May 28, 2015 § Leave a comment
This past weekend, my husband, the kiddo and I explored a cool public art exhibit that’s going in in Central Park right now. Presented in conjunction with Creative Time, the exhibit is called Drifting in Daylight (all the info if you click on that link). It’s based in the northern parts of Central Park and it happens Friday and Saturday afternoons through June 20th.
We had a great time visiting Spencer Finch‘s ice cream truck and watching a brass sextet perform on a boat on the Harlem Meer. The former was fully delightful and delicious while the latter was lovely to behold and surprisingly moving.
Days later, my son asked his babysitter “Do you know Spencer Finch? He has an art thing. You should go. There’s ice cream! You have to wait in line. You should go.” That and the fact that he wanted to stay for three performances by the sextet make me fairly confident that he liked it too. Recommended for families.
We’d started the day with a visit to the Natural History Museum, so by the time we made it up to the Meer, the boy was exhausted and it was time to head home to walk the dog, but we hope to go back to see the rest of the pieces which include visual art as well as dance and performance pieces.
Have you seen this exhibit? What did you think?
May 27, 2015 § Leave a comment
I’m still trying to get a handle on family dinner. It’s kind of like a mechanical bull for me: the whole thing feels always on the brink of disaster, but somehow I manage to hold on. And, to me, holding on – however tenuously – is worth it. I always feel better – physically and emotionally – when I’ve cooked for my family and we’ve had a meal together.
The challenges are that the dinner must be:
- ready in 45 minutes or less. My husband comes home at 5:30 to spend time with the kiddo while I cook and with a 7:00 bed time, I like to have dinner on the table by 6:20)
- semi-three-year-old friendly. We want to keep exposing him to new foods, but anything too completely foreign and/or spicy just means he won’t eat dinner. We’re working up to those . . .
Some weeks are more inspired than others and I’m in the process of compiling a list of go-to dinners to reduce my incidences of 4:00 panic because those moments are inevitably followed by pasta. (This New Yorker Cartoon comes to mind at least every other day.) In the meantime, I wanted to share my favorite and easiest dinner: Fancy Eggs on Toast.
Here’s how it goes:
- Get your water boiling.
- Start cooking your vegetables. I usually like to do some greens (most recently we were using up some spinach) as well as some mushrooms. I sautéed the mushrooms first, pulled them out when they were done, and use the same pan for the spinach.
- Slice some really nice bread (I buy whole wheat multi-grain loaves that we use for everything – morning toast, sandwiches, this – from our local bakery. I keep them un-sliced which allows me to make thinner/easier to eat sandwiches for the kiddo and then cut thicker slices for something like this.) Maybe brush it with a little olive oil if you want. Put the bread (one slice for each person) on a baking sheet under the broiler for 2-3 minutes, flip it over and do the other side (which will take a bit less time). When you pull them out, consider rubbing each piece with the cut side of a halved clove of garlic. Why not?
- Cook some Seven Minute Eggs. OR some poached eggs. OR some fried eggs (these do not require boiled water, so that can be a plus). Your call. I like the Seven Minute Eggs because they require the least hands-on attention which means if I start the whole process by getting the water boiling, I can put the eggs in and keep cooking and everything ends up ready at more or less the same time, which is good because the major flaw of this dinner is that it gets cold pretty quickly (and it’s tough to warm plates in the oven when you want to be using the broiler).
- Top it with salt and pepper. Maybe grate a little parmesan or pecorino on top for fun . . . ? You do you.
And that’s it. Even when I went through a dark phase of accidentally overcooking eggs that were meant to be soft-boiled, this dinner was delicious and filling and pretty healthy in the scheme of things (and NOT pasta!). It’s not rocket science, nor is it particularly surprising or innovative and I think that’s the genius of this dinner: it’s flexible, it’s relatively quick and it’s reliably delicious.
May 14, 2015 § Leave a comment
We had the most beautiful Mother’s Day!
Have you been to Storm King? It’s an open-air museum full of mostly-but-not-only large-scale modern sculptures, situated beautifully on a large campus about an hour outside of NYC. You can bring a picninc. You can rent bikes to toodle around. It’s gorgeous AND it’s a great place to go with young kids who can run and make noise and explore and enjoy nature as well as taking in the art. Here are some photos to give you a sense:
The open space, the woods at the borders, the sun, the smell of the air all combined to evoke so many happy memories of my back yard, summer camp at Cornell, time in England, time at Vassar, biking in France with my husband. The biggest gift was how it all combined to make me (allow me?) to feel more expansive, happy and optimistic than I have in a really long time.
I don’t imagine that Storm King will provide such a profoundly joyful experience for everyone as it does for me, but I do encourage you to go for a visit if you have the chance.
May 7, 2015 § 1 Comment
Pardon my French, but things around here might accurately be described as a Shitstorm of late. Look, I’m not complaining. I mean, privately, sure, but that’s not what this is. Really, I’m just trying to convey to you some context. The context is this: there’s been a lot going on and none of it has been going smoothly. I could go into details but . . . why don’t you just trust me on this one? Great.
Okay. So, that’s the context.
Here’s what happened: I was at the playground with the kiddo after school. It has become a thing, now that the weather is nicer that, after school, many of the kids in his class head to this one playground. So we were there, and the caretaker of one of his classmates struck up a conversation with me that went something like this:
Her: So do you have a nanny too?
Me: No. We have some babysitting – there are two ladies who come, between them, three afternoons a week for a few hours – otherwise it’s me.
Her: Oh, that’s nice. It’s important to have some “you” time.
Me: (beat) It’s nice to get anything done.
Her: (necessarily walking away to continue caring for her charge) Yeah!
I know she didn’t mean anything in particular. She’s a young woman with no children of her own. I’m not mad at her. But (here comes the rant . . .) I am mad at this prevailing idea of “me” time for moms:
- If I were working at a regular 9-5 salaried job, no one would call it “me” time. But, the reason we have any regular babysitting is so that I can do what I consider my work: writing, producing, and cultivating my acting career.
- “Me” time makes it sound like I’m off at the spa. Good lord, I WISH I was off at the spa. Nope. Just doggedly pursuing my dreams.
- “Me” time, just in its verbiage, sounds selfish. Maybe I think that having my son spend time with some carefully-curated caregivers (instead of spending just about all day, every day with me) is a good parenting choice. Additionally, maybe I think modeling self-respect, work ethic, and passion for my career is also a good parenting move. (Hint: I do. I do think those things.)
- I try pretty hard to give my kid my full attention when we’re together. Sure, I drag him to the grocery store and the post office, but those are things we can fruitfully do together. Still, there are things that need to be done – chores, if you will – that involve a telephone or a computer. As much as possible, I choose to do these things when I’m not taking care of my child, because I don’t want to ignore him. So I save them for – you guessed it – my “me” time. (Ahhh, nothing like kicking back and calling customer service . . .)
- You know what? Sometimes I do go get a pedicure or go shopping or go to the gym, but if I didn’t, I would frighten strangers on the street so, I’m not sure those things are fully optional. You know what else? I don’t deserve to walk around feeling crappy about myself (no one does), and some basic maintenance is part of that.
In conclusion: we parents are an exhausted and sensitive lot. We artists (among others, to be sure) are likewise sensitive about the ways in which our efforts and output are casually and systemically devalued (separate rant). Almost everyone has more going on that meets the eye. There is no doubt that I have stepped in it a zillion times the way this babysitter did with me, and will a zillion more. Nevertheless, the more Shitstorms I survive the more I try to speak with sensitivity and support for my fellow humans; I think this is a sort of sensitivity that can help us breed empathy within ourselves.
Also: Your whole life is “me” time, young lady!