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South Side Children’s Film Festival

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So. Much. Fun.

If you are living anywhere in the Lehigh Valley of Pennsylvania, and are missing this film festival each year, then you — like we used to be — are missing out! Make sure you mark you calendars as soon as the schedule is released for next year. Because this is a great local event!

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A few of our friends are organizers of/volunteers for this annual event. This year we jumped in to the deep end of the pool with it. When we hear “red carpet event,” we go all out people! All out! I told the bambinos that they could wear whatever they wanted, with the only criteria being that they should “dress like movie stars.” They got way into it. Way into it! Which was way fun. (Note: despite the fact that I was not dressed like a movie star, I somehow got dragged into this photo shoot.)
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The film festival itself was wonderful (great films) and so cute (free popcorn, and sweet little movie treats for sale). The bambinos loved the whole laid-back-yet-Hollywood-esque vibe. I loved that it was right in our neighborhood. Literally just steps from campus. film fest 4film fest flics

This event drew a crowd of kids — a whole bunch of whom are friends from school — to our very own neighborhood — which was super fun for all involved. After the opening night film ended, Braydon and I did our part as unofficial South Side Film Festival Volunteers and walked a group to the campus ice cream store so that their parents — the REAL Volunteers — could clean up kid-less.fountains 2 fountains 1

The next day I took the same group to our house on campus to play and give everyone (the kids and their volunteering parents) a break. Really, just SO.MUCH.FUN! I love these crazy kids!carload playing 2 playing pizza matchy

It was a great couple of days, and I highly recommend this Film Fest to any youngish families in the local vicinity. Keep an eye out for info next spring about the 2016 schedule!film fest 7

First Days of Summer. And ALL the Big Feelings.

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The see-saw photo was chosen for the top of this post on purpose. Read between the lines, folks: literal and figurative see-saw.

So, it is here. The long awaited glorious days of summer are upon us. The bambinos’ last day of school was Wednesday, so we’re officially on summer “vacation.”

Important to note: the quotes around “vacation” (think big, dramatic 2-hands-with-2-fingers-on-each, in-the-air, AIR QUOTES) are just as important as the word they are around. Mamas, can I get an AMEN?! With the first two full days of summer came all the big feelings. Why do I always forget this will happen? Why do we call kids’ break from school for the summer “summer vacation”???????—- it should simply be called kids’ break from school for the summer. That might help all of us with our expectation-setting. Which might help level out that see-saw a bit?

Thursday morning I had a rude 1st-Morn-of-Summer awakening when the very first words I heard that day were my precious son’s “I’m hungry!” Out of the mouths of babes. Not, “good morning!” or “happy summer!” or “Mommy, I love you so much, you’re the most beautiful woman on the planet!” Not even, “Hi!” Just, “I’m hungry!” Nice. I was determined to let it roll off me. (It helped that he immediately saw the wrong in his ways, and threw himself around me, hugging me and saying, “Oh, right, um, good morning, Mommy, I’m so, so, so, so hungry!”

So, I proceeded with breakfast making. I know, I know, I know. I should make him cook for himself, I should just give him a bowl of cereal, I should get chickens and grow-my-own, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah (these are the sorts of comments I get when I mention Owen and me and our food-related-supply-and-demand relationship). Just do me a favor, and save your time, and don’t leave those comments here today. Ok? I cook for my boy. Is that so wrong? And I like it. I mean, I love it. I mean, truly, for real, some of the time I really enjoy cooking for him/them. And, if I’m being honest, it is also a huge amount of work that is never-endingly-incessant and always-looming and the-quintessential-sort-of-work-that-is-exhausting-in-its-thanklessness.  Anyway…. so, I made breakfast. Now, let’s be clear: the other members of my family eat what I think of as relatively normal amounts. Even Kyle. For the most part. Within reason. But Owen. He’s a different story. It’s a whole other level. The boy requires an insane amount of food to fuel his utter essence. Thursday morning he ate 2 waffles, 1/2 pound bacon, 2 poached eggs, 2 bananas, 2 large glasses OJ.


See-saw up: oh my heavens be, how I love to see my boy eat! The joy! The beauty! The pride in being his mother! Remember, for me, for us, this is especially profound. This is a child who was born into starvation– quite literally. It is never lost on me. I feed him with a pronounced send of purpose and a never-to-be-forgotten-awareness of where he came from and where he’s going. I feed him, I love him, it is summer, we have all the time in the world, I can cook big breakfasts every day and nourish his body-mind-soul. And every day is a gift and aren’t I the most fortunate person in the world to be able to mother these children and have achieved a flexible enough time in my career to allow for me to spend this time feeding-the-heck-out-of-them?! Thank God for tenure! Oh the glory! To be able to have a cup of coffee and watch these precious little lovies eat their breakfast! This is the most beautiful moment imaginable. All is right with the world. Ahhhh, summer!


See-saw down: And then, in a flash, it’s all empty plates and empty glasses (not even half full). There are quick kisses on cheeks and “Thank you Mom!”‘s and they’re off and running to do something that is, surely, either very naughty or very messy, or probably both. Yes, I should make them wash their own dishes and clean the entire kitchen, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah. But that would be more work than it’s worth; trust me; easier to get to it myself. And I’m left with the dirty work and all the landslide of emotions. Seriously, is this my life? How did this happen? Who am I? What is my purpose on this planet? Do these spoiled brats even know how good they have it? And then the memories come flooding back: this is summer. It is a constant rhythm of cooking-and-cleaning up, creating experiences and picking-up-after them, days dealing with the kids and long-nights-working-to-make-up-for-it. I’m thinking, “maybe the 9-to-5-ers are really on to something here! damn flexible career! damn tenure! damn  motherhood” And I’m left, alone in the kitchen, to make summer happen. And it is a whole heck of a lot of hard work to make it happen. Can’t we just have school all year long?

This is the see-saw of summer folks. The up, the down, the up, the down.

I am grateful for all of it– the ups and the downs. And it is also a messy mix of thoughts and feelings. To be fully present is to not push any of it away.

I am going to try to make this summer awesome. And by awesome I don’t mean just all “up” on the see-saw. I mean I am going to try to be fully present for all of it, and every gradation of the ups and downs. I’m going to try to allow for all the big feelings (and that’s a lot of feelings!).

Our first days of summer included crazy wild playdates with crazy wild friends (we love those kind of friends!). Shout out to Shingles family! Let’s just say that the slip-n-slide Meera got for her birthday has gotten a lot of use in the past few days (and currently has many duct tape patches holding it together).


Meera thought she had died and gone to heaven when she inherited a huge collection of gently used Barbies and a “Barbie Cruise Ship” on Wednesday night. Just in time for summer! Thank you to our dear friends Diane and Claire who have been gifting Meera with many hand-me-downs. The best part is that Diane and I share a mutual hatred for the entire Barbie brand and can roll our eyes at ourselves over the sheer fact that these things are even existing in our homes, let alone that our daughters so freakin’ adore them. Lucky for Diane, her daughter has moved on (she’s 10). Lucky for me, we’re the recipients. It’s all good. Especially for Meera whose forte has always been creative play. Summer means time for uninterupted hours spent in the very best kinds of creative play.

Because with summer comes time. Time for playing Risk with your twin brother. And time for lots of other stuff like that. I never understood why boys liked to play the game Risk. Conquering the world, and all that. But, you know what? Again, it is all good. It is all real, real good. I’ve accepted the fact that my children are gendered beyond belief and that somehow I ended up here (much to my shock and dismay) with a girl playing Barbies and two boys playing Risk. All the big feelings folks, all the big feelings. The good and the bad, it’s all good.IMG_8833

Welcome summer 2015! Bring it on– all the ups and down, the highs and the lows, the cooking and cleaning and the time to pause and take it all in. Summer, I love you! You were worth the long, cold wait!

“I walk without flinching through the burning cathedral of the summer. My bank of wild grass is majestic and full of music. It is a fire that solitude presses against my lips.” ~Violette Leduc

3rd Annual South Side Film Festival “5 Great Chefs” Fundraiser!

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Last night was the South Side Film Festival‘s 3rd Annual Fundraiser at Molinari’s. Braydon and I have been wanting to attend this since its first year, but weren’t able due to prior commitments for the nights of the 1st Annual and the 2nd Annual. This year, however — third time’s a charm! — we lucked out!

What an amazing night!

We are so fortunate to live in a revitalizing, blossoming, historic conservation district, and last night’s event was — in my mind — a testament to the flourishing of Bethlehem’s South Side. It was symbolic for me; a real statement of the work of those who have been fighting tirelessly for years to stay true to the best interests of the South Side and its community. Big shout out here to — among many — our dear friends Georgeann and Jeff Vaclavik (love you!), and our favorite local foodie spot Molinari’s (love you too!)!

Seriously, you kinda had to be there to get what I’m saying here, but really: it was a beautiful, delicious night representing some of the best of the best things happening in our tiny little corner of the world. And a whole bunch of money was raised for the South Side Film Festival too!

Not only did Braydon and I get to go, but we got to go with a very large table of friends whom we adore. And for that, we need to give another big shout out (and a huge thank you) to our very generous friends Diane and Chris Martin (love you two too!).

The dinner began with passed appetizers and a delicious sparkling wine. We then proceeded to indulge in five delicious courses, each presented by a different local chef, and each paired with amazing Italian wines. We ate, we drank, we laughed and laughed and laughed. We clapped for the celebrity chefs of our local foodie world, and we cheered for the South Side Film Festival. It was a memorable, wonderful night. Thanks to all who made it happen!

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Long Jump

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recordLast week Owen broke the school record for long jump. The scary thing is, it was his first time ever trying it. Also, this was the “standing” long jump (they don’t run and jump, they just jump from a standing position). 7’8″??! Whattha?!?!


Meera’s Blog

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For her 7th birthday Meera asked for an iPod and “a blog.” She got the iPod, and Braydon set up a Tumbler blog for her. We’re helping her get started on her blog. I’m not sure how often — or what — she’ll be posting. But in case you’re interested in checking it out, here it is:

“Restaurant Critic?”

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This girl. Serious lamb-chop-lover and restaurant critique-er. She takes after her mother in a scary big way. This picture was taken last night, at dinner, The Apollo Grill.

At age just-barely-7, Meera cannot eat a meal at a restaurant without giving a running commentary on all of her strongly opinionated thoughts regarding everything from the atmosphere, to the service, to the actual food. She’s a force to be reckoned with; she has quite a critical eye (and taste bud), and has absolutely no problem tearing a place apart.

Last night, driving home after dinner, she gave the Apollo Grill experience a “100” on a scale of 1-to-10… which is, basically, her highest mark ever. I don’t recall her ever giving a restaurant a 10, let alone a “100.”

Full discloser: It doesn’t hurt that she got invited into the kitchen for a private tour and to make her own ice cream sundae (!!! pretty much one of the best things that has ever happened to her!). At one point, the restaurant owner leaned down to her eye level and asked Meera, “Are you a restaurant critic?” She laughed and said, “No!” But I was laughing quietly to myself thinking, “Yes!”



“Spa Day”

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spa dayMeera was playing in the bathroom after school today. She’s moved on to other things (she’s currently braiding a doll’s hair), but I just went in the bathroom and discovered this.



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imageYou know you’re a Foodie Family when…

You’re on the road again (4th weekend in a row traveling overnight; hello AAU), this time for a 5.5-hour-long drive, and you’re having a “car dinner” (packed meal to avoid fast food), which consists of:

— assorted steamed dumplings with a soy ginger dipping sauce (big brothers)

— edamame, raspberries, and organic mac-n-cheese from a thermos (little sister)

— curried chicken salad on whole wheat pita and grapes (in the front seat)



Happy 7th Birthday Meera!

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Today is Meera’s 7th birthday. She wanted “a chocolate chip pancake with whipped cream and a pink candle.” This morning, she got it!

She asked for a “surprise party” for her birthday this year. On Monday, she got it!

I know it is her own birthday wish to make. But my wish for her this year is this: may she always be strong enough to ask for what she needs (and wants), strong enough to embrace it when she gets it, and strong enough to handle herself with dignity when she doesn’t.

HAPPY BIRTHDAY to the strongest girl I know, the one and only, who makes our family complete, Miss Meera Grace!

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Quotes of the Day: “Despise.”

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I used to post quotes from K&O on the blog all the time. I don’t do it often these days because, at age — now 11 — GULP! — their quotes have evolved from “cute” to often-bordering-on-too-embarassing(embarassing-to-them)-to post. I have a rule for myself to not post stuff that might really humiliate them, and I usually check in with them to get permission before posting anything nowadays. They gave me explicit permission to post about this particular thing today.

This afternoon I was helping them study for tomorrow’s spelling test. Last spelling test of the school year! WOO HOO! I was quizzing them on their list of words — they need to know spellings and definitions. One of their words this week is “despise.” They both spelled it correctly. And both defined it correctly.

I then said, “So, Kyle, what do you despise most in this world?” Without any hesitation, literally without missing even 1/8th-of-a-second-of-a-beat, Kyle said, “What humans have done over time.” I was really stunned that this just spilled out of him so quickly. I turned to Owen and said, “Owen what do you despise most in this world?” He immediately said, “Segregation. Racism.” Again, I was really stunned with how quickly and confidently they could answer that question — and with how intense their answers were.

Love them.