Thursday, December 29, 2011

Going Back to School and Writing About it On The Information Superhighway

In June 2011, a visit to the NYC Department of Education changed my life. I met one of the meanest, disgruntled DOE employees while attempting to renew my substitute teaching license. However, if it wasn't for her blatant hostility and disregard for human life, I wouldn't have met her lovely supervisor. And if I hadn't met her supervisor, I wouldn't know about the DOE scholarship in Speech Language Pathology.

That fateful day in June changed my life. I applied for the DOE scholarship in Speech, and I'm writing about my entire application process, and if I get in, G-d willing, I will continue to write about it on

Click on the logo below to read about my application woes; how it took me 3000 years to scan my transcripts, because Ari went hog wild at Staples, or about my GRE phobia, or how about...okay enough of the spoilers, click below and read the articles yourself:

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Self Portraits on Xmas

It's Xmas, and we are bored. While everyone is out getting last minute items, we are taking pictures of ourselves. Here's some of our work:

Sunday, December 18, 2011

I Don't Know How to Use a Comma

I have a confession to make, I'm 32 years old and I don't know how to use a comma. This is shocking, but true.

It all started 27 years ago when I was in kindergarten.

I grew up in New York City in the 1980's. I was raised in the NYC public school system. At my schools, P.S.87, The Computer School, Booker T. Washington Junior High School 54, and Fiorello H. LaGuardia High School For Music & Art and Performing Arts, I did not learn grammar. As a result, I don't know how to use a comma correctly.

This became abundantly clear when I was hired for a freelance transcription job. I emailed my first draft of the transcript, and I received a long email back with many corrections. One of the main corrections that was pointed out to me is my overuse of commas. I'm not sure why, but apparently I love commas.

My education has failed me. I went to good schools, some of them were gifted and talented programs even, I am a graduate of NYU, but a comma defies me.

However, I'm done living in the past. It's time to move on with my grammatical life.

I'm come to the realization that I need to seek help for this problem. I need a comma intervention. Can somebody please tell me how to use commas correctly? Thanks.

Sometimes, You Need to Ask For Help

I can't do it all. I've come to this realization recently. So I asked my right-hand man to help me with something today. It worked out well. I think he really got into to!

We had a lot of fun cleaning. How did I get him to do it? This morning he asked me " Can I watch something?" I said "You can watch something if you help me clean," to which he replied
"Okay!" The rest was history.

The motivating factor for me was not television, but rather music. I blasted my tunes while I was cleaning to keep myself going. We were listening to Quietdrive's album Deliverance. This was a really productive morning.

Thank you Ari! Let's do this again sometime, hopefully on a regular basis.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Ari Shops At Trader Joe's

Ari has recently taken the lead when it comes to grocery shopping. Take a look!

Friday, December 16, 2011

This is How it's Done

When I ask you what you love about me, you say "Everything."
I say
"What's one thing?"
You reply "You're cool."

Here's what I love about you:
You love children and the elderly, and you're wonderful with both of them.

You think everybody deserves a chance.
You don't give up.
You can put complicated things together without an instruction manual.
You can find my keys when I can't.
You clean the house!

You are a dedicated loving father, and you always put our kids first.
You're generous.
You let Ari sleep on your back, even though it hurts your back.

You gave me your special headphones.

I love you!

The Winner of The Ficklets Giveaway

The winner of the OS/NS Mom Ficklets Giveaway is Leah!

Congratulations Leah! You won!

Check out more from Ficklets here.

How do you feel, Leah?

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Listia: It's Like Ebay, But with FREE STUFF!

When I was in college, back in the late 1990's, I had a major Ebay addiction. Ebay was mesmerizing to me. One could bid and purchase items from the 80's like old school Nintendos, Teddy Ruxpins, to other cool things ranging from antique chairs to clothes, even cars for crying out loud! Not toy cars, we're talking Nissans and Hondas.

Welcome to 2011, where I don't have the luxury of buying whatever I want all the time. Enter Listia. My best friend, Mint, introduced me to this site, by saying: "it's like shopping, without really buying anything, because everything is free!"

Listia is a place online where you can bid on and get free stuff. Sounds to good to be true right? Well, it's not. Want to know more? I had the opportunity speak with Listia founders, and here's what they had to say:

1. What was the inspiration for Listia?
James came up with the idea for Listia because he was having trouble giving away free snowboard boots on craigslist. The long version of the story is here:

2. Who are the founders? Tell us about yourselves?
James Fong

Gene Chuang

Hi guys, this is Sarah here, I'm just going to take a moment to say that James is really hot.
Don't you think? Now, back to the free stuff!

We're long time friends who met in college and have worked together on various projects throughout the years. For a while the two of us were running the entire site, but in a span of two years we've grown to a team of ten.

3. How does Listia work?
When you join Listia, you get 500 credits. You get more credits every time you list an item for sale and other users bid on it. Then you can use your credits to buy items that other users are selling. No money changes hands.

4. What are the benefits of using Listia for parents?

As your kids grow, they tend to outgrow their stuff as well. Instead of throwing away old toys, clothes and books, Listia makes it easy to trade outgrown or unwanted items for different things your kids will be able to use and enjoy.

5. If Listia were a flavor of ice cream what would it be and why?
Listia would actually be one big ice cream shop with endless flavors and lots of happy customers. :)

So, what are you waiting for? Sign up for Listia today! If you click on this link:

You'll be doing two awesome things:
1. Creating your own Listia account
2. You'll give me credits so I can bid on legos. I need legos people!

So tell me, what are you looking to get on Listia? What do you want to give away?

Thursday, December 8, 2011

And Then...I Changed My Pants

The other day, something humiliating happened to me. My friend Adriana, and I had plans to go to the movies. Wil was going to watch the kids. As usual, my time management skills, or lack there of, took over, and I tried to do too much before the movie. I drove over to Trader Joe's with Samara, while Ari and Wil were still sleeping, bought snacks, drove back home to meet Adriana. Adriana estimated her time of arrival to meet me at 10:15am, but the train ran express, so she got there a little after 10am.

Because I am terrible at managing time, I was still wearing yoga pants and a tee shirt. The yoga pants were covered in food stains, maybe some banana residue, some oatmeal, who knows what else. Did I mention that I have two kids?

Adriana was walking toward my house, at the same time as a questionable looking man. There happen to be a lot of questionable looking characters on my block, so I didn't really think much of the guy...until he spoke to me.

"I know you got a right, but damn. Do you really have to go outside like that?"

It took me a moment to process what he said. And then I realized that he was blatantly insulting me. I looked down at my food stained pants, and I said to Adriana.

"I believe that man just insulted me. "
"What did he say?" She as eyes widened.
"He told me that what I was wearing was gross. Excuse me, I have to go change."

Fully humiliated, I went upstairs to my apartment and changed my stained pants for clean ones. I felt ambivalent about this interaction, on the one hand, the guy had a point, my banana stained pants were not exactly Chanel, but on the other hand, he doesn't realize what I have to do to get a shower and put on clean clothes over here. On the one hand I wanted to tell him "FUCK YOU!" And on the other hand I wanted to say "THANK YOU." It was a reality check that I need to get a handle on myself and look more like a human when I leave the house. He schooled me.

Have you ever been schooled by a stranger?

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

A Memory

When you are 16, you won't remember this, but your father will. He wanted a daughter. He wanted you. I fought with him for your name. He wanted to name you Starla. You are so loved, you and your tiny head, big cheeks, strong little legs, almost ready to walk. I love you Samara, and your daddy loves you just as much.

This is a part of Memories Captured

Saturday, December 3, 2011

The Muppets Are Back And They've Kidnapped Jack Black!

Yesterday, the kids, Aunt Mimi and I went to see The Muppets at the Lowes 84th Street theater in my old neighborhood, the upper west side of Manhattan.

As a child of the 80's, I was raised on the Muppet Movies, from The Muppet Movie to The Muppets Take Manhattan, the muppets were a part of my life from the time I could talk, and possibly before that because I have an older brother. He's four years older, and my dad tells us he was afraid of Kermit the Frog, when Kermit did the news on Sesame Street.

I was excited to see the movie, because Aunt Mimi had raved about it. She said it was one of the best movies she had ever seen.

We arrived at the theater late, because we had to make a stop for gas, and Aunt Mimi and I were concerned that we might have missed the beginning of the movie. I was hoping we just skipped the previews. Thankfully, there was a Toy Story short before the movie began, so we didn't miss the opening number!

The Muppets was a delight. Ari, saw his first movie, Up, when he was just over a year. He was mesmerised then by the animation and the colors. Now, he's now three and half, and he was really able to appreciate the movie in a totally different way. He had never "met" the muppets before, and I was anxious to see what his reaction would be to them.

My parents must have clued him in to some of the muppet character profiles, because just after we parked the car, he before we entered the theater, he said something to Aunt Mimi and I about a pig and a frog.

Ari was glued to the screen the whole movie. He only took one issue with the movie, he did not like the evil pig muppet, whom I can't seem to find a picture of on the internet, but I'll tell you this: if I ran into her in a dark alley I would be scared.

Samara is ten months now, and she was able to sit through most of the movie, which was big shock to me. She was sitting in Aunt Mimi's lap munching on a Carrot Blueberry cream cheese muffin from Blue Sky Bakery.

So that kept her calm most of the movie, until she needed to be changed. Aunt Mimi took her out and she cried the entire time she was away from me. Separation anxiety is awesome!

The movie was great. Jason Segel and Amy Adams are hilarious. Here's the storyline, for those of you that don't know, it's about a muppet named Walter, who grows up with his human brother Gary in a place called Smalltown. Gary spends his life surrounded by humans, but has a lifetime obsession with The Muppets. Gary, his girlfriend Mary and Walter decide to make a trip to Los Angeles to meet the muppets. It also happens to be Mary and Gary's 10th anniversary.

My favorite musical number was, hands down, was "Man or Muppet?" There were, of course, some old standards included in the film, including Rainbow Connection, and The Muppets Theme song.

One of the funniest parts of the movie was when the Muppets kidnapped Jack Black for their telethon. I can't begin to tell you how hysterical that was. You have to see it for yourself.

Aunt Mimi was right. The Muppets was one of the best movies I've ever seen.

I don't want to reveal too much about the movie. You need to stop what you're doing immediately, shut down your computer, go outside, walk/drive/take the bus to the movie theater, buy your tickets and/or popcorn and see it immediately.

Have you seen The Muppets? What did you think?

Sunday, November 27, 2011

15 Becomes 32

Yesterday, Ari, Samara and I hung out with my friend Andrea.

She was visiting from London, because we're grownups now and we can live in places like London. Andrea and I have been friends since we were 15 years old. We are now 32, and 31 years-old respectively. She actually just turned 31 on November 24th. It seems like only yesterday we were 15.

We do not want to be in our thirties, but we are.

I have vivid memories of Andrea and I dancing to Madonna's Immaculate Collection in my room. Here's my old room in case your interested.

I drew/painted that mural myself. Andrea is now an Art Director, by the way. She's always been an amazingly talented artist. Here is some of her earlier work:

All artwork © 1995 Andrea Acevedo. Stealing is bad for your soul.

Andrea and I used to use bus passes to travel around the city.

I remember her dad, Julio, teaching us how to drive on the cobblestone roads of Vermont when we were 14.

It's crazy to me that I'm 32 years old. In my mind, some parts of me still feel 15, or 19, sometimes 25, but never 32. I feel like in the blink of an eye I went from being a child to an adult. Sometimes the process seemed elongated, but thinking back on my life, I can't believe I'm a bonafide adult.

So Andrea, here's to bus passes, Ray Bari Pizza, hanging out at playgrounds when we were the oldest people there, and being 15 again. I love you girl!

Do you feel your age? Tell me about it!

Thursday, November 24, 2011

The REAL Thanksgiving Story

It's Thanksgiving today, and when I think of Thanksgiving, I remember elementary school.
I have vivid memories of coloring in Ms. Israeli's classroom. She was an art teacher, a stern portly woman with frizzy blond hair, who wore stretch pants every single day. In hindsight, she shouldn't have been teaching children, because she clearly disliked them. But there we were, little first graders, coloring pictures of pilgrims with giant hats, multi-colored indian corn, turkeys, cornbread, Native Americans, I believe boats were involved...maybe because the pilgrims came over on a boat. It was an idyllic depiction of the Thanksgiving feast.

But's let get real. The pilgrims didn't come over to America, hang out with the Native Americans and eat turkey and cornbread. They came to the Native American's land, took over, gave them small pox, and forced themselves on the Native American women. That's not such an pretty picture.

I suppose, if we extract the reality of Thanksgiving and treat it as a time to spend with our families, it can be a nice holiday. But the question is, what do we tell our kids about this holiday? As I got older and out of Ms. Israeli's art class, and learned the grim reality about Thanksgiving, I felt duped. She (and her stretch pants) lied to us!

Do we treat this holiday as a nice time to spend with our families, or do we address the truth of what happened to the Native Americans?

What do you think? What do you tell your kids about Thanksgiving?

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Ficklets Giveaway! Make Your Kids' Glasses Look Cool

I first "met" Ros Guererro, founder of Ficklets, on Twitter. I was intrigued by her Twitter handle: "Ficklets." It was such a whimsical word, I wanted to know what it meant. Then, I checked out her site, and loved the concept. Ficklets are little charms that your child can use to decorate their glasses! Here's an example:

I was so excited about Ficklets, that I did an interview with Ros. You can see that here.

Now I want to ask you something? Do your kids fight wearing their glasses? Perhaps they'd like to add a little decoration to their spectacles.

Now's your chance to win some Ficklets!

Here's what you win:
  • Three Ficklets
  • Extra bands
  • Lens cleaner
Here's how to enter (each of these counts as an entry) :
  • Follow Ficklets on Twitter
  • Follow Ficklets on Facebook
  • Follow OS/NS Mom on Google Friend Connect
  • Follow OS/Mom on Facebook
The winner of the Ficklets Giveaway will be selected randomly and announced here on Wednesday December 14th, 2011.

Good luck spectacle wearers!

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

"Where Do You Go to School?" "I Don't."

The other day, I went to a birthday party of one of Ari's friends. At the party, I met a woman and her six-year-old son. The kid was really cute, and had a beautiful head full of curly hair.
"Where do you go to school?" I asked him. There was a pregnant pause.
"Go ahead, you can say." His mom said with a soft smile.
"I don't go to school."
"We're un-schoolers." His mom said. She meant that her son was being homeschooled. She went on to say that they learn whatever he happens to be into at the time. Her son is really into clay sculptures at the moment. They don't go by a particular curriculum, per say, but they follow his interests. They visit a lot of art galleries, museums, and basically "live life." It sounded utopian to me.

I've always been fascinated with homeschooling. I'm not sure if I want to pursue it or not for my kids, but I like a lot of aspects of it on the surface. I like that you can design your own personalized curriculum for your kids, or you can follow a purchased curriculum from a particular education style, for example Waldorf, or Oak Meadow.

Ari is not in pre-school now, and that gives me the flexibility to explore his interests. However, there is a lot of societal pressure to put your kids in traditional school. Homeschooling is viewed, by many people I've spoken to, as cultish. The other concern I've heard from many parents is that kids that are homeschooled don't get enough socialization with other kids.

From my limited experience with parents of homeschooled children, these appear to be misconceptions. I've heard this sentiment time and time again:
"Homeschooling is not about being in the home."
This means that kids are taken to different classes to explore their interests, they are exposed to other children who are also being homeschooled or "unschooled," whatever terminology you use.

My personal concerns about homeschooling would be the following:
  • When would I have time to work on a curriculum?
  • When would I have time for myself?
  • How would society judge me if I chose to homeschool my kids?
If I chose to enter Ari into Universal Pre-K at a traditional school, I'd have to make that decision by January of 2012. I keep vacillating between traditional schooling and homeschooling. At the age of 3 1/2 it seems premature to be making these decisions about my child's future. He still seems so little to me.

What about you? Would you consider homeschooling your kids? Do you have your kids in traditional school?

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

The Call For Jury Duty

I got a purple and white envelope with perforated edges in the mail on Saturday. Without even opening it, I knew exactly what it was. On the slight chance that I might be wrong about the contents of the envelope, I aggresively ripped the perforated edges, and out came the undeniable, a notice to appear for The Kings County Supreme Court on December 5th. My heart sank.

I really did not want to sit around for days away from my kids waiting to see if I would be placed on a trial.but then, I posted my woes on Facebook, and a couple of people suggested that I would be excused because I am a caregiver.

Upon further inspection of my purple and white foe, I saw that with the presentation of "my youngest child's birth certificate" I could postpone my fate. I wasted no time. On Monday morning the kids, both of their birth certificates (I wasn't taking any chances with the bureatic system) and I headed down to Adams Street.

They were just as angry about the summons as I was.

This is my game face.

After we climbed many stairs, they made us go through a security checkpoint. As thr diaper bag was going through the X-Ray machine, I was getting nervous. What if the baby nail clippers or my keys or spare change covered in soggy Cherrios made the alarm go off? The coast seemed to be clear, until the stroller passed through. The metal detector went completely insane and and would not stop beeping. I started sweating. The security guard gave me a cold glare which quickly morphed into a half smile as she said:
"Go on through."

We ran through, at which point I realized that I had no idea where I was going.
"Um, excuse me? Where is room 156?" I asked burly security guard who was lurking in the corner.
"Around the corner, take the elevator down one." He grunted.
We rushed around the corner and took the elevator down.

Then we looked for Room 156...

And found it.

We waited in line, and finally we approached the window of the clerk.

The clerk took one look at me, then the kids, and finally at Samara's birth certificate. She smiled and said:
"You've got two years."
Yes! Two years of being Jury duty free!
"You may get something in the mail saying to come down here again before the two years is up. If you do, just come back with the birth certificate again."
The kids and I exited the court with the purple and white envelope and a very important addition to it:

Have you been called for jury duty recently?

Saturday, November 12, 2011

I Feel Like I Just Had Her

It feels like I just gave birth to Samara, but in reality, it's been nearly 10 months! Samara will be one on January 22nd, 2012. Aunt Mimi just got a new cell phone, and so she purged all her old cell phone pictures into an online album on Google Plus, which she shared with me. I stole these gems from that album:

Aunt Mimi, Samara, and I

Samara at Birth: She Looks Like Ari!

Olivia (my amazing friend and doula), and Samara Olivia

Me Nursing Samara

Aunt Mimi and Samara

Aunt Mimi, thank you for purging your cell phone. Sorry I stole the pictures, but they were too awesome to pass up!