The scene is set in a Brooklyn apartment. A 7 foot tree lays on its side on the hardwood floor. A man struggles to fit the cheap metal tree stand on the 7 footer, cursing under his breath that he could have sworn that he declared last Christmas as the last year they would use this flimsy tree stand.
He tightens the screws, hoists the tree back up and the family stands back.
The tree is crooked.
The man lays the tree back down, fiddles with the screws around the trunk and hoists the tree back up. The family stands back and looks.
The man summons the woman to hold the tree as he attempts to adjust the 7 footer in a vertical position. They stand back again.
Still slightly crooked. But maybe good enough.
He flicks at the tree to make sure that it is stable and won’t fall over in the middle of the night as it did a few years back. The tree seems stable.
Satisfied, the man goes away. The woman slowly circles the tree, scratches her head, stares, and stands back. She calls for the man.
“It’s still a bit crooked”, she says, hesitantly.
The man approaches the tree and instructs the woman to stand back to make sure the tree is straight as he wrestles with the tree and the stand once again.
“Ok, it’s straight”. They both stand back and nod.
The man goes about sweeping up the needles around the tree, but in a split second, the tree tips over and falls on the man. He lays under the tree for a minute, deflated and defeated before standing back up. “That’s it”, he says as he puts on his coat, grabs some cash from the other room and storms out the front door in search of a sturdier tree stand.
The kids, who have been sitting on the couch the whole time oblivious to the scene happening before them, look up and notice that the tree is down and the man is nowhere to be seen.
“Where’s Daddy?”, asks the little one.
“I think he’s under the tree”, says the older one.
The girls shrug and go back to their game.
Posted by Jenna | 28 Comments
I woke up this morning really hungry. Yesterday, I had a handful of almonds, 2 apple slices, a quesadilla wedge and a couple of brussel sprouts. I couldn’t eat, stomach knotted in antibiotics and nerves. I also have been sleeping a lot this week, probably another byproduct of the medication. Usually I will fight to go to sleep, dragging myself off the couch at 2am knowing I have to wake up 5 and a half hours later to get the kids ready for school, but the last 3 days, I’ve been going to bed before midnight, barely able to stay awake. Maybe this will help reset my internal sleeping clock for good (oh, who am I kidding).
It’s just another form of procrastination. Procrastinating on going to bed – who does that? But it seems to be the running theme in my life these days. If I have a deadline, then I’m dead on. Without one and I put things off because I’m overwhelmed. They’re not kidding with that phrase “life is like a juggling act” when you have a lot of balls in the air. You decide which takes priority and the things that are less pressing get pushed further and further down. Like these photos. We meant to post a recipe that goes along with these photos, but then weeks went by and months and then finally, Mark forgot how he made that crab salad. At some point, it becomes irrelevant.
Did you know that we have been functioning without a kitchen faucet or a dishwasher for about 6 weeks now? We’ve been washing dishes from a trickle of water that is coming from the tubing that was attached to the faucet. I don’t think I could ever remodel a house. The choices – SO MANY choices – of little details down to the fixtures is so overwhelming. I don’t know, I thought I’d actually be good at that, however, I can’t seem to make any kind of decision on a kitchen faucet and like many things, it’s gotten pushed down the priority list as work deadlines crop up and holiday orders surface. I haven’t even looked into dishwashers yet. Do you have a dishwasher that you love? Please share!
And finally…in lieu of our trip to the Bahamas that we had to cancel last month, we decided (I think!) that we will take the girls to Disney World during spring break (probably the worst time to go, but…). We need to use our airplane tickets before May or else we’ll forfeit them and I figure they’re at a good age to go. The funny thing is that neither of them have ever been in a princess phase or really know much about the Disney characters so when I told them that we were thinking of going next year they were sort of all, “ok”.
Mark has never been to Disney and I went once when I was 14 with my 8 year old brother and my mom. I had a good time, but I remember feeling back then that I was with my mom and baby brother and well, you know how teenagers can be. My mom has been wanting us to go to Disney for years. I think for her it’s like this quintessential American childhood experience that the girls can’t miss out on. It probably has a lot to do with the immigrant mentality. I know that so many of what my brother and I did as kids, all the ballet, gymnastic and piano lessons and all the other extra curricular activities, represented a void in the kind of childhood she had that she was trying to fill. Education, the after school activities, Disney World, all of that still represents the American Dream.
So dear readers, I don’t know if you’ve ever tried to plan a Disney vacation, but whoa. Talk about overwhelming for a person who is easily overwhelmed these days. Quite frankly, I don’t even know where to begin. Like the faucets, I’ll just close the browser after 10 minutes. If you have any advice, recommendations, or stories to tell about Disney, please share. My mom and the American Dream (and me) will thank you.
Posted by Jenna | 49 Comments
I had some friends and neighbors tell me a few months ago that we were really good at taking advantage of living in the city by taking the girls to events and planning outings on the weekends and I thought, “really?”. Because it doesn’t seem that way from where I’m sitting. I think like most people, we stick to the same general area, a 10 block radius from our apartment, day in and day out. Most days, we don’t even venture far beyond our 3 block walk to school and back. It’s kind of amazing to not have to leave your neighborhood for long stretches of time if you live in a place that has pretty much everything you need. Even though we live in the biggest city in the country, our neighborhood feels a little bit like a small town and I love that neighborhoods operate this way. It makes the city much more livable.
I’m in one of my hermit stretches. I find that my social activity comes in spurts where I’ll hang out with a lot of people for a few weeks and then I’ll need to retreat for awhile. I haven’t seen a friend outside of a few neighbors and fellow school parents in 6 weeks. I’ve been staying home a lot, listening to music, being by myself. I had an impromptu coffee date with a friend this morning, however, and I reached out to another old friend to meet with tomorrow. I guess I’m making moves to emerge from this hermit stretch.
I also spent part of the day looking around for holiday things to do on the weekend because for the first time in any holiday season we aren’t pulling our hair out from out of our minds busyness. Not yet anyway. Maybe, just maybe, we’ll have time to actually do some holiday sightseeing that we never get to do with the girls. I always felt a tinge of guilt about that. I’ll tell you a secret too. I love all the holiday stuff leading up to Christmas, all of it, much more than the day itself which always felt like a weird let down. I’ve always felt that way, even as a kid, so it’s been hard not to have time to revel in all sorts of cheesy holiday cheer the last few years. I think Mark might even have time to go pick out a tree with us this year. I am secretly excited about all of this.
Posted by Jenna | 16 Comments
So, we’re waiting for hurricane Sandy to hit though you wouldn’t be able to tell from these photos, would you? During the day, the neighborhood bustled at the farmer’s market and stores as people stocked up on food and supplies. It was eerily pleasant outside, the first day that really felt like a crisp Fall day in a long time. Playgrounds were crowded, people were out eating brunch, and neighborhood activities, like this bread and muffin baking session in an outdoor wood burning stove, went on as usual. Once inside, we cleaned, cooked, and baked to keep ourselves preoccupied like so many other people.
But by afternoon the city started the process of shutting down. Schools, museums, Broadway and other businesses announced that they would be closed on Monday and mandatory evacuations were issued (we’re 1 block away from where that line is drawn. Hmmm…comforting). By evening, subways and buses suspended service and the streets were empty.
We completely missed the last major hurricane that shut the city down (but ended up minimally affecting NYC) last year because we were out on the West Coast, and I can only remember a handful of other times in all my life of living here where this has happened. Now, when the NYSE announces at 11:30pm that they are shutting trading down completely, you know something serious is going down. The Stock Exchange rarely ever closes, ever.
So um, yeah. The hurricane is expected to make landfall sometime tomorrow afternoon and we’re right in the path. Not sure what’s going to happen yet. I don’t think anyone does as the meteorologists keep calling this “superstorm” unprecedented, something we haven’t seen in our lifetime before. So we wait. The last hurricane that really made a huge impact in the city was Gloria in 1985. Our basement flooded with that storm and people canoed down our block. Hope Sandy just fizzles out.
9.29.12 / 11:00AM – No significant rainfall or wind yet with the storm still hours away and the mandatory evacuation zones are already flooding, including the area 2 blocks away from us. Trees starting to come down. The tunnels in and out of Manhattan will be closing in a few hours.
9.29.12 / 3:00PM – Schools and the Stock Exchange closed Tuesday as well. Parts of lower Manhattan and Red Hook are under water. Bridges are closing which means the city is pretty much on complete lock down now. Wind has picked up, but we’re still waiting for the storm. This is just about as anxiety ridden as waiting for labor to start! Heard rumors that power might get cut. We will start eating the ice cream. God, we are all going to gain 20 pounds after this, aren’t we?
9.29.12 / 6:45PM – Storm’s here. Stay safe everyone!
Posted by Jenna | 43 Comments
It’s been over a year since our cat, Tobi, died. We knew we weren’t going to get another cat, not right away anyway, or maybe not even for a long time. Along with some other reasons, Mia seems to have developed an allergy to some furry creatures, cats included, and we saw some of this manifest during the last 6 months of Tobi’s life. Sometimes I still think he’s around, like he’s just in our bedroom laying on the bed like he always did or hiding under his favorite chair, and after having lived with cats for the last 20 years of my life, it’s a little strange not to have a cat around the house. But I do have to say, there are some things I’m enjoying about being petless at the moment – being able to put plants around the house, setting a vase of flowers on the diningroom table, putting a rug down in the livingroom, not having to worry about a cat sitter when we are away.
Like most pet owners who become first time parents, our cat was the world to us before the kids were born. We had whole picture albums filled with photos of him. Then when the first baby was born, he became another responsibility – not a burden by any means – but when you’re dealing with a new baby and it’s the cat who wakes you up in the morning and not the baby, for example, or the cat who tears a hole in your new sheets and not the kids, well…I think this happens to almost every pet owner who become new parents, even those friends who completely doted on their pets who I never thought would feel this way. I guess as guilty as it makes you feel sometimes, it’s also normal.
But the early baby years do go by and at some point you started appreciating your pet again. As crazy a kitten as he was, Tobi mellowed out in his later years and was completely patient with the kids. I was trying to picture the girls playing with him the other day, but I really couldn’t. I don’t know if it’s because it’s been over a year since he’s been gone but I couldn’t really remember their interactions with him. Surprisingly, it’s not Mia, but Claudine who talks about him still (I don’t know why that surprises me, but I figured since Mia had more time with him, his death would have made more of an impression on her than Claudine). It’s slowed down a little since the summer, but Claudine would make cards for him every week. For a while I collected them all and had a stack. Sometimes when I suddenly see her act all mopey and melancholy I’ll ask her what is wrong and she would quietly say that she missed Tobi. She mentioned that she missed him just the other week. But I’ve also noticed that he’s been gradually missing from our family portraits that she draws so often. For the longest time it was always the 5 of us. Now it’s the 4 of us. It’s weird to think that she may be young enough not to even remember him when she’s older. Somehow, it’s this thought that makes it feel like he’s truly gone.
Posted by Jenna | 45 Comments
I’ve been sprucing up the house this week in little ways like replacing our curtains, changing our duvet for summer, adding a pillow here and there, simplifying the clutter on shelves and dresser tops and finally framing some prints from my friend Sandra Juto that I bought a few months ago. I also got around to planting our balcony garden. It feels good around here. There are lots of things that I’d love to change about our apartment (namely the bathroom and kitchen!) but that isn’t going to happen unless we find ourselves with a whole lot of extra money, so these small changes will have to do. I’m currently waiting on a small, colorful vintage kilim rug that I found for super cheap on ebay to put by the door, as well as a small vintage Moroccan side table that I bought on Etsy. I’m hoping to find a new floor lamp to replace the one in the living room that just doesn’t work with anything anymore. Next year I want to buy a new couch. We might have to go with a sectional since the couch is pretty much my office and I basically take up the whole couch, (the laptop has a permanent place on the couch near the window side) leaving little room for anyone else. We’ll see. I mean if it took 2 years to find the right dining room table, then I’m not sure how long it will take to find a couch.
It’s been raining all week here in the city. I got caught in it after coming out of, what I hope to be my last doctor visit in awhile. It was pouring sheets of rain but I walked around in it anyway. I had my rain boots on, the ones that I try to seal with shoe glue every time the tear at the seam comes undone. When it started raining harder, I ducked into Madewell on 5th ave (oh, you know…just happened to be right there) and I ended up buying that enamel necklace, which you can see in the photo above. I’m so glad I did. It was the last one in the store. Sometimes it’s the little superficial things that make your day.
Have a great holiday weekend!
Posted by Jenna | 16 Comments