All posts by sara

We rise

“We are mothers. We are caregivers. We are artists. We are activists. We are entrepreneurs, doctors, leaders of industry and technology. Our potential is unlimited. We rise.” – Alicia Keys

This post is fresh and raw and not very well curated at all. Obviously.

But I wanted to get it down while here, in Washington, D.C., with my amazing daughter. And my amazing sister-In-law and niece, and hundreds of thousands of other people marching today to send a message to America’s 45th president and those who elected him- we are not okay with this, this is not normal, and we are not going to go quietly. We’re not.

When we decided in December to come here, we were hesitant- safety for our girls ranking highest in our concerns.

And yet having the opportunity, no, responsibility, to expose them to these issues, to teach them what values we needed to stand for and protect, to set the example by taking steps and shouting out that love and kindness were the way forward. And hate, sexism, bigotry, and racism had no place in our world. And sure as fuck had no place in the world of our daughters. Our sons. No way. No how. No.

I have never been in a setting with this many people. Before arriving we had written down safety number cards for the girls. We debated using sharpies to put phone numbers on the girls’ arms. We drilled it into their heads to be careful, to always ‘have a hand’, to let us know if they felt unsafe at all at any point. We were nervously excited. But we did have fear. And we were given well wishes of family and friend to ‘have fun. Be safe.’

I can’t count how many ‘oh, I’m sorry. You go ahead’ exchanges happened today. Hundreds of thousands of committed and inspired and determined and ‘not going anywhere’ people all graciously aware of our common space and purpose. And making room for each and every one of us to have a voice and a presence today.

It’s also important to note that the original ‘plan’ for today evolved. The route morphed and merged and kind of went all over. Because there were so many people. So many more people than expected.

Never ever will we forget this. We are inspired.

And we were nowhere near the celebrities who spoke at the ralley before the actual march- we didn’t stand a chance due to the crowds. Ashley Judd, Scarlett Johansson, Michael Moore, Alicia Keys, Madonna…(the friends from Sacramento that we made at the bar after the March filled us in on the details…!). But we heard the cheers and were held together by the cheering around as as we waited for the movement.

But it can’t stop here. We need to continue to hear the words on the signs today. We need to take those words and participate. We need to continue to stand up, to take steps, to speak up, to protect our rights  and our children’s rights.

The son of the new National Security Advisor tweeted something along the lines of ‘yes, they already have equal pay and equal jobs. What more do they want? Free mani and pedis?’ Horrific and offensive. And exactly what  we are not going to be ok with.

And finally- today I had to/ got to (?) explain to meaning of the word ‘Pussy’ to my daughter. Didn’t ever imagine that happening in a positive, powerful way. Especially at the age of 7. But fuck it. It’s on. Let’s do this lady. Pussy hats ordered from Etsy while having our celebratory beers and fries.


T’is the season

I’m doing it again. I’m encouraging, scratch that, forcing Brett to do something that he could easily read about, or look at pictures of, or never know about for that matter. But I have a good feeling about this one…

It was our first Christmas here. I was stunned and overwhelmed and desperate to take in as much of this holiday magic as I could, as though this was most certainly the very first and last Christmas to hit New York. It was very… memorable..: and I did manage to find a better balance and allow for the necessary holiday chill out time, while also taking advantage of all of the truly special festivities this place delivers.

One late night at work I decided to walk the streets home vs retreating to the subway. Our office was in midtown at the time, and the energy there at this time of year takes on a special glow that I wanted to enjoy.

Wondering down 3rd avenue readying myself to finally hop on the train after 30 minutes of strolling, I looked up and saw Christmas barfed all over a bar. Spewing, splattering, and dripping off of everything. And I loved it. I knew nothing about this place, and soon forgot about it, reasoning that there were only so many bars that I could comfortably take my kids to in one holiday season.

Alas, it seems to have arrived onto Instagram and I was determined this year to get a real glimpse into this mayhem to see if it wreaked any less of christmas vomit from the inside than from the frosty bobble-filled windows.

Kids are in school today. Work is closed. I am second in line. At 11am. And Brett is enroute. This should be interesting. Saving grace ( for Brett? For me?)  is that it is a German bar, known for its schnitzel and schnapps.

While waiting, it’s an appreciated opportunity  to recall how fortunate I know that I am. Thank you, captain obvious, for recognizing the holidays as a chance to reflect on one’s good fortune, to give to those much less fortunate, to remember those near and far, and to miss those even further.

While walking here there’s a timely buzz in the air today- families are arriving, little ones are holding grandparent, aunt, and cousin hands, while their parents stroll a little slower, catching up with their visitors. The excitement of togetherness is apparent.

The line has grown. Brett has arrived and is strolling the neighbourhood taking pictures. While I firmly secure our spot in second place.

Much love. Much schnitzel. Much schnapps.


Is this for real?

We made it until midnight last night. Nothing had been called officially, but numb with shock and disbelief, we resigned to turn off the TV and wait for the final results that would greet us this morning. Rolling over at 5:45 this morning, I know I held out hope that the BBC, Globe, and CBC alerts on my phone would have a different name, the right name, announced as the next President. My stomach sank. And it remains there.

Shock, disbelief, dismay, and utter bewilderment. Fear, and sadness. Shame.

How has a nation willingly and freely chosen this man to lead them? To represent them. To protect and defend and advocate for them?
How have they decided that what he stands for is the example that our children ought to be following?
How are they proud to have him stand on the national and international stage, spittle spewing from his racist, sexist, fear-mongering, antagonistic mouth, telling our children that this is the man that we can confidently follow; this is the man who represents our common values. This is the man that should inspire us all to be better and to make this planet better.

So many smug little comments I’ve made over the last few months about ‘being thankful that I have my Canadian passport to fall back on.’ That’s hardly the answer. It sure as shit makes returning there a hell of a lot more real. But we are all in bed with this moronic elephant. We are all going to feel his every roll. And for the first time, I feel a a real unease. An unease at the choice this nation has made. An unease at what this reveals as the guiding values and principles that such a powerful nation upholds in electing this man. An unease at the impact this poses on our safety living in New York.

Anxious in going to sleep last night, for the first time asking ‘if we’d be ok’, I reassured my daughter last night ‘not to worry. There’s no way Trump will win.’ We’ve talked a lot about the election over the last few months- the signs and the talk has been visible even to a 7 year old, and just on Monday the playground erupted into a ‘Hil-ar-y’ chanting party…(it’s New York. and it’s a certain part of New York, where the blue flows).
I don’t know what to tell her this morning. I don’t know what’s going to happen. And I don’t know if we’re going to be ok.

What a colossal disappointment.


I really should listen to the Earth, Wind and Fire song again- it’s got such a great peppy little chorus, and their moves are so damn happy… I have absolutely no idea what words they’re singing other than ‘September’ but based on the upbeat groove of the song, they must be singing the praises that so many others seem to be at this time of year.

I absolutely adore summer. I love the pace, the heat, the permission it grants for kids to be kids, and for adults to slide into playing a bit more easily… Grab a ball, lounge on the grass, take a little bit longer to get to your destination, stay up a little later and sleep in a little longer…. Spend time with family and friends near and far. Listen and slow down. Take it easy. And enjoy. 

There are other realities that present some challenges. 
Juggling sporadic and pieced-together child care, filling in the gaps while shuffling from one camp to other, and accommodating summer start and end times.

 Altered living conditions that compromise some usual comforts in order to allow for time together with those visiting for the summer.

Drying off after a sticky commute in the sweltering heat, and packing a few changes of clothes for those extra clammy days.

Struggling to fit in some sense of discipline and regularity, whether that be in working out, moderating food and booze intake, or ensuring that your kids’ previously respectable behaviour doesn’t completely unravel with the extended lack of routine.

But in spite of  those challenges, I cherish the summer mood, and I struggle to not get the fall blues at this time of year.

My school stomache aches have started already. I am not in a classroom. I guess for some you don’t ever completely forget that anxiety, but I am doing my best to not transfer that to my kids who seem generally content to move from one phase to another, at this age anyway. I’m doing the same positive reenforcement to my kids that my Mom did for me for so many years, to get me excited and focusing on the good things that September represented… What made me feel better as a kid still makes be happy, and I enjoyed taking the kids on the ceremonial runner shopping trip (they call them sneakers now- blasphemy,). They also picked out some pretty flashy backpacks. We’ve been talking about their friends, and have chosen fun new lunch snacks together. And are eagerly anticipating the start of fall sports season.

So all of these comforts and routines will be ok. As will the fresh starts, with new teachers, new topics, new friends, new lessons.

Finding peace in the familiar , as well as inspiration in the new possibilities.

I’m going to treat myself to a PSL tomorrow. 

Right after I join the spamming parents with adorable pictures of first days.

And I’ll also blast some E,W and F.

Sticky summers are the best

We’ve signed on for another year. In the apartment Brett found. That I didn’t see. Before moving here. It’s a corner unit with lots of nice light. On a steerage-like floor that ‘let’s us use the stairs’. We negotiated a lower rent increase and felt good. Until we recalled again how expensive rent really is here.Things are going well for everyone. The kids are making friends and generally really happy. And it just sort of happened that we extended our original contract.
It’s odd to pause and lift your head and look around at what life looks like right now.
We jumped at this opportunity 2 years ago for very obvious reasons.

We were itching for some kind of a change. We didn’t know what that meant, but we could feel that we wanted to change direction. But in which way, for how long, with the intentions of it leading to what? We really didn’t think that far ahead.

An amazingly exciting and different and challenging opportunity had been handed to us, in a salad bar line up, quite literally, and by the point of handing over my $8.00 for my bland and soggy salad, we knew that this was the change that we’d wanted.

Not New York, specifically. Hell, we’d only been here a handful of times, and all well within the expected framework of bewildered and overwhelmed and anxious tourist or business visitor. Most certainly not through the lens of actually setting up camp, establishing routines and living ‘normal’ life here.

And we’ve made it nearly 2 years. Later this month I’ll think back to the blurry last few days in Calgary, and even blurrier, and yet remarkably sharply-imprinted-in-my -memory, first few days in NYC.

Packing up and saying goodbye, and then unpacking and saying hello to our old and new homes.
We entered into this with no expectations of what was ‘next’. But we safely held a foot on our old home, leaving a home for rent and an enormous storage locker full of ‘stuff’… As thoughtfully as we could getting rid of things that ‘the kids would outgrow by the time we returned in 2 years.’

And 2 years have come and gone, and we’re here. For another year for now.

Such a gift, really, to have these options in our lives. And it comes with such responsibility, again, to make the most of it, to take advantage of it for us all, to not f*%# it all up, and to not f*#+ our little babies up in the process of it all.
We are wrapping up this week at work before 2 glorious weeks of holiday time.

It’s tempting to enter into holidays as a chance to really ‘focus’ and ‘figure stuff out’ and ‘make a plan’… Perhaps it’s my own age, or the age of my kids, or just pace of life right now, but I am so happily excited to try to relax and enjoy as much of the holiday moments as I can. I have fewer expectations than I might have previously. I have done the minimum amount of planning. And I’m happily looking forward to this time of resting, reading, playing, lounging, sipping, and snacking. So a few expectations then I suppose…but really, nothing of consequence other than to be.

I was eager to return home today to hear about Crazy Hat Day at camp- . we decided that the day and our amazing representation (f*%#ing  remembering at 9pm the night before that we needed to craft something and actually pulling it off with substantial support) called for Mexican out.

Our dinner conversations revealed that Nora had worn a Velcro suit at the Camp Fair today. While wearing her awesome Mother-in-the-clouds-dragon hat. And was tossed to a wall. And we learned that Eli was put into a rolly-polly friendly plastic Zorb ball thing at the park after camp by the babysitter. And they both loved the shit out of it.

And then, as I sipped my margarita, Nora told me how she asked their babysitter whether she would be voting for Hillary or Trump.

Brett has one expectation of our holiday thanks to my second margarita.

What kind of a goalie can’t juggle?

It’s on.

And on and on and on…




Happy birthday month 

It’s nearly summer in New York. Among many things, it now means for us, as parents of school-aged kids, the month of 900 birthdays, as all of us with summer month babies get the brilliant idea to jam a party into the 28 available June days, before 3/4 of New York retreat to the water, away from the swelter and stink of the city….!

So this weekend we have 5 birthday parties. Next weekend 2. The weekend after 1. And the weekend after that, Nora’s own party and another 2.
The social experiment of birthday parties is fascinating, and terrifying, to me.

And navigating it in New York is something I had no idea about.

I’ve experienced a range of parties, from ‘Housewives of New York’ caliber parties that far out numbered the budget of my own wedding, to gatherings at the playground where the balloons from the Duane Reade alone marked the celebration.
I vowed last year to not repeat my mistake from my first New York birthday party, where I thought that ‘doing it myself’ was acceptable. Without the accessibility of dollar stores and cars and a backyard, hosting 17 kids on a pier playing goofy golf in the 90 degree heat with no staff from the golf course was dumb. I didn’t lose a kid, but at least 3 filled the water guns from the goodie bag (BIG taboo) with water from the Hudson and shot it in each other’s mouths, and at least 4 parents turned their noses at the visors I gave them ( it was a GOLF party and that’s effing smart and cute) as they were in a communal box and forsure one of the kids had lice…

So this year. Have I learned?
We’re having a puppy party. With live puppies. In our apartment. With 10 girls.

I will order absolutely all food. I will have wine for parents who linger because of the effing inevitable awkwardness that comes with drop off at parties ( do I stay? Is that weird? Am I a shitty parent if having 2 hours to do stuff alone is cool? Should I try to make new parent friends? Is my kid ok? Where is the wine? Can I have 2 glasses or is that weird too?)

I will splurge this year and get fancy TriBeCa cupcakes. And a lot of balloons.

And I will have crafts and practical goodie bags.

I hope Nora likes it.

I have learned a bit…

Such a sad irony to hope that you can be as at peace and comfortable and happy with the choices you make in life as you can… Before you get too old and it’s not available to you…

So we’ll see.
In the meantime, I am getting my nails done while Nora is at a party at a children’s art gallery. Maybe I’m a jerky parent.

I think she’s happy though- she blew me kisses and yelled ‘I love you, mommy’ across the gallery. And I had 1 glass of rose with the parents so that’s gotta count….!
1 down. 4 to go…


Story of Easter and open minds

Sunday night we ordered pizza and talked with the kids about crucifixion and resurrection.

We didn’t really plan on the conversation going there, but in getting tripped up over flawed, flawed cover stories about why the Easter bunny’s treats in the baskets had price tags on them ( I really don’t get the myth behind the creepy bunny anyway, so it’s a hard one to get behind), we shifted gears to telling them where the story of Easter really came from.

Enter stage left- crown of thorns and nailing to a cross. Exit stage right- rising from the dead and a weeping mother.

We don’t talk a lot about faith in our family. The kids claim to know who God is, and what Jesus represents to many.

But we don’t actively share stories from scripture, and we don’t go to church.

But we do talk about the importance of having an open mind; a mind that takes in ideas, that digests and processes in a thoughtful way, that accepts that beliefs, and reactions and motivations are infinite in our world.

We talk about that a lot. And we are again so fortunate to be living in a place right now where the multitude of human ‘ways’ are present every single day. So while exposure is one thing, ensuring you are responsibly parenting to guide the processing of these ‘ways’ is the hard part. The ‘kids! Let’s go see, hear, feel, taste all things NOW!’ is the easy part. Taking the time to listen to how this is affecting their worlds is the challenge. Finding the right questions to ask, and answering, in turn, their questions in a relevant, respectful and helpful way is the challenge. And ensuring that throughout this exploration they’re starting to form the kind of opinions that you can be proud of… That’s the challenge.

So while this whole ‘story of easter’ sounded like a really profound and impactful exercise, there was a LOT of time spent talking about how bloody His head was from the crown of thrones. And asking how many times they had to bang the hammer to get the nails through his hands.

So not really sure if it had the impact we’d hoped for. But we’ll talk about it again.

Maybe I’ll take them to St. Pat’s or Trinity Church this Saturday and see what we see there. And then have a hotdog in the park afterwards to talk about it all.

I think that sounds about right.


Take this, Cruz

Not really. But in response to Cruz’ disparaging comments about the New York attitude, coupled with the unfortunate video of his daughter flicking him away, I logically got to thinking about why I am actually enjoying raising my kids in NYC.

(I need to also preface this with the fact that I was getting tired of all of my post ideas having a predictably blue January tone. So this one is a bit haphazard, but nonetheless happy, as it’s about a topic that makes me smile most lately.)

What am I liking about raising my kids in NYC right now?
1. Exposing them to experiences that they may not have otherwise had access to. Good and bad.

I love watching my kids take it all in. Imagining what their brains are processing, seeing little light bulbs switching on…. Watching the most authentic of smiles appear…

But I also see them immune to certain circumstances, because it’s blended in with the myriad of experiences, or because they aren’t aware of something being unusual anymore…

So it’s the good with the bad.

2. Learning patience.

Sometimes things take longer here. Sometimes you arrive when you are meant to. And sometimes the E train leaves you stranded underground for 90 minutes. Or sometimes your favourite coffee shop is now 90 other people’s favourite spot because there are 8 million people here. And all you can do is wait. And breathe.

3.  Learning tolerance.

8 million people. 8 million unique smells, and shapes, and ideas, and voices.

4. Learning to appreciate one another’s space.

8 million people. Crowding the same streets, and jamming on to the same subway car. Filling the same cavernous grocery stores and waiting at the same restaurants. We share this space and are reminded of that, whether within our tiny apartment, or out in the city.

5. Chance to develop a voice.

It’s a loud place. Not just with the endless sirens, and dump trucks, and horns. But again, with the many voices. There are a lot of confident people, with varied and legitimate experiences that the stories they share are routed in. It’s been important for me to learn that having a voice and offering ideas and sharing my own stories and asking my own questions is the best way to be an active, engaged member of this city. And I love being able to demonstrate that for my kids each day.

6. Endless opportunities to be creative.

Organized, ticketed experiences (of varying degrees of formality), as well as more spontaneous experiences, where the energy and colour that this city offers to inspire a creative expression. Nobody’s watching, or 8 million people are watching- but who cares? At least half of those 8 million people have come from watching a performance, and the other half are on their way to being in a performance. Creative talent abounds, and the city is waiting with open arms for little ones to experience this talent.

7. Learning to enjoy their home and their stuff; they have less of both, and that just makes them more selective, and appreciative.

8. Chances to push themselves.

NYC is a city full of talent. Big brains, big hearts, big voices, big bodies.

Be inspired by this. And maybe a bit intimidated. But move past the intimidation factor, and push yourself to be bigger. Be inspired by this talent.
9.We can all be uncomfortable. And scared. Wherever we are.

Being able to live this every day with my kids, and to see them overcome their discomfort, alongside me, is a pretty special thing.
10. There are some opportunities for equalizing. Sort of.

All of the kids in my kids’ classes live in either 2 or 3 bedroom apartments. They all share the same backyard, which is the park that said apartments are all 1-2 blocks away from. They don’t have garages or basements full of toys or clothes or bikes or other ‘stuff’ that can indicate more of the ‘haves’ than the ‘have nots.’ But some have summer houses. And cars. And some summer in France. And we all live in a really privileged part of the city. So it’s more of a sort of benefit of living here.
11. Get help. And say thank you.

Not unique to NYC, as working families across North American encounter the same logistical and energy challenges that we are facing. But there is a frenetic pace at times here. And it can, oddly enough, be a lonely place. It’s intense and a bit daunting managing work, and kids and commuting and all of the other things that just come up. But the sense of community that we have here is amazing. There’s an awareness and a support, and there’s an unspoken acknowledgement that living here can be hard, and help is needed on some days. Take the help, and make sure you set the example and say thank you for the help.

12. Explore. Near and far.

This doesn’t mean that you need to be shlepping yourself and your kids to the furthest, most obscure ‘hidden gem’ each weekend. It doesn’t mean that you need to be perpetually pushing yourselves out of your comfort zones in order to really have an ‘experience.’

It could. But it could also mean that you explore a question, an idea, a dream together on your couch one focused Saturday morning. Intentionally or not, living in NYC exposes your kids to a breadth of smells, sounds, creations, ideas and colours than many other places. It’s my job, and my favourite job of all, to help them to process these experiences, to explore in a way that inspires them, that excites them, that grows them. Big and small explorations. Every single day. However tired we might all be.




The idea of creating traditions for my kids is taking a new shape each year that they become more and more aware of themselves, of us, and of the big world around them.

There’s a new element to consider for me while we evaluate what traditions look like in a place where we’re still building new relationships, where we’re still figuring out which traditions we bring forward from our old home, and which traditions we start in our new home.

There’s also a (sad?) reality that some traditions will be outgrown by our family at some point. Just as the kids didn’t ‘get’ the magic of Santa until really recently, they will too soon stop believing. (E already announced that he firmly doesn’t believe in Santa’s sleigh, so our time is limited, I know.)

Last year I went hard. It was a combination of excitement at being in f*#ing New York City, at being in f*#ing New York City for Christmas, and the fact that the kids were finally starting to react to the whole magic of the holidays.

We saw windows and trains and nutcrackers and enormous trees. We skated outdoors, and had $10 hot cocoas. We watched movies and listened to a lot of Mariah Carey and Michael Buble.

And we ate the weird recipes that are part of my Christmas repertoire that Brett tolerates and the kids actually walk away from. Becuase that is a tradition that I still hang on to.

This year the weird recipes are queued up. And we’ve done a few of the same things that we did last year in the city, scratched a few off the list (mostly because I have learned that schlepping is a thing and it kind of sucks when you’re tired and have stuff much more accessible to enjoy), and added some new things to the list.

This tradition below- it’s one of my favourites, and I hope it lasts for a while, and I hope my own turkeys happily pick it up with their monkeys one day.

Slight variation- we were schooled and told that we needed to hang a special ‘Santa key’ on the door handle. How in the hell else does the Big Guy get into your apartment? I went to the hardware store, found some obscure key and extra dangly stuff, and we have a key that the kids will hang on the knob, with a plate of Whole Foods cookies for him to enjoy in the hall. Hope it doesn’t attract rats.

IMG_3197.JPG IMG_3198.JPG

Ho ho here we go

I’m sure it gets old at some point, but I really do love Christmas in NYC.

It’s probably one of the only times that I could wish for an instasmell app in this city- the one time when greenery of the pine sort overwhelms the normal rot and exhaust smell.

It’s where the term ‘holiday hustle and bustle’ came from. True story. In my head, anyway.

The song ‘silver bells’ playing over and over in my head and me actually tolerating it, even smiling along at all the happy and gay shoppers on street-corners and chestnuts roasting and hot cocoa simmering.

It’s mild, but cozy-enough. You can comfortably layer up, and maintain that cute bundled look that’s so much more forgiving to your new stuffing rolls, and chilly enough that you don’t uncomfortably overheat the minute you take 3 steps.

The holidays officially get rolling for us again this weekend. Although we’ve had eggnog in the fridge for a week already.

We celebrate my Mom and Brett’s birthday today, and then the holiday ho, ho, ho comes out tomorrow, with visits to Christmas markets, and the instalment of our mini-tree, that will perch on a shelf. Because there is no available floor space for a tree. But easier to spot 3 feet of tree from outside if it sits on a shelf anyway…

I’m trying to convince the crew that we will fit a visit to Rolf’s in on Saturday but we’ll see- we do have an adult holiday party to go in our building that night, after all. (Baileys purchased)

Sunday, we see the girls, bright and early again. After the Rockettes have kicked their way through 87 Christmas carols, we’ll see THE tree, and likely hit up some more markets. And maybe, as darkness approaches, we’ll linger a little longer and do some window watching on 5th.

Given how terrified the kids still are of the big guy, I’m debating exactly how much emphasis I want to put on a trip to Macy’s santaland- considering we got trapped in a protest there last year (legit), I might source a less obvious spot… Or I might continue to be swept up by the magic of all things Christmas in the city and go for it.

Nutcracker, trains and lights will fill up the next few weeks.

Here we go!