Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Lives Matter *Updated*

This is a difficult post to write, not because of the content, as one would think, but it's hard to do without telling a story that isn't mine to tell. So I'm going to do my best without infringing on anyone's privacy. It's just something I think is really important to keep talking about. It's domestic violence.

We all saw the whole Ray Rice thing go down and it really jumpstarted a conversation that was a long time in coming. It spurred debate, action, reaction, and who knows what else. The problem is that it's never enough. Because it still happens. Right in our backyards. In our homes. People we know, strangers, famous people, coworkers, that mom from school.

Someone I knew, peripherally, was strangled by her husband. This is all I can say- that's what was in the news, so it's what I feel is okay to put out here. It's public knowledge. Beyond that- not my story. Unlike Marie (who passed away when a plane fell into her house), who I wrote about a few weeks ago, I did not know this woman well. We were not close friends. I knew her. Since about 2005. I remember her as warm, honest, funny, and a loving mom. I knew bits and pieces of her life. Bits and pieces of what she was going through. What I did not know was that she would be dead by the hands of her husband, the father of her children, at the age of thirty-seven.

In the daily grind we're all in, I think we just have a certain short tolerance for OPP (Other People's Problems). We listen, we take it in, we dispense advice, and wait. Wait to hear how our advice played out, the excuse for not taking our advice, or what they did in lieu of using our words of wisdom. When you hear the same problems over and over again, we have a threshold. We care but we just can't care...as much. Or we do. We care, and we worry, but we push it out of our minds because we have to do it that way. It's really the only way. Because if you're not willing to change your situation, then how much can anyone else invest in it? I know personally, I can have the same conversation with you time and time again with no limits, but eventually, I'm just not as invested in it. We've talked about what the right thing to do is but I can't make you do it. I'm the farthest thing from uncaring, it's just being practical. Maybe it's just human nature. I know I can't be more invested in your well-being than you are. Even if I want to, I know it's a fruitless endeavor. It's like trying to drag a drug-addict to rehab. It isn't going to work if you're not actually invested in your recovery.

Or we don't want or know how to get involved. I'll be honest- I'm forty now and I feel somewhat wiser than in my 20's and 30's. Back then I got involved in some domestic...interventions, not exactly involving abuse, but other kinds of highly sensitive situations that I won't go into. Let's just say, in my trying to help, at the very least I could've lost friends. I did lose friends. Things got awkward. I put myself in some precarious situations, butting in, and I'm lucky I didn't get killed myself. And the reality is, I didn't save anyone. No one died, but nothing much changed. I didn't really help and I just gave myself a lot of trouble.

That's where guilt comes in though. What could we have all done different? Could we have forced someone to leave? Could we have kidnapped her? Could we have called the police? There are statistics, and I'm not going to look them up. All I do know for sure is that there is no right answer. Because every person and every situation is different. Sometimes we feel like getting other people involved just makes the situation worse. No one knows what is said behind closed doors. Threats. Promises. You never know if or when someone is going to snap and actually take a life. It's incredibly naïve to assume as either the abused or friend of the abused that their abuser won't end up taking a life. But I just don't think the rational or "normal" person's mind goes to that. I don't think most people want to believe their spouse or their friend's spouse could actually kill them.

Well, I'm here to say- It happens. I now know someone who is dead from domestic violence. Around my age. A mom. A sister. A daughter. A friend. Someone young, who had a whole life ahead of her, who didn't have to die. Not like that. Think about just how much anger it takes to strangle someone. To watch as the life leaves their body.

Someone on one of my message boards who recently came back after an absence, "What happened with all the people who got divorced?!" Some people answered truthfully. Their answer was basically, "I didn't love him". The interesting thing about that answer was that some felt they had to qualify that answer with other excuses. Like not loving someone wouldn't be "enough" of a reason to leave a marriage. Yet, to me, that's a HUGE reason not to be married anymore. I definitely see it as "good enough". There was a common denominator of those who said that other people didn't understand why they had to get divorced. That the situations or reasons under which they made their decisions didn't "sound that bad". Like you should only consider divorce if you're being beaten. Anything less is just not trying. That mentality was even portrayed on the show, Girlfriends Guide to Divorce a few weeks ago. The main character's brother was giving her a hard time about leaving her husband. He basically said- "No one was getting beaten!" as if that was the only acceptable reason out there to want or need out of a marriage.

Except that even getting beaten is sometimes met with the idea that it might not really be "that bad".

Even if it remains unsaid, I think there are many people that don't understand "that bad". Like they have a scale where they are judge and jury to what someone should be able to take before calling it "that bad". And then, even in cases of physical abuse, some people outside the relationship just don't want to deal with it. They don't want scandal stemming from their family, they make excuses, they just turn a blind eye because they don't want to face what will happen when it all comes tumbling out.

I believe people in abusive situations don't always know what abuse means. There are definitely people I've come across, especially those of older generations, that don't know what it means. They think it has to be like Farah Fawcett in The Burning Bed. Or something from a Lifetime movie. Sleeping With The Enemy. Extremes. They think it's only when you see bruises, black eyes, and broken bones. In more recent years, it's been somewhat acceptable to use the terms verbal and emotional abuse. But often it's shrugged off. If you can't see the scars, it's easy to pretend they aren't there.

Because of this unspoken rules of acceptability as to what is "enough" of a reason to end a relationship, people in verbal or emotionally abusive relationships delude themselves into thinking, "It's not that bad- He didn't hit me". Or, "he only hit me once". He was sorry. It's also not like it generally starts with a random punch in the face. The build-up of the emotional and verbal abuse is where it begins. Then comes the physical stuff. After you're broken down inside. By then, the outside is just another part of the proverbial punching bag.  You get to the point of believing you don't deserve better. Or you won't get better. That it's "normal". Bargaining happens- "Well, it was only once. IF it happens again...." By then, it's too far into the cycle to break with any ease.

I'm lucky I was just born with a strong personality. I knew what I didn't want but I definitely did not know what was acceptable behavior in a relationship. There is a lot in life that I thought was normal that as time goes on and I get older, I know is decidedly not normal. Not acceptable. But I had to go through some situations that I can now classify as verbally and emotionally abusive. I'll never forget words spoken to me sometime after a very verbally abusive relationship ended. He said, "Well, you just knew how to push my buttons. It was you. I'm not like that with my new person". And maybe he hasn't done it to anyone since. But that's the mentality of someone abusive. Blame on the victim. While it was going on, I didn't like it, but I just figured everyone deals with this yelling and name-calling. I surely didn't have the best role models of appropriate, loving marital conversation and tools of arguing. Telling you that you're abused because you push their buttons is a cop-out and an excuse. You may very well be adept at pushing this particular person's buttons. However, it's on them to know how to deal with that without becoming in any way abusive.

What is scary to me is that I just lucked out when I met my husband. He's the opposite of abusive. But I was just lucky. I could've just kept going, meeting asshole after asshole. It was actually being with someone who didn't scream in my face, so close he was spitting, that opened my eyes to normal and not normal. He didn't call me a "Special Aunt" or "C-U-Next-Tuesday" (whichever way you understand it). He didn't throw and break things. I was able to learn that none of that is normal. NOT everyone acts like that. Had I not met him though, I could've just kept the pattern going and not learned anything. And that, is the problem. That is how you have people knowing things aren't "great" but that don't know it's actually abuse. That it IS enough to warrant leaving. Even with kids. Even with embarrassment. Or the perception that it will be embarrassing.

Plenty of people have been taught- You just stay together for the kids. Kids are better off in a two-parent home than with a single parent and of divorce. I will never forget an older woman on one of my message boards who used to say that all the time. That there are very few reasons that should be grounds for divorce. That in almost all cases, staying together was the best option- happy or not. That you decide to get married and have kids, then your happiness isn't a priority anymore. That just ISN'T true. Kids thrive in a healthy environment. Together, single, or some other configuration, all it needs to be is emotionally healthy. It isn't emotionally healthy when mom and dad are screaming all the time. When someone is constantly cursing at the other or all of you. When kids are seeing their parent be belittled, yelled at, or being hit, pushed, and/or knocked around.

I know it sounds like it should be common sense but it isn't. It isn't even about common sense. The psyche of abuse is so complicated. I can't even begin to delve into all the whys when someone seems to just "accept" abuse. When they stay. What I do wish is for all the lives lost to domestic violence MEAN something. They will mean something if even just one person gets the courage to leave a situation that is abusive in any way. I want to make sure it's said out and loud that you don't have to have visible bruises and broken bones to be abused. You don't have to suffer being unhappy, unloved, unappreciated. And you certainly don't have to live with verbal, emotional and physical abuse.

It's a helpless feeling when you're on the other end and you know someone is being abused in any way. Feeling like there is nothing you can do. The truth is, there really isn't much you can do. You can't force an adult to leave their marriage. You CAN talk, listen, and try to get them to go, but short of kidnapping, they have to come to it on their own. Just be there and try not to just write them off. Just let them know that there is no pressure and you're there whenever they need you. It's all you can do. Make sure they are aware of all the resources available.

Lastly, for those who are questioning or know they're being abused- There is help. THERE IS HELP. Even if you think it's hopeless, that he'll find you, that you won't be able to get away. It isn't true. I once knew someone who was told repeatedly over many years that she'd be left with no money, no home, he'd take her kids, he'd ruin her life. No one has that much power. She could've rolled the dice and taken her chances. She never did and never felt the freedom of happiness. She never got to live a life with the kind of love she deserved.

There. Is. Always. Help. Trust someone. Trust yourself. If you're not sure if you're being abused, call a hotline and talk about it. You're worth more.

Resources for Domestic Abuse:





Go Fund Me site for Christine: http://www.gofundme.com/forchristine

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Early Gift

 I've written about Melinmade sweater coats a few times already. But y'all know how I am when I love something. I loved all her coats but there wasn't one that really STRUCK me that I felt I HAD to have for me. I'd think, "I like it a lot, but what else does she have...". If I got one, I wanted to KNOW I got The ONE.

I'd corresponded with Melinda a few time and mentioned I'd like something with burgundy and blues. Just no tan, brown or beige of any kind.

She messaged me a week or so ago and said she made one, with me in mind, in my size, and if I could, to come take a look when she was showing in Wayne, this past Sunday. She wanted me to come see, try it on, and then if I wasn't going to take it, she wanted to be able to put it out for sale early in the show.

I went to Wayne. The coat is now MINE. I love it. It's perfect. I didn't know exactly what I was thinking when I was trying to dream up what would be the perfect one, but when I saw this one- I knew. It's ALL my colors. I can wear it with any of my casual or nicer boots and pretty much my whole closet would match.

It's super warm- wool and cashmere, it has two pockets and I love the button and tie closure. Though, I think my favorite part is the thumb holes like you'd find on running/active gear. Or the hood- WHO could forget the HOOD. The bottom is really swingy too. I feel like a medieval princess when I'm wearing it. Princess Buttercup, as you wish.

Thank you Melinmade! I love my new coat. It's keeping me warm at work too. It's so unique- who wants something everyone else has?  I love knowing I'll never see another person wearing the exact same one. I've gotten a ton of compliments on it already.

And hey- boutique owners- she needs to be in your stores. So get on that.



Monday, December 15, 2014

Creativity & Cocktails 2015

Who wouldn't want to drink and create something? If you haven't tried this out- you should. Girls night out, moms night out...or date night!

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Play Space

I have a few things brewing for blog entries, but I just can't write something more "serious" right now. It kind of seems weird to go from the last entry to...just regular stuff, but I am low on time these past few days so, "light fare" it is until I can get to anything else.

I just got this email today- I know with the holidays coming up and schools closing for break, a lot of you, especially with the two year old and under set, you're wondering what the heck you're going to do with all your down time. So here's what the Aardvarks have going on around here-

Happy Holidays!!

Most fall semester classes have finished by now, but we wanted to update you on holiday hours for the playspace over at the Superdome in Waldwick. We will be open during the entire holiday break! We'll be closed only on Christmas Eve & Day, 12/24 & 12/25, and New Years Eve & Day, 12/31 & 1/1.

Although we were initially open only to enrolled families, the playspace is now open to the public! Monthly unlimited memberships are available for $45 for all families! Membership must be completed through our registration system here: http://app.mainstreetsites.com/dmn2001/register.aspx?cls=309065 . Single visits are $12, and may be purchased at the play space.

We are also extending Monday evening hours to 6pm due to parent requests. We are considering extending Wednesday evening hours to 6pm as well, please let us know if that is something your family might be interested in!

We wish you and your families a beautiful holiday season! We'll see ya' soon!
Cindy & Sean
A Hum Music, LLC


A Hum Music PLAY!
HoursMonday 9:30am-6pm 
Tuesday 9:30am-5pm
Wednesday 9:30am-5pmThursday 9:30am-5pmFriday 9:30am-3pm Saturday 9:30am-3pm
Membership for all families is $45/month. Sibling memberships are $15/month.

Individual visits for current and former students/guests of members are $12, and may be purchased in person.

Registration is available through our registration system by clicking HERE.
So what is this playspace?

It's a creative play room for your child, where she or he can draw, pretend, play, tumble, and more; and where you can enjoy some time with your child and your friends. 

There are two chalk walls where kids can create... There are soft blocks, a train table, and a kitchen where kids can pretend... There are tumble mats and a soft slide where kids can explore and move...

Play before class, after class… on a cold day, or a rainy day. Use the space for playdates and playgroups, or for a place to play when your older child is at a sports clinic or dance class. It’s for you and your family to enjoy!

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Like Lightning Striking

Believe it or not, I have a lot of drafts of posts never made public. I actually have a hard time with certain topics, but ones that are different from other people's "difficult" topics. I do put out personal feelings but what I do put out there, other people would probably consider "private" and to me, it's just not. I've always been a kind of enigma in that way. Anyone that really knows me gets that. Like, being a talker, being very open, but in instances you'd think I'd want to talk ad nauseum, I become stoic almost.

I've typed and deleted more in the past twenty hours or so than I have, ever. I just don't even know what is appropriate to say. But I'm going to try. Because while money can't take away pain or loss, it is a reality that when tragedy happens, it's a lot easier to cope when you have the breathing room of not having to worry about finances. If everyone was allowed the time, space, whatever, to grieve because they didn't have to stress about bills, childcare, work, I think we'd be much more emotionally healthy as a society. Most people have no luxury to grieve whatsoever because the financials are always looming on the horizon.

Yesterday, Marie Gemmell was just home, on maternity leave, snuggling in bed with her two boys, ages one month and three years. Watching a movie like she'd promised Cole, the three year old. The unthinkable happened and piece of an AIRPLANE sliced through her home. All three of them passed away while her husband was at work and her daughter at elementary school. Just thinking of her husband and daughter and how her daughter had to even be told of this is vomit inducing.

When something this freakish happens, it seems somehow more surreal. Because she was home, where she was "supposed" to be. The odds of this type of accident happening from her perspective is slim to none. There is no rationale here. We all know on some level that any time we leave the house, it's possible for something bad to happen. We don't hole up in our homes though-- we go out and just do our thing. But if a drunk driver runs someone down, there's a concrete reason, and it happens so often, it's not as shocking. There's a clear culprit too. Someone to direct hate and anger. If someone gets shot, it's the shooter and the guns. At this point, that also happens so often, people know it happens. Even cancer, while horrific, is something that you're almost expected to know someone you know is going to end up with. But this? It just doesn't make any sense. People feel the need to make some sense out of tragedy, yet I can't imagine how anyone is going to make sense of this one. She. Was. Home. It wasn't a fire of faulty wiring or home invasion. It was purely logistical, extremely bad luck. How do you rationalize that? Everyone's life bubble just burst with this news. Because it could've been anyone. There was no preparation, no safeguarding, nothing to be done in prevention. Just a worst nightmare come true.

I "knew" Marie for around nine years. I put the word knew in quotes because we were internet friends. We were on a message board together. Most people don't understand message boards. All of us who pretty much live on message boards pretty much have the common denominator of "real life" friends and family not understanding message boards. That's kind of the beauty of it. We're the one person in our circles on them, even if we've tried to explain how awesome the community of these boards are. People not into them just don't get it. They goof, they think we're crazy to share personal information with strangers, they just aren't interested. Because of that, we have a safe space to just shoot the mundane all day and night.

We talk about what we're having for dinner, what toys to get our kids for the holidays, where to send them to camp, debating the merits & necessities of camp. Kids extracurricular activities, struggles with their friends, our friends, and co-irkers. Our crazy in-laws, our dysfunctional families. Dilemmas at work, problems with customer service, and pop culture. We've been together through planning weddings, getting married, having kids, getting cheated on, lied to, separated, divorced, dating again, remarriage, step-parenting, co-parenting, home renting, home buying, bankruptcy, loss of children, parents, siblings, and friends. Daily WWYD situations. Petty and serious vents. We debate, advise, argue, bitch & judge. There for hugs, hair-pets, and a dose of reality. Everything.

The people closest to me in real life don't know my daily customer stories, what I'm having for lunch, my beauty maintenance, something funny my kid said, or some embarrassing whatever that's happened. It's often minutiae that gets discussed in our group and then forgotten. But our group knows. Just because it's like an all day party-line. A virtual sorority. We don't have to meet in person or hang out all the time to be friends. Anyone that doesn't understand how we can all be friends without doing those things doesn't know what friendship actually means. By that rationale then, I'm not "really" friends with anyone I consider a friend, since I hardly have time to see anyone. I don't talk on the phone either, which means I "speak" to these internet friends more than I speak to anyone.

People come and go. Some are regulars, some are lurkers. Some are very open, some more private. Some won't even admit to people in their real life that they're part of a message board. Let alone for 10+ years. Sometimes we practically eat our own, so to speak. We're all of different backgrounds, ethnicities, socioeconomic levels, religions, and just different walks of life. But there are two things keep all of us connected, and what made old guard posters come back in droves yesterday, last night and today. One, NJ is somehow woven into the fabric of each of us. Started out here, stopped here along the way, or ended up here. The other thing is that when one of us gets knocked down or out, the rest of us come together like a small army. To raise money, make meals, gather supplies, give gifts- anything that can be done. That is what makes me proud to be a part of something like a "message board". Something that seems like a silly distraction to most.

Our whole board is in mourning, yet it's weird to accept personal condolences. Because it almost feels fraudulent. You don't want to be a tragedy whore in times like this. Everyone knows and/or has one or a few of those in their life. Those people who make every tragedy, every loss, about them somehow. To those close to Marie in real life, they may not have even known much or anything about her online life. They may be wondering who the hell all of us are that seem to know a lot about her and who are receiving words of condolence. I don't want to speak for anyone, but I feel comfortable saying that I hope they understand that she was one of our people and it's acceptance on behalf of our tight little long-time circle of quirky, unique, loving, internet family. Whether we just posted with her, commented on Facebook, saw her in person, or just knew her as a fellow poster but had little interaction, she was part of us. Part of us and a contributor for a LONG time.

So stop asking any and all of us, "Did you actually ever meet her in person?" as if our bond is somehow less if we didn't. It's insulting.

Marie was a funny, sweet woman. She was a loving mother, wife and friend. She had a smile like a light. If a non-regular on our board isn't sure if they remember her or doesn't remember her well, it's because she wasn't a pot stirrer, she wasn't catty, and she didn't insert herself into drama. She was just someone we knew as a devoted mom and wife who loved to talk about her kids. And that's how she will be remembered by our group, fondly and with love.

If anyone wants to donate money, there are two donations sites up that I know of set up for her husband and daughter. While their names are in the media, I'm not using them just because I don't want to add to any media scrutiny. There have been many mistakes in their "reporting", in quotes because apparently fact checking isn't a large portion of the job these days. So if false information is what keeps someone from asking intrusive questions, then so be it. False information it is.

RIP Marie and your two sweet little boys. You will be missed and never forgotten. Our crew will do our part to make sure your little girl knows how much you loved her.



Monday, December 8, 2014

Art News

I saved up some art class posts for a few reasons. I didn't want to bore anyone with strictly art posts AND I was having trouble with my photos from my iPhone. I have the 5s and for whatever reason, it was not syncing my photos. I tried removing the Facebook app and re-downloading it and it worked once, then it didn't work, then it worked again but days later. It was a real pain. I'm on an upswing right now where they are all syncing, and in a timely fashion, but who knows how long that will last. I can write other blogs without photos but not the art ones! I could get them on here in other ways but it's ridiculously time consuming and annoying. But now I have them all. Lucky you!

This post is going to be pretty picture heavy. Just FYI.

I *think* these are weeks 11, 12 & 13.

Week 11: Cityscapes

The kids were doing "cityscapes". They were supposed to do their canvas in watercolors and then draw a city or elements of a city on top of the watercolors. The older kids had it down pat but the 5-7 year olds got a little overzealous with the water in watercolor. Their canvases were too wet to draw on in the time they had. So they left their canvases to dry while they drew their "city" on another paper. I actually took E's and made the watercolor page the "mat" at home. E chose the Eiffel Tower. I was super impressed with his drawing job of it. The girls in his room did a really great job too.

Finished products


Week 12: Still Life

There was a spread of fruit out for the kids to look at and decide how they want to do their still life. They were going to draw and then use cray-pas and paint. I thought they did an amazing job. It's really cool to see the growth of all the kids from week to week.


Week 13: Peacock
The kids had to pick a peacock they liked from the photos of paintings hung on the wall. E picked a different one than I thought he would. They drew it, then used cray-pas, then watercolor paints over the cray-pas. It was really cool. I caught E in the middle so I got to see it in a few stages. We're framing the peacock.


There are always other things going on at The Drawing Room when I'm there for E's class. Sometimes there is a Mommy & Me class next door and there is usually high school students working on their portfolios. So these are some pics of both. In Mommy & Me, they were doing

Mommy & Me
clay pizza. 
Clay pizza
Christine & her student

Drawing Room

Sunday, December 7, 2014

Eight Crazy Nights

Last year was the first menorah lighting in Ridgewood. I wasn't sure it would actually happen. That night, last year, was raining and freezing, but it was awesome. My friend Cohen and crew worked tirelessly for what seemed like forever, to get this done and now it's an annual event. An event I wouldn't miss even if it was raining, sleeting, and freezing again. Although, I'm really hoping that isn't the case. But like I said- I'd still be there.

So mark your calendars and join in the fun!

Friday, December 5, 2014

Hot Dish

I almost never take pictures of food. I'm not sure why people do. Unless they write a food blog, they're a food critic, or they're trying to cook and need it for some kind of reference. I felt compelled to take a photo of this seafood salad because it was so perfect. It looked like it was modeling for Bon Appetit. Or something else that would Italian. I would never eat seafood salad either, because I'm weird and picky. But I almost wanted to try that salad because it looked so fresh. It was my husband's food, by the way. I didn't just go up to a random table and ask for their dinner's autograph and a selfie. I was just looking at it and thinking how pretty it looked.

We had a gift certificate that was expiring the next day for RoCCa in Glen Rock. I was able to get a table on Thursday and a babysitter. I like to go there on Thursdays because they do the four course pasta tasting menu with dessert for $28.95. It's a really good deal. You think these small plates aren't going to be filling enough but they really are. We opted to get salads too, just because we had a gift certificate for $50 and I was starving. I got a house salad with the best balsamic I've ever had.

Every Thursday is a different set of pastas. As a picky eater, I advise people NOT to read the descriptions of the pasta plates. If I was to pick them apart, I could find something I think I don't like in pretty much everything. Yet, I've done this tasting almost every time I've been there and there has yet to be a course I really despised. Or even disliked. Of course, I like some more than others, but there hasn't been anything I couldn't eat. I read the descriptions AFTER I eat it. The tomatoes in one of the plates this time were just so amazing. I'm big on tomatoes but there are a lot of bad tomatoes out there.

The dessert this time was a mixed berry/ricotta thing in a champagne glass with a lady finger. The presentation was great. B LOVED it. He said- "This is awesome". For me, it wasn't really my thing, but I still can't say it was bad. I'm just more of a cake person. I should've take a picture of that though because it was really pretty. And the berry puree in there was good. I think I'm just not that into ricotta. I like it in a zeppole because the consistency isn't very ricotta-like in that but just there, not-so-much.

However, I do love the fact that they do add in a dessert. That's really reasonable price for what you're getting. The pasty plates are presented beautifully too. It definitely feels very high-end. We just don't get there enough. It's kid-friendly- they put paper on the table and don't mind if it's colored on. They do a Kids Eat Free Sunday dinner too. But if we're going to go there to enjoy a meal like that, we're not bringing our almost six year old. He's not going to eat and it's just going to be a waste. But it's one of those places that when someone asks for a really good meal, in a "nicer" restaurant, it's always my first recommendation. We've lived in Glen Rock since 2006 and have never had a bad meal there. I'm always impressed when the food tastes as good as it looks.

It's also BYOB and you can make reservations online, on their website via Open Table. And you want to make a reservation. People were turned away last night. The whole room was full.

203 Rock Rd
Glen Rock, NJ 07452
(201) 670-4945

Thursday, December 4, 2014

Famous Neighbors

I came out of my house to go to work today and there was a copy of today's Bergen Record on my windshield. It had a note on it that said- "It's nice to have famous neighbors". I opened it and there was a big photo of B doing his thing on page three of their special Homescape section. Thank you neighbors (Steve & Nandy) for the heads-up!

It's a great article. Thanks Luiza Grunbaum! The only thing I would like to correct is that we DO actually tell people what kind of lighting fixture(s) and lamps to put in their home. We were on a "house call" last night actually, helping someone decide on a chandelier we're going to custom make for them. We have to take our five year old with us, but we surely come to people's homes to survey the space and come up with a great design for their room. Just wanted to throw that out there. And there is a big reason WHY we go and it isn't just because we want to sell a chandelier.

This woman's home was really cool. She has eclectic taste and she had a lot of really great, interesting pieces in her home. We instantly got a warm feeling upon entering her house. She even has nice lamps. Except the SHADES on those lamps were awful. They made the lamps not really fit with the rest of the décor. And make no mistake, these are expensive lamps. "Name" lamps. She had no idea how bad the shades are. Why did she have no idea? Because "those are expensive lamps by well-regarded designers". It was just assumed they "know what they're doing". She loves the lamps but was never sold on the shades. She just didn't trust her own instincts. I'd say that's most people. They just figure they must be wrong if this is what XYZ company decided what was best.

XYZ company doesn't really CARE what shade goes on the lamp. I guess they count on their name and the base being the main sellable features. What people need to understand is that just because it comes together doesn't mean it's the best or most attractive or well made option. It's what was cost effective to put on it. There are very FEW lamp companies that actually put a shade on of the same caliber as the lamp base. They just don't. We know this because we used to make the shades for many lamp companies, many years ago. Until they figured out they could send our stuff to China and knock it off. Cheaper and less well-made, but the bottom line always wins out in mass production. However, we all know the difference between a knock off and the real thing, don't we?

When we pointed out that you can see the bulb through the one shade, on the most expensive lamp, the second one's shade frame was crooked and too small overall, and the last was just too big, not even the right shape and made of plastic, she just handed us all the lamps and told us we can fix it all. When we're done, they're going to look spectacular AND fit much better into her décor.

So that's why I'm pointing out that we do "house calls". A designer might know best what to do with other parts of your home, but WE know what to do when it comes to lighting.

Shades of Soho
175 Rock Road (CVS Shopping Plaza)
Glen Rock, NJ 07452

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Science Tree

 I don't have a Christmas tree. That's a whole other long story but I don't and we're not going to have one. But I do like to look at them. I always marvel at how "organized" or themed some trees are and look as professional as in a display. I had a tree as a kid and we just sort of put up the same ornaments year after year in any haphazard way. Then we threw some tinsel on it and called it a day. I kind of wish I still had those 1970's ornaments. They were pretty ugly but just so kitchy 70's.

I realize that I like a tree theme and the more unique, the better. I'd never be able to execute it though. My attention deficit would be fighting with my OCD. I need balance but trying to eye up that tree and get the stuff all in the correct, balanced place would just take too much time, attention, and energy. None of which I am or have in a large supply.

I do have two small trees outside that B has relented on decorating so we have blue and silver balls on them. It took me quite awhile, in the cold, with E shadowing me, and some broken balls. And they aren't even fully even. In my defense, the trees are last year's trees and we're lucky they're still alive. They have some dead spots and overgrown spots so it would've been impossible to make them look more identical or balanced. I just try not to look at them that closely.

My friend's husband Seth sells these Glassic gifts. Normally, they're just to have- thermometers and such. But they also make Christmas ornaments of the larger items they sell. He asked me if I wanted to have a box of the five ornaments because I have the regular versions at home. I jumped at his offer, even sans tree. Why? Because they look cool. I don't need a tree for them. They already found a home in my store hanging from the metal shelving next to my desk. I have the bigger one of the thermometer with all the colors that I LOVE. I've wanted one since one of my sorority sisters had one in her room.

Imagine a whole "scientific" tree? I think that would make the most interesting tree, ever. Definitely not something you see everyday but if you have a budding or working scientist in your house, it would surely express their personality.

One of those balls is supposed to have colored liquid in it
 but I'm at work with these, writing this.
If you're looking for a fun, more interesting gift for someone into science or being the next Sam Champion, check these out. Or if you just want to change up the theme of your own tree, here's a fresh idea.


Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Talent On the Big Stage

Fall Showcase at Kraine Theater on the Lower East Side

It's about that time again. Winter semester is starting up again at the end of January for Actors Technique NYC. I know, I know- "the city?!" Yes. In NYC. On Saturdays or Sundays. I swear to you- I leave my house at 11:30a, I stop for bagels and I get there early for what was previously a 12:30p class. Now it's 12p-1p, which works much better for me, actually. It's pretty much right outside the Lincoln Tunnel (coming from NJ). There is an Alliance Parking Garage right down the street on 36th, which I pay ahead of time. Twenty-one dollars for ten hours of parking. Paying ahead I can decide to leave my car and do other fun things in the city to make a day of it. In the spring and fall, sometimes we would go to Central Park after class or get a bite to eat. It's not hard to get to and for whatever reason, it's an easy ride in on either Saturday or Sunday at that time.

E really enjoys his class and I feel he's gotten a lot out of it. He's five years old. He learned a monologue and he's found that he's really good at memorization, even just from being fed lines- versus actually reading, which he can't do. Yet. They put him on camera numerous times where he gets to watch himself back. From doing that, he is mindful of fidgeting or not making eye contact. If nothing else, these are great life skills to learn at his age. His confidence is also at an all time high from being able to get up in front of a room of teenagers, then a theater full of parents, industry, teens, tweens and peers and do an awesome job showcasing all he's learned.

I definitely feel that taking this class, having meeting with agents and managers, and from being on camera, he's gained a maturity he wouldn't have otherwise.

Sometimes it's been a three-kid class and sometimes there have been around eight. You can sign up for a few classes or a whole semester. You can pay ahead of time or on a payment plan. It's very flexible. If your kid wants to act or you want to see if it's something they'd like- this is the place to do it. They get access to agents and managers weekly. That's priceless in and of itself.

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


image Jan 31, 12:00 PM
Watch them On-Stage in our final Showcase Day!

9-Week Showcase Options or 6-Week Tots Intensives

Saturdays, January 31st - March 28th, Noon - 1:00pm
Sundays, February 1st - March 29th, Noon - 1:00pm

AUDITS ARE FREE, BUT NON-PARTICIPATORY. They give the parent and child an idea of whether this class is for them. Should you want your child to participate in the hour, we respectfully request $60 in advance, as we need to be conscious of our youngest who have paid for the same class and are preparing to move up to the Kids Program and end of term showcases. Thank you in advance.

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.

9-Week Registration: $495 ($55 per class)
6-Week Intensives: $345 (Please call ATNY or phone registration).
1-Class: $60

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!

Full Program
Cost: $495
Member Cost: $446
Single Class

Cost: $60
Member Cost: $54

This semester's small class at the Showcase