after knee surgery, Jeff got me home, settled with my ice machine and brought me a double shot, freshly brewed, because I’d had to fast prior to the procedure. We don’t mess around.)

The doctor’s office is located across from Whole Foods, so after the exam and the nine vials of blood, and leaving with homework—mammogram— (WTF, Middle Age? You suck!),  I grabbed an oatmeal from their awesome oatmeal bar. No kidding: they serve peanut butter oatmeal alongside the regular oatmeal. And some sort of quinoa concoction. (I tried one of those for breakfast, once. I like my quinoa in the evening, thankyouverymuch.) I made mine with half peanut butter and half regular, and then piled on fruit and nuts like I was at a squirrel convention.

Anyway, while I was at Whole Foods, I stocked up on necessities. Ingredients for Jeff’s meat sauce-over-polenta dinner, for instance. A tray of sushi for my lunch (thinking ahead!) and this publication, so I can keep current on important events of our time. And, you know, other times.

IMG_0727

Of course, it’s for the kids, silly. In fact, I’m just going to slide it into place on the coffee table shelf and see how long it takes them to notice it. (Who wants to handicap this one? 22 seconds?)

Anyway, they have a coffee bar in Whole Foods, and I had every intention of purchasing a cup. Or a gallon. Instead, I purchased this Kombucha tea, because it promised me better brain function. Sorry, a “clear mind,” which made me laugh so hard I got really thirsty. By the way, it’s delicious, but I wish I’d been awake enough to read the ingredients and notice there is sugar within. (Coffee, stupid.)

IMG_0726

I’ve been home for 30 minutes, have consumed most of the tea, and I’m just as slow-witted as I was an hour ago. Whose fucking idea was it to skip the coffee???

 

 

 

IMG_0722

Skate skiing mojo

I needed a mojo boost. The start of the year had me feeling sluggish and grumpy—for no reason that I can think of, except, perhaps, a lack of exercise during the two-week school break. So, today’s activity—skate skiing—was just what I needed. What is skate skiing? Well, it’s a version of Nordic Skiing that is a cross between hockey skating and falling on your ass. Oh, wait, that’s just me. If you want to see how it’s really done, watch this video:

I’m not naturally gifted or graceful in athletics. Therefore, I sign up for lessons a lot. For instance, I’m a lifetime alpine skier, but I’ve done Women’s Weekend and Women on Wednesday, twice each, at Deer Valley. I’ve skied the Mahre Camp at Deer Valley. I’m a good skier, now, but it took all those lessons (on top of the weekly ski schools and racing camps I did as a kid) to get me there. Actually, as a child, I took lessons in everything: skiing, figure skating, swimming, tennis, horseback riding, and ballet. Oh, the ballet! So much of it, and I’m still the opposite of graceful. And, nearly every winter since we have lived in Park City, I have taken a lesson or two in skate skiing. I tried to get Jeff into it, calling in a favor to arrange a lesson on the 2002 Olympic Winter Games course at Soldier Hollow, with no less an inspiration than Luke Bodensteiner, a two-time Olympian. Jeff liked Luke a lot, but we didn’t win a convert that day. Jeff’s suggestion: I should find some friends who like to skate. It bummed me out a bit, because I had visions of going for skate dates, pondering life and nature together—or something.

Lucky for me some friends run a very cool women’s skate ski group: Park City Nordic Betties, which works like a team, with coaching, but has a decidedly no-pressure vibe, allowing members to self-select into ability levels. Plus, we get this cool hat!

IMG_0725.JPG

I am prepared to make good use of the awesome skate skis I bought last year (the week before I wrecked my knee), and to share a new sports adventure with my pal Kellie.

IMG_0723

The last two years, Kellie and I spent a day a week improving our alpine skiing at  Deer Valley’s Women on Wednesdays and the funny thing is, two of the first people we saw, today, were women we knew from WOW. I guess I’m not alone in my lesson-addiction.

IMG_0722

We went with the Beginner crew, led this week by my friend Inge—who announced that we’d be leaving our poles behind. Nothing—and I mean nothing—says “beginner” like skiing sans poles. Quickly, all those ballet lessons came into play—I had to balance. And I visualized the way I used to flex and point as I figured out how to better launch the skis. Ok, fine, it makes more sense in my mind—don’t judge. And I only fell once. Net net, the day was a success.

“It’s so much more fun to suck at something in a group of people doing the same thing,” I said, as the lesson ended. Everyone laughed, and then a couple of women chimed in. “It’s more fun when you’re with a group of women,” said one. “I hate to admit it, but when my husband says he wants to skate with me, I get a little bummed,” said another. When I told them about Jeff’s dislike of the sport, they simply said, “Lucky you!” I left in a great mood, knowing I could go home and proudly tell Jeff he was right, he really doesn’t want to skate. And, I haven’t taken off my hat, yet.