Monday, August 31, 2009

Picky. Protective. And Still Single. by Jamie Levine

Before I had Jayda, I was a serial dater. I went out with men from JDate, had “training dates” with other members of my gym, was set up with friends of friends of friends, and even had drinks with a couple of gutsy guys who chatted me up on the subway. I once went speed dating with a friend for kicks, and actually posted an ad on Craigslist at one point (and met a short-term boyfriend that way). I certainly know how to date…or at least I used to. Friends often asked me why I was still single, and, if maybe, I was “being too picky?” I always responded “No…not at all. I just don’t want to settle.” And I really wasn’t being too selective—I gave plenty of guys a fair chance. However, most of them never made it to full-fledged boyfriend status…either due to their commitment-issues or our lack of chemistry, or a host of other reasons. But I wasn’t single because I was too picky. Hardly.

NOW, I’m picky.

Though I ultimately “chose” to have Jayda on my own, I’ve always pictured myself with a husband. But, unlike the pre-Jayda dating-fanatic I once was, I no longer feel I need a man in my life…I simply want one. The right one. And he has to be right for me and Jayda. Yikes. Just how does someone find a man who is high-caliber husband and father material—for two strong-minded, used-to-being-on-their-own gals? Especially when the woman looking has much less time to test-drive a bunch of suitors than she ever had before! It’s definitely a challenge.

Of course I’ve dated a bit in the past 27 months that Jayda has been alive…but mostly just for fun—for a much-needed break from being a mommy all the time. And while I always tell people that “I’d love to meet someone special…” I rarely put my energy into looking for him. Who has the time? Or even, on some days, the desire? Having an extra hour or two to read a book, or go to bed early, is often vastly more appealing to me than going on a blind date.

In the past, I could drop everything on a whim and meet someone for a drink. If the guy was engaging enough, a Thursday afternoon introductory phone call could lead to a Thursday night rendezvous at my local bar. Why not? These days, in order to have a night out, I need to find a babysitter (and potentially invest quite a bit of money), as well as sacrifice precious time with my daughter (or, the aforementioned extra sleep!). Sure, the right guy is definitely worth it…but who wants to invest time and money on the “wrong” guy? Thus, I’m less apt to take a risk these days—especially since I’m protecting more than just my own heart now.

With her affectionate nature and outgoing personality, Jayda is so easy to love…but it’s just as easy to break her heart. When a good friend leaves us to go home after spending a day with me and Jayda, my daughter often asks for that person over and over again, every day for weeks! What would she do if I dated a man—whom Jayda got to know and love—and then we broke up? Yes, I know she’d recover, but still, the thought of my daughter suffering for my dating mistakes pains me. And so I hesitate. I question whether I’m really ready for a serious relationship. I certainly don’t bring my dates home to meet Jayda. And I continually wonder if the timing will ever be right for meeting “our” Mr. Right.

Choosing to be a single mom definitely alleviated the pressure I used to put on myself to search for a husband. And, overall, it’s made me a much happier, more confident person. But sometimes I wonder if the pressures single motherhood has added to my dating life will ultimately make my search impossible. I suppose only time will tell…

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Thursday, August 27, 2009

The Hands of Time - by Robin

What kind of senior will I be?

It's a hard thing to anticipate. But, I do hope to live to a ripe old age (and hopefully have a "quality" life.) But, how do you define "quality" when you're elderly?

I watched my dad this past week during our annual family vacation, and it was an example of what I hope not to become. I hate to say it, but my dad yearns unrealistically to be 40 again. OK....maybe he'd settle for 60.....but certainly some age where he doesn't feel his age. (He's told often he doesn't look it....but that doesn't offer him much consolation.)

I've said to him on countless it truly possible at almost age 91 to feel great?! Does anyone at that age?

I don't feel as I did when I was almost 50 (I choke when I type that number....though I'm not there yet.)

Ted Kennedy sadly just passed away at age 77 after a bout of brain cancer. That couldn't have been pleasant.

Dominick Dunne, author/journalist, passed away at age 83 from bladder cancer. No doubt also not a walk in the park.

What does my dad expect?! And thank G-d, my dad is not suffering from cancer. Much of his discomfort is the result of complications from surgeries in hindsight he didn't need to have and didn't benefit from. He does not have a disease...unless old age is considered such. I think it is, in his mind.

I can't condemn him for wanting to fight the hands of time. I guess most of us do. But, does that mean your days then become full of constant complaining....bringing down those around you....especially loved ones who try to be supportive to the best of their ability, but have their our challenging lives to lead? Isn't it still possible to find happiness despite physical imperfection? Or is it that from now on the glass is perpetually 1/2 empty? How do people live with chronic illness?

My beloved mom (who passed away at age 73), may she rest in peace, was not one to complain. Even if she was suffering, she always had the presence of mind to consider the other person and try not to fill their head with negativity. Afterall, attitude does affect healing. So, no one gains from incessant crankiness.

But, how does it feel to be really old?! On one hand, a person may be viewed as blessed to have lived such a full life. After all, disease knows no age, and plenty don't make it to 80+ and then some.

Should one just flat-out be appreciative? Or do you gain the right to complain more and more as the years pass? Is that what aging is about?

My dad has become a doctors that he frequents them. Though, he's not an easy patient since he complains of so much that I imagine they often don't know where to start. My husband jokes (though it's really not funny) and says that if my father didn't have good medical insurance, he'd learn to live with feeling less than up to par instead of constantly searching for a magic healing bullet.

I hate to put my father down. On one hand, I give him credit for practicing vigilant self care, but at times, it does feel self-absorbed. And, I miss him. I miss the dad who was there for me. I know he still loves and supports me, but the tables have turned. He is no longer my caretaker and can only lend a partial ear to hear what is going on in my life. He's quite caught up in his own daily existence.

I find myself often jealous of those who have parents who are truly there for them and will even watch their kids and do things with them. We have never had that. I wonder what that is like?

At the end of the day....I do love my dad....and miss my mom...and I hope that I don't one day become an emotional burden on my son. I really don't want to turn into a whiny curmudgeon. Perhaps having that awareness is a vital starting point.

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Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Back to School -- by Cara Meyers

I always loved the “newness” and anticipation of going back to school when I was young! Fresh, crisp notebooks! Perfectly sharpened pencils! New pens and pencil cases! Even the annual shopping trip for my new school “wardrobe” excited me! That is until I realized that it would be 85 degrees the first day of school and I wouldn’t be able to wear that perfect pink and burgundy wool dress with the pretty ruffles, matching tights and coordinating shoes!
But the anticipation of the new school year is no longer the same for many children and many families. Yes, a trip to Staples can not only prepare you with eighteen types of different highlighters, 6 types of rulers, every type of pen, pencil, crayon, marker, and dry erase implement manufactured. For many children, though, the new school year will bring stress.
Almost an insurmountable amount of stress.
More and more school systems are trying so hard to improve their national “ranking” that I truly feel that the individual student becomes morphed into part of a statistic. And to make matters worse, there is increasing evidence that public schools, in general, are becoming, to a greater extent, geared towards girls. Rough and tumble is sadly discouraged in the classrooms. Even as early as Kindergarten, children are expected to read and write almost fluently. And two hours of homework is almost the “norm.”
Interestingly, more books are being written about how and why boys are not meeting the “standards” set by their schools. At my bedside I have books titled, “Boys Adrift: The Five Factors Driving the Growing Epidemic of Unmotivated Boys and Underachieving Young Men”; “The Trouble with Boys”; “When Labels Don’t Fit”; “Raising Cain.” Why is all of this emphasis on boys? And why is it that these books suggest that either boys must conform to the rigidity of their school system, not conform and risk failing out of school, or try to reach that one teacher in probably a thousand who is willing to go the extra mile and try to pull the male students back into the curriculum through innovative techniques?
Let’s face it, school curriculums are now designed for girls. Girls who will sit still and take notes and disrupt less. Girls who are more attentive. Girls who have the ability to sit for greater lengths of time. In the 1970s, more than 60% of boys were the ones going off to college. Today, 70% are girls. What is this telling us about how our national school system regards boys?
I’m not looking forward to the start of school this year. I have a son who will be entering first grade. He will need special speech and language services to help him get through the year, but will that be enough? Will he still be falling through the cracks even though he is as smart as a whip in his knowledge of science and math? I don’t know. What I do know is that I will be working very hard as his advocate. Going to meetings, playing phone tag with people who see my son simply as part of a “statistic.” And making darn sure that he gets all that he deserves to prove he can be the bright, vibrant, successful individual I know he will be! But first the start of a new school year. New backpack, new folder, markers, pencils, pencil case... sans the excitement I once enjoyed and embraced.

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Monday, August 24, 2009

Who Needs a Husband? I Need My Mommy and Daddy! by Jamie Levine

To be a successful single mom (or at least a sane one!), you really need a good support system: Friends or family whom you can lean on when you’re in a clinch. And, most importantly, they must be people whom both you and your child like and trust. In my case, those people are my mom and dad.

I’m not always comfortable asking for help when I need it. This is a weakness I’ve been working on ever since Jayda was born, but I haven’t yet overcome it. While I’m blessed to have a lot of wonderful friends, it’s never easy for me to ask one of them to watch Jayda when I have to be somewhere else. But my mom and dad? I’ll ask them in a heartbeat. When I need to go to the city for a meeting and it runs late, my parents pick Jayda up from daycare. When I want to go to the gym on a weekend morning, my dad happily entertains Jayda while I’m gone. And when I have a date—with a man, or even just a girlfriend for a glass of wine—my mom and dad are there to listen to the baby monitor while Jayda snoozes.

But what about when they’re not around? Ugh. Only hours after my parents had left for a week-long trip to Vermont, my car started acting up and I was told by my mechanic that I needed to take it to the dealership…a 30-minute drive away. When I made my appointment at the dealership, they told me they’d drive me home after I left my car there, but they had no loaner cars. Huh? I could drop my car off on Tuesday morning right after I took Jayda to daycare. But what if the car wasn’t fixed by the time I had to pick her up? Or worse…what if it would take an extra day to fix it (that day being a Wednesday—the day Jayda is home with me)? How would I pick up my repaired car with Jayda in tote? And, well, simply, how would I deal with being stranded at home for two days?

I wanted to call my mom on her cell phone and cry. But what on earth could she do? She was halfway to Vermont already. And besides, I was supposed to be a “grown up.” Heck, I’m a mom, myself! So, instead, I panicked alone. Binged on gummi bears (the ones I give Jayda to encourage her potty training). Gave myself a migraine. And then, I did what I should have done first: I picked up the phone.

First, I called Jayda’s daycare to see if Jayda could stay later on Tuesday, if necessary. Affirmative. Then, I called a friend whom we had plans with on Wednesday and told her I wasn’t sure we’d be able to make it…everything depended on when I’d get my car back. She immediately offered to come over and watch Jayda if I needed her to—and also suggested we move the play date closer to my house. Wonderful!

That evening, I vented to another friend, who said she’d be in my neighborhood on Wednesday and that she’d love to watch Jayda—or give me a ride somewhere if I needed it. Oh, I love my friends! And on Tuesday morning, as I pulled out of my driveway to take Jayda to daycare, my neighbor waved at us and asked how I was. I mentioned my impending trip to the dealership and she told me she’d be around both Tuesday evening and Wednesday morning if I needed her help. Thank you, neighbor!

Suddenly the unsettled feeling I’d been having ever since I’d spoken to my mechanic disappeared. Everything was going to be ok. And you know what? I took my car to the dealership and they asked if I wanted to wait while they repaired my car. Wait? A whole day? Oh, no. The repairs took 45 minutes and I was back home in time to go to the gym and get all my work done before I had to pick Jayda up from daycare (without the extended hours). Go figure. I guess I don’t need my mom and dad, after all. Well…at least not this week while they’re on vacation!

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Friday, August 21, 2009

School Approaching - by Robin

Where does the time go?

School will be here before you know it, and it's first grade for Seth.

Everyone says it's much more demanding than kindergarten. That remains to be seen. I'm crossing my fingers the homework isn't daunting.

It's been so nice having him come home from camp and just being able to chill. Some of the biggest challenges were creating a funky hairstyle for him for Wacky Wednesday and picking clothes in black 'n red for checkerboard day.

The whole after school homework thing is such a challenge for everyone.

And, now we're giving thought to after school activities.

There is no after class program for first graders at the school. So, two days we have enrolled him in a dropoff program similar to day care. But, what about the other days? Should we consider Hebrew School? (He has no interest in that.)

Two other mom friends have broached the subject of martial arts.

Another mentioned tennis.

How much and what to do? And, all this taking into consideration the demands of school itself.

We're not rushing into signing him up for anything as yet, but I do feel like I'd like to have a potential gameplan in mind.

I don't want to be one of those overscheduling moms. Kids need ample time to chill. But, it's tempting to sign them up for programs that seem cool, especially if their friends are doing it. I don't buy into the whole "keeping up with the Jones parenting thing," but it is easy to be influenced.

So, as I call up karate places, kids gyms, synagogues, etc. , we'll see what jumps out at us and Seth. If he had his way, he'd be happy staying home and watching Sponge Bob for hours after doing homework.

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Wednesday, August 19, 2009

The Day Camp Dilemma: Part II -- by Cara Meyers

This Week: My husband had decided to take the Day Camp Dilemma challenge and see whether he could do a better job at preparing my son for Day Camp each day. Here are the results, as promised.

Monday: I had a feeling that the camp challenge was off to a bad start when ten minutes before the bus was to come, my son was still in his pajamas and the backpack wasn’t packed. I went into my husband’s office and said, “I presume you are driving our son to camp.” He asked why and I mentioned the above. Well, you’d have thought the house was on fire because my husband tore through the house, issuing orders to my son, throwing him clothes (which didn’t include his camp t-shirt), and frantically trying to get my son out the door.

When I noticed that my husband was ready to leave the house with an empty backpack (except for the ignored sunscreen at the bottom), I reminded my husband that my son needed lunch. My husband’s idea of “lunch” was a plain bagel, nothing on it, thrown into my son’s lunch tote. I asked, “Don’t you think he’ll be thirsty?” He threw in a bottle of water too. I handed my husband the towel, swim wear, water shoes, and camp shirt as he was walking out the door. All I got was a very flustered, stressed out look. And yes, my son had to be driven to camp.

Tuesday: My son has to bring his own tennis racket on Tuesdays because the children get tennis instruction on those days. He also typically will wear street clothes to camp, since tennis and other non-swimming activities are done in the morning. My husband evidently did not look at the schedule posted on our kitchen cabinet (does he even KNOW there is a schedule posted on our kitchen cabinet?!), because he dressed my son in his swimwear, gathered street clothes (but forgetting the underwear), and threw the camp shirt over my son’s swim wear (he remembered the precious camp shirt!). He packed my son a slightly better lunch (turkey sandwich and water bottle), however I still had to hand my husband the towel to put into the backpack. While he was leaving, without my son’s tennis racket, I called out, “I think you need to check the camp schedule before you leave.” He replied, “Where’s the camp schedule?” I said, “On the kitchen cabinet. It’s the brightly colored paper with all of the camp activities of the day. There is something you need to bring with you on Tuesdays.” He ran back into the house, sweat dripping down his face, frantically looking for the appropriate date and day, and read that our son would be having tennis. He ran outside, opened the garage, found the tennis racket, and raced with my son to the car. My son missed the bus...again.

By Tuesday night, I subtlely suggested my husband consider getting everything ready for camp the night before, therefore avoiding the stress and frustration he experienced the two days prior. He did look at the sheet that night and was MUCH more prepared by Wednesday morning! So prepared, that he let me sleep a little longer! And the only item he had to rush with was the lunch (he even added fruit!).

All-in-all, I must say, “Bravo!,” to my husband. He really had the system down by Thursday and Friday! I think the most important lesson my husband learned was preparation ahead of time, and “learning” the routine. A wife who did the laundry each night certainly was helpful. Most importantly though, was having this wife hand you what you “forgot” as you raced out the back door! That certainly didn’t hurt either!

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Monday, August 17, 2009

The Dora Deception -- by Jamie Levine

“Dora yogurt! I want my Dora yogurt!” my daughter screamed in the kitchen as my mother unpacked the groceries she and Jayda had just bought while I was working.

“Huh? You bought her Dora yogurt?!” I barked at my mom. Jayda certainly gets her share of treats, but my mom knows I try hard to make sure that most of Jayda’s food is healthy. She also knows that Jayda loves Greek yogurt. It’s full of protein, low in sugar and fat, and when I mix fresh fruit in it for her, she devours it. Who needs processed, sugar-filled yogurt? Not us!

My mom explained that Jayda had seen a Dora yogurt drink at the store and wanted it. So, as with all the other “unnecessary” items my daughter had begged for while they shopped, my mom put it in the cart and then snuck it back onto a shelf before they checked out. She hadn’t bought it. However, Jayda, who seemed to have forgotten about all the other missing purchases, couldn’t forget Dora. It was “Dora yogurt! I want it!” all night long.

The next day, I went to the supermarket and took a look at my daughter’s new obsession. As I’d suspected, the yogurt drink had practically no protein, and was packed with sugar. But the container was appealing—pink, covered with pictures of adorable Dora, and even featured a “star counting” game. And the six-pack was on sale! So…what was a responsible, loving mom to do?

I bought the Dora yogurt drinks. Then, I ran home and pulled out my blender. Tossed a container of 2% Greek yogurt in there—and some fresh mango. Then, some organic 1% milk, and a pinch of cinnamon. I thought about adding a little honey, but this mango was so sweet, it wasn’t necessary. When I was satisfied with my concoction, I opened up all of the Dora yogurts I had just purchased—and dumped them down the drain. Finally, I refilled the containers with “my” yogurt drink and sealed them all back up. Presto! Healthy, protein-filled “Dora” yogurt drinks. And you know what? My kid loves them!

Now, if they only sold Dora frozen broccoli!

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Friday, August 14, 2009

Jinxed -- By Robin

I know I have my health, so in the scheme of things, I can't complain.

But, I must vent.

This was my birthday final year as a 40-something, and I have to say I feel jinxed. Little went as planned....including the piece-de-resistance that happened today.

I've always been one who believes staunchly that everything happens for a reason, though we don't always know why. So, if I apply that philsophy to this week, I must come to terms with what the universe is trying to tell me. And, I find myself sitting here contemplating what that is. What is the lesson I'm supposed to learn? Is it more than one? Did I really need for this it cap it off to get it?

Here goes the events of this week.

Saturday we had decided to celebrate my birthday (which was actually 8/11). My husband suggested we take my son into the city to go on a boat ride, walk around a bit, and then have dinner out.

After getting stuck in crazy tourist crowds and traffic and waiting on line in the heat at the Pier to buy tickets for a speed boat ride called The Beast, I am told about the horrific private plane/helicopter crash over the Hudson. All passengers on both vehicles were killed and it happened just a couple of hours before we got there, and we had not heard about it. So, as a result, any boat that would normally head down the Hudson toward the Statue of Liberty wasn't running at that moment. So, that squashed our boat ride plans. In addition to the fact that we felt terrible about the tragic aircraft accident and grieved for the families. And, felt for the tourists who were psyched to take a Circle Line or Beast ride around Manhattan, and now would not get the opportunity.

Then, we had dinner plans at a restaurant called Nougatine. It is a more casual, lesser priced restaurant, an offshoot of Jean Georges. We had gone there for brunch and enjoyed it. This was our first dinner experience. I wasn't overly in the mood to go there, but my husband, meaning well for my birthday, thought it was a nice choice. Well, we should have trusted my gut. We hated the meal and wound up leaving. We started with a Caesar Salad, that tasted unlike any I had had before, and not in a good way. Then, my son ordered a cheeseburger, and it turned out the cheese was a pepper jack cheese. They didn't ask us what kind of cheese he would like, so he refused to eat it because it "had a kick." My husband and I both ordered a salmon dish and after waiting for like 1/2 an hour to get it, it came cold and tasteless (in my opinion). So, we sent them back and I was not inclined to choose anything else on the menu. Nothing jumped out at me, and I was, in general, turned off to the restaurant. So, we left, after eating bread and soda and a bit of the Caesar Salad. We stopped at a diner on the way home and ate there.

Yesterday, my friend Alli came over to take my out for a post-birthday celebration. We booked massages at a local spa in town and had planned to have a nice dinner in the city before seeing a show. We wind up being late for the massage because I was having computer problems (which took seemingly forever to resolve). Luckily the spa was ok with our tardiness. And, in fact, they didn't rush us at all and encouraged us to enjoy the steam room and private hot tubs before our massages. I had never gone into a steam room before and had no idea what it would be like.

We stripped, and I had a small towel around me, and attempted to walk into this smokin' hot room where I couldn't see a thing, and I felt like I was on fire. After 1 minute in there, I nearly felt like crying. I was so uncomfortable with the experience that I bolted from the room. Then, they put me in a private hot tub which was not easy to climb into, and the water wasn't even that hot. So, I sat there feeling like I was taking a lukewarm bath that I really wasn't in the mood for.

Next came what they called the Rejuvenation/Meditation Room, which was basically a room that looked like a hut made of quartz stone where the floor was heated, and you were supposed to lay on the hard floor and soak in the heat. I managed to lay there for maybe 10 minutes and had enough. I really had come mostly for the massage and wanted to get on with it. Well, that proved a disappointment too. The only fun thing was that my friend and I were in the same room. But, they had us lay down on tables and didn't offer a sheet that we could cover ourselves with. So, we had to lay there with our bare butts sticking up until the masseuses came into the room. I don't know about you, but I'm quite modest, and I found this odd and not entirely respectful. Then, the masseuses barely spoke any english, and I hear my friend I'm thinking she's really liking the deep tissue massage she's getting and is releasing tension. But, she actually couldn't communicate well with the masseuse to tell her it was too hard. Afterwards, it turned out that neither of us liked our massage. And, Alli, in particular is quite a massage regular, so she knows a really good one. And, she felt that these masseuses were likely not certified because they didn't use real techinique.

So, that was a total drag. And, because we spent time in the spa overall, we had cancelled our lovely Lebanese food dinner in the city and wound up doing take out Chinese food and eating it on the train into Manhattan to go see the show. Luckily, we did enjoy the play and the rain held off. So, I can't complain about that.

Today, I awoke yet again to computer problems. Because of that, I cancelled my son's morning haircut appointment and wound up taking him later in the day and then went to the paint store to get sample cans to test for our basement. We were in the paint store for less than 15 minutes, when we came out and my car was missing. I was in a state of panic. My cell phone was in the car, among other items, and I thought my car had been stolen. I stood there stunned. When I regained my composure, I decided to go into the deli in front of where I parked to mention that my car wasn't there. And, they said, "oh yeah....they saw it get towed." I could not believe it. I had parked, unknowingly, in an area that has meters (I had put in money) , but you still weren't supposed to park there from 4-7pm. This was 5:40 when we got there. I ran back to the paint store, which had now closed, and luckily one of the guys out front lent me his phone to call my husband who happened to be on the way home and was able to pick up me and my son. We drove back home quickly and after tracking down where to call re: the car, it turns out it was towed to where near my home....and we would not be able to get it tonight because the pound closes at 7pm. So, my cell phone will be spending the night in the car.

I feel violated. Why couldn't I just get a ticket? Why did they have to take my car in less than 15 mintues? And, I saw other cars also illegally parked. Why weren't they towed? I presume it was luck of the draw against me. But, what is it about this week? What's going on? What are the lessons I'ms supposed to learn?

Is it that I'm letting the computer rule my life? Partly I think that's one of them. We would not have been late for the spa and I would not have gone to the paint store so late, had I not had computer problems. While I recognize all that the internet has to offer, it gets tiring being parked in front of the screen so much. I'm a people person, not a computer geek. I really doesn't suit me. So , perhaps I need to better examine the use of my screen time?

But, what else? Is it to learn to better go with the flow? Is it to understand that life is unpredictable and we don't always get what we want? (I don't expect to.)

I don't know. For now, I feel like a victim. I want my car back. And, I will never again leave my cell phone in it as I do errands.

And, I'll try to get over computer frustrations more quickly.

And, I'll appreciate what does go right in my life.

That's my takeaway for the moment.

And, I adore my son who exhibited so much compassion when the car was gone. At age six, while he was clearly scared and uncomfortable himself, he managed to make me feel better and to know that this will resolve itself.

What a little love he is. Not that I needed this situation to see that, but to feel his genuine concern and the big heart he has is worth a million bucks. No doubt I'll get hit with a big fee to retrieve my car, but I'll always remember what my little guy said to me, and I'm proud of the person he is becoming.

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Thursday, August 13, 2009

Robin's Show Recommendation -- SESSIONS

I had the opportunity to see the Off-Bway musical SESSIONS last night in NYC, and really enjoyed it.

It now features "Guiding Light” Star and Daytime Emmy Nominee Robert Newman (no relation to me).

SESSIONS, directed by Thomas Coté, is playing at the Algonquin Theater (123 East 24th Street). Albert M. Tapper (From Where I Stand, Broadway: The Golden Age) wrote this candid, poignant and witty musical about the everyday life of a New York therapist and his patients.

In SESSIONS, the New York therapist is challenged to balance his patients’ needs with his own- all while fending off advances from one very enticing female subject. His experiences remind us that even those we look to for guidance can be as vulnerable as we are.

Dr. Peter Peterson listens, advises and tests his patients. His therapy support group includes: a bickering marriage just won’t go away, a rich kid who found his voice in Bob Dylan, a reluctant man who has longed for the same woman for 15 years, a young woman who has spent so much time in therapy she might get out, a billionaire who finds no solace in his money, a strong willed woman with a dark secret, and a provocative siren in high heels...

Newman joins stars Bertilla Baker (Titanic, Bernarda Alba), Al Bundonis (Whistle Down The
Wind, Ragtime), Scott Richard Foster (Brooklyn the Musical), Drama Desk and Theatre World
award winner Ken Jennings (Sweeney Todd, Urinetown), Tony nominee Liz Larsen (The Most
Happy Fella, The Rocky Horror Show), Kelli Maguire (Swingtime Canteen, A Wonderful Life)
Rachelle Rak (Fosse, Dirty Rotten Scoundrels) and Sky Seals (Much Ado About Nothing,

* * *
SESSIONS plays Wednesday-Saturday at 8pm as well at playing 3pm matinees on Wednesday,
Saturday and Sunday. Due to the “Guiding Light” shooting schedule, the role of Dr. Peterson will
be played by Dennis Holland on Wednesday matinees. All seats are $50 and are available by
visiting or by calling 212-868-4444. Senior and student discount tickets are available for $20.

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Wednesday, August 12, 2009

The Day Camp Dilemma -- by Cara Meyers

One would think, especially a Mom, that day camp for their grade school age child would be easy street on roller blades. First off, your child is out of the home for at least an amount of time equivalent to a full day of school, if not more. Secondly, the day camp experience certainly will wear your child out, what with swimming, sports-type games and general play activities. Then how come some Moms come to dread the end of the day from camp?

Could it be that the damp backpack must first be unloaded, even though you provided your child with ample gallon-size plastic bags and plastic grocery bags to but their wet things in? The bags are usually at the bottom of said wet backpack with ignored sunscreen.

Then there is the precious camp t-shirt. That ONE t-shirt. That must be clean. And dry. Each day of camp. Which means, of course, one of two things: If the t-shirt does not have any visible stains, you can always get away with trying to just hang it up, hoping it dries sufficiently by morning. Or, as is in my case, because I have a boy, and boys are, um, dirty, you must wash the t-shirt each evening. And why wash just one t-shirt when you can throw in the bathing suits, towel, and other miscellaneous laundry lying around that happen to be the same color. So now we are doing laundry at least 5 nights a week.

Next there is the preparation of getting the following day’s camp wear assembled for the next day. Does the following day start with swimming, which would require having your child wear his swim wear to camp while packing dry shorts and the camp t-shirt to change into later on? Or will there be sports activities, necessitating the wearing of shorts and camp t-shirt, while the packing of swim wear for the afternoon instead. And don’t ever forget to pack the water shoes! A mother always knows to have at least two pair, so that while one dries out, the other can be packed for the following day. The same usually goes with sneakers. If one pair gets wet, you have the spare set.

So, obviously, paying attention to the daily camp schedule is of utmost importance. As are the daily activities themselves. Is it “Tie-dye Day?” Then a clean, previously washed white t-shirt will need to be packed. Is it pizza day? Then your child will need to bring in $7. And what if all you have in your wallet are $10s and $20s? Will you be able to get change back? Will you have to send in a $5 you found in your husband’s back pocket and some quarters?

And if it is not pizza day, there is the dreaded packing of a cold lunch that must withstand the heat of a summer day. One counselor suggested freezing a bottle of water to keep the contents of the lunch tote cold. Well, that idea turned my son’s lunch into a complete soggy mess, even with every item sealed in plastic bags. The water also didn’t defrost fast enough, so my son got a couple sips from the bottle and left it in the tote to melt the rest of the day. I had to pour out the contents of the tote over the sink. It was flooded.

So why is it that we Moms look forward to summer and the day camp experience for our children? The only reasonable reason I seem to have been able to come up with?
No homework.

Next Week: My husband has decided to take the Day Camp Dilemma challenge and see whether he can do a better job at preparing my son for Day Camp each day. The results will be the topic of next week’s blog.

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Monday, August 10, 2009

Daddies, Daddies, Everywhere! by Jamie Levine

My daughter is a morning person. A very early morning person. Without fail, Jayda is up at 5 a.m. every day--wide awake. And, by default, so am I. Since most of our friends and activities aren't available until the "late" morning hour of 10 or 11 a.m. on the weekends, I've become quite knowledgeable about places that open early, where I can take Jayda and keep her occupied.

Our first stop on Saturday mornings is the bagel store. Every week, without fail, we're there at 6 a.m. to grab "our table." While Jayda works on a mini-bagel with cream cheese, and the staff (who know us well), and the customers (who dote on Jayda), keep her attention, I sip a cup of coffee, and sit patiently for an hour before we go food shopping at 7 a.m. when the supermarket opens.

Jayda is a true "people person" and loves to watch and engage everyone from teenagers to senior citizens. She's also a big flirt. And from a very early age I realized that my daughter LOVES men. As a baby, she'd coo at the busboys when we went to the diner, and bat her eyelashes at our pediatrician during her check ups. When she started her gymnastics class at 18 months, she almost immediately threw herself into the lap of our attractive male instructor. And whenever one of our older male neighbors wanders down the street, she stops everything she's doing and races over to him for a hug.

I've always joked that Jayda is going to introduce me to my future husband. With her big, blue eyes, Shirley Temple curls, and charismatic personality, she really is a man-magnet. However, because all of the men she sees at daycare picking up their children are called "daddies" by her teachers, she's been trained to think that all men are "daddies”—from pimple-faced teenagers to old, wrinkled seniors. Thus, whenever a new male customer enters our bagel store on Saturday mornings, Jayda becomes delighted and yells, "A daddy!" or worse, "Daddy's here!"Sometimes I murmur back to her, "Well, maybe he's a daddy..."

Sometimes I even catch a smirking man's eye and ask him out loud, "Are you a daddy?" just to acknowledge Jayda's observation. Fortunately, I've been assured by several of my married friends that many children call men "daddies" and women "mommies" at this age. But I suspect that single mothers are more sensitive to their children’s use of this word. And, of course, I can’t help but wonder sometimes if Jayda wishes one of those daddies she’s greeting would come home with us.

Then, there are the times Jayda reaches into my pocketbook and I ask her what she’s looking for. “A daddy,” she replies—as she tries to find my wallet. What she really wants is a dollar bill to put in her piggy bank. A piece of paper with George Washington’s face—or a “daddy”—on it. And I realize that for Jayda, “daddy” is just a word. For now.

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Friday, August 07, 2009

Baby Steps - by Robin

I can't believe I'm saying this.....but we're actually coming down the home stretch with the basement construction. That's not to say we're done by any means. I'm in the throes of interviewing painters to get estimates, and dealing with carpet guys, deliveries, and of course the ongoing mess in the house. We're a very long way from having a sense of organization, but it's a work in progress.

Toys strewn all over. Boxes upon boxes in the garage. Furniture out of place. You name it. But, we keep plugging away and remain focused on the ultimate goal and all the good that will come with it.

It's hard sometimes to do that though, isn't it?! (At least that's true for me.)

This has been a valuable lesson in patience, and taking things step by step, having the faith that it will turn out in the end. And, that sometimes you have to endure a challenging period before you start to see the light at the end of the tunnel.

And, clearly it's not just about a basement. It's about whatever matters most to you in life. I've always tried to take the attitude...."Just tell me what I have to do today".....when faced with a situation that was rough and wouldn't go away overnight.

Breaking things down into smaller, day to day tasks makes it feel more doable. Even, if feels like you're taking baby a child first learning to walk. I remember my son crawling, then hanging on to the sides of the living room coffee table, then before you know it, letting go and doing his own thing. Walking and running with abandon and delight.

I look at him now....with the big boy swagger that he has. Putting on his sneakers for camp without socks. Shopping at a Carter's outlet with me but not wanting any of the shirts because they're not "cool" enough, in his six year old opinion. Sometimes it feels like he's 6 going on 16.

And, once this basement is done, I have visions of him growing from playdates to hanging out with his teenage friends, doing sleepovers and maybe even having a party down there. It will become his space that will one day leave us full of the memories when we become empty nesters. I know that is a long way off from today, but as I look at the unpainted sheetrock, bare plywood shelves, uncovered cement, I know we're on the verge of making memories down there. It represents way more than a basement. It's life waiting to be lived in a brand new space full of possibility. I look forward to the unfolding.

PS - Check out our new Motherhood Later branded sweatshirts and other goodies etc. for moms and kids. Proceeds go to support our efforts.

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Tuesday, August 04, 2009

Dedication to My Son Turning 6 - by Cara Meyers

It all began 6 years ago, on a Tuesday evening at exactly 9:20 pm - according to my watch next to my bedside. I was reading a book, a Harry Potter book in fact, thinking, “It’s okay if I start this book now, I’ll have plenty of time during maternity leave to read the rest of it while the baby sleeps.” Well, my baby had other plans. And Harry’s story was left unread.

I had a relatively uneventful pregnancy. Especially considering that I was an “older” maternity patient at 39 with my first pregnancy. I saw my high risk doctors regularly. I never developed gestational diabetes, which they all thought I was doomed to get. They also thought I was headed for pre-eclampsia (dangerously high blood pressure in a pregnant woman) since my blood pressure was slightly elevated at the start of my pregnancy. Never happened. In fact, about the only significant thing about my pregnancy (except for periodic night legs cramps which make you want to scream bloody murder at the top of your lungs as you massage the cramp out), was that I had real, but random, contractions, starting at 34 weeks gestation. The doctors wanted me to reach 37 weeks gestation so that the baby’s lungs would be fully mature, so I was placed on “modified bed rest” and went to the doctor’s office every other day to undergo fetal monitoring.

I met their goal of 37 weeks, but I wanted my son to be born closer to 40 weeks. See, his due date was 2 days before my 40th birthday. I wanted him to be my 40th birthday present. I would never need another present again for my birthday for the rest of my life! I wanted him to be IT! However, I also didn’t want him to be born ON my birthday. I wanted his birthday to be his and his alone. I didn’t want him to feel that he had to “share” his special day, even with his mother. I prayed that he was not born after me, because then the excitement of celebrating Mommy’s birthday may overshadow his own, especially at the age he is now - the grade school years. When birthdays are magical and completely eventful and young children want it to be THEIRS, and theirs alone!

My daily prayers were finally going to be answered that fateful Tuesday evening, August 5th, 2003. My own 40th birthday was 2 days away. At 9:20pm, the first of many contractions began. I didn’t wake my husband because I knew he needed the rest for the long day ahead. So I monitored, and practiced my labor breathing techniques all night long. Finally, around 5:30 am, the contractions were 5 minutes apart and I needed my husband to call the doctor. Our son was ready to be born! Oh how I prayed he would be born that day, Wednesday, August 6th!
After 23 hours of labor, 3:45 minutes before my 40th birthday, at 8:15 pm, my gift arrived! A gift like no other I have ever had or ever will have! And he came on the best day possible, the day before MY birthday!

Every year since, when I celebrate my son’s birthday, it is as if I am celebrating my own! The planning of his parties, the invitations, the party favors, the balloons!! I have not one ounce of resentment nor care that my own birthday is the one overshadowed or overlooked! This is EXACTLY what I wanted! So…to my son who will be celebrating his 6th birthday this Thursday, Happy Birthday, my precious, beautiful, amazing boy!! I love you with all my heart, and then some! My gift!

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Monday, August 03, 2009


A Single Mother by Choice (Sort of…) -- by Jamie Levine

I’m a single mother by choice. Though “by choice” isn’t quite an accurate description of my lifestyle. Yes, I chose to have a child on my own. But I didn’t exactly choose to raise a child without a husband by my side. Circumstances steered me that way.

My parents have been married for over 50 years. My dad is a great father, husband, and simply, a mensch: A caring, generous, affectionate, thoughtful guy—the kind of man I’d like to marry. And the type of guy I always pictured fathering my child(ren). However, after years and years (and years!) of serial dating, all I ever seemed to meet was Mr. Wrong: Commitmentphobes whom I tried (unsuccessfully!) to reform, commitment-minded men who bored me to tears, and even men who were good fathers already. (As in…they were finished having children.) I never found my own Mr. Right. So, as I grew older, I decided to take action…and, at the age of 36, I “chose” to begin my path to single-mom-hood. I decided to do things backwards: Become a mom first and a wife second. Since I do still hope to be married someday.

“Choosing” to be a single mother does have its perks. I don’t ever have to fight with anyone about child-rearing issues. Heck, even my daughter’s name was all my idea—and I didn’t need to run it by anyone else. I also don’t have to worry about taking care of anyone but Jayda and myself. There’s no one else to make dinner for, do laundry for, or clean up after. (And no one else to apologize to about my messes…or my lousy dinners!) Finally, when I do meet a man whom I want to date, he doesn’t have to worry about my “unresolved issues” with my ex—or any contact we might have as a result of sharing time with my daughter. There is no ex.

But of course, there’s also no doting dad for my little girl to look up to. And while a part of me is saddened when I think of Jayda growing up without a father like I had, I know she’s more loved than a lot of kids. She’s also fortunate to have other wonderful men in her life who adore her—uncles, friends, neighbors, and most importantly, my father. And for now, that’s enough.

Jamie Levine is an accomplished children’s book/gift buyer and online marketer, as well as a certified life coach. Currently, she is a freelance writer and consultant, as a means to spend more time with her greatest gift—her 26-month-old daughter, Jayda. Jamie hopes to find a way to permanently work without much commuting before she turns 40 in February! She and Jayda live on Long Island, NY.

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