Monday, February 27, 2012

You Are What You Wear

When I was a kid, I LOVED Punky Brewster. Soleil Moon Frye was my idol. She was spunky! She had brown pigtails! She wore crazy outfits!

I was spunky! I had brown hair - frequently worn in pigtails! But my mom dressed me (at least for a few years).

My kids have made up for any lack of clothing spunk I may have displayed.

A couple of years ago, LP went through this kick where she would only wear dresses. And her favorite dress was dark blue with light blue flowers. And she loved to wear it with these crazy purple tights with orange and green stripes. I wish I had a picture.

AK has apparently caught this disease. Today she wore a brown velour dress with pink and light blue polka dots with light blue blue tights with navy and green stripes. I will still try to get a picture.

I try to point out to people that my kids dress themselves. I try to say it casually, like I am not explaining away the obvious, "After waking up AK, I go downstairs while she dressed herself..." but I know people see through my rationalization.

While LP no longer wears dresses very often, she still dresses herself. Which is why she wore a Yankees cheerleader outfit for her kindergarten pictures.

I have decided that I must pick my battles. What the kids where is not a big deal to me. Are they dressed? Is it weather appropriate? Cool. Will this change when they are teenagers and try to leave the house with their coolies sticking out? ABSOLUTELY!

Speaking of which, I was talking to a friend last night about clothing trends. If you remember Punky Brewster, you are likely about my age. If you are about my age you remember that when we were in high school we wore over-sized sweatshirts and flannel shirts, etc. (see right from my senior year in high school). What are the chances that will be back in style when my girls are in high school? Can we all start praying now?

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Past and Present - Meet Future

This week is our first - and apparently last - experience with public school February vacation. We decided to use some of the days for a long-weekend trip to DC. We love DC. It is hard to believe it is only AK's second visit - although it was LP's fourth.

And, boy has life changed since our last visit. First, instead of eating, napping and playing with the AquaDoodle on the drive, the girls insisted on playing games on my "new white phone". There was no napping. There was lots of snacking. There was limited fighting - at least once the girls figured out a schedule for playing the lame matching game on my Blackberry and Angry Birds on the new phone.

Our first stop on our way down was with the Rak family: Mrs. Rak was a post-college roommate of mine, Mr. Rak was the Hoos' college roommate, and Little Man Rak is their one-year old. He did not exist when we last visited DC. We had a great time and I am sure the Raks found the silence deafening when we left. Either that or the noise and energy of LP and AK just wore their eardrums out.

We checked into our hotel relatively late and let the girls take a pass on bath time. They snuggled into their bed together (LP told the Hoos that she would hold AK so she didn't fall off the bed) and eventually fell asleep. The Hoos and I used the Lumia to get the address of the restaurant we were meeting another friend at for brunch the following day. He then stole it from me to play Angry Birds.

Since our hotel, the Embassy Suites, includes hot breakfast we had a "snack" before brunch. We also took quick drive into the city to check out the monuments. It was cold, but the girls were troopers. AK kept holding my hand and yelling, "Let's run, Mommy!!!" forcing me to get perhaps the most exercise I have had in months.

We then went to Carlysle Grand in Shirlington for brunch. It was really surprising how much Shirlington had changed. 15 years ago, Shirlington was an outpost with an arty movie theater. In fact we saw the subtitled "Life Is Beautiful" there with the Raks, before they were the Raks and before we were the Bows, in 1998 or so.

As I ate brunch with one of my friends from high school and her gorgeous family, we figured out that we had known each other about 25 years! And yet there we were, watching our daughters play really nicely together. Hard to believe so much time has passed!

After brunch we had promised the girls a trip to "the dinosaur museum" (aka the Smithsonian Museum of Natural History). Unfortunately we couldn't find parking and gave up and returned to the hotel. The girls didn't mind too much, since we spent an hour in the pool to pass the time.

For dinner we took the hotel bus to the metro to take a ride for dinner. When our original plan was scuttled due to track repairs, we decided to train it into Foggy Bottom (or "Bikini Bottom," according to LP) where the Hoos at I met 17 years ago.

When we came out of the metro we were 100% confused. To say things have changed on and around the GW campus since we graduated would be an understatement. Although one thing that didn't change was the Bertucci's in 2000 Penn. We ate dinner there and it tasted just like I remembered (do not consider that an endorsement). The Hoos remarked, "When we used to eat here in college on special occasions, I remember thinking, 'Who are there people that are eating here that aren't students? And why?' Now we know the answer."

After dinner we stopped at the new Whole Foods (seriously?! A Whole Foods?! On CAMPUS?!?) and I ran into someone I worked with at my first job after college.  The world is shrinking!

The next morning we finally made it into the dinosaur museum. And the Botanical Gardens. Surprisingly, I think everyone enjoyed the Gardens more than the museum.

From there we headed to another friend's house out in Virgina. We got to meet their perfect new son and the girls got to  expend even more energy with their 4 year old.

Despite all of the fun we had so far, the next part of the trip was the highlight for the girls - swimming in the hotel pool at night. Go figure!

The next day we packed up the car and prepared to hit the road, only to discover a huge puddle of oil under our car. Since the Hoos had an oil change the morning we left for our trip, we were a bit concerned. I was able to whip out my fancy new Nokia Lumia and quickly look up a service station to bring the car to for a look-see.  We also used the phone to look up the number for the place we got the original oil change to let them know we would be bringing in the car and a bill when we returned home. (Yes, Nokia sent me a free Lumia to test out, so yes, I am talking about it a lot, but I swear, I am actually using it. I am amazed at how much, honestly!)

While the Hoos hung out with the car, I walked with the girls up to the Courthouse are of Arlington. Originally we were going to play at a local school playground. But apparently, it was recess. I guess February break is kind of a northeast thing. So, instead we went to Cosi and made our own smores - at 11:30 in the morning.

Eventually we headed home. And had a quick and easy trip. The back of the car was filled with paper for many, many projects. The highlight of which was a cardboard computer the girls used to video talk with their "old friends." They would type in the name of who they wanted to talk to, "Mom? How do you spell Mary Kate? How about Timmy? Can you spell Phoebe?" and then "chat" for a few minutes.

Now we are back home. Or at least the Hoos and I are. My parents picked up the girls this morning for the second half of the break. So now mommy gets a vacation from vacation. SWEET!

Friday, February 17, 2012

Sunday Night Dinner

When we moved to Fairfield this past summer, one of my brothers-in-law moved back to town as well.

From Budapest.


Which is a bit further away that Norwalk. If you aren't from Connecticut, you can check it out on a Google Map. Or you can just trust me.

So, now my in-laws have all three of their sons and all seven of their grandchildren living in a five mile radius. To say they are thrilled would be an understatement.

We all try to get together for dinner on Sunday nights. Some nights it is all 15 of us, but most times it is some subset. We also try to rotate so that no one is making (or buying) dinner and cleaning up after 15 people.

It makes Monday seem a little bit further away (ride the weekend as long as you can, baby!). And the kids all have a good time together. Especially my kids, the babies of the bunch, that get lots of love and attention from their older cousins. At least until AK starts spinning like a top and making everyone dizzy.

The food gets a bit repetitive. Pizza (my in-laws go to place is Maione's, coincidentally the deal from the new on the date of this post is $10 for $25 worth of food from Maione's), deli, bagels.

Fortunately, each family puts its own twist on the standard offering. And, honestly, a lot of times I don't care what I am eating as long as I am not making it! Seriously.

So, what would you make for 15 people, ranging from 3 to 70, to make sure everyone has something to eat AND you don't break the bank?

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Top 5 Signs I'm Getting Old

I was going to call this post "The Tipping Point" but then I realized that I already used that title about 5 years ago. Which just reinforces the new and improved title.
  1. Our synagogue is interviewing for a new rabbi. Both of the leading candidates coming in to mingle with the congregation are younger than me,
  2. I volunteered at LP's kindergarten Valentine's Day party. It was really nice and the kids enjoyed the mini-cupcakes she helped me make. One of them called me "Mrs. Bow."
  3. LP's teacher is younger than me. She is awesome and all of the kids totally respect her. And she wears her hair in cool wrapped braids. I can't even make a decent French braid in LP's thick, glorious hair.
  4. Yesterday I was trying to transfer contacts from my BBerry to the my new trial phone (which now has Internet and phone capabilities, by the way). I followed the instructions closely, putting the 'Berry on Bluetooth mode, making it "discoverable"...then I got to screen on the Lumia that said "Tap to connect to BlackBerry 9650". And I was confused. I literally tried to bang the phones together. Then I Googled the term. Finally, I actually touched the Lumia screen where it said that...and it worked.
  5. I went to the JCC pool with the girls and my 13-year old niece. The lifeguard knows us and has seen all four of us at the pool before. He asked me if my niece was also my daughter. When I explained our relationship, he said, "I was going to say, 'Wow! You look good for your age' if she was your daughter."

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Could it be Love?

My Nokia Lumia 710 arrived yesterday. LP helped me put it together and get it plugged in for charging. She then followed me around the house asking when she could play Angry Birds.

Once I figured out that I could just use wi-fi to get it going (instead of activating it with a new T-Mobile account), the fun started. This also happened to coincide with the girls going to bed. Which certainly made it easier. While I sat at the computer, downloading Zune so that I could update the phone and add apps through our PC instead of trying to search on the phone itself, the Hoos grumbled from the couch.

As I clicked and dragged, pinning apps and people and email accounts to my start screen, he surfed the channels, watching several shows at once.

When I exclaimed, "Oh! This is cool!" or "The girls are going to love this," he rolled his eyes at me. Although he did say, "It is small, not as big as the iPhone." Apparently the iPhone is big to him.

And when I sat down next to him with my loaded up, fully charged "toy," he glanced at it, and returned to Gold Rush. But then, this morning, when LP climbed into bed with him, holding the new phone, he raised an eyebrow. And, when she started sharing strategy tips and showing him how to actually PLAY Angry Birds, I saw a glimmer.

And, a few minutes later, when he said to LP, "Okay, one more shot and then it is Daddy's turn..." I knew he was hooked.

And we have had the phone less than 24 hours.

More to come. Maybe even posted from the new phone - if I can get LP and the Hoos to share.

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Life in the Fast Lane

Today I came home from work (about an hour after I got there) to hang out with my baby schmoopy. It appears that AK has a cold, which is causing her nose to run, which forces her to wipe it, which leaves her looking like Rudolph. All be it a very, very cute Rudolph.

So, while I work from home (WFH) in the dining room, she is learning to navigate the world wide web. I left her in her comfy clothes, with some snacks, juice, and a box of tissues dressing up Disney princesses, and now she is watching full episodes of Little Einsteins on the computer. Still innocuous, but I  honestly have no idea how she got from A to B or how many stops she made in between.

All of this makes me realize that by the time they are 10, both of the girls will have far-surpassed my knowledge of technology. I didn't even understand Napster - and that was around when I was in college! I was excited a few months ago when someone taught me how to turn YouTube music videos into mp3's that I could listen to on my Blackberry. And even then I only downloaded Taylor Swift songs for LP!

Which reminds me...they have ALREADY passed me in terms of their knowledge of current pop culture. And so far, since they have avoided "Bieber Fever," they appear to have okay taste. If you don't include AK's love of old Scooby Doo cartoons and LP's interest in "Good Luck, Charlie." Okay, maybe we have to work on taste...

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Watch Out Angry Birds!

The Hoos and I are far from early adopters when it comes to technology.

The first DVD player we had was a wedding gift in 2002 - approximately 10 years after they become popular.  We still have it. And a bunch of old VHS tapes.

We lugged tube-TVs from apartment to apartment, house to house, just getting our first flat screen this past fall after our movers unceremoniously crushed our old 50 pound TV - making it not only unusable, but unrecognizable.

In the Fall of 2010 we finally upgraded to cell phones that did more than send and receive calls. I got a Blackberry - already an old technology - and the Hoos got a phone with texting (but no data) capabilities. We even got an unlimited texting plan. For us, this was huge.

Yes, even though Droids were coming on strong in 2010, I chose the Bberry. I was intimidated by the whole touch screen thing. I also remember thinking - what else would I possibly need a phone for beyond checking my email, texting and sending and receiving calls?

Of course, the world of smartphones has continued to evolve. Verizon now offers an iPhone, the Hoos' (stodgy, traditional) firm even supports the iPhone, my (3 and 5 year old!) children regularly ask if they can play "Angry Birds" on my 'Berry! For the record, they can't. They can play this super lame matching game, though.

So, when I got an email from Nokia earlier this week, asking if I would be willing to check out and review their new Nokia Lumia 710, I jumped at the chance. The Hoos and I are due for an upgrade in a couple of months and this will give us a chance to figure out if and how we would use an Internet-ready smartphone. Also, since the Lumia is Windows-based, maybe the learning curve will be less steep.

Plus, even though our old house had awesome Verizon Wireless reception, our new one doesn't, so a free three-month trial account with T-Mobile will give me a chance to check out a different carrier.

And, at the very least I can actually play Angry Birds and see what all the fuss is about.

Stay tuned.