Enough About The Kids, Let’s Get Coffee!

So it’s the last day of school, the children stream out all hot and sticky and relieved to have long, lazing weeks ahead. We, their mothers, dig deep in their backpacks for the report card with that crucial number scrawled at the bottom: the number of the class our children will enter the following school year.

And then it begins: “What class did you get? Who else is in there? Who is teaching it?  Are they good, bad? What’s the scoop?.”  This goes on out front of the school and carries on through the stroll to the after-school hangout, the park, and then via email in the hours long after backpacks have been emptied and schedules put aside for a few months.

If you’re lucky, a crafty parent will gather all the class info and post it in a spreadsheet for everyone to peruse and add to. It’s in our natures I guess to want to know it all, right away. Who wants to walk into class in September and be surprised?

Do the kids care too? Not so much.

But we the parents, from the over-hyped-up helicopters to chilled out, work it out yourself parenters do care who our children proceed with, and who will lead them. We care for them, and for ourselves.

What adults will be tossed into the class boat with us for 180 days; who will we work alongside to fund-raise and feed and entertain our kids? Never mind all those hours spent sitting on a park bench watching little ones play, or killing time when they are dropped at a birthday party, or grabbing a quick meal before a school function.

At the end of the day, what really matters is that our children have great teachers and at least one buddy to help them adjust to the next year. But for the parents, it’s social too. I am as guilty as anyone of wanting to hang with my posse of fun mamas and dads; sipping wine at birthday party picnics, and chatting about life beyond our children, because we like each other – not because we have nothing else to say.

Having had some really terrific classes the past few years, I can vouch for how much it helps when the parents gel. It probably helps the teachers too when there is a cohesive parent group, and if the parents and teachers are happy, shouldn’t it follow that the children will benefit?

Afterall, it’s all about the children. Isn’t it? And if anyone’s wondering:  WE are in 2-3 and K2 next year!

Bagging Dinner in Union Square

There is one kind of shopping I really love: strolling around the farmers’ market early in the morning, before the crowds and the before the hot sun saps the freshness from the produce and me. It was a rare treat today to be in Union Square with an hour to kill, and an empty bag to fill with vegetables and fruits.

I counted at least seven types of radishes from long white, to  French breakfast and all sorts in between; and at least as many different types of carrots and squash and garlic, from big, fresh bunches of bulbs to spindly scapes and tiny individual shoots.

 I grabbed a bit of everything, as well as baby fennel, cucumbers and peaches and will decide what to do with it later: though usually I just lay it all out and the children and I feast as is.

avocado squash

My son will devour the tiny, perfect peaches that send juice running down your arm with the first bite. And I think I will saute the medley of squash: long and round yellow, long pale green, and avocado squash (my new favorite) with some of the fresh garlic shoots and a slurp of olive oil.

There are markets all around the city now, but Union Square is my pick, though it does get crazy busy, especially with the neighborhood restaurants swooping early for the choice produce. For a list of  farmers’ markets and their days of operation, check here.

dinner tonight?

Aren’t Yuppies Just Grown-Up Hipsters Anyway?

Spotted On A Construction Site


This snippet of graffiti on some construction to the Area Yoga building on Court Street got me thinking: Aren’t yuppies just hipsters all grown up? Not necessarily older, but in a different phase of life.

Yuppies are by definition young; so are hipsters. Both are urban and both have professions of some form, lawyer or book publisher perhaps VS indie rocker or graphic artist. Hipsters like arts and pop culture, as do yuppies who, to go with the sterotype, typically spend plenty of money on cool stuff … so isn’t it more about a state of mind. Yuppies are settling down, while hipsters are hooking up; yuppies are having babies, while hipsters just have sex.

Maybe I’m missing something in the call for “Yuppies Out: Hipsters In.”  To be sure, these could have come from different scribes, but it seemed an amusing juxtaposition, especially given the makeup of the neighborhood – old-timers who grew up here mixed with Manhattan transplants in search of more space to push a stroller and perhaps a million-dollar brownstone to store it in, and the singletons in creative fields who start work sometime after 10am, once they snarkily dodge the strollers.

Coincidentally,  I spied the graffiti from across the street only because I noticed that upscale children’s store Ola Baby  is going out of business.

Yep, breeders take note; there is a closing sign on the window and a 50-70 percent off sale in the meantime. Perhaps we’ll get another organic, fair-trade, pricey coffee shop … or just another boarded up building.

Ola Baby is at 315 Court Street, between Degraw and Sackett Streets.

To Bare Old Scars

It’s summer again and time to unwrap the long sleeves and high necks and reveal skin. I am not averse to baring skin  – but with it come a bevy of stares and questions. Already, children in my daughter’s pre-k class are pointing at the long red scar that dissects my chest and asking what it is.

A scar, I say, or a boo boo that is healing. They look uneasy at the response, I guess because that boo boo is pretty red and jagged. It begins just below my collarbones with a nubbly mass that has formed a keloid and continues down my chest, resembling exactly what it is: a knife cut. To top it off and make it even more sensitive, the keloid has formed on top of a bump, which is a cluster of wires used to fuse my bones post surgery.

The scar is almost four years old now, and the result of emergency open-heart surgery to remove an aortic aneurysm and replace a faulty heart valve with a mechanical one. Sadly, I found out the hard way, that I am prone to keloid scars, which are not only unattractive to look at but incredibly sensitive to touch.

There are days when my 5 year-old jumps on me, thrusting her head at my chest in loving play, and I shriek in agony as she swipes my scar. Or I bump it as I open a drawer or remove jewelry, and it brings tears to my eyes from the throbbing pain. Even just being exposed to sun can be agonizing as the skin sort of dries and contracts, no matter how much sunblock I smother on it, resulting in a uncomfortable, sunburn-like itch.

Magic Solutions?

Of course, there are things you can do to minimize such scars, I’ve been told repeatedly by well-meaning friends and doctors. So, a few weeks back, I went in search of one of these magic solutions. I made an appointment with a cosmetic dermatologist on Manhattan’s Upper East Side. The doctor came with a great reputation, swanky rooms and a staff of sweet, leggy blondes of indeterminate age. Sitting in the waiting room, you could feel women looking at each other wondering what each was “having done.”

I was assured the good doctor could help me out with all sorts of non-invasive treatments, including lasers and other scar-zapping devices. But nothing is ever so easy. During a consultation (ka-ching), the doctor informed me that there were indeed great solutions for my scar but first we had to deal with the keloid and the only way to do that was to inject cortisone into the swollen, angry-looking mass.

I had this exact procedure once before in 2008 when I was visiting Australia, and it was the most mind-numbingly painful thing I had ever experienced.  After some back and forth though, I agreed to give it another shot (literally!).

The doctor tossed her blonde locks reassuringly and swabbed my scar with liquid nitrogen to help freeze the location and hopefully ease the pain. It didn’t.

Scared + Scarred

I am pretty pain tolerant but the pinch of the needle sliding in and out of the scar had me clawing  the bed, knuckles white and eyes watering until I broke down into full-blown sobbing and begged her to stop. I bore two children with no medication, and this, I told the doctor, was more grueling.

The poor doctor wanted so desperately to help me; and my sobbing unnerved her. I paid my hefty bill and left the offices in a pained daze. As I walked across town toward Central Park to gather my thoughts, I kept wondering why I had put myself through the procedure again knowing how much I loathed it. I tried in vain to ring my husband, fearing that I may just pass out in front of Bergdorf Goodman and be trampled by hoardes of fanny-pack-wearing tourists.

Would I come back in three weeks or so for another treatment, the doctor had asked before I left. She wanted to see how the scar responded and hopefully take another well-intentioned jab at it. Well, three weeks is up and I am in limbo. Admittedly the scar looks a tad better and is not as sore, but can I take another round with a steroid-filled needle?

Walk Towards the (Lime) Light

When I gave up at the DVF sample sale opening day, I headed downtown along Sixth Ave, and checked out the hot new Limelight Marketplace. Inside the 163-year-old  church-turned-nightclub, the shiny new market (mall?)  is a candybox assortment of mostly high-end pop-up stores, with one of the prettiest and probably priciest “food halls” to boot. I picked up a new pair of Havaiana flip-flops at $18 but if it’s Petrossian caviar, Mariebelle chocolates or a bikini wax from J Sisters you’re after, the Limelight Marketplace has it. The marketplace is at 656 Sixth Avenue at 20th Street. It’s open Monday to Saturday 10am to 9pm, and Sundays 11am to 8pm.

Opa! It’s Greek Festival Time Again


It’s that time of the year again when I acknowledge my Greek heritage and schlep the family to the Sts. Constantine and Helen Cathedral in downtown Brooklyn for some fabulous food.

It’s all about the lamb and potatoes, sticky Greek baklava and kataifi and the loukoumades dripping with syrup, made by tireless Greek mothers and grandmothers lurking in our community. They work hard through this festival, feeding masses of Greeks and non-Greeks alike.

Every year, as I am noshing on lamb and missing my own mother and grandmother’s cooking, I vow to go to church more and become a part of Brooklyn’s Greek community. And then another year rolls by and so it goes. Thank goodness for the annual festival to serve as a reminder to me of where I came from – before the Australia and New York parts that is.

Oh, and if the Greek food and dancing doesn’t lure you, there are carnival rides and sideshows to captivate the kids and empty your pockets too.

The festival is at 64 Schermerhorn St. until June 13. It opens weekdays at 11am, and 1pm  Saturday until late, and Sunday 1pm to 4pm.

Lines, Lines + More Lines at DVF Sale

I am not usually one to give up but the lines at the DVF sample sale did me in today.

Queueing along Fifth ...

I was about 15 shoppers away from getting through that hallowed door when the cold (yep it was cold standing in the shade all that time) and the seemingly-endless wait made me farewell the new friends I braved the line with for almost one-and-a-half hours, and head elsewhere.

I arrived right on 9am to find a line stretching along Fifth Ave. and around the corner to about half-way down 28thSt.  There were at least 200 women at that stage, all around size 2-to-4, sipping coffee, trawling the Internet and making phone calls; it was a friendly, if antsy scene as we took bets on how long it would be before we could even see the door. Some half-hour later, I made it from 28th onto the Fifth Ave. line, and then it took another 30 minutes to the front of that queue, at which point a suited young man with one arm in a sling, ushered us forward to the line outside the door. I gave it 30 minutes or so there before calling it a day.

almost there, just one more line ...

I had places to be and children to collect from school. I figured by the time I got through the bag check, looked around and possibly got on another killer line to pay, my children would be en route to a police station with child protection workers!

Will I try again? Maybe. But for now I can report that the sale seemed to be some kind of black hole, people were let in – hundreds and hundreds of them – but they came out in dribs and drabs, and some people never seemed to make it out.

Mind you, pretty much everyone coming out did have a large white bag, so there was some shopping going on. A lot of people were pulling handbags from their shopping, showing that the demand for DVF accessories was alive and well.

I’d love to give you tips on the best time to go, but frankly, I’m not sure that there is a good time. Certainly not first thing in morning when people stop-by on the way to work. And avoid bringing a large bag that will have to be checked, if you want to save time. Someone in line also suggested having cash, to cut the credit card queue.

The sale is at 260 Fifth Ave. between 28th and 29th streets. It continues Wednesday 10am to 8pm, Thursday 10am to 7pm and Friday 9am to 3pm. 

It’s a DVF Wrap! 75%-Off Sample Sale

DVF's Hesta Dress in Sand Palms

I feel like a wrap dress is something everyone should have in the closet: Diane von Furstenburg’s iconic wraps are classic, easy-to-wear and and on sale this week.

Get DVF’s boldly patterned summer styles for up to 75 percent off at the sample sale beginning tomorrow, Tuesday June 8. Signature silk jersey wraps that can take you from work to a wedding, cocktails to dinner, are marked around $150, down from $325. And swim cover-ups, including bright kaftans ideal poolside or at the beach, are $100 from $250.

I’ll be scouring the racks in search of the Hesta dress pictured left, or anything similarly chic. The sale opens to the public from 9am Tuesday to 6.30pm; Wednesday 10am to 8pm, Thursday 10am to 7pm and Friday 9am to 3pm. It’s at 260 Fifth Ave., between 28th and 29th streets.

BKLYN Yard Shuttered

It is bad enough that it is crazy hot and I have been outside at my son’s Field Day since 9.30am, but now I get word that BKLYN Yard is closed for business. As quickly as I fell in love with that oasis on the stinky Gowanus Canal, it is gone.

The folk at Mean Red Productions, say last weekend – which was a bonanza with events including Score! Free Pop-Up Swap and Parked, where some of the city’s hottest food trucks gathered and fed thousands for the holiday weekend – was the finale. The landlord apparently won’t honor or even renegotiate the lease on the Carroll Street property and has told Mean Red to take their four-year vision elsewhere.

The landlord “requested that we take what we have built, and terminate all of our confirmed plans and schedule for BKLYN Yard this summer, ” Mean Read, the production, marketing and promotions company that dreamed up the yard concept, says in a posting on the BKLYN Yard web page.

They may be down, but definitely not out: “Rest assured our renegade spirit and love for pop-up spaces will come alive again this summer — very possibly with the same collaborators and programming you see on our current schedule… And very possibly even better than we had planned before,” says Mean Red.

Meantime, Doug Singer, Eamon Harkin and Justin Carter’s Sunday Best series will continue on at another location, including this Sunday with DJ Koze. To find out where, keep an eye on www.sundaybestnyc.com.

Just when it looked like there was a grassy patch to loll about on through hot summer days … good luck Mean Red and keep us posted …