January 25, 2016
I thought it was time to share this again.
Breasts are the great, mysterious glands that fascinate and confound us. They are used to sell cars and beer and they are used to feed babies. They can be used to lure lovers. They are mysterious because we idolize them but we know very little about them.
I remember talking with a woman who told me in medical school they were studying cadavers. She said they took a scrotum and dissected it this way and that way. When it came to the female body the breast was lopped off and they never looked at it.
Several years ago I was at the Bodies Exhibit at the South Street Seaport in lower Manhattan. I had my oldest child with me, she was ten years old at the time, and I had my son who was a few months old.
I noticed that the exhibit of the female body showed a…
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November 7, 2015
The question of co-sleeping comes up often. It can be controversial. There are heated debates about it.
The other day I asked my three children what they remember about co-sleeping and how it made them feel.
I did not ask them all together. I had three isolated conversations with them. Each was brief.
I first asked Finn, my youngest.
He is seven years old. About 80percent of the time Rob and I wake up with Finn in our bed even though he goes to sleep in his own bed. I asked him why he likes to sleep with us and he told me that he feels warm and cozy and it helps you if you are scared. He told me he feels safe.
Phoebe is 17 years old. She is a senior in high school. This sophisticated New Yorker travels all over Manhattan and Brooklyn on her own…
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September 16, 2015
Have you seen the #endmommywars hashtag floating all over social media lately? It’s becoming a pretty big thing.
On the one hand, it’s an important idea. No mother should ever be shamed for any parenting choice she makes. Period. Truly, it shouldn’t matter if you breastfed, formula fed, stayed home, sent your kids to daycare, whether you were labeled as a “helicopter” parent or “free-range.” Every mom is just doing her best, trying to find her way, and learning as she goes along. The most important thing is how you love your kids. And there is more than one way to provide a loving, secure family base for your child. I’m sorry that any mother has made another mother feel anything but supported in her choices, whatever they may be.
But I’m afraid this #endmommywars campaign is not as supportive as it seems, and in many ways is just pitting mothers against each other further. Are…
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September 9, 2015
This morning as I dropped off my youngest child at school I was weepy. Was this Kindergarten or PreK? No, this was fifth grade. Finn is over five feet tall. He has been going to the same school since her was four years old. Why was I weepy? This marks the end of an era for me – as a mom, as a community member, as someone who is seeing time go by in my middle years.
This is my last First Day of School at the Earth School.
My first First day of Earth School was in September of 2000. For the last fifteen years I have been trekking up and down Avenue B in the East Village of New York City
Just north of 14th Street is Stuyvesant Town where we live. I have walked in snow, sleet, rain and in the blazing sun to get to our beloved elementary school. I have walked with babies in my belly, babies in slings and babies in strollers. I have seen teachers come and go and some come back! I have been through three principles. I have fund raised and recruited other families. I have escorted countless field trips often with a toddler in tow!
At Earth I have found community. I have met some of my closest friends. My family has forged relationships with other families with whom we share holidays and birthdays.
I remember the first annual Earth School Auction.
I have enjoyed the art on the walls and read some inspiring poetry and memoirs by the wonderful children who populate the halls and hearts of our community.
I remember when the roof garden was an idea and then it became real.
I have seen families grow and I have seen families leave. I have seen tragedy and great joy and simply ordinary days at Earth. I was at Earth that terrifying morning on September 11, 2001.
I have watched children perform on the stage.
I have nursed babies in the halls and in the lobby. I have sold popcorn and cookies in the lobby. I have done on-the-spot lactation consulting in the lobby.
I have grown as a human at Earth. I have watched my children grow and thrive. I have seen them learn to tie their shoes and learn conflict resolution and learn to construct a sentence and to defend an original idea.
I have learned about community building and about celebrating the seasons by marching in Tompkins Square Park to celebrate solstices and equinoxes.
I learned about what education is. I have learned so much more. I have learned to let go and watch my babies grow into smart, confident people.
In nine months my youngest child will graduate from the Earth School. But today is the first day of fifth grade for Finn. I will embrace this day and open my heart to the Earth community.
September 7, 2015
In 1975, New York City’s government teetered on the verge of bankruptcy. The city’s leaders appealed to the Gerald Ford administration for financial help. President Ford said no.
The New York Daily News published a headline on its front page that was immediately iconic:
FORD TO NYC: DROP DEAD
Today the same newspaper published an editorial with the same sentiment, this time directed at the parents of the 220,000 children who refused the state tests.
The editorial argues that the parents have been manipulated by the teachers’ union, which is not only false but implies that the parents are dupes.
The editorial claims that the state must stand by the Common Core standards, which (they say) were “developed over many years by the nation’s top education experts.” Would the editorial board please tell us how many years they consider “many,” like two? Would the editors please name the nation’s “top…
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August 25, 2015
Baking is a form of meditation for me. I love the process of mixing ingredients and watching them morph into something delectable. When I feel blah I whip up a batch of cookies. It is better than popping a pill or scheduling a counseling session for me.
In the fifth grade Mrs. Morris let me use a cookbook as one of my book report projects – I brought in cookies for the entire class and the office staff too.
In my early years as a fulltime mom I baked in between nursing, diaper changes, nursery school drop offs. My baking became popular and so I started selling cakes and cookies for events. I eventually started my own little baking business from my home – Leigh Anne’s Southern Sweet Tooth.
Many of the cakes I baked were from box mixes in the beginning. Rob encouraged me to work from scratch. Back in the 70’s or 80’s there was a trend to doctor up boxed cake mixes. A quick internet search shows a whole host of books and websites dedicated to this practice.
Growing up in North Carolina we had pig roasts and barbecues called Pig Pickin’s, you know, you pick at the pig! I do not know why but there is a specific cake called a Pig Pickin’ cake. There is no pig involved in the creation of this cake. We often brought these to family reunions.
Pig Pickin’ cake is one of those cake mixes that gets all doctored up. Well, my challenge was to make this delicious orange and pineapple dessert.
It became one of my top sellers. I even made it for a wedding!
I made it recently for a family reunion. This was for the Northeastern segment of my family (yes, I come from a mixed marriage, Daddy is from the north and Mama from the south!) I was shocked that my younger children had never tasted it. I had not made a Pig Pickin’ cake in so long.
Well, I decided to share the joy of a homemade traditional southern dessert.
1 ½ cups sugar
2 ½ cups all-purpose flour
2 ¼ teaspons baking powder
½ teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 cup oil or melted butter
8 ounce cans of mandarin oranges
1 cup of cream for whipping
1 teaspoon vanilla
8 ounce of cream cheese softened
1 can crushed pineapple
8 ounce can of mandarin oranges
Preheat oven to 350
Butter two 8” cake pans
Take out cream cheese to soften
Combine sugar and eggs, beat for 30 seconds on high, add remaining ingredients and blend for one minute until all is combined
Bake about 25 minutes – until a toothpick inserted into cakes comes out clean
Let cool (I often place my cakes in the fridge or even freezer if I am in a hurry to cool!)
Whip your cream and the vanilla until fluffy – do not over mix or you get butter 😦
Drain the pineapple and blend with the softened cream cheese, when these two are combined gently fold into the whipped cream.
Frost your two layers and place the drained mandarin oranges in any pattern you please.
Then watch out! This cake will disappear quickly!