All posts by sara

November 4

It’s been two years today since my Mom passed away.
How am I feeling?
I miss her.

And I’m still so sad.
I’m saddened by the fact that my babies ( and my beautiful nieces and nephew) don’t get to experience the wonderful woman that she was.
I’m saddened by the fact that my Dad, vibrant and energetic and excited by life, no longer has his best friend to experience so many more adventures with.
I’m saddened that I can’t share with my Mom how alive I’ve felt again with this adventure Brett and I are on with our kids.
I’ve been a hardened robot ( makes no sense really, but those are the weird words I’ve channeled today) all day. It’s been a busy and intense work day, and there are some more parenting responsibilities that I need to stay all robotic for still today… And then I might just let the sadness come, let it be what it is for a bit…. And then spend some time again thinking about all of the ways that I can keep my Mom alive, in me, in my brother and sister, in my dad, in my aunt and uncle and cousins, in my kids… And maybe even in people who weren’t lucky enough to have even known her.

Her kindness, her warmth, her generosity, her sincerity, her ideas, her strength, her protectiveness, her spunk, her bravery…
A wise wise friend ( hi!) sent her well wishes today, and I’m nearly ready to follow her advice… ‘Hope you’re able to focus on all the awesome years…’
Writing this on the train ride home, I’m hastily wiping away the tears that are starting to sneak their way out. Looks like I’ll now be doing amazing make-up touches on the E train before parent-teacher interviews.
Wine and memories tonight will be special.
Mom- just please give me a sign if I’m about to find out at the school that my kids are going to get expelled, ok?


Trick or treat?

We got to experience another Halloween in NYC.Not only is it a whole new experience going through trick-or-treating in a neighbourhood like TriBeCa where the kids go to businesses and not houses, and then through 30 floors of apartment buildings (potential for some really great ROI), but this city goes OFF for this holiday. OFF.

It’s fun. But a bit overwhelming. And a bit chaotic. And a bit much for this old soul who’s default is to be a bit of a loner ( i include my safe little unit in my loner-dome). Being thrust into the festivities that are fuelled by sugar, and screaming, and generally everything that every kid F&$ing LOVES, is the right thing for any normal parent to just do. I should want to do this because my kids want to do it; it makes them happy, and it builds special relationships and memories for them in their new community.

Waking up this morning, the fog of hallowe’en ( ok, I ended up having a lot of fun. And a fair amount of Halloween punch), I realized how much of a wacky energy cloud Halloween had cast for the last month or so.

Christmas is obvious- there are clear expectations around the events, the food, the gifts…. It is not at all subtle.

But Halloween (maybe just here) takes on a weird undercurrent… And it’s got a dark, creepy, sneaks-up-on-you flavouring, thanks to it being about ghosts, and witches, and bats and generally nefarious subjects.

All of a sudden we’re wearing costumes the 1st week of October, and scouting out weekend pumpkin carving festivals by the 13th. Candy bowls are brimming by the 20th, and until the 1st, the hysteria is building.

And again, kids love it.

And clearly I am committed for as long as my kids still want to participate in this holiday. And I do enjoy most of it.

The part that I struggled most with again this year was the whole ‘interacting with people’ bit.

A loner. A recluse. It sounds so much more mysterious instead of ‘If I could, I might actually live in a bubble that I could step in and out of, still have people generally just know that I was kind and smart and fun, but not have to actually engage and show any of that, nor give them any opportunity to judge me.’ A loner. Introverted. Or sometimes just a bit of a shy asshole.

Halloween, and other community and kid-based events in life force you, or more positively, give you the opportunity to belong and become a part of a community. Newsflash: even though I have shy asshole tendencies, there are some nice, smart, fun people out there, and I might actually enjoy their company, learn something from them, and share something good with them in turn as well. It could just happen!!
This year I actually initiated the trick or treating plan with friends of Nora’s, so clearly my bark is bigger than my bite.

And it was fun. A lot of fun.

The kids ran and chased and squealed and fell, and ripped costumes.

The parents laughed and shepherded and drank.

And today at drop-off I smiled at a few faces and it didn’t kill me.

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We were lucky enough to leave the city Sunday.All this talk about ‘leaf peeping’ and apple picking and pumpkins hunts and hayrides had me feeling like I was seriously depriving my kids of more iconic ‘All American’ experiences. How dare I.

More so, I think we were all ready for a dose of the country, which takes on a whole new meaning living in a place like Manhattan.

It’s the kind of feeling that you don’t really realize is there, until actually just removing yourself from the urban energy.

Things have been busy, we’ve been trying to establish new routines and focus with the kids at the school, and weekends have snuck up a bit, so with the exception of picking a day and securing a car, we hadn’t done any planning for the great escape.

Saturday night, hockey buzzing along in the background and beer filling our glasses, we did a highly focused search of ‘best day trips for leaf peeping from NYC.’ Surprisingly, searching with such a laughable level of sophistication returned exactly what we were looking for, and we settled on a route, with a few ‘maybe stops’ along the way, and leaving it at that. No tickets purchased, no timing set, no photo ops scouted- a car, a few towns, and a departure time.

Again, the level of intensity during the week, and some of my city weekends, for that matter, have forced me into more moments where only the absolutes (like lining up a vehicle) are tended to. Preservation of energy. We also agreed to bring the dog to also give him some country air (really?), so that added an element to consider. (And immediately, and thankfully, ruled out visits to farms, where he would have either attacked a cow, or been trampled by a horse, while we pranced through the fields of golden corn, and scraped cow shit off of pumpkins, and later, kid shoes. Not in the mood for any of that. No thanks.)

And again- it’s hard to say how much of the day was for us parents really, versus the kids (and don’t forget the dog). But we were sure to build in fun for them- collecting leaves, throwing leaves, hunting for ghosts, finding witchy playgrounds, eye-spying blazing red tree after red-tree, and procuring gummies for the last leg of the trip (after surviving a gag-worthy gas station restroom).

Still not sure how to navigate that line between ‘bringing them along’ on our fun, versus having their experiences and reactions driving things. It is of course a balance, and sometimes we get it right, and sometimes we get it horribly wrong.

I hope that when Nora writes in her Monday morning journal where they recall a favourite memory from the weekend she practices writing the brilliant colours of the leaves that we saw yesterday. But there’s a decent chance that she’ll write about how her ‘brother fell in the toilet last night when he was goofing around on the pot.’ Good chance that will win.

I’m trying…!

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Underground for 90

Things that you think about when you’ve heard ‘ladies and gentlemen- we are delayed because of train traffic in front of us’ for almost an hour:
– man, I really wish there was internet down here

– I really should find a way to jam a book into my laptop bag. For times like this.

-hmm. I wonder if that mom brought enough snacks for her kids. All of my snacks are in my weekend touring bag. At home. Where i should be by now.

-damn. I really wish I had a way of letting Brett know that I’m stuck down here. Still.

-I wish there were more interesting conversations going on around me that I could eavesdrop on.

-I’m getting hungry.

-those people who got on at the last stop look like they got soaked up there. It must be really shitty out there. But how the f$&* would I know? I’ve been stuck down here for nearly a f$*ing hour now.

-why does rain f&*% up the subway lines so much here anyway?

-I wish there was Internet so that I could at least online shop for new chelsea boots and a rain jacket while sitting here.

-it’s a really good thing that I wasn’t on pick-up today.

-I forgot my f$*#ing umbrella at home.

-I’m hungry.

-Are we seriously stopped mid-tunnel aGAIN?

-Buddy, don’t apologize for the inconvenience- just fix the g’damn tracks

-I guess I could start making a Christmas list while I wait. With Internet.

-I’m really f$*ing hungry.

-holy s$it – has it been 90 minutes now? F$&* me!

-No. No, we’re not stopped again. No.


In or out

When you don’t commit, you get to live on the outside and feel like it’s ‘only temporary’, and therefor less terrifying, less real, of less consequence… You can trick yourself into feeling like you’re ‘just a visitor’ and therefor everything you do is less permanent and significant in terms of impact and influence (and damage..!)

We spent one of those rare weekends where community and kid commitments dictated our activities, instead of a list of sites and activities and explorations that I’d curated during my Friday and Saturday morning coffee routine…exceptionally important for the kids who got to have real play dates with friends, in our neighbourhood, doing purely kid-driven stuff.

Not that my itineraries dismiss this criteria, but they’re certainly crafted with my selfish desire to see new stuff, take cool photos, and fuel my creativity with new experiences…

While I’d felt so lonely last weekend, a weird set of circumstances had us going out on our first ‘couples date’ with real live friends, actually talking as people who ‘live’ here, moaning with legitimacy about rental costs, sharing fears about middle-school competitiveness, talking about which storage locker place is best… Uniquely New York, but ‘normal’ ish stuff to talk about when you’ve shifted from visiting to living here….

Which really, I don’t think I have.

I sometimes think I’m more comfortable than I really am. Which is a pretty normal feeling for a lot of us, especially with Monday morning blues rolling in…

Maybe, for a period in your life, you don’t ever really need to make that shift, fully. Not sure how practical that is, or if there are ways of always feeling like a visitor that help to keep the spirit of curiosity and exploration alive… While also embracing enough of a committed, settled approach to still feel like you belong, that you have meaningful connections to people and community…

I want my kids to feel safe and embraced and a part of something, both so that they have the support and comfort that a ‘home’ and community offer, and also so that they feel responsible to contribute to, and show respect to something bigger than themselves.

And if I’m acting like this is all temporary and fleeting and not really something to invest in, then how can I expect that they’ll know what that means.

So instead of showing up at the community event yesterday to make a little appearance, fleet around offering pleasantries, friendly yet removed enough to not really require more than an hour of commitment, and then ushering us off to some other corner of the city with one of 14 fall festivals tempting us, me, I begrudgingly ( at first, I’ll admit) resigned to staying in a 2 mile radius for an entire day.

And the kids had a great time.

No Lower East Side Pickle Day this year. But the kids played and ran and danced and scooted and carousel-ed their little butts off, and we made a step to being a committed part of something. For now at least…;)

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What a weird weekend

I suppose it is summed up by the realization that I didn’t expect to feel quite as lonely as I did this weekend, when moving to a city of 9 million. Where I know no one.

Common theme, but in the 13 months that we’ve been here, we have thrown ourselves into ourselves. Into settling in to the new normals here, in order to happily take advantage of everything else that isn’t normal. We’ve spent so much time together, taking care of each other, and feeding each other with as many new experiences as possible. And I will forever cherish the time that we’ve had to simplify and focus and relish in each other’s reactions.

Brett returned to YYC this weekend, originally for work, but decided to tack on a few days to be a part of the Walk for Thomas that is held each year to remember our amazing little nephew who was taken far too early. It’s always an extremely emotional weekend, and until moving here, I was part of the team who put this special event together…
I should have anticipated how difficult it was going to be being away here without any of my family, other than my own babies, on this day. I assumed the physical distance from the ‘epicentre’ would outweigh the normal emotions that this event stirs- the profound sadness that I feel for my brother and sister-in-law and niece at their loss, the hope and strength that 400 people coming together in a community can foster, and the reminder to just hug your own kids that much harder today because you can…

But I didn’t anticipate it. I was so focused on trying to do ‘our own thing’ here. To do things that Thomas would have liked. To teach my kids about what a special cousin they had. To let them know that it’s ok to, no, important to remember those that they’ve lost.
And it hit me like a f€£#ing brick wall. Bamn.
I am sad. And hurting. And entirely alone as an adult out here. I’ve made friendly acquaintances here, sure. The cursory ‘kid in my class hellos’ and ‘you have a nice weekend’ exchanges at the schoolyard and office.
But it hit me that I was starkly alone. In a city of 9 million. With no one who I knew knew our story and my pain that day.

So. Do I work to build those relationships now? Do I settle with the friendships that remain at a certain depth, and take comfort in the deeper relationships I have in other ports? Do I want everyone in every new city necessarily knowing ‘ my story’? Or is it a chance to create a new set of stories here?

I watched ‘aloha’ last night and have some wine. The wine was good. The movie was pretty bad but perfect for the evening.
Some time this week to test myself at being calm and patient and focused at home and at work as both are busy this week, and Brett is gone for a few more days.

Be kind, Monday…!


There’s been a bit of a gap as summer schedule has taken over.
Avoiding the anxiety of ‘oh shit- with this gap in submitting I better make sure that the next entry is a BIG one’, I’m just starting instead.
This summer has been great, one of our favourites I’d even say…
It’s brought a whole new flavour of juggling and logistics, with Nora no longer easily looked after by the daycare gig now that she’s in proper school.
But we’ve gotten creative and resourceful, and we’ve been so fortunate to have generous support offered by family to take her for a few weeks throughout the summer. It’s been great bonding time for them, and it’s helped us out immensely.
We’ve also had some amazing vacation time, which neither of us were really expecting. We’ve been so focused on what’s directly in front of us, as we’ve worked to settle in here and take advantage of what the city is offering is, so when a few get-aways and visits presented themselves, we were surprised and again grateful at their timing and the experiences they offered us.
Things are busy and hectic, and there are parts that are filling us up, and parts that are tiring… But not sure how much of that is New York, vs how much is just life right now.

We had family visit recently and we again delighted in how much we genuinely enjoy each other’s company. But this time brought a new consideration… Living away from family means that time together is focused and intense, and more so when the visiting is happening in a city like this- our ability to lay around and visit easily is challenged… We don’t have a lot of space and we certainly don’t have backyards where summer and family and lounging are natural.
But we do have rooftops. And we have an amazing city as a ‘backyard’, and we had a really, really special time together.
And all I can hope for is that the cousins all continue to enjoy the ‘spurts’ together, and that the adults can continue to foster the foundation that keeps us all together, wherever we all are…nothing unique, just new to us… A common theme.

So there. An entry and an update. That’s wasn’t so hard. Wasn’t all that impactful either, but it’s something… And somedays, something works.


The quest to simplify while living in a city like New York is an odd one. And yet it makes sense.

The amount and variety of stimulation is overwhelming. Inspiring, and overwhelming. And more often than not, there’s the push to simplify, streamline, minimize, in every way, from activities, to stuff you bring in to your apartment.

And just when you get all self-consumed in your masterful quest to simplify, life throws a few little doozies in your face and says ‘smarten the eft up- you’ve got real stuff to focus on now.’

Real stuff- guilt. I am facing new flavours of guilt at this point in my life- guilt for working too much, or too little, guilt for exposing my kids to too much, or too little. Guilt for taking in too much, or too little of this city. Guilt for taking my kids away from the rest of their family.

There’s also an undercurrent to everything, insisting that I am making the very most of each day, which I realize how dramatic and unsustainable that is, although I do think that a healthy dose of awareness and appreciation is always merited.

There’ve been a few milestone moments over the last few weeks, and that’s likely contributing to a general sense of anxiety and being overwhelmed. It’ll pass, I know, but it’s also important to take pause for a moment and consider how these moments are impacting our unit.

A few weeks back marked the classic of all classic ‘bittersweet moments’- my first kid’s last day of kindergarten. Her lunch kit can be bleached, her homework folder can be recycled, her bathing regiment can be extended by a few more days in between (debatable given the sanitary levels in NYC). She made it through kindergarten, and she’s ready for Grade One in September. We made it. SHE made it.

I think back to our whirlwind move down here, all driven by getting our daughter into a quality public school on time, and being able to be a part of the butterfly-stomachy first day, if at all possible. Somehow the stars all aligned, and she was able to enter into kindergarten land on the same day as the rest of her 24 fellow schoolmates.

In life there are people who enter in to help at exactly the right moment. When you’re not sure how to ask for help, or even clear on the kind of help you need, certain people ‘appear’. Two people helped us more than we’ll really understand, or ever really convey to them- Connie, the Parent-Teacher liaison, and Dahlia, the sweet and nurturing Kindergarten teacher who gently and warmly welcomed us all the day before school started, when we went to familiarize ourselves with the school and the classroom. I will never forget all of those emotions, that first day that we entered the school- the smell that instantly brought me back to my nervous 5 year-old self where I had more stomach aches than smiles, but where both Connie and Dahlia met us as calm, reassuring, open and kind souls. It really is difficult to say who was more comforted by this- me or Nora.

Nora has made friends, she’s developed and grown her confidence, and shes strengthened her sense of self…and she can hail a cab while also recognizing all of her letters and numbers. GIRRRRRRRRRRLLLL. She’s growing up, and I know that’s the name of the game here if we’re so lucky.

Yesterday was another tremendously and surprisingly emotional day for me. Part of moving away also involves figuring out how you are going to still remain connected to your home, and to your family there. It requires active planning and it requires clear and timely communication. Normally those activities come very naturally to me, but I haven’t had to apply these skills quite as intentionally to family dealings as I now need to, and I’ve screwed up a few times. It’s a new game we’re playing in, and I need to figure out the new rules, and make sure my teammates (the family back home) also understand and agree with the new rules. Avoiding misunderstanding and disappointment as much as possible … Yesterday’s event had me bidding farewell to my baby girl, sending a 6 year old across the continent for 2 weeks with the family, the family who is beyond excited to have her, to get to see how she’s grown since being here, to reconnect with her on their turf, to celebrate with me at how much confidence she’s gaining doing this and at how many special memories are being formed by this trip. I pretty much fell in and out of crying all day yesterday, a mix of sadness at missing her, and extreme pride and happiness in her and in this very special experience.

Today I wake up much less insane. And using this time to enjoy 1×1 time with my son, something we haven’t really had as baby #2. We are going to the Mets game Saturday. And doing a lot of lego-building, baseball throwing and bike riding. And a lot of cuddling. Whether he wants to or not. Good for everyone.


Party Time

I celebrated my first state-side birthday the other day. And more importantly, I hosted my first state-side, no, it needs to be noted- Manhattan- kids birthday party on the weekend.
Everyone is still standing and talking to each other. And no kids were lost. In either celebration.

I was spoiled rotten.

I like to act as though I really don’t care about my birthday, but truthfully, it feels really nice to have a day where people shower you in well-wishes and happy thoughts. It just does.
I remain really, really uncomfortable with blatant and prolonged ‘centre -stage’ time, and somehow the network of people I’ve become integrated into in this new home of ours recognized this. There was a coffee awaiting my arrival at work, there was a really, really sweet singing of ‘happy birthday’ with a petroleum-iced ( my favourite kind) cake accompanying it, there was an insistence that I wrap the day up from home and enjoy the evening after volunteering at my daughter’s school (that’s a whole other delightful treat for the day), there were TWO beautiful bouquets of flowers awaiting my arrival at home, and there was Mexican food (and drinks) to wrap it all up in a nice little package.
And somewhere along the line in there my we went for mom and daughter mani-pedis.

As for Nora’s 6th birthday party…?
Well, according to Brett ( I was too busy sweating and saying ‘what a f$&*ing GONG show this is’ under by breath for the full 2 hours to notice, really), the kids had a blast.
We officially attempted integration into every day life here, by throwing this damn party.
And we made our little girl feel pretty special.
Still, neither kid gets the insanity of having the Freedom Tower as a backdrop for your party hosted at the goofy golf on the pier overlooking Lady Liberty. Maybe when she’s 21 and looking through old photos she’ll giggle at it.
But right now, she’s feeling full and confident and happy that her pals were able to come and play and get sunburned and full with cake and pizza ( NY pizza.)

I’ve gotta admit- I didn’t quite realize how much anxiety I was feeling as a result of this damn party. Maybe it’s a case of ‘too much time of my hand’ for that to honestly cause me stress ( I’m calling bullshit right now on claim because I don’t feel idle…!), but the new logistical challenges this presented (no car, no house to host it in, no dollar store to pillage, and no clue what these kids and their parents would expect from a party) coupled with my maternal instinct to ensure that my baby felt like the most special kid for a day… I was stressed.
The 100 degree weather might not have helped. And yet, the bike pizza delivery guy arrived on time. And the rose I smuggled in was enjoyed by the moms who stuck around. And even the broke actor I hired last minute as an actual ‘mommy helper’ sure helped. What the EFF has happened to me?

The 6 extra hands from my amazing family helped too. I would have definitely said many more swears without them. And would have definitely lost a kid. Maybe on purpose.

Next year I think I am taking Nora on a boat ride for her birthday instead. We’ll wear fancy dresses or something.

Or, I’ll do this whole party thing all over again. Because she’ll ask me what we’re doing for her birthday this year, Mommy, and I’ll say ‘having a party, of course, babe!’

Eli’s is in September- time to start planning how a four year old celebrates Manhattan-style. I wonder if the Freedom Tower has a party room…


Hector Happiness

We watched a movie last night the our friend Netflix recommended for us.
It gets pretty mixed reviews and while there were plenty of sweeping generalizations, cliched (and possibly insulting) stereotypes, and overly-architected (predictable and contrived) relationships, we both appreciated the general sentiment and the interesting style in which it was shot.
Told-before story of a (early) middle-aged man, faced with the sad reality that he’s passively watching his life pass him by; he’s jolted into ‘finding what it is that makes people happy.’ Got it.
Through his journey he captures the following lessons- they’re scribbled into his notebook, which is projected over the scene- here is what he had to share- some good little nuggets in here:
Making comparisons can spoil your happiness

A lot of people think happiness means being richer or more important 

Many people only see happiness in their future
Sometimes happiness is not knowing the whole story
Avoiding unhappiness is not the road to happiness
Happiness is answering your calling
Happiness is being loved for who you are
Fear is an impediment
Happiness is knowing how to celebrate
If you want it, take it
Happiness is feeling completely alive
Listening is loving
Nostalgia is not what it used to be