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Dodging playgroups and hugging my calling card

I had somewhat of an epiphany yesterday…after watching the latest episode of Desperate Housewives.

Yeah, I really just said that.

I’ve always said that I don’t refer to myself as a “housewife” or as they say, SAHM.  We don’t go to playgroups or hangout at Starbucks or Panera like some of my mom friends in town are known to do.  Not that anything’s wrong with that—aside from the work that is being a mother, I consider myself a mom who works at home.

jack and his computerAnd I do…every day while trying to raise a toddler practically by myself during the week, while spearheading a website, making industry connections, attending meetings with toy executives, wiping a resistant booty, while fielding emails and ignoring laundry.

I work.  Just like so many other mamas, my daily struggle is trying to find that balance.  Yup, I’m still going at it.  Boohoo, right?

Nah…but as of late, I feel so completely overwhelmed by this existentialist crisis I have going on.

WHAT am I doing and where am I going with all of this?  Was dropping out of the conventional “rat race” worth it?  If I’m home most of the time caring for my own kid, then why do assholes look at me as if I’m the pariah?   If I went back to work in an office to work for the man again, just to feel worthless and constricted creatively, who wins then?  The kid who goes to daycare from 7am to 7pm everyday?

I’m over a year into this now, but as I get deeper into this path I’m on, I hear/feel/see more flack than you’d ever believe.

Is it really 2010?

This mommy wars stuff is bullshit.  And it’s hitting me hard.

I’ll save the rest of my dialogue for another day, the one where I’ve created this website that fuels my passion and creative desires.  The one where companies fill my mailbox with their new products, just to have a chance to be mentioned on my little site.  I’m only a year in, and I’ve barely scraped the surface.  Again, I’m not moving mountains here, I’m just doing what I’ve always wanted to do…

It’s exciting to experience the progress of this new direction and watch my vision grow.

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Momma, mama, moooommmm, MAMA

Has anyone seen that commercial with baby Stewie from the Family Guy where he’s reptitvely saying, “Momma, mama, moooommmm, MAMA?!!!!!?”

Well, we decided that Baby Stewie is channeling a whole lot of Jack in that commercial. And Lois is so me.

It cracks me up that Jack can barely string together sentences yet, but he’s got that repetitive kid chant-thing down.

And when he’s not driving me crazy with chanting mama or another word over and over and over and OVER, Jack is otherwise as cute as ever. His verbal skills and vocabulary continue to flourish, which is a constant reminder that I really do need to stop dropping the Fbombs.

Old habits die hard.

A few of the cutest things he says though are “Patsy” which means pizza, the way he answers “yeah” to every question you ask and especially the way he says “thankyouyourwelcome” after you give him something. haha.

Thankyouyourwelcome is THE greatest. He understands that ‘thank you’ and ‘your welcome’ go hand in hand, but he gets confused because I say them to him all the time. Though he gets “it,” I guess I never really clarified when he’s supposed to say what and when. He’s cute nonetheless.

He’s become so much more adept with our electronics. He can swipe the ipod with ease and point and touch his little games when we let him play for a few minutes at a time. When did he become such a geek like us!?

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As usual, I’ve been neglecting Babyrific. Truth is, life has been chaotic to say the least. Every week, I’ve had at least 2-3 blogger events in the City. Sometimes, I’m invited to more, but I tend to decline the events that don’t fit the scope of Nextkidthing.com or this blog. It’s been exciting to gain more and more momentum, but sadly, I’ve also become so overwhelmed at times. But regardless of how overwhelmed I get, I count my blessings for being able to fulfill my creative desires and spend as much time with Jack as possible.

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Because I go into the city quite a bit again, often times, I’ll need a babysitter. We found a lovely college student to watch Jack for a few hours at a time at our house, but her availability doesn’t always work with the times I need. Jack loves her and has even mentioned his older cousin Ashley whenever he sees this babysitter. The babysitter is right about Ashley’s age, and I think it’s so cute how much he loves his older cousin that he sees similarities between the two.

On the days where I need help in the mornings, I had to find somebody more consistent. Through one of our community message boards, I found a really nice woman who does childcare out of her home. In Hoboken, babysitters and au pairs are more commonplace than in home daycares, so I found this lady up in JC Heights, which is the town right up the hill from us. The location, though close, isn’t the most convenient since I have to walk 8-10 blocks to get there. But after Jack’s first day there today, I’m crossing my fingers and saying that it’s worth it.
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We’re still super tired from an emotional weekend of traveling and saying good bye to one of our best friend’s father. Since we all went to school together and grew up together, our longtime friends ARE a part of our family. A kind and funny man that Jeff idolized for his wry sense of humor, Mr. Bill Stead helped raise 3 wonderful daughters, and one whom Jeff and I would walk to the end of the Earth for.

The weekend made me think in depth about our friends and family and feel thankful for so much– even those things that we can’t change or control.

Even the non-stop barrage of Momma, mama, moooommmmm, Mama.

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Belly ache days

We were finally gifted with a weekend of sun, albeit a few storms here and there…but sun, lots of sun! We spent the weekend doing much of nothing but enjoying family time.

On Saturday, I went into the City to plotwith some lady friends on our quest to conquer the world on a new top secret project.  We gabbed for hours on motherhood, writing, the lack of well-paying writing jobs and boys.  Not BOY-boys, but boys.  Boys, as in, our sons who drive us batty but are too cute to give away.

Commiserating over someone else’s little boy swinging with a curtain a la Tarzan made me laugh so hard that my belly ached.  You mean, I’m not the only one whose kid does that?  (OF COURSE NOT!)

We all need belly aches like that.

The thing is, I’ve come to terms that I have nothing in common with many of the moms in my neighborhood, thus our conversations will probably never go beyond “man, that was some rainstorm last night.” And, I’m ok with that.  Don’t get me wrong, most moms are super nice, but there are always that select few that are not so nice.  When the time comes, I’ll be sad to leave: I love our neighborhood and our community.  Thankfully, I’m starting to get my bearings on the whole mom support system.  But, I look forward to cultivating more friendships with moms like me–whatever that means.

I mean, who wants to be fake friends with a bunch of sanctimonious moms who will stare you AND your kid up and down peeps who clearly don’t want to get to know you?

Not me, that’s for sure.

On the other hand, I’m so grateful for meeting like-minded mamas who remind me that their kids, too, scale furniture and wreak havoc in a similar small space.

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While I did my city-thing, Jack and Jeff had a special boys’ day.  They got hair cuts at the barber, went for a few strolls, had lunch and caught up with each other.  After not seeing each other all week, I love when the boys come back with all smiles.  All is good in the world when a boy is with his dad.

Sunday was spent doing much of the same.  Family fun, no plans, just us.

Just the way I like it!

And just like that, weekend bliss turned into another chaotic Monday. hehe. Who am I kidding? Every day is a chaotic Monday!

Today was hell.

From the minute we woke up to the minute the boy went to bed, it was nonstop chaos.  From toys being dumped over, thrown at TVs, to newspapers being ripped to shreds, to an accidental shove at the park (and the aforementioned evil eye from a bitchy mom) to meltdowns galore for dinner time—I was overwhelmed.

Jack’s Godmother even called during said meltdowns and I’m sure we scared her by revealing the underbelly of motherhood.  It’s not always so bad, today was crazier than usual. We all have the not-so-perfect days.  If we didn’t have those, then we wouldn’t have the laugh-so-hard-you-get-bellyache days.

We all need the belly ache days!

Though chaotic, just as we do every night, Jack and I hugged and smooched.  And I promised him that tomorrow is another day…perhaps a much sunnier, less chaotic day!

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Spring fun: Central Park Zoo

In line with getting out more often now that it’s Spring, Jack and I headed to the Central Park Zoo to meet up with one of my high school friends and her daughter who were in town visiting family.  I’m almost embarrassed to admit that the Central Park Zoo is another one of those NYC places that I’ve always wanted to visit, and have even passed THROUGH, but have never really stopped to enjoy.

Penguins at the zooPenguinstuck in an eggshellpetting the goats

At Heather’s suggestion, we made plans to meet up for lunch and enjoy an afternoon of visiting the City-fied animals.
It’s a cute zoo, and hard to fathom that this venue is nestled on the east side of Central Park in NYC.  Central Park, in general, is a great escape and oasis from the concrete jungle.  So, to listen to a symphony of animals with both a tree and skyline backdrop is almost surreal.   meeting friends

Because it was only in the 40s yesterday, the park wasn’t too packed.  It was still crowded with tourists and cavalcades of moms and nannies with strollers, but it was still manageable.  I’m imagining the zoo to be total lunacy on weekends and in warmer weather.  So, I’m glad we went on a sunny, brisk weekday.  We got to see all the animals without fighting the touristy crowds.  Per usual, Jack wanted to run around and make friends with all the animals; however, his idea of running around involves sprinting in the opposite direction.  He “made friends” with a peacock, some bunnies, goats and an alapaca.  His favorite animal though, was, of course, the pigeon–as in the “flying rats” that linger in every city park.  um yea.  There was a cow, but Jack wanted nothing to do with it because he was so busy chasing the pigeons.  The kid’s petting zoo, which is an extension of the maPolar bear scratching his backin zoo, was a perfect way for my toddler to toddle and explore the animals first hand.  From the egg shell to the spider web to the bunny faces, Jack enjoyed checking out the interactive features that were meant to be handled and climbed for visitors his height.
I loved seeing the seals, penguins, puffins and polar bears.  One of the polar bears was busy trying to scratch his back on a rock, it was too cute!  I don’t think I’ve ever seen polar bears at any of the zoos I’ve visited in my travels, so to see them at the Central Park Zoo was pretty cool.  The Central Park Zoo was a refreshing kiddie outing and a great way to entertain an out of town friend I haven’t seen in years!
Be warned, however, the ticket office only takes cash.  So, for those of you who don’t carry cash like myself, be prepared!  Kids under 3 are free, and at $10 adult tickets are pretty reasonable.  The little cafe within the zoo was crowded and somewhat unorganized, but not bad for a quick bite to eat.  No strollers are allowed inside the cafe, so be prepared to leave you stroller out front.

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Opposites and faith

It’s been a week of catch up and clean up around here.  I’ve been busy with my projects, Jeff’s been busy with work and Jack, well, he’s been busy hiding important objects–keys, iPod, magazines, bananas.  Good times.  In between all of that I’ve been copying and pasting some old files which made me all nostalgic.

Since getting married in 2003, I’ve been part of this wonderful online community over at MSN.  It stemmed from a bigger message board and became very much a part of my day.  The girls became such great friends and every now and then we’d even get to see each other.  On that board, I kept a very private blog that only they could read.  And with MSN shutting down that service, it’s the end of an era.  Even though we’re all moving on to another message board, it was fun to look back at the different phases in life that were documented on that blog.  While some of the stuff is best kept private, there are some entries that I thought would be fun to share. (Because nothing says fun like sharing your heart and soul for the whole world to read!) It was like reading my childhood diary, minus all the-I- hate-my-brother.-He-sucks-rambling.

For the record, my brothers don’t suck–well, at least not all the time. :)

Since this blog started out as a way to document my pregnancy and musings as a new mom, I guess you could say that my other blog was my prequel.  For those that may not know, it took about 2 years for us to get pregnant, which was an emotionally trying time. But above all, that adversity tested our marriage and reinforced so much more.

11/13/2006

Faith is not belief. Belief is passive. Faith is active.


A lot of people don’t know or realize (or care) that Jeff and I are complete and total opposites.
Take last week’s election for example:  I was vehemently opposed to our Republican candidate for senate, not because he couldn’t represent us well, but because I thought his views on certain things were quite absurd and weak.  I have a hard time voting for someone who can’t make his own mind up, but instead can only offer negative feedback as his prime line of defense on his opponent.  If he can’t stand behind his own conservative stance on things, why should I trust you to make decisions for me?
Albeit fueled by a Tuesday night at the bar, after voting, Jeff and I had an extremely heated debate.  Jeff doesn’t think it’s right for us to play God– no matter if it’s stem cell research or reproductive endocrinology.
Even though we constantly have strong opinions for separate views about everything, it always makes for an intellectual and thought-provoking conversation.  It’s who we are.
On a more direct and personal level, we’ve always wanted something similar– but we’ve always had that strong opposing view on how to attain our goals.  He’s more direct, by the book.  Me, I’m more unconventional and sometimes unrealistic; backed by research, I’m headstrong and usually take a let’s-do-it-my-way attitude.  My passion in certain scenarios inhibits progress, I’ve found.
I hate to make such a severe analogy here, but it’s really the only way to accept the way things are between us.  I’m so far from his conservative views, I couldn’t get any bluer in the face.
Since late 2004, I’ve had a stack of books on my bookshelf– 8 to be exact– on stories of conception, understanding IF and the latest technology when dealing with IF.  My own research and proactiveness in this extremity has proven so futile, I know.
What’s taking so long?  Why has this been so frustrating?
Well, there’s a myriad of conclusions.  But, the simple answer is:  we’re a team and my team partner wants to take a very different and let’s be patient route.
Complex answer:  it’s about faith.  Faith in ourselves, faith in our destiny, faith in us.
I’m guilty of questioning my faith. a lot.  Not my spirituality, but my faith.  And that’s what’s made all of this so hard.
And so, today, I’m we’re at a new crossroads.  For the first time in a while, I feel so empowered.  I can freely say and believe when I say, God only gives us challenges that he knows we’re strong enough to handle.
I’m glad Jeff and I are channeling this questionable energy into something more positives and uplifting.  I truly hope we’ll be able to find a home within the next few months.  I’m even more excited about our next consultation next weekend.  I don’t know what it’ll all mean, but having him there with the facts/possibilities verbally expressed will make a big difference. (I hope.) We have so many exciting possibilities in front of us.
Today, in an email exchange about a consultation with a new specialist next week and excitement about a future home purchase, I told Jeff that our dreams of winning the lottery shall never die.
Jeff says:  Don’t need the lottery. We are going to live the American Dream and own our own business. we will also have 2.3 kids.
tears streaming down my face and laughing hysterically I reply:
WE are.  I know it.  2.3?  We can’t even have one that easily.  where will the 1.3 come from? Malawi?
…Valiant proof of our crossroads and visual proof of our faith and humility.

2 months after this entry, I found out I was pregnant with Jack.

2 years later, I’m screaming things like, DO NOT CLIMB ON TOP OF THE TV!  NORMAL PEOPLE WATCH TV FROM THE FLOOR!!

Oh, and we’re still looking for a new home.

good times!

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Bear cakes, Bakugan and blowing noses


Happy Birthday Jesus

Originally uploaded by jen_rab

Happy Monday, all. Hope everyone enjoyed a relaxing weekend. The three of us had a nice weekend. We had a chance to see many of our friends at the annual regifting party. We unloaded some tacky gifts and came home with a Bakugan Battle Arena and a really awesome Weird NY book. The obscure gift balanced out the pretty cool book! Though cold, it was fun to have some adult interaction conversation and booze. It definitely helped that we only had to trek a block away.
When we weren’t busy regifting, the three of us were taking turns blowing our noses and chugging cold medicine. Well, Jeff was doing the chugging. I was more like, wincing and threatening to barf. (I used to take shots like it was my job, but I hate liquid medicine!) YUCK. On a good note, the Theraflu Daytime Warming Relief works like a charm.  Mama definitely likey.

I’ve got a long to do list this week. So, I’m hoping this cold has a short stay. It’ll be tough chasing after 2 runny noses and still tackle this list! (More on runny noses later, including a giveaway.)

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The Year in Review

Dickens said it best with the first sentence of A Tale of Two Cities, “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times…”
That infamous intro pretty much sums up our 2008. With the good, came the bad, but it was definitely a big year for our family.

Our kid grew at an exponential pace; with all the milestones and daily debacles, our family grew considerably; and as a person, I felt my own growing pains too. I’ll always hold 2008 dear to my heart because of all the milestones we’ve celebrated, but I’m so ready to say see ya later. We’re all excited for the promise 2009 brings.

And with that, I thought I’d share a pictoral highlights of 2008:

Momma and babe

oooh! I just remembered something.

racing stripe

Jeff's birthday

4 months old

it's official

watch out ladies

High chair

oh hey ma

Easter

Eating solids

Family portrait

wheeee daddyyyyy

new car seat!

Mother's Day at Shea

Mother's day at Shea

Jack "meeting" Paris

Jack the artist

admiring the sprinkler

Boat #2 and 10

10 months old

Watertown this way

Chicago


look familiar?

candles

first haircut

Pumpkin head

There's nothing sweeter than a farewell cupcake

Jack and mom

Toddling

Red and Blue all the way

Busted

Our spread

Jack and Santa

in front of our tree

Lots of promise upon the horizon

Have a safe and happy New Year celebration, everyone.

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A million reasons

Jack and I had a lovely day in the City today.  We met up with two of my friends from my old job, which reminded me how much I miss all of them.  Besides seeing my very cool friends, I had a chance to window shop and enjoy the scant amount of foliage in the city.  Fall in NYC is a thing of beauty for me; hell, all seasons in the city are awesome.  Today was a great way to punctuate an unforgettable week.

Madison Square Park

Macy*s windows in progressDespite the whole ball joint fiasco, the news of unemployment reaching a 14-year high and all the other ominous current events that continue to loom, this was one of the most memorable weeks I’ve experienced to date.  I’m sure there’s never an easy time to be a parent, but I’m sure I speak for many to say that it’s daunting to be a new parent at a time like this.  Instead of thinking, ‘what will Jack and his peers do for college, jobs, etc. with the way things are going…’ I’m hopeful that maybe things will look up in time.  So, based on the way this past week has transpired, I consider myself fortunate to be part of this whole Reason to Believe school of thought.

But while we were in Herald Square today, I noticed how Macy*s is in the process of decorating for Christmas.  So, if I may, let me throw out an analogous scenario [pairing a literary device with Macy*s--I'm sure I make my English professors proud ;) ] At a time like this, the famous window displays might have been a work in progress, but it was the theme that had such impeccable timing.

Millions of Reasons to Believe

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Extreme apple picking ’08

Over the weekend, we went (extreme) apple picking and had a chance to enjoy the fall foliage and hang out with a bunch of friends. Because everyone in Northern NJ and Manhattan had the same idea, we sat in Country Critters!grueling traffic all afternoon on our way to the orchard. Masker Orchards, tucked away in the Hudson Valley in Warwick, NY is our “usual spot.” As the crowd has grown, so has the penchant for all things extreme.
Because, you know, it’s not enough to just drive up to a serene apple orchard and pick quietly. To fully grasp the whole experience, one should offroad in the orchard, sometimes picking apples through the sunroof. This is one of the 5 times a year that we actually get use out of our 4wd—-money well spent. Apple picking is always a good time, and I’m so glad we were able to go.

Jack had a playmate, which was so awesome. Jack loved Tommy, our good friends’ 2 year old nephew. The two kids didn’t do as much apple picking, but had fun turning baby apples into makeshift balls. Jack felt the need to slobber and bite every single apple that was within reach, leaving his little baby bite marks on one too many apples!
Tommy and JackTommy and Jack

extremeapplepicking 049Surrounded by so many buildings and not enough trees, I always forget what the landscape outside of the city environment looks like. Despite the headache-inducing traffic, it was well worth the drive to take in the fall festivities and spend time with good friends.

Now, it’s time to bake with all those apples with bite marks!

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Don’t Panic.

With everything that’s going on in the world right now, it’s hard not to ignore the cacophony and reality of buzzwords–crisis, doom and gloom, economic downturn, recession, depression.

Times are rapidly changing—unemployment is in freefall, various companies are going belly up, the government is bailing out corrupted financial firms. I even had a heart-to-heart with a cabdriver last night about the stock market tanking. On a good day, cabbies limit the small talk to one question: “Where you going?” (No time for complete sentences.)

It’s hard not to ignore. But, whatever you do, don’t panic.
I’m no financial guru, but things will work themselves out; it has to, right?
It’s the time for frugality. We’re all making cuts; it’s imperative at this point.

For our family, as the price of gas teeters between outrageous and ridonkulous, we’re browsing for a more economical vehicle. We’re planning on traveling home for one holiday, instead of all of them. I spend Friday nights scouring sale pages for the best deals. I buy 3 different newspapers on Sundays, instead of 2—for the coupons. (Aside from the journalistic enlightenment, of course.)
Now is the time to reassess priorities.

…which is why we assessed that our family is always our number one priority. At a time when joblessness is at a high and people are losing jobs byway of layoffs, I’m quitting mine.

But this isn’t the time to panic.

After feeling so broken and defeated after 11 fruitless interviews for 9 different companies, I have to hold it together. As I often tell Jeff, if I crack, who is going to drive me to the crazy house? (There is a possibility of a carpool if anyone needs a ride.)

In all seriousness, even though I’m holding on by a thread, when push comes to shove, there’s got to be a better way. Thanks to Jeff’s faith in me, the stability in his career (not to mention his kickass bosses for acknowledging his sickening brilliance/hillbillyness {those characteristics, at least for my husband, are interchangeable}) and the moral support from friends and family, I’m taking the Leap.

Visualize Jack clapping and flashing that toothy grin.

When my career became a job, and the job became a source of too much anxiety and angst, I knew in my heart that having it all didn’t necessarily mean doing it here. As always, I have lots of ideas and I can’t wait to pursue them.

I’ve been writing a lot of goodbye emails to colleagues this week who, in return, have wished me well on The Next Big Thing. Once I get my act together–hopefully by next week–I will have some exciting announcements about The Next Big Thing.

I can’t wait to share, so please stay tuned!

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