Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Sweet Shop

I was in the mall, as usual, on a Saturday night. Garden State Plaza. I normally get a slice of chocolate chip cookie pie downstairs at a kiosk by the food court. Or a box of six Baked By Melissa cupcakes. But we were on the opposite end of the mall by that circle area OVER the food court. By The Children's Place and the hallway toward AMC. I had been seeing this little kiosk with French Macarons over there. I never bought any because I really didn't believe any could compare to Pam's at A La Cupcakes. The kiosk brand is called "Woops!"

The inside of the macarons looks like more of a jelly in comparison to Pam's buttercream-y kind of macaron middle. And it is well-known how I love her raspberry buttercream. I don't know what's technically "supposed" to be inside a macaron but I don't care. I know what I like.

We were kind of in a hurry and our car was near AMC so I just decided to throw caution to the wind and try them. B and E got some other cookies from this place so I picked up two macarons. WOW. I was blown away- in both price and taste. They were super expensive, to me. Expense is obviously relative as I'm not sure what they would normally cost. I don't remember Pam's pricing and she always gave me a deal anyway. I think in the mall they were like $2.95/each but they were REALLY good.

I went online to see pictures, flavors and prices and almost choked. Six for $16, Twelve for $32 and 32 for $93. Now, I don't know if they're THAT good to pay that much money. I mean, I could probably eat $32 over the course of a week and $93 is steep. I tried to see what the shipping would be but I had to fill out all my info and give a credit card and I didn't want to do that.

So, if you don't care about paying $2.50-$3 per macaron, I highly recommend these. They have a lot of interesting flavors. I had raspberry and strawberry and I thought they were fab.


Monday, September 29, 2014

In Love With Melinmade

I'm so in love right now. I can't stop thinking about her. Her name is Melinda Czecon and she's so super talented that I want every single thing she makes.

Obviously I'm partial to true artisans. But it's rare I even come across anything I'd consider REALLY unique these days. I love flea markets, street fairs and the like. Everyone knows I rarely miss the Hoboken Arts & Music Festival- both in the spring AND fall. I did actually miss the spring Arts & Music Festival because I was just kind of apathetic about it. It's almost always the same vendors, year after year. Here and there you see something kind of new but there are only so many hippie-dippy earrings I can buy and my house has been done since we moved in eight years ago.

B and E went to E's first Yankee game the day of Ridgewood's Fall Street Fair. I was going to go down the shore because it was supposed to be gorgeous out according to the weather people on the news all week leading up to it. Meanwhile, the weather looked like it was going to rain for the whole first half of the day. Plus, Jordan asked me to have coffee so I figured I'd meet up with her and then go to the street fair on my own. So that's what I did.

I was just kind of walking around aimlessly when happened upon Melinda's booth. I saw these beautiful, handmade, sweater-coats. I was in AWE. Right up my alley. AMAZING. They look like something out of a renaissance festival or a Disney movie. I could picture them in a movie like that Snow White and the Huntsman. Not in a campy way though. In a head-turning, stunningly beautiful way. There was one in creams and whites that I could picture Elsa from Frozen wearing. I could just picture walking into a room wearing one and everyone asking where I got it. It's THAT kind of look. Where you don't even want to take it off because it's part of your whole outfit. I'd probably wear a t-shirt and leggings under it so it could be the main focus of my look that day.

They're about $299 and you can tell why they cost that much. I wouldn't have been surprised if they cost more. They look every penny of the price tag. I know overpriced where I'm thinking- Yeah, good luck with that. Not in this case. It's a good thing they're expensive- well, for me. I'd never be able to decide on one color. Every single one is prettier than the next. I tried on the electric blue and black but there is one with burgundy I covet too. My only trepidation with that one is that there is beige in it and well, I can't wear beige. There is a light blue, one with greens- you name it. I want them all. ALL.

I think it's the hood that is the coolest part though. They're like long, pointy, I don't know what you'd call them. They remind me of the ends of leprechaun shoes. They're amazing.

She does "handwarmer" gloves too. I'm obsessed with fingerless gloves like that too. But I lose too many of them to buy such gorgeous ones. Although, if I run into her again at one of these fairs when it's cold, I can totally see myself giving in when B does that whole- "Do you want them? You can have them!" as he does any time I see something he knows I think is really unique and special. Her stuff is definitely of that caliber and definition.

Look for her and check out her etsy store. https://www.etsy.com/shop/Melinmade?ref=shop_sugg

FB page: https://www.facebook.com/Melinmade


Cranford, NJ on Oct 12
Fair Lawn, NJ on Oct 19
Paramus, NJ on Nov 30 (Paramus High School)

Melinda Czeczon
Emmaus, PA
Email: melincz@gmail.com

Thursday, September 25, 2014

A Brisket A Tasket

L'Shana Tova y'all! Happy, healthy and sweet New Year!

I'm the only one who bothered to get my grandmother's brisket recipe. Not sure why, because everyone loved it. But there are a million brisket recipes and I think they thought they'd just figure it out. I actually didn't start making it until I was around twenty-six or twenty-seven. Prior to that, I'd gotten the recipe but I had my boyfriend at the time make it. He claimed he was better in the kitchen than I am. I think then he probably was- it's not like I was ever Martha Stewart. He got some practice and he was actually pretty adept at it. He's not Jewish and neither is his wife, so I doubt he's been making it much, but if he was smart, he'd use it to show off every now and again. It's not like brisket is JUST a Jewish thing. I didn't know that either until I met another non-Jewish ex, also when I was around twenty-six, who informed me that down in Texas, where he's from, they eat it barbequed. Whatever. I don't know why bbq didn't occur to me but I'll go to a bbq place for that. For me, it's all about the other kind.

I have tried other recipes and other people's brisket but none compare to mine. I know everyone must think that but it's true. I'm not even tempted to eat brisket from anywhere else. Well, except Cohen's. Cohen is the only one that I truly loved her brisket. It was almost like a Hawaiian style BBQ or something. Everyone I've made mine for, except B, loves it. Now, he doesn't dislike mine in particular. He'd just rather eat some kind of salad than meat meal (What? WHY?!).

I share the recipe in hopes that at least someone can replicate it. The more people that know how to make it the way *I* like it, the better.

My brisket is different than any recipe I've seen because it's made ON the stove vs IN the oven. It's also made with only four ingredients- Kikkoman Lite soy sauce, lemon pepper, paprika and onion. Don't get caught up in their being like a million steps. I do that when I give driving directions too- landmarks. Same with the brisket. It's easy to mess up if you've never done it. I have burned it a few times in practice. It really depends on your stove and how hot it gets and how fast. I've made it on different stoves and have had to tweak it. I've also come up with some shortcuts or things to make life easier for me as time as gone on.

I now trim the meat of fat BEFORE I start cooking it. It saves me time and mess. I used to do it when I took it out of the pot to slice. But it was a huge disaster of mess. For me. Other people might be able to do it better. Neater. I also try to cut the onions the day before so I can just throw them in and the whole prep process goes faster. It also doesn't matter what the onions look like cut- shape, size, etc. I used to be particular about making sure they were chopped well. I actually strain them out of the juice/gravy before putting it in a container so it's easier if they're a little bigger.

The key to perfection is really making sure you keep adding paprika so the color is right. I've seen some sick looking brisket. Almost grey-ish. I like mine to be a real reddish brown. And just make sure you watch it to always have enough water in there but not submerged, and to turn it every forty-five min. That's all I can tell you. You just have to practice. Once you have it down to a science, it's magic. Before that, it's all red-brown ceiling, splattered clothes, and hours of meat-watching.



3-6 lb. Brisket (or however much you can stuff in the pot. I wouldn’t go bigger than 4.5 for the first time. BUT, it does shrink, A LOT)

4 Large white or sweet onions

Kikoman LITE Soy Sauce

Lemon Pepper


Large pot, like a 4-5.5 qt. pot that you would cook a pound or more of pasta in, but not “tall”, more squat/fat than tall.

Smaller pot of water or teapot of water


  1. Chop onions, not too finely.  Put them to the side. 
  2. Rinse the meat off under cold water.
  3. Put meat on some kind of platter or in a foil pan
  4. Pour Kikoman Lite Soy sauce over it, on both sides.  Lay it back down.
  5. Cover one side in Paprika, no set amount, just make sure you cover the whole thing with a thin layer.
  6. Sprinkle on some lemon pepper.  The more you use, the spicier it will be, so, it is “to taste”. 
  7. Take ¾ of the onions and put them in the pot.
  8. Lay the meat on top of the onions, paprika side down.  You might have to scrunch the meat up to fit it, but it will SHRINK A LOT so, it’s ok.
  9. Season the other side of the meat (side facing up) with the paprika and lemon pepper.
  10. Pour the remainder of the soy sauce/lemon pepper/paprika that got on the foil pan into the pot. 
  11. Throw the rest of the onions on top of the meat.
  12. The pot should be ON THE STOVETOP.
  13. Turn the burner on Medium and cover pot.
  14. Keep water boiled or boiling next to the pot of brisket. Or just add really hot water. My grandmother liked to keep it boiled. But that's just an extra pot to watch.
  15. You HAVE TO KEEP AN EYE on it.  Otherwise it will dry out and burn on the bottom.  Check every 15 min or so to make sure it is about halfway submerged in it’s juices. 
  16. If it looks low, add some water, just never fully submerge it.
  17. If you put water in and it washes away some of the spices, you can keep adding more paprika and lemon pepper- to taste….I like it to look really reddish brown, so, I use a lot of paprika….but less lemon pepper because I don’t like spicy.
  18. After 45 min, turn it over, and every 45 min after that for about 3 hours.
  19. When you can stick a fork mostly through the meat (which you can’t really do before it is ready), take it out of the pot, and slice it WITH the grain (or it will shred), into long pieces.
  20. Put the pieces BACK into the pot and cook for about 25 more minutes.  Then it is done.  Just taste it.  It should be really soft and kind of melt in your mouth.
  21. The juice in the pot is the gravy so that is also why you want to make sure it doesn’t dry up.
  22. Serve with cranberry sauce, challah bread, and potatoes, sweet or baked.

 **To reheat, take the gravy/juice that's left and throw it in a pot, add your leftover brisket and heat it in there.

***The recipe also is made with (white) potatoes IN it…towards the end.  Some people boil pieces of baked potato ¾ of the way through, then throw them in to cook the rest of the way in the gravy WITH the brisket in that last 25 min.  I don’t like potatoes so I don’t, but everyone else seems to love them. ***


Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Keratin & Cupcakes

I love Groupon. There is always some local deal that's something I need or want. This time it was keratin. Like a whole process keratin. The kind that is normally like upwards of $250 for my length hair. I also needed a certain kind. I wanted Lasio because you only need to keep it straight for twenty four hours and then you can wash. Finding that is like trying to find a needle in a haystack. I found one. In Cedar Grove, which is nowhere near me. Bellatair Salon. They'd had this Groupon out for at least a year when I was looking at it. It's $99. I didn't pull the trigger for months because I didn't know why it was so cheap, it's far from me, and the process itself takes a long time to do, especially on long hair so I didn't want to commit. But, then, I got a credit from Groupon for somewhere I had a voucher for a kid's play place that went out of business AND it was one of those weekends they were doing 15% off any deal. So it would only cost me $64. For $64 I could try this place out.

I went the other day. It was a perfect storm of errors trying to get an appointment in there, but really, I'm not even going to talk about that. It was what it was. End story- I got in and I got the treatment done. And it was WELL worth it. I'd had Don do it at Salon Azano when E was just a few months old. I remember this because my mom was still alive and watched him. It was awesome then and it is awesome now. Don has had that Lasio twenty-four hour treatment for a REALLY long time- I think he was one of the first, but there are other places that still do that three day, no wash thing. No way could I not tuck my hair behind my ears or put it up for three whole days. I go on the treadmill daily!

I couldn't afford the regular price or I'd have gone to Don. My first choice is always Don. But my hair also doesn't really SCREAM for keratin. It helps but I don't necessarily "need" it. My hair is long, but it's thin-ish. I just have a lot of it. It has a slight wave, the wave is ugly and it's really frizzy. It dries quickly, or quick enough- five to ten minutes with a hair dryer even though it goes down to my back bra strap. But the frizz. I could never just wash and go. I need a flat iron. I'm not even crazy about it- about having pin straight hair. I just take a few swipes through the hair around my face to get rid of the frizz.

After this treatment, my hair is like silk. SILK. I highly recommend. Just  make sure to ask any salon you go to what kind of treatment they use, ask for Lasio, and ask for twenty-four hour. For my long hair it took about two hours from start to finish. For shorter hair it would take less time.

547 Pompton Avenue
Cedar Grove, NJ 07009

Tel: 973.239.8636



While I was in this salon, the owner got me cupcakes from next door. Baked in a cup. I'd tried the one in Ramsey when they FIRST opened but hadn't been back. I was brought Key Lime, Red Velvet, and vanilla. Then when I went in there after, I bought a Smores. They were all really great. Everyone knows how obsessed with cake I am. I just wrote about House of Cupcakes. But Baked in a Cup is definitely worth a mention, especially in an area I'm unfamiliar with. It's right next door to Bellatair in Cedar Grove.

The cake is moist and the frosting is amazing. it's not super sugary sweet. I love sweet but I hate Magnolia. I feel like the cake is crumbly and the frosting might as well be a creamy Fun Dip package. It almost makes your teeth hurt. But this frosting at Baked in a Cup tastes really fresh and not so processed.

It's family owned- you'll catch both wife and husband (Joanne & Edwin Medina) and maybe their kids in there too. I like to support small, family run businesses. This is no exception. I met both Joanne & Edwin and Joann gave me my Smores cupcake for free. I was prepared to purchase but she just wanted me to try it on her. She believes in her product and now, so do I. It's the same store/menu as Ramsey, but it's different owners. There is a seasonal menu so they change it every few months. They also do all kinds of theme cakes. They do kid birthday parties. People are always asking me for cake recommendations. If I lived in that area, I'd definitely go to them.

They are currently investigating and gauging interest in doing gluten free and vegan recipes.

549 Pompton AveEmail: cedargrove@bakedinacup.com
Cedar Grove, NJ 07009Contact: 973-655-0011



Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Still Life

Yesterday was art class #2 at the Drawing Room in Midland Park. E is LOVING this class. I decided I'm going to blog weekly about it because I'm so impressed with his work, with the teachers, the way they teach and interact with the kids, and all the cool stuff they're doing.

They use different mediums each week. I think that's great because they don't get bored and the door is opened into all kinds of art. They may like certain ones more than others, but they get to experiment with them all. E was super jazzed after that first trial class he took in printmaking and I didn't even know what that was until he was in there. I certainly didn't know he'd be SO into it either. It's also not the typical "arts & crafts" you'd do around your kitchen table on a rainy day. The exposure to such different forms of art is priceless.

Yesterday, they did still life drawings of autumn fruit and vegetables. They drew first, then painted with watercolors. They used this graphite pencil thing for shading. Then they were able to use their imagination to create a watercolor painting. They were told their paintings should tell a story. Can you guess the story in this one?

Abstract watercolor by E
E says the blue dot in the middle is a blue diamond. The rest around it is a cave. The diamond is in the cave. His teacher was very impressed with it, as was I! He's really thriving in this class. The two hours really is a breeze for him. I thought it might be a lot but he really enjoys creating and is having a great time.

This particular class was split by age. The five to seven year olds went in one room and the older kids were in another. They learned how to do critiques at the end which was interesting. E was asked what he liked about his painting and he knew that he liked the colors he chose and how they blended together.

Someone I know saw I recommended this place/class but looked at the schedule and none of the class times worked for her family. I spoke to Christine, the owner of Drawing Room and she told me that if you can get 3-4 other students together, you can kind of make your own class time. There is a mommy & me class on Mondays right now at the same time at E's Art Experience class that was basically put together because of one mom who brought everyone else. That class isn't on the website because it was an impromptu kind of thing. So use your social media skills and pull a few people together and make a class! It's worth it. It's not just typical arts & crafts- it's serious teaching and learning but fun! Give Christine a call if you want to try to figure something out. She may know of another mom trying to get a class together and you might be able to combine.

Drawing Room
27 Central Ave 2nd Floor, Midland Park, NJ 07432

Monday, September 22, 2014


It used to be a sub shop. And a gross looking one at that. Then it became Lucky's Steak Plate. But I never thought about going in because I knew what it looked like before. I totally judged the book by it's cover. I thought maybe the new owner just refaced it. I had no idea.

B went there a decent amount of times and told me it was really good. I wasn't really paying attention. I knew it said burgers and dogs, but there are so many of those hot dog joints around, I assumed it was mainly just a hot dog place. In my mind, those are gross. I don't eat hot dogs like that. I like a good, almost burned, Hebrew National. Like, off a home grill. But I've never ordered one in a...place. I know, I know. That's like sacrilege in the home of Rutt's Hutt. Hot dogs are just not my thing.

One night about two or three weeks ago we went to the CVS in Fair Lawn off Maple or whatever it turns into down there. By Rivara's. Lucky's is on the corner there, across from CVS. I saw the menu and freaked out. Cheesesteak. Not cheesesteak like down the shore with gross goopy yellow/orange cheese, but with MOZZARELLA. Like Roma when I lived at Rider. I've never been anywhere else but by Rider that had places who made cheesesteak with mozzarella. HAS to be mozzarella. That's what I ordered.

THEN, I saw wings. BBQ wings (they have other choices too). I haven't eaten wings since I tried Cluck U when TEHO went out of business, also by college. Cluck U was gross (sorry, but to me, it is). I have never found another wing worth eating. I don't like spicy and I don't like Buffalo. I decided to try these since they do have BBQ. Oh. My. God. SO GOOD.

Menu is pretty extensive with a lot of choices for switching it up. Different cheeses. Different wing sauces. Breakfast, lunch or dinner- there is always something great to choose from. They also have great desserts. Not stuff you'd normally see in your typical local burger place. More "upscale" dessert.

All of it. SO GOOD. My son ate his whole cheeseburger. The kid who eats nothing. Ate the whole thing. B has been there many times without me- whenever he hits Home Depot, he's stopping in Lucky's. Go there.

Atmosphere is casual and kid friendly but still nice. Flat screen TV's on the wall at each table. It looks like a 1950's Harley joint. I use the word joint like Danny (Rob Lowe) does in About Last Night. That's EXACTLY what this place is like. Cherry wood tables, stools covered in the Harley flame design. Everything is orange and black.



18-50 River Road
Fair Lawn NJ 07410
Call Us! 201-796-1999

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Fall Finds

Actually, this has nothing to do with fall or autumn really. It's mostly just finds. Finds that I have found close to fall season. But after yesterday's "heavy" post, I wanted to just put something out there a little more fun. I love to talk about cool stuff or places I've come across in my travels or experimenting. Or tv watching. Whatever.

First thing- I'm sorry to say, the one I like might be gone in like two weeks but that just means you have two weeks to hunt it down. Turkey Hill Greek Frozen Yogurt. It's SICK. I normally would NEVER try supermarket bought Fro-yo. Because it usually sucks. Ben & Jerry's? Sorry, it's awful. BUT- I LOVE Black Raspberry/Chocolate chip combos. I'm not even that into ice cream. It's one of those things I never really crave but then I eat it and I'm like- "why don't I eat this more?". America's Choice makes one of the only black raspberry/chocolate chip ice cream I've seen. It's the Pathmark brand. I like it, but it's really just...ok. I buy it sometimes when I'm in the mood, but I don't LOVE it. Then I found Fairway's store brand. It's EXCELLENT. Then I looked at the calories and it should be excellent for over 300 calories a half cup.

I was in Shop Rite and saw this Turkey Hill Raspberry Chokolata. It looked interesting and it's only 140 calories for a half cup. Sold. Why not try it? Oh. My. God. It's SO good. If you like that flavor combo. They make four others too. Of course, the kicker is- it's "Limited Edition"- WHY?! WHY?! WHY?! I bought five and shoved them into my second freezer.

Here are the descriptions and the time periods they're available for:
  • Baklava: Will be offered January through March, and contains vanilla Greek frozen yogurt with crunchy baklava pieces and a honey cinnamon swirl.
  • Lemoni Biskoti: Will be offered April through June, and includes lemon cream Greek frozen yogurt with a lemon shortbread swirl.
  • Raspberry Chokolata: Will be offered July through September, and contains raspberry Greek frozen yogurt with chocolaty slivers.
  • Sea Salt Caramel Truffle: Will be offered October through December, and contains caramel Greek frozen yogurt with sea salted caramel truffles.

My second find:

I just got the iPhone 5s. Yeah, yeah, I know. Why did I get it with the 6 looming? Because I don't WANT a phone with a huge screen. That's why I have an ipad and a laptop. I want a phone to be phone-sized. The 5 is big enough. And I'm trying to be economical. Sure, I didn't know you'd be able to trade in your old phone for a free 6. So I thought I was being economical. I got a 32g 5s which should be a lot better with space than my 8g 4. It's fine. Anyway- I like the 5s. It's fine. I'm not a mega mogul and I don't do anything on there but be on a mom/wife message board and Facebook. I don't need the latest technology.

I *AM* on the phone using data a lot. I use a lot of battery. On my old iPhone 4 I needed an external battery. I bought a Mophie Juice Pack Plus. I was hooked. It kept me from having a dead phone on the daily. Before I had the Mophie, I had an OtterBox Defender. I think Otterbox is the best made case around. I don't need a "sleek" iPhone. B says "THAT'S HOW THE iPHONE IS MEANT TO BE. THIN. SLEEK! YOU'RE RUINING IT!" But I say, no, ruining it would be dropping it one of the thousand times I do and having a shattered screen. I don't CARE if it looks like the size of a London Broil (thickness).

I saw OtterBox makes an external battery case. It's called Resurgence. I read all the reviews, all the comparisons of all the different external battery cases. That was just confusing. It basically just came down to the Mophie Juice Pack Plus being around a hundred and twenty dollars and the OtterBox being ninety-nine dollars and five or six percent back on Ebates. Also, the OtterBox Resurgence is the only one (so far) that stops charging the phone when it's done and only charges the case. I've read different things about helping save the life of the phone battery and apparently over-charging is a no-no. I found myself taking the Mophie off a lot just to charge the phone separately because the hole for it was in a weird place. It would get loose after awhile. I had to send back my first, and maybe my second Mophie because the wire wasn't staying in the charging hole. The Resurgence has a better hole, in a better place, and isn't flimsy in any way, shape or form. It also has a little lip all around the screen so if it was dropped, it still has a little of a buffer area to hit before the screen would hit the floor itself. I like it a lot. I haven't really needed it too much since the summer is over and I'm not playing on the phone all day at the pool or beach. But it will definitely come in handy because no iPhone has a spectacular battery life.


The other thing I also got for my new phone is the Tech Armor Premium Ballistic Glass Screen Protector. I had just the clear papery-plastic thing that everyone uses. But it had so many bubbles, it was gross, and it certainly didn't feel like it would do anything special to keep the phone safe. Just from scratches it would help, but nothing else. I feel like this is much better. And no bubbles- thanks to the staff at Radio Shack in Garden State Plaza who applied it for me.


Next find:

Crystal Light liquid. If you already are a Crystal Light fan, these are THE BEST. I normally have those single serve pouch things in every bag I own. I never go anywhere without my "pink" water bottle. Just ask Cohen. The problem with the pouches though is that you have to have a 16.9oz bottle of water. Sometimes being out and about, that isn't an option. Or if you use your one pouch and you don't have any more, you're screwed. With these little squeeze bottles of liquid, you do it "to taste". Any amount of water, any amount of CL liquid. I would go to the pool this summer and just keep refilling water at the water fountain and then add my liquid. It definitely was more economical than going through a bunch of pouches. And I didn't have a limit because of how many I remembered (or didn't) to bring with me.

Sure, I guess I could drink regular water, but I know me and I'm not going to drink plain water. I'm also drinking more now that I have this. It's zero calories. I don't know why regular CL is five calories and this is none, but I'll take it. You can find it in CVS and in the supermarkets.


Last but not least- I know I write about Pack It bags sometimes because I love them. This isn't exactly a *new* find but a *New & Improved* find. Pack It bags are now coming with an inner zipper. I just bought E a new snack bag (as his lunch bag). He doesn't need the full size bag so I use the snack bag for him. The new inner zipper keeps everything cooler much longer. They also have new designs. They're cute and functional.


So that's what I have for you today. Enjoy! I'm going to get my other find- the "Tall Iced, Skinny Vanilla Latte" from Starbucks down the street.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

False Security

This was my last entry about this journey- just so you have the whole picture.


False Security - I guess that's what I should call it. It wasn't false "hope" because that would indicate we thought there was...more. No, no. We thought it was over. We thought we went through the woods, into the tunnel, and came out the other side. Unfortunately that is not the case.

The tics are back. It's September, so it's not unlike any of the other five Septembers that came before this one. The allergy-esque tics are always there...but for whatever reason, they seem to get worse in September. It was September three years ago that he rubbed a hole right into the top of his nose. I think it was two Septembers ago he was ripping at his eyes.

Let me just go through the list before getting a laundry list of unsolicited opinions and advice.
  • It's every month. There is no month this doesn't go on. September. December. May. So it isn't a typical allergy
  • I've used fragrance-free detergents. Didn't make a difference.
  • He's had his tonsils and adenoids out already.
  • He says he's "itchy".
  • He's been on every antibiotic known to man
  • He's gone the holistic route to some extent
  • He pulls on his nose and wipes across his mouth
  • When it's really bad, he scratches in his hair and rubs his eyes
  • He's taken a daily OTC allergy med (Allegra, Zyrtec, Claritin)
  • He's taken an as needed allergy med (Benadryl)
  • Been using a "non-allergic" nasal spray 2x a day and saline spray 2x a day
  • He's been on inhalers- Albuterol, Xopenex
  • He's had allergy testing (skin test) 3x and blood work. No allergies showed up.
  • Sometimes he gets a rash on his face but it goes away in a few days
  • Sometimes when he's around a dog, it's worse. But he still does it after being with the dog.
  • When he uses crayons it's worse. But when he isn't using crayons he still does it all.
So that's it in a nutshell. The worst is the nose pulling and mouth wiping. The mouth wiping is relatively new. That's been going on since sometime in August. There are also times he isn't really doing any of them. But when we are in a time he IS doing it, a lot, it's hard to remember when and how long ago it was that he WASN'T doing it.

I've also been told it could be anxiety. If it turns out that's what it is, you'll be able to knock us down with a feather. E seems like he would be the least anxious kid on the planet. He's confident, outgoing...he has SWAG. And he SAYS HE'S ITCHY. Is itchy a sign of anxiety??? I have a degree in Psychology but this...this is well out of the realm of my classroom knowledge. The ONLY indication I have ever seen in him *might* be that he grinds his teeth when he sleeps. I don't know much about teeth grinding, aside from how gross and annoying it sounds. But it seems like it would be an anxiety driven coping mechanism. I just don't really believe this is anxiety though. Anxiety is last resort answer for me. Because he is visibly uncomfortable. He says the inside of his nostrils are itchy. Around his mouth is irritated. So the physical signs ARE there. We just don't know if it's chicken or egg. Did he make the physical signs by the severity of the tics or is he having tics because of the physical signs we see there? I. DON'T. KNOW. And neither does anyone else.

Yes, it happens in September, with more intensity, but I don't think it has anything to do with school. He still doesn't understand days of the week or months or time. So school *looming* is neither here nor there. He also loves school, his friends, teachers, etc. This time it would be a new school in the morning, but he was excited to start. And the tics had been going on in the summer anyway.

When it turned out that he had that sinus infection that was affecting him in these ways, it made sense. It makes sense that when you have an infection far up in your body (nose), it would make you jittery, fidgety, etc. We went back to the ENT in August when this started up again and he said that it didn't appear to be an infection. He put him on the hardcore antibiotics anyway just in case. We were pretty much insistent. For us, that seemed to be the only thing that worked. Do I want him constantly on antibiotics? HELL NO. Do I see any other choice? No. I really don't. I've been to five pediatricians. Infectious disease doctor. Two ENT docs. An OT lady. Two allergists. Oh, and the last one is an immunologist. The immunologist said that basically in our case, if antibiotics work, then use them. But she also gave us a scrip for more bloodwork that I am assuming is more in-depth than any other previous bloodwork we've had done.

Poor kid. Has been poked, prodded, has taken the grossest, goopiest, nastiest medications ever. He never complains or gives a hassle. He gets blood taken like a champ. No tears and no whining. What's sad is that he's like that because this is all his "normal".

Sure, there is worse. I know kids battling way "worse". But everyone's problems are important...because they're theirs. This is our problem, for FIVE YEARS. And it SUCKS. It's the most frustrating experience I've ever had. And I'm a pretty frustrated person in general. But this...this takes the cake. I also just can't understand why no doctor seems to care or be interested enough to find out what the flying F is wrong with him. Why isn't some doctor so hungry for ego driven accolades, that he or she wants to be the one to crack the case?? It's a lot of "I don't know", "Hmm, that's odd", and "I don't see anything..."

He just started Kindergarten. He's a self-tattler. He's been telling us he gets in trouble in school but he's not sure why. He says he is supposed to sit one of three ways. He says he sits how he's supposed to but gets in trouble for moving while sitting. I can't help but think some of it has to be these tics. I'm sure part of it is being a five year old fidgety boy, but he has an added issue of ticking out like a meth-head. The other day it was so out of control all I could think of was Emmett on Queer as Folk calling Blake a "tweaked out twinkie". He looked like a messed up tweaker and it's breaking my heart. And if that's what he's getting in trouble for, frankly, I'm afraid it's going to break his spirit.

I don't even know what the point of putting this out there. I just needed to get it out. Because both B and I are at our wits end. No, you don't want some awful diagnosis. But you want SOMETHING. Something to go on. Some direction to take. Right now, we're the doctors. We're the ones randomly picking specialists and specialties, hoping, someone will have something different to say. Different to try. A path. Hope. A light at the end of this tunnel.

Next step...more bloodwork. Stay tuned.

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

The Blue Dog

"The Blue Dog"
E had his first real art class yesterday at The Drawing Room in Midland Park. Yes, he did a trial class last winter but he wasn't enrolled. He left that day asking when he can come back but I just couldn't add another activity then. I made the mental note then that I had to find time and money for it come September. I moved some stuff around and we took the Monday "Art Experience" class by storm. We were both really excited for him to begin. He loves drawing and can do it for hours. I'm just not that into painting in the house because I'm just not that into the clean up. So best it be done in the proper workspace.

This class is no joke. It's two hours. If you're under seven years old, there is an hour and a half option within the "Art Experience" umbrella. There is also a "Budding Artists" class which is for 4-6 year olds which is also an hour and a half. An hour long Mommy & Me class goes on in another room during the Art Experience class too, so there are many options. I saw one mom drop her son off in the Art Experience while she went next door with his little sister to do a Mommy & Me. It's obviously very convenient in that way if you have more than one child. I know that sometimes it's hard to coordinate extra-curricular activities because you can't be all places with all kids at one time. But this way, there is the possibility you can all take the age appropriate class at the same time.

In this time slot, it's a big class. Big in a good way. It's really nice to see so many kids really interested and engaged in making beautiful art. There are approximately fourteen kids in this time slot. Ages range from five to eleven years old. I sat and watched for an hour and it seemed like most of the kids were around age seven or eight. I think E was the youngest and there were three girls that seemed like they might be nine to eleven years old. They were of all abilities, yet it all seemed to work. It was interesting- in this particular time slot it was mostly girls in the class. The last time I came with E, it was almost all boys and only one girl. I think it's probably a good mix overall.

Ms. Nancy was teaching the class. She gave them a lesson, showing them how to draw a blue dog. There were pictures of this blue dog in different scenes pinned up around the room for inspiration. Ms. Nancy showed them how she drew her blue dog. She talked about how to use the whole paper and how to come up with an activity or scenario for the dog to be in. Then started to paint it. They all watched patiently, interested and quietly. The kids got to see her draw and then were sent back to their seats to draw their own. I didn't know how E would do. He was given loose direction then had to interpret that direction into his own dog and scenario.

Ms. Christine went around to help any of the kids who needed help. For instance, E wasn't using the whole paper at first. She showed him how to utilize the whole paper to make his dog and whatever his dog was going to be doing. So in "artist terms" they learned composition and used tempera paint to create their dog and it's story. It was very interesting and E did great. The best part is he loved doing it. He was super absorbed into what he was doing and he said the two hours flew by. You might not think a five and a half year old boy could sit for a two hour art class. But if it's the right class, doing something really cool that they enjoy, it's worth a shot! We both thought he did a really great job.

Check out The Drawing Room for classes, schedules, and fun events! Also, like their Facebook page!

Finished product!

Thursday, September 11, 2014


I can't be the only one that gets bugged out when the weather near and on Sept 11th is the same as Sept 11th. Yesterday was like that. It started out that way. Perfect, crisp, not a cloud in the sky. The sky the most amazing shade of blue. September as you want it to be in NJ or NY. It's my favorite weather. But not on Sept 11th or even the few days leading up to it. I prefer it to be humid and gray. But not raining. Because then the families who trek out to the site where they read the names of those who perished on that day in 2001 have the added suck of being rained on. Maybe not the biggest deal in light of where they're going and what they're doing, but that just seems...extra cruel.

I don't usually write about 9/11. I don't know why. Same as not really writing about my mother and death. Believe it or not, I actually do have some feelings and thoughts I prefer to keep quieter. I also feel like many people have a gut-wrenching, heartbreaking 9/11 story. We all know where we were that day, what we were doing, who we were with and who we were missing or thought could be missing. Mine just doesn't seem...important enough to share to the general public. I don't think in most cases people should need to quantify or qualify their sense or feelings of tragedy but in the case of 9/11, you kind of do.

It's the weather of yesterday though that prompted me to say something at all. I don't have anxiety about terror. Or anything, really.  I don't particularly worry about another 9/11 attack. I feel like that would be too cliché, too expected. If they're going to do something to us, they want it to be a surprise. They want to rock us at our core. Not do something we're waiting or prepared for. I think about terror attacks but I don't sit around fearing them. People who live in fear of everything are actually my biggest annoyance trigger.

I don't really have anything profound to say. I'm just here, thinking about weather. About perspective. Hoping those who had their lives shattered and destroyed that day have been able to find some shred of peace and happiness somehow.

Life is busy. But it's short. I'm always annoyed when I hear the phrase- "Hug your loved ones a little tighter today because _____". Usually a tragic, freak story comes after that. How about- hug your loved ones tight every day instead of just when you hear a tragic story. I'm going to say that an awesome tradition in lieu of just one day of tight hugs, would be to do something out of the ordinary. Doing something "out of the ordinary" is what saved a lot of people's lives that day. Late for work, different route, called out. I was supposed to be downtown to do something for my new job that day but I decided not to go.

Do something that gives you a smile. On 9/11, hug your family, and pay your respects to those who were gone in an instant, those who died in their quest to help others and those who fought and still fight for our freedom. THEN, get ice cream for dinner. Go to the park instead of doing laundry. Order a pizza. Go to a mid-week movie. Get a massage. Just do something that gives you a chuckle or puts a smile on someone's face that you love. Surprise someone with something fun. Because the only way to "win" is really to win. At life. Taking pleasure in genuine moments & belly laughs.

Small moments of joy are really what life's all about. Usually I take that small joy in great weather. I spent Summer of Tara soaking up every bit of sun I could. But on 9/11, I hope for subpar weather. I plan to take a ride to House of Cupcakes with E and then go to the park. I will bring a smile to both of our faces. And I'll remember to grab a chocolate cupcake for B as a surprise.

I don't think I have to say- "Never Forget" because I'm positive, no one ever will.

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

They Wear Short Shorts

Sadly, this does exist.
Remember that Nair commercial in the 80's? "We wear short shorts...they wear short shorts..." Well, I'm reminded of this every time I leave the house and young girls are walking around. B thinks I'm obsessed with this shorts thing, because, I am. I just. don't. get. it. Rather, I didn't get it, until I actually went looking to see if there were any other options to even purchase besides what I call- Panty-shorts. Yes, that's what I said. Because they aren't any longer than underwear. B says that I should just get over it. That everyone wants to fit in and no one is going to buy Bermuda shorts when everyone else is wearing the shorties. When he looks back he remembers stupid looking trends but everyone just did it because it was the trend. He thinks they will look back and think they can't believe they wore them but just more like, "haha, what were we thinking??

Glen Rock is like Children of the Corn. I can't go outside my store on any given afternoon without running into a gaggle of girls. And they all look the same. Luckily, at least in Glen Rock, maybe because it's such a sporting town, the girls are fit enough to get away with such tiny shorts. But- I've seen plenty just out and about that just look totally uncomfortable. Where it looks like their Netherlands are screaming for help- just to be able to breathe.

The days of long shorts- JAMS
When I was in high school- New Milford, NJ- the rule was that you couldn't wear shorts until June 1st and they had to be as long as the end of your fingertips if your arms were at your sides. This was actually fine because it was the 80's-early 90's so Jams were really in. Short shorts wasn't really a "thing". Good for me because I never had nice legs. Here in GR, shorts are good any time. But with no real guidelines. Until you get in trouble by the principal.

Short shorts have been "in" now for at least a few years and I see no sign of this trend going away. If I can see the fold of skin where your butt meets your leg though, it's just way ridiculous. That is underwear.

My first question has been- has no one noticed this? I know there are "ass-men" out there. And if you think it's gross that I'm even mentioning ass-men and teen girls' tushes in the same thought process- it is totally gross. But if the butts are only class in panty-shorts, bet YOUR ass, someone inappropriate is looking. Or someone is inappropriately looking. Either way, WHY are these shorts selling, why are they being bought, and why does it seem like there is very little outrage?

I'm no prude. I've been told I have a mouth like a drunken sailor. But my ass is always covered. I mean, I'm 40. My ass should be covered- it's 40. And I'm not Heidi Klum. I'm just wondering what the appeal is of camel toe, even at sixteen. I'm not saying they need to wear khakis or long modesty skirts. There is a just definitely a way to look stylish and trendy without needing a cuchini or showing off all the goodies.

A close family friend of ours, who is a tween and her sister, who is a teen, wear tiny shorts. She allowed me to take a photo of her in her usual shorting attire. Now I will admit, both sisters have nice figures, and don't actually look "slutty" in their tiny shorts. They look...sporty. They don't really wear make-up or if they do, it's extremely tasteful. They don't pair their shorts with cleavage bearing or tight tops either. It's almost like- from head to waist, they look like they could be going to some kind of sporting practice or dance class, and then it's like- "Oops, I forgot my pants!" BUT, one of them got in trouble in school for "too short shorts". I happened to be at their house that day and got into a discussion about it. The trouble for the shorts can actually affect grades. I'm not sure how it works- maybe like a demerit that accumulates? I don't know.

I had also heard Jenny McCarthy talking about this shorts dilemma on The View one day in the spring or beginning of summer. She mentioned that "regular" shorts aren't even available anywhere. So they get in trouble at school, but everyone is wearing the same thing, and no stores that kids today actually shop in sell anything longer. THEY ALL WEAR THESE. I'm using her as an example because she let me. And I goof on her. And I would have killed for her legs. Her shorts aren't any worse than the rest of them. We go to the mall every weekend and see tons of girls. Definitely not all as fit as the ones in town either. And definitely not all covered on top like the ones here. But- ALL the girls look the same. I measured these (below) from waistband to end and they are SEVEN inches.

I decided to go on a scavenger hunt of sorts for longer shorts.
They girls were pretty much correct. I had a really hard time finding anything I would consider suitable. I didn't go to a lot of places, but I did go to Hollister, Abercrombie, and Aeropostale. All of them had panty-shorts. Abercrombie had like two pair of longer ones in a SEA of tiny butt-baring shorts. Even the athletic shorts I saw were more like the "spanky" things cheerleaders wear under their skirts. Like, in Bring It On. Or the ones The Children's Place sells for toddlers who don't know how to "sit like a lady" yet.
A&F "longer shorts"
What to do? Realistically, today's trendy teens aren't going to buy their shorts in places like JCPenny's. Or whatever is the dorky store du jour. Sorry JCPenny's but you're not known as a bastion of hot trends. Jams aren't in now and I get all that. There just HAS to be some kind of happy medium. Unless this is just a joke on parents by the manufacturers who just like to see a little mom-teen drama.

There is no current "answer" - I guess we're just going to keep seeing butts until grunge fully comes back in? But the girls could take some responsibility and maybe get creative. Cut your old jeans to a little longer than the pockets hanging out the bottom. Buy a size up so that your camels aren't showing their toes. Girls- you can still look cool with all your parts just a little more covered up. It doesn't LOOK good when you're picking denim out of your ass.

Oh...the only reason to be happy for impending colder weather, I suppose, is covered private parts. Just call me grandma I guess.

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Talk About Milestones

Like I wrote about last week, everyone keeps talking about how huge kindergarten is as a milestone. And B and I disagree *with everyone else* on that. Our reason being that we feel like most kids have already been to some kind of school. At least around here they have. Even if it was two days a week, they know what school is and have done the whole separation thing.

Yesterday, I saw WHY we feel this way, up close and personal. I actually FELT the milestone and it wasn't even my child...

I had to drop some stuff off at the Glen Rock Jewish Center mid-morning. I guess even in the three years E went there for preschool, I'd never shown up in the first few days while the 2's class was on the playground. When E was IN the 2's, the parents were strongly encouraged not to be anywhere they could see us. I only need to be told that once. I don't need to make life more difficult for anyone, especially the 2's and their teachers. After the 2's, I was at work at that hour. In the 3's, I wasn't working anywhere nearby either, so I couldn't really just stop in. But yesterday, I did.

Oh boy, do Morahs Jill, Marleny & Sharon definitely deserve a big pat on the back and something else. As I walked up, I heard at least five little ones crying. Totally natural. E still had kids crying in the beginning of his 4's class. I heard Jill doing "phone calls" (pretend) to mommies and daddies to ease their fears and get rid of their tears. One little non-crier blew me a kiss. I blew one right back.

As I walked in, I remembered back to E's first day...first week in the 2's. He didn't cry because he'd gotten it out of his system in the camp he went to there a two months prior. But there were definitely criers and kids who had a hard time transitioning. But they did it. I thought about E's beginning of the 2's through the end of the 2's. I thought about how they all started, basically as babies, and grew into little people. They sort of toddled in and walked proudly out. THAT, to me, is a milestone. K has been easy-breezy compared to that feeling most parents and kids had that first week of leaving their babies for the very first time. Some had used daycare before so it wasn't AS huge, but I think two is the new five in that respect. A majority of people aren't waiting until kindergarten for kids to be in such socialized, structured environments. Not around here at least. Whether by necessity or choice, the benefit of a school type setting from one to five days a week seems to be more of norm and doing it early like age two or three.

I felt proud of those littles on that playground and they weren't even mine. They made it through another morning without the security of mom or dad and they're on their way to an awesome year, with amazing teachers, an educational curriculum and FUN. Maybe they were all crying that first day. Yesterday was Day #4. There were maybe a third of the crying. Perhaps by day #10 or #20 none will be crying. But I KNOW, by the end of the school year in June, they will all walk out of there a little more grown up with a lot of pride. That, is the best milestone of all.

Have an awesome year little 2's, 2's teachers, and 2's parents! You're an inspiration and a reminder of how independence is such a gift.

Monday, September 8, 2014

Girls/Moms Night Out!

Other moms are always talking about wanting to go out but to do something DIFFERENT. Not just dinner or drinks but something fun and unique. I think this fits the bill for sure! Who says arts & crafts is just for kids? According to Pinterest, it's more the moms than the kids these days anyway. Except the bonus of being the mom is that you can do it with a glass of wine. Or in my case, a sangria....I think I'd go just for some good sangria. That ain't easy to find. Trust me- I had some BAD sangria this past Saturday...but that's another story altogether. Check out this event- you won't be disappointed!
I went to a local Ridgewood restaurant with a few friends just for a light dinner and sangria, coincidentally, and the bill per person was $70! At least for $60 you get to make some art too.
Creativity & Cocktails at 3 Chicas
Creativity & Cocktails at 3 Chicas
Saturday Sep 13, 2014 at 8:30pm

8:30 PM — 10:30 PM
gn Up!
Create a painting in just two hours! Our experienced and fun-loving instructors will provide all the materials you need to create your very own masterpiece. Come have fun - no art experience is necessary! This is a unique opportunity to make art in a relaxing setting while enjoying good food and wine with friends, family, and loved ones!br /br /Cost is $60 including all supplies and instruction and food/drink - Cafe d'Artist, special menu created just for our artists, includes lunch or hors d'oeuvres and a glass of sangria.

637 Wyckoff Ave
Wyckoff, NJ 07481
Christine Zaccardi

Sunday, September 7, 2014

Cup Full of Cake

Cover photo on their website

I heard it was going to rain Saturday. In a way I was kind of relieved because as soon as summer officially starts, which to me, means the town pool is open, all else stops. Errands don't get done, nothing gets done. E starts his new dance class this week and I needed "dance sneakers". I went into a local dance supply place last week just to quickly check out what these dance sneakers even look like and the approximate price. I was planning on buying them there but I had to find out how much they were and I had to check back with the dance school to make sure that's what he needed for class. I also didn't know where this store was but I saw it from a distance after I'd just gone food shopping. I had a car full of frozen food on a 90+ degree day. I literally was just running in, checking info and running out before my food melted. The girl was such a biotch, that I don't care if I had to drive to another continent, I decided they weren't getting my money. But that whole scene is another story entirely. Point is, later, I remembered I had just seen a coupon for Capezio in last year's Kidstuff book. In Wayne (NJ). It's a bit out of my way, but for 15% off and most definitely the shoe I need, I took the trip.

Capezio is in a bustling shopping center on Rt 23 South in Wayne. I don't know that area AT ALL. Luckily I have GPS and made it there. The first thing I saw when I pulled in was not Capezio, but House of Cupcakes. Well, well. Now we're talking. Nevermind shoes. I needed to go THERE. Ok, I needed to get shoes too but I told E we were going into the cupcake place next. All he cared about was the Chuck E Cheese *he* saw. I told him that was never happening so he should be happy with cupcakes.

We zipped in and out of Capezio. Even with the discount I think I paid more than I would have somewhere else. But they were nice, helpful, and the end result was that I got shoes. Plus, dance shoes are apparently not like street shoes. I didn't have this problem with tap or ballet shoes but these sneaks were like dealing with another universe in terms of size. He wears a 12.5 street shoe for the most part. I had to get a 1.5 YOUTH. I could have never guessed that and had I bought them online, I would have had to wait AND they would have been wrong. So my advice- don't try to buy dance shoes online. Go to the store. But where the salespeople are helpful and nice.

Back to the cakes: So, House of Cupcakes. They have other locations, which I did not know until I just looked them up. But their system is awesome, their cakes are FRESH and moist, and they have a lot of choices. All the cupcake flavors are numbered, you can grab an order form and even for just a few, circle/check the numbers, and you get what you asked for. I ordered some "mini" ones so I could try more than one flavor. But they aren't as mini as, let's say, Crumbs. At HOC, they are also "Buy 5, get 1 free". I got six mini cakes for eight dollars and change. I didn't think that was bad at all.

I've had both good and bad cake. With A La Cupcakes gone from Glen Rock, I've said, I've been left with a huge void for great cupcakes. I now just go with a kokash from Zadies when I have to bring dessert to someone's house. The kokash is great, but sometimes I want some variety. Or at least the option. E had the one that looks like a Hostess cupcake and loved it. I had the strawberry shortcake (of course), the Hostess looking one, and the Oreo one and they were all amazing. The strawberry one had strawberry jam in the middle, the Hostess had crème in the middle. I LOVE stuffed cupcakes, but I've never had stuffed minis before. I can't rave enough. So. Good. Worth the trip.

B is just anticipating me telling him that we will be driving to Wayne just for baked goods. Because that's how I roll...traveling for desserts.

I still have a Snickers one left to try out. I have a strong feeling I won't be disappointed.



Saturday, September 6, 2014

Drama Drama Drama

E's acting class is starting up again. If any of your drama queens or kings want to join in or have an older kid that wants to break into the biz, here is their chance. If you call/sign up, please give my name as a referral.

Oh, and don't be put off that it's in NYC. It's practically right outside the Lincoln Tunnel. Pearl Studios is on 8th Ave, between 35th & 36th. Super easy/quick to get to and there are a few garages to park right near there. Two on 37th and one on 36th.

TOTS in Television Improv. & On-Camera Act/Audition 4 - 6 Yrs

Classes begin Sep 27, 12:30 PM
Watch them On-Stage in our final Showcase Day!                    

9-Week Classes, Optional 5-Week Registration

Saturdays, September 27th - November 22rd, 12:30pm - 1:30pm
Sundays, September 28th - November 23rd, 12:30pm - 1:30pm

It's never too early to teach our youngest good habits and expression. In this fun class series, our youngest actors will explore the range of feelings and emotions we feel and how to use them in an honest and natural way in our acting. Top ATNY Coaches bring in the camera to teach them the art of proper sight lines, less fidgeting and stronger focus. We invite our parents into the class periodically to see the development of our young actors and how we teach.

For continuing Tots , our expectations are raised as we incorporate previous session understanding and use this class to reinforce good habits for the young actor. It's a process and it takes repetition and time.

NOTE: If your child has attention deficit issues or is hyper-active, we respectfully request you inform us so we can be aware in our attempt to work with your child.

**NEWPORT, JERSEY CITY TOTS! ATNY will be having a Tots Class at Shore South in September. At this point, we welcome Jersey City Parents to email us and let us know which day and time work best for Jersey City. We're happy to have 2 age groups, 4 - 6 and 7 - 10, if demand warrants.

9-Week Registration: $450
5-Week Registration: $279 (Please Call ATNY for Registration)
Friendly Payment Options upon request!


Regrettably, No Refunds for Missed Classes. Future Class Make-Ups Only.

A GREAT HOUR for our Youngest Actors!

Friendly customized payment plans upon request, please call us! 

Older kid classes:


Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Move Ahead to K

Camp before the 2's! Still
buddies with those two today!
E starts kindergarten tomorrow. I've seen a million posts, blogs, and statuses about the sentimentality of this milestone from other moms. I haven't read the blogs or the articles. Both B and I are feeling pretty unsentimental about it. I don't know if we're missing something or what, but we're not teary and sad about it.

Is kindergarten even a big milestone anymore? Many of the moms and dads I know both work. As do B and I. For those that always worked full time, these kids have been in some form of daycare or school since like six weeks since birth. I didn't work for the first two years of E's life but he was signed up by one and a half, to go to school when he was two. I was excited for him to get to experience that too.

First day of the 2's class
We got up that first morning, we took pictures, we hugged. But we didn't cry and we didn't particularly think of it as a special milestone. For me, it was like my first taste of freedom in two years. All I could think about was what I could fit into the few hours I had to myself. I was never worried about him. He's *my* kid. He's been like the mayor since he came into the world. If there is ever a foxhole you're stuck in, hope that E is in there with you. He'll be able to navigate that situation- no problem.

I hadn't thought it out well when I signed him up. He still seemed so little. I only signed him up for three days, from 9a-11:30. Once school started, I wanted to slap myself. He could've totally handled five days. He NEEDED five days- my little Energizer Bunny. And 11:30? What IS that? Within a week, I had him at 12:30, and a week after that it was 1p. I asked if he could do the other two days too but they were closed out. What a pain. Shame on me. He LOVED school. Then I went back to work that January and had to extend him until 4p. Was this transition difficult for him? Nope. He was fine. I was fine. We were all fine. I wasn't sentimental about it then either. I was excited. Excited for him to grow, learn and thrive and excited for me to go to work, have adult conversation, and do something I love.

Starting the 3's
He's gone through the 2's, the 3's, and the 4's. When it was time to sign up for the 3's, we went right to five days without question. Again, until 4p most days. Same when he got to the 4's. So he's been in school, pretty much full time, for what feels like forever. So kindergarten is starting. I got his backpack mid-summer, had his school supplies shipped to me from Amazon, and I've been amassing clothes for who knows how long. I even thought about purchasing one of those Etsy-type chalkboard things with the whole "First Day of K" thing. Luckily, I snapped into reality when I got a price of $30 for a decorated chalkboard and just make something a little sub-par but still cute, myself. Anyone that knows me will be shocked I even did that. I really DID!

But neither B, nor I, are sad that he's going to kindergarten. We don't feel time is going too fast- well, except summer for me. I savored every second of Summer of Tara. E is growing up and sure, time can go fast, but it's a good thing. A positive thing. And I only have one kid, will always have one kid, so this is the only time I will experience this. We're happy to see him grow, get bigger, learn cooler stuff, become a real little person with incredible comedic and sarcastic timing. He'll make new friends, get used to a new teacher, and probably get into some mischievous trouble, if the bathroom incident in nursery school, with his friend, was any kind of prediction for the future. I've been throwing him into purposely socially uncomfortable situations for as long as I can remember, so he can learn to roll with whatever comes. And he DOES.

Starting the 4's
People keep asking him and us if we're "excited" for kindergarten. I really can't answer. I don't think he even realizes it's going to be any different than what he's been doing all this time. He knows he's going to a new place- he's been waiting to go there since he's known it's going to be his school *eventually*. Beyond that, the word "kindergarten" doesn't really mean anything special to him. Or us, I guess.
E can roll with pretty much anything. He's moldable, amenable, friendly, and funny. He loves people, he'll play with anyone, and he is so "fair" and balanced, we call him "Even Steven" at home as a goof. So we'll all roll with kindergarten tomorrow. With smiles, hugs, and no trace of tears.

Then, because my town is 1950's Mayberry, I'll be dropping him off, maybe getting in a Starbucks run, and turning around to get him because he has a "quarter day". Half-day K, district-wide half day, means a quarter day for the K's. Awesome. I definitely can't get sentimental about that. Luckily he has "K enrichment" five days a week to make up what anyone else would be getting in full day K.

Happy first K day to E and all E's kindergarten compatriots. Good luck, no tears, new friends, great times to all! Happy first K day to all the parents needing to get back into routine and have more than five minutes to yourselves. Finally, good luck and good year to all my teacher friends out there starting a fresh, brand new school year!! I've got your back.

First Day of K!
Preschool grad!