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A Different Kind of English Princess

Monday, September 26th, 2011

My daughter Madelyn and I are leaving for London on Thursday on a red eye (that’s worth a post on its own–surviving that!) to attend a Disney event honoring Rapunzel. She will be inducted into the Royal Disney Court at the real-princess residence of Kensington Palace. We even got an invitation to watch her procession through the streets and through Kensington Gardens. (My husband, who is British now living in America for nearly 10 years says, “What has happened to my country? It is now America!” Well, I said, You don’t have to go! So there.) Take a look at the route Rapunzel will take. Will people line the streets like they did for Kate and William? For Diana? We can only wait till this weekend to see!

Rapunzel's procession through Kensington Gardens, London, England

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Act Like A Princess!

Monday, September 26th, 2011

Let me start by saying I didn’t think that I’d be one of those moms who condoned The Princess Lifestyle for my almost 5-year-old daughter. When Peggy Orenstein’s Cinderella Ate My Daughter came out last year I agreed with a lot of what she said. I’m (what feels like the last remaining) feminist, and I definitely don’t want my little girl to grow up thinking that some prince is going to ride up and save her on a white horse. Or that her beautiful eyes/long hair/perfect plastic boobs will bring her love/luck/work (oh wait — maybe they will! But still I don’t want to teach her that!). Regardless, there is no escaping princesses, especially the Disney variety. So over the last year or so, I’ve learned to roll with it and use her love of princesses to my advantage. Luckily, Disney has made the latest heroines less swooning and helpless (although they are still gorgeous). If you’ve watched any of the blockbusters in the last couple of years, you’ll know that Princesses kick some major booty. Rapunzel for one is vicious with a frying pan. In fact, we use “princess” in our home as a euphemism for “tough,” because Madelyn responds to it. My husband frequently says things to her like, “Act like a princess!  Get out there and kick that soccer ball! Brush yourself off! You’re OK! Rapunzel would keep going!” And amazingly it works. (That’s her above munching on a start-shaped pineapple at a princess bash last year, btw.)

Anyway, the point of this post is really to set you up for a string of posts over the next week. As an editor at Parents, I was invited, along with Madelyn (does she realize how good she has it?!), to attend a special ceremony in London honoring Rapunzel’s induction into the Disney Royal Court (along with the other 9: you know, like Cinderella and Jasmine and Snow White … see pic here.) And of course Madelyn nearly had a stroke when I told her about the prospect of going. (“Will Flynn Rider be there too?!”)

My husband is from London so I figured we could use a it a good opportunity to hang with the fam who we don’t see enough. But who’s kidding who. We’re there for the glitz and glam and all that is princess! Follow along over the next couple of days as I post about our adventures.


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Do you need a vacation? part 2 of 2

Tuesday, April 12th, 2011

Continued from yesterday!

We often include stories in PARENTS about the importance of reconnecting with your partner: spending one-on-one time, going on date nights. But rarely do I follow our own advice. There just isn’t time. Or planning. Or money. Always an excuse. But at Tamaya, my husband and I were alone (read yesterday’s post here). And I realized how important it really is to reconnect and to talk about things other than our kids or selling the house (ok, so we did still do that some). Or to eat a good meal — a really good meal — (at The Corn Maiden) without having to get up every 30 seconds and refill a sippy or reattach a bib. Or to walk a nature trail and not have to chase after our danger-attracted toddler. Or to get massages and spa treatments (I highly recommend the mysteriously named Spirit Path treatment); to take a relaxation yoga class together; to play golf (the Twin Warriors course is on site); to make clay pots together with our bare hands (see pic to left) or lounge in a pool (or three!) without worrying my kid is going to drown. It felt good to reconnect, with ourselves and with each other.

Still, by the second day I missed my kids! Seeing all the other little ones at the resort having so much fun — zipping down the giant water slide (below), roasting marshmallows while listening to stories by a Native American storyteller, and going on pony rides — made my regret not bringing them. Those kids, part of the Srai-Wi program, got to make pottery, jewelry, and even the traditional flatbread. Plus there’s a day camp with all kinds of fun activities. Madelyn and Grant would love this!, I thought. We’d go on a hot air balloon ride! We’d go to the Stables and ride the horses and ponies! We’d jump on the bicycles, throw them in the bike seats and ride down to the river to look for road runners and eagles! They’d squeal with delight!

I called home to check on them. Grannie, who was watching them, wasn’t in the best mood. She’d just walked in on 2-year-old Grant (he was supposed to be napping) and found him head-to-toe in neon-orange nail polish. It was also all over our hardwood floor, the floor pillow and the throw rug. Bright orange goeyness. Madelyn was screaming, “Grant used all my nail polish!” She’d gotten it that day in a goody bag from a birthday party (for the record, she’s only 4, but that’s another post). Listening to all this, I glanced over at Paul reading a book on the patio with his feet up, the Sandia Mountains before him. And I was glad we were selfish this time. Next time we’ll bring them.

Psst! Tamaya has an offer running now: book 3 or more nights and get one free! They also have special packages for families.

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Tags: | Categories: Entertainment, GoodyBlog, Travel, Your Life

Do you need a vacation? (part 1 of 2)

Monday, April 11th, 2011

Raise your hand if you want to get away from the stress of work, keeping up the house, and arranging everyone’s schedules.

I hear ya. With the anxiety of selling our home in a crappy real estate market and busier than normal schedules at work, my husband and I needed a break. But a vacation with our 2- and 4-year old didn’t seem relaxing at all. So when the folks at the Tamaya Hyatt Regency Resort and Spa just north of Albuquerque, New Mexico, invited us on a long weekend getaway — we jumped at the chance. And even though we could have brought the kids, we didn’t. Selfish? Maybe. But in a recent PARENTS poll, 90% of you said going on a kid-free vacation was “survival,” not selfish. I have to agree.

When Paul — that’s my husband — and I arrived at midnight at Tamaya it was pitch black. All we could see as we drove down the long road to the resort were the stars in the sky and tumbleweeds that flew in front of our headlights. We were in the desert. And I’d later learn we were on a 73,000 acre Indian Reservation owned by the Santa Ana pueblo. The resort itself is even owned by the Santa Ana people; the Hyatt merely manages it. The land surrounding is considered sacred.

When we woke in the morning (at 6 because the kids have trained us!), and walked out on the patio of our room, we could see why. The Sandia Mountains glowed red and orange in the morning light and the Rio Grande twinkled in the distance. We sat drinking our coffee just taking in the view (that’s it above!). Ahhh. Peace. It was going to be an awesome weekend. ….

To be continued in tomorrow’s Goody Blog!

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Tags: | Categories: Time for Fun, Travel, Your Life

Early Riser

Monday, February 28th, 2011

Let me start out this post with a warning: There may be nonsensical phrases and misspellings. But I have a good excuse. I haven’t slept past 5 a.m. in  … I don’t know how long! My son Grant is 2 and his new wakeup time is 5 a.m. – if I’m lucky. On Saturday he got up at 4:25. I’ve had enough!

I don’t really have a problem with him getting up early — I have a problem with him waking everyone up early. His 4-year-old sister moans, “Grant! I want to sleeeeeep! Be quiet!” And the neighbors (we’re in an apartment building) complain. I can’t blame them. He is loud. He dumps out the contents of his toy box, his laundry basket, the play fridge and the bookshelf. (They now move to the hallway every evening before bed — except the bookshelf which is just too heavy.) He used to empty out all the dresser drawers before we installed child locks on all of them. He jumps on his bed and thuds on the ground (it was worse when he was in the crib tho — bigger drop, louder thud).  He yells out, “Mommy! Daddy! Mommy! Daddy!” He jumps on his sister and says “Play! Play!” She yells. She screams …. He throws a few more books around … He catapults himself off the bed onto the floor pillow … THUD!

Here’s what else I’ve tried (and am still doing):

• Covered the window with tin foil. Not attractive, but at least the sun (or a street light) can’t be the reason he wakes early. He still manages to play in the dark.

• Bought a clock and instructed that wake-up time is 7 a.m. (Sister knows how to spot the “7″; and this worked on her when she was his age. With Grant, I actually set the clock a half hour ahead so it reads 7 but it’s really 6:30 which is a time my husband and I can handle.)

• Ignoring him completely.

• Going in and lying down with him.

• Rewarding with stickers, Diego viewing, and dates (his favorite snack)  if he stays quiet till 6:30. (Actually promising to reward — he’s never actually done it.)

• Putting him to bed earlier. (The Dr. Weissbluth philosophy of sleep begets sleep)

• Putting him to bed later.

• Cutting his nap down to an hour. Cutting his nap altogether.

There has to be a solution!!! Any moms out there have any? I’ll try anything. My husband will thank you. My neighbors will thank you and my daughter will thank you!

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The penguin party

Monday, October 25th, 2010

My daughter, Madelyn, is obsessed with all things princess. Up until recently I was a member of the Reluctant Princess Mom Club. I finally just gave in and let her be swarmed by the princess mania. After all, I loved Barbie and I ended up a feminist. So I imagine she’ll be OK as well. Still, after going to four princess-themed birthday parties in a row in the last couple months (five if you count the pool party with princess plates and table cloth), I drew the line at throwing a princess party for her fourth birthday. What else do you like? I asked. Penguins? she offered. Penguins it was. But what I didn’t realize is it’s much harder to find pre-made penguin stuff. A quick search of the internet I realized that Happy Feet is long past its prime and the only penguin-themed party decorations I could find cost $100 to have them shipped over from the U.K. Um, no. I had to get creative. And even though my job as an editor is creative, and I’m surrounded by creative people every day, I’m not a DIY, owns-a-glue-gun sort of mom. I do know how to research though and I did a couple of key google searches. Number one: How to draw a penguin. Result: this sign for Madelyn’s party (pictured above).


Number two: How to make a penguin cake. My god people are talented! I sent a pic of the easiest looking one to to our Food Editor at with doubts, and she said, Oh, sure! You can do that. She gave me the secret (it’s basically three round cakes with a crescent cut out of one and then used for the arms; then extra pieces cut for the beek and feet).  Then I bought a penguin pinata online and a blue table cloth and blue and white balloons (you know, ice and ocean). My husband chimed in with some penguin gummies from Trader Joe’s and Swedish Fish and Goldfish crackers — because penguins eat fish, of course.

Ta da! Penguin party completed. What lengths have you gone to make your kid’s birthday special? I want to know! (Maybe I’ll rip it off for next year!)

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Princess for a Day

Monday, October 4th, 2010

As much as I tried to resist it, my almost-4-year-old daughter Madelyn is obsessed with princesses. She and her friends know all the Disney princesses by heart and can sing along to every DVD, even the straight-to-DVD second and third sequels.

So when I got an invitation to attend a special Princess & Me party at Toys R Us in Times Square celebrating the launch of a new Princess doll (think the size of American Doll) I couldn’t say no. Madelyn actually slept with the invitation which featured the dolls, all mini versions of her favorite people (Aurora, Ariel, Cinderella, you know …). I invited her best friend and neighbor Kate and her mom Amie to come along too.

The girls arrived dressed up as Cinderella (Madelyn) and Aurora (Kate). (Aurora for those of you who don’t remember is Sleeping Beauty.) Here they are (pictured above) with the Princess & Me host as they walk the hot-pink carpet.

Then they were invited to the Royal Salon to get their hair princess-ified (Madelyn refused) and to get their nails painted (sparkly pink of course).

All VIPs (that’s Very Important Princesses) were asked to sit down for tea (actual tea along with chocolates and petite fours) and moms got champagne (nice touch!).

After tea and a glass (or two) of the bubbly, the girls dressed up as different princesses (Aurora for Madelyn and Ariel for Kate, although if you watch the movie, I don’t think that Ariel as a mermaid is technically a princess, but no one seemed alarmed by this).download

They posed for a professional photo, complete with the Princess backdrop, what we call in the industry “step and repeat”. It was all so glamorous.

The girls then twirled their way home in a post-party haze where they got tons of attention on the subway. Are they going to a dress up party? people asked. Well, no. Truth is these two dress up like this every day — we usually just don’t let them out of the house in their garb. But today was a Special Day as Madelyn kept saying and repeated until she tucked herself into bed that night, with her princess doll next to her.

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French’s Cook-off

Tuesday, March 2nd, 2010

Last week, on behalf of the magazine, I was invited to be a judge at French’s — the makers of the yellow stuff you serve every summer with hotdogs — Cook Off. I didn’t know what to expect. I mean I’m not a big mustard eater myself. Outside of using mustard in my salad dressings — one part vinegar,  three parts olive oil, a bit of mustard to bind it together — I don’t even eat it much. So I was curious what it’d be like to judge dishes that were entirely based on mustard.

I was pleasantly surprised. The dish that won (and I happily gave the highest marks to) was a polenta with an avocado and tomato relish. It was delish. And extremely inventive. The winner — Suellen Calhoun, a mom and expecting grandmother from Des Moines (her pregnant daughter was there — so sweet) — used those yummy french fried onions in the polenta (the ones you use on green bean casserole) and horseradish mustard in the relish. It was fresh, healthy and — wait for it — I think my kids will even eat it. In fact, I’m going to try it on them this weekend.

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