Thursday, September 26, 2013

Bee's Wrap - A Natural Alternative to Conserving Leftovers

My friend Josina sent me a email a while back and asked me to check out Bee's Wrap. Bee's Wrap is a natural alternative to conserving leftovers rather than using things like aluminum foil.

Bee's Wrap is fabric combined magically with beeswax, jojoba oil and tree resin and voila! There you have it, a natural way to keep your food fresh!

 Check out how it worked covering my leftover bowl of brown rice spaghetti!

Bee's Wrap is awesome at covering leftover pasta, wrapping cheese, veggies, bread, snacks or even half an avocado!

I love using Bee's Wrap with my leftovers. It feels great in my hands. It's fun to manipulate it, and it smells great!

Do you want to win three sizes of Bee's Wrap? Enter below!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Cold Hands Warm Heart

We were in line at Dunkin Donuts. An elderly lady stood behind me in line. She clutched my arm. Her hands were cold.
"Oh you're so warm!" She said. "I'm always cold."
"You know what they say? Cold hands, warm heart." I said with a smile.
I instinctively rubbed her hand to warm it.
"That feels so nice." She said smiling back. "I can't stand for so long." She said.
"You can go ahead of me in line." I told her.
"Do you have grandkids?" I asked.
"Oh sure. They're all almost through college." She replied.
"Nice." I replied "Any great grandkids?"
"Not yet. Soon!" She said with a laugh. I laughed too.
"Are those yours?" She said pointing to Ari and Samara who were looking at the juice cooler.
"Yes. They are."
"Beautiful," she said. I was still rubbing her cold hand. "Here, buy something for the kids." With that she handed me three dollars. I bought donuts.
There is good in the world.

KneeBouncers- Great Play with Purpose

A few years back, I found an awesome site for kids called Kneebouncers. It allowed Ari (who was two at the time) to use my computer without breaking it and learn letters, numbers, shapes, and colors! When I heard that Kneebouncers had released an IPad app called Great Play with Purpose, I was excited for Samara to get in on the action. So I wrote to the guys over at Kneebouncers and asked if we could give it a try. They graciously agreed!

Samara had a great time on the Kneebouncers app learning colors through popping balloons:

She learned number and letters:

And she moved on to some shapes! She had the help of Freddy the bear :)

She also got to play with a train:

Samara highly recommends the Kneebouncers Great Play With Purpose app. If you want to check it out for your kid, go to the app store and look up "KneeBouncers Great Play with Purpose" or just click here!

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Vegan À La Mode - A Cookbook Giveaway!

When I was at BlogHer13', I attended a writing seminar on how to transform a blog into a book. One of the panelists at that seminar was Hannah Kaminsky. I was impressed by how articulate she was when she revealed her path toward getting published. Hannah is a tenacious young woman. She's already a successful published author in her early twenties.

The unique part of her journey is that she was able to publish her vegan cookbooks without a literary agent. She pitched her proposal directly to publishers and she was picked up by a publishing house directly. I was impressed by her perseverance and her humility.

I was excited when Hannah agreed to let me giveaway Vegan À La Mode, her vegan ice cream cookbook!

First of all, all the ice cream looks delicious. Secondly the recipes have awesome titles like "Cookie Monster Ice Cream," which I'm dying to try. Other recipes include "Toasted Marshmallow Ice Cream" "Cheesecake Ice Cream" "Double Chocolate Fudge Chunk Ice Cream" and "Hint of Mint Chocolate Sorbet" Seriously, check this out:

I don't know about you, but that belongs in my belly. 

So check it out guys, Lauren from Skyhorse Publishing agreed to give away FIVE copies of Vegan À La Mode to five of my lucky readers. You can enter to win Hannah's yummy cookbook below.

Good luck and happy ice cream!

Saturday, September 21, 2013

The Circle Line Liberty Cruise!

This morning we were scheduled to attend the Circle Line Radio Disney Kids Cruise. As our luck would have it, on the way to our to the 10:00am cruise, we were in a taxi and got stuck in traffic on 42nd Street behind a giant tow truck. I kept willing the truck to move faster in my mind, but it didn't listen to me.

We got the dock of The Circle Line at 10:07am and found that the Kids Cruise had already left. I didn't want to let my kids down, so I went into the Circle Line office and asked if they would let us attend a different cruise instead. They graciously allowed us to hop on board the Liberty Cruise at 10:45am. The kids were psyched.**

The Liberty Cruise is 75 minutes long. I was nervous that the kids would melt down and it would be too long for them. It turned out it was the complete opposite. They were fascinated with all the scenery.

                                Ari took this picture!

 They especially loved looking out at the water.

There's something about being around water that is therapeutic to kids and adults.

Ari had fun exploring the ship.

As a native New Yorker, I still appreciate being a tourist in my own city. It's fun to check out historical landmarks like Ellis Island...

and of course the famous lady in green, The Statue of Liberty!

Samara was loving the boat and being outside in the cool air. She kept trying to say "liberty" but it sounded more like "liw-boo-tee."

Of course they got hungry half way through our journey. Ari was excited to eat his giant pretzel and Samara was happy to have her hotdog. 

Even the bathrooms were nice on this boat!

The staff was super friendly. I especially loved our tour guide, Dave. 

Dave has been with the Circle Line since 1993. He's worked with the company for 20 seasons. When giving the tour, he told us that he started with an initial script but his schtick has changed over the years based on the questions of passengers on board. I thought that was pretty cool. The patrons of the Circle Line had a role in the content of the tour. 

We had a great experience on The Liberty Cruise. If you're visiting New York, or even if you're a native, it's a fun way to spend the day either as a genuine tourist or a tourist in your own city.

The kids and I will be attending the Circle Line Kids Cruise on October 26th. We hope to see you there too!

For more information on The Circle Line click here. For information on the Circle Line Kids Cruises click here.

**This is a sponsored post for The Circle Line. All opinions expressed are my own.

Friday, September 20, 2013

Samara the Walker

Samara loves to walk. I've never seen a 2 year old walk as much as she does. I tested her walking ability out yesterday. We started out from our house and we walked 1/2 a mile down 4th Avenue toward the third street bridge. At any moment I was sure that she would stop and ask me to carry her, but she didn't. She walked on. 

It was a challenge for me, because my inclination as a native New Yorker is to walk fast. But with Samara holding my hand, I was forced to slow down my pace. We took turns pointing put trees to each other and different colored bicycles.

As we were crossing the third street bridge in the middle of the Gowanus Canal, Samara began to cry. She sat down so we could get a better view of the gray murky water.

"Samara! We have to go. We're going to be late. Ari's waiting for us at school."
I pleaded with her.

She reached her arms up and I knew she needed a break. So I carried her a few blocks over the bridge.

Then I challenged her again:
"Do you want to walk?" I asked her. "Let's go see Ari." 
Samara sighed "Okay. I wanna see Ari!"

With that she began to walk again. We made it just in time to pick up Ari from school. And the walk back to the train was easier because Samara had Ari by her side.

Thursday, September 19, 2013

An Interview With Selfish Mom - Amy Oztan

Over the years I've met some really awesome people on Twitter. One of them is Amy Oztan AKA Selfish Mom. We both live in Brooklyn, and I can remember bonding when the Brooklyn tornado happened a couple of years ago.

Amy is awesome. I wrote her an email and asked if I could interview her for OS/NS Mom. She invited me over to her place in Clinton Hill so I could find out more about her and how she got into blogging.

I told her I'd love to come over and I even brought her a pumpkin banana chocolate chip muffin from Blue Sky Bakery! 

After hanging out and talking with Amy, I think she should change her name to "Honest Mom." She's a genuine human being. We bonded over the fact that we're both Libras who come from performing arts backgrounds. 

Check out what she's has to say about how she started Selfish Mom, how her daughter's name wasn't inspired by the movie Shrek, and how her last name is not a random city in Texas.

Amy is a real down-to-earth person. Her best piece of blogging advice to those of you starting out: be yourself!

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

A Sandwich Teaches Me a Lesson

I was dreading getting up this morning. I looked at the time on my phone and it said 7:14. I closed my eyes and opened them again to find that it was 7:34. I panicked and woke Ari up. I told him we were going to be late.

I went into kitchen, grabbed two pieces of bread and began to spread peanut butter on one and honey on the other.
As I held the butter knife over the bread and began to spread the peanut butter I felt the thoughts begin to seep into my mind slowly at first like grains of sand and then more forcefully like large hail stones beating down on me.

It's Tuesday. There's only three more slices of bread. I need to buy more bread. My book isn't finished. I've written 92 pages. But I told everyone I wrote a book because I like to exaggerate sometimes in the hopes that if I say it, it will actually happen. I can't write if I have to potty train Samara and pick up Ari from school. I'm also at a difficult spot in my story. I'm afraid to go on and face what I have to write. Tomorrow is Wednesday and I'm excited because I get to go to a blogging event and there will be food there. I love food. Also I get paid for it eventually. I have to finish my transcription. When am I actually going to do that? It'll happen tomorrow, except it can't because I won't be home tomorrow. Also I need to learn time management...

Then I realized what was happening. My mind was controlling me. My mind was going in many different directions and I had forgotten all about the sandwich that I was making. In that moment I said to my mind:


I looked down at the slice of bread. I looked at the knife. Slowly I dipped the knife into the peanut butter and spread it onto the whole wheat bread. I looked a the bread intently. I noticed it was porous. I looked at the holes. Some were tiny while others were larger. There was a large hole near the crust.

Then I picked up the knife and dipped it into the honey jar. I noticed the golden color of the honey and its dense texture as I spread it onto the bread. I watched as the bread drank the honey into its pores.

As I watched the smallness of what I was doing, I felt calm. All I had to think about was composing these two slices of bread. They were the same in texture but what I added to them made them different.

My mind slowed down. 

This reminded me that slowness is possible. Calm is achievable if I stay in this moment, even if the moment is just about peanut butter.

Sunday, September 15, 2013

An Elderly Man Makes My Day

Ari, Samara and I went to Blue Sky Bakery this morning for muffins. When we were getting ready to leave, I noticed that Samara had thrown a bunch of books on the floor. Blue Sky has a variety of children's books for kids to read. I asked Samara and Ari to pick up all the books from the floor and put them back on the bookshelf. Samara responded by screaming "No!" at me. I said:

"Okay, then we're not going to ride the scooter home."
She finally conceded and put the books away with Ari's help.

Then I asked the kids to put their used plates and cups in the garbage can. They resisted at first but they begrudgingly did it.

Finally, when we were getting ready to leave, I asked that Ari assist Samara with her balance bike. She needed a hand getting out of the door. It was too heavy for her to carry and I knew that he could help her. He responded by ignoring me and riding his scooter down the block. I kindly reminded him that we wouldn't be riding the bike or scooter home unless he helped his sister.

"Okay." He said. With that he held the door and guided Samara get her bike outside.

I realized that the process of leaving took longer than it would have taken had I just picked up the garbage and the children's vehicles myself, but I wanted the kids to have responsibility for their belongings and their actions.

As we stepped out the door, an elderly man (who was also eating at Blue Sky) turned to me and said:
"I want to congratulate you for handling the children this way." I was floored.
"Really?" I asked him. "Thank you!"

With that he walked down the street and didn't say another word.

That one sentence had a profound impact on me. Too often, I'm stopped by strangers who want to give me unsolicited parenting advice. Some people like to criticize my parenting or tell me what I'm doing "wrong."

This man took the time out of his day to tell me what I was doing "right." It made my heart swell with pride. It made me feel like a great mom. I wish he had stopped for a second longer. I would have given him a hug.

Thank you mystery man for bringing light to my day and making me feel like I did something right.

Saturday, September 14, 2013


It's gray, thick and all encompassing. I can feel it on my face. It's surrounds me like a dense itchy uncomfortable blanket. I want to move but I can't see a thing, except for gray. It's deep dark gray. I am at the mercy of it.

I move slowly and cautiously. My feet are bare. I can feel the condensation on my toes. I close my eyes. It's black when they're closed, but when I open them the grayness pierces them. My face is covered with droplets. I keep blinking my eyes because they're saturated.

Step by step.
Inch by inch.
I am walking into the gray. It all looks the same. But I know on the other side of this, there is clean air and I will be able to breathe it.

On the other side of this fog he will be standing there. He will take my hand and we will walk together side by side onto the sand. Our feet will touch the cool wet sand together and I will not walk alone.

I lift my foot with the knowledge that this grayness is not forever. It's only a passing thing. I will step one foot at a time through this fog.

I will make my way to that sand. I breathe into the opening in my chest. I inhale the grayness, and I exhale it out.

Each step I take, my feet feel steadier and I get the hang of moving in this dense atmosphere. It doesn't seem so overwhelming as I learn to work with it. I integrate it into my being. And then I see it. There's an opening. I pace myself. One foot at a time, inch by inch, I step toward that clear space within the gray. My body is saturated in water.

I am no longer afraid of the fog. I cut through it with my hands, using them like knives. I move slowly and deliberately toward the clear opening.

Then it happens. My face is soaked in sweat and I pierce through that opening. There's a cool clean gust of wind that flows through my entire body. The sweat runs down my forehead and nearly disappears.

I look over and he is standing on the sand, his hand out stretched waiting for me. He's been there all along. I take his hand and together we walk. I am not alone.

Wednesday, September 11, 2013


The caterpillar lay there in her cocoon. She was snug in there, warm and tightly wound. Yet she felt frozen. She was unable to move. As she sat waiting impatiently for something to happen, she started to feel it little by little. It began as a tingling sensation in her tail. Slowly, the feeling moved little by little up from her tail vertebrae by vertebrae. The tingling vibrated from her tail up each part of her. The sensation spread through her small body like a syringe filling with blood. 

There was tingling from her tail all the way up through her tiny head. Her whole body was full of vibration. She knew that this was the sign of something to come. She listened to the vibration. She asked it what it meant. She told it she was scared. She didn't know when it would stop or if it would stop.

The tiny caterpillar was infused not only with vibration but with spirit. She closed her eyes and breathed into the vibration. Just as she took a deep breath in the tingling feeling increased. Her body twitched all over. It was as if lightning has struck her. She convulsed but she tried desperately to remain calm. She breathed, vibrating all the way.

Lightning struck her again, and she began to cry, but only a little. She wasn't sad, she was merely fearful of what was to come. 

She looked down at her body not knowing what was happening to her. All at once there was a warm sensation. She was surrounded by an all encompassing warmth as if the sun had shone on her small body, but there was no sun. She was alone.

The small fearful caterpillar felt that warm abruptly change into a wet feeling. She felt as if she were saturated by water. She was submerged by a gooey substance. She prayed that this would all stop. She wanted to feel like herself again, but she didn't know who that self was.

The wetness expanded and she feared that she might drown. All at once she felt a sharp pain in her vertebrae. She cringed. She looked down and saw the hint of something. It was sharp and triangular. She closed her eyes and focused on that place in her body. She breathed. 

All at once she opened her eyes and looked down at that place on her body. It was pulsating and swollen. Then it happened. Out of that pulsating spot sprouted a giant black mass. She breathed a sigh of relief. She stared at the blackness and saw that there was more. It wasn't black at all. It was deep dark purple. 

I did it. She thought. 

She knew what was coming next. I've come this far She thought. I can do it again.

Wordless Wednesday -Uh Oh

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

I Know Everything!

I think I may have the most stubborn child alive. 

As we were walking to school this morning, Ari decided that he was "too tired to walk" and he "didn't want to
hold my hand."

Meanwhile, we managed to pass at least 10 children on the way to school who were willingly holding their mother's hands.

"Okay," I said sighing "You can walk by yourself."

I reluctantly let go of his hand (I say reluctantly because he walks slower when he's not holding my hand and we were already running late) and he began to climb on the gate of a brownstone we were passing.

"Ari!" I shouted "This is not play time! We are late for school! If you don't hold my hand we can't go on the ride after school!" 

I promised him if he listened to me he was allowed to ride one of those quarter run car machine toy things that was outside of a toy store we'd passed.

"I'm too tired to walk fast! I don't wanna hold your hand! My arms and legs hurt! I don't wanna walk!" He screamed
"Ari," I began "The reason you're tired is because you refused to go to sleep last night."

I put Ari to bed at 9:30pm and he didn't fall asleep until 10:45pm. We woke up the next morning at 7:20am.

"No! I'm not tired! They hurt because my backpack is heavy!"
"Ari, you're a very smart boy, but you don't know everything." I said. Then he exploded. 

"I know everything! I know everything! I KNOW EVERYTHING!"

Then I lost it.
"I am 33 years old! I am the adult. You are five!" I was really telling myself this but I was directing it at him.

"I'm an adult!" He screamed "I know everything!"

He continued to repeat this the entire way to school. When got to school and one of the teachers holding the door for us looked concerned.

"We're having a rough morning." I said with a forced smile.

We got upstairs and I led Ari to his Kindergarten class. He instantly stopped crying and ran to the table to build with Magna-Tiles.

He knows everything. 

Monday, September 9, 2013

Ari's First Day of Kindergarten

Today was Ari's first day of Kindergarten. I set the alarm for 6:30am, but we ended up sleeping in until 7:30am. We were used to our summer non-schedule of sleeping in. As soon as Ari was up and dressed and ready to go, he went to say goodbye to Samara. I almost cried as he opened her door and said:
"It's my first day of School, Samara. I'm gonna miss you."

Next we stopped by Canteen for a chocolate muffin. It was the only way I could bribe Ari to leave the house before 8am. 

Then we went to the taxi dispatch stand on my block and begged the dispatcher to look for an available driver to get us to school. We were really late. Unfortunately, the dispatcher was cranky.
"Hi sir, are there any drivers available? We're really late for the first day of school." I said pleading with him.
"Are you with somebody?" He said confused. "I don't see anybody with you." Then it occurred to me that Ari was too short for him to see since he was behind a glass window and elevated several feet above the ground. 
"Yes yes! I'm with my five year old son." 
"This is not a dispatch facility!" Shouted the Taxi Dispatcher, even though there is a sign that reads "Dispatcher" on his desk behind the protective glass.

So Ari and I booked it down our block and then I saw him. There was a taxi driver filling his gas tank at the gas station. 
"Hi!" I said overly excited to see the taxi driver. "Are you on duty? We are really late for school."
"Where are you going?" I told him and he replied "Sure, get in." 
"Thank you so much!" I exclaimed.
"No problem dear, he has to get to school right?"
Ari was happy to get in that taxi. 

We got to school and Ari was ready for his first day of Kindergarten. 

This year Ari is in an ICT class, which means he'll be with children who have special needs as well as general education students. I requested that he be in an ICT class for Kindergarten because I love those particular teachers and because I think he'll be a strong character and a support to the kids that have special needs. 

When he approached the classroom, Ari was a bit shy. He hid his face in my dress. But soon he ran to the Magna-Tiles and began to build. 

I left Ari to play in his new classroom while I attended a parent orientation in the school library. I snuck out of the orientation a little early so I could beat the crowd and get a student Metrocard for Ari from the office.

I returned to pick him up in his classroom, and was greeted with a big hug. Then we took the train over to downtown Brooklyn to pick up more school supplies. 

Some of the school supplies included unlined composition notebooks (which I didn't even know existed) and a cat folder.

Ari picked out a yellow finger pointer that he wanted to take home. I don't know why I let him buy it, but I did.

Day one of Kindergarten is complete! 

Friday, September 6, 2013

Fire Island Hotel and Resort - My Awesome Stay and a Chance to Win a FREE NIGHT!

Fire Island has always held a special place in my heart. One of the reasons for this is because my parents met there. I can remember spending summers there as a child and loving the beach and the bay. I used to paint seashells and sell them on the beach. Fire Island is (and will always be) a magical place for me and my family. 

Last summer when we went to Fire Island, we stayed at  The Fire Island Hotel and Resort in Ocean Bay Park

It was such an awesome experience (for the kids especially) that I called the Fire Island Hotel and Resort this year and asked if we could stay there again for three nights during the first week of September**

The Fire Island Hotel and Resort booked us a cabin with a double bed and we were on our way to Fire Island!

But first we got on the Long Island Railroad and headed to Bayshore to catch the ferry to Fire Island.

We got off the ferry and headed to the Fire Island Hotel and Resort, which was a five minute walk from the ferry in Ocean Bay Park.

We were greeted by the lovely Molly at the front desk of the hotel. She becomes a super hero at the end of this vacation. You'll see why later.

Molly handed us the keys and we headed straight for our room. As soon as I unlocked room #36 the kids already felt at home:

We headed straight for the beach which was steps away from the hotel. We opened our door and were able to walk directly out onto the beach, which was beautiful!


After the beach we headed back to the pool at the Fire Island Hotel and Resort Ari and Samara loved the pool!

After the pool, we were hungry so we cooked up some salmon on the grill that they have on the facility. Unfortunately I don't have any pictures of our lunch because we were really hungry. :)

One of the most awesome parts of staying at the Fire Island Hotel and Resort was that even when we weren't at the beach or the pool, the kids always had a place to play. The view out of the window of our room reveals a fond grassy spot that Ari and Samara had fun running around:

We loved our stay at The Fire Island Hotel and Resort and we would absolutely come back again. It's an awesome place for families. The kids loved it so much that they didn't want to leave!

On our last night in Fire Island, something unexpected happened. The kids and I were on the beach, and my flip flops washed away into the ocean with the tide. I had no shoes to go home with! Molly, the wonderful woman at the front desk of the Fire Island Hotel gave me the shoes off her feet so that I could make it safely home. That's love people, that is love. 

Do you want to win a free night at The Fire Island hotel for you and a guest? Enter below to win one FREE NIGHT at the The Fire Island Hotel and Resort in Ocean Bay Park, Fire Island. If you win you can stay ONE NIGHT between 9/16/13 and 9/19/13. ENTER BELOW!

**Full disclosure: the above is a sponsored post from the Fire Island Hotel and Resort. I received three nights stay in exchange for a review. All opinions expressed here are my own.