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52 Weeks, Week 48

Posted by on Nov 30, 2015 in Family and friends | 0 comments

Weekly snapshots of my girls and life in general in 2015

Getting back to normal. That’s pretty much where we are at right now. We’re trying to move forward and get into the spirit of the holiday season. Thanksgiving Dinner brought some respite from recent events; it also made us focus a bit on family and friends who were with us. We were mostly with kids younger than ours so it’s hard not to be swept away by all their cuteness and cherubic innocence.

The girls had a much-needed break from their activities. Unfortunately, there was plenty of time spent on social media and electronic games. It isn’t often that they can just hang out like that so I just let them be.

Wishing you a great week ahead…







Posted by on Nov 26, 2015 in Family and friends | 0 comments

Happy Thanksgiving to those of you celebrate this holiday! It’s a wonderful time to be thankful for the people who are in our lives, those familial bonds and friendships that help us sail through life’s up and downs. As heartbreaking as it is to lose a friend this week, I am grateful for friendship that ended too soon. Grateful for my friend’s calm and grounded advice on parenting. Grateful for the moments we’ve shared together in the soccer field as we cheered our girls on those cold November days. Grateful for her advice on books and reading. Grateful for her generosity.

She was a courageous fighter until the very end and I will miss her terribly.

I know it’s a cliché but life is too short. We need to all be thankful for the gift of a new day, of another opportunity to start all over again with our loved ones.

Family, Friends, Faith, and Fight. That was my friend’s mantra to the end….




52 Weeks, Week 47

Posted by on Nov 23, 2015 in Family and friends | 1 comment

Weekly snapshots of my girls and life in general in 2015

The girls wrapped up their fall activities this weekend. Ines is quite happy that she won the first place award for originality in an anti-bullying poster contest for her grade in our school district. While working on the poster, she’d come home and relentlessly think of different ideas and layout to make the project look better.  There were times I got annoyed when she would mull over the different details, her perfectionist tendencies getting the best of her, and I’d just tell her not to overthink it. Well, I suppose the hard work and overthinking paid off this time for her.  She was one happy girl last week!

Chiara finished soccer season this past weekend. She felt bad having to play against some of her friends this season but both Richard and I just told her that she doesn’t have to be nice just because she’s playing defense against her buddies. So it was satisfying to see her competitive spirit coming out on the field. For a girl who doesn’t want to rock the boat, she’s making some progress.

Lastly, we had a dinner party for some friends on Saturday night. I feel like hosting this weekend is the unofficial start to our holiday season of having people over and seeing family and friends whom we have not seen awhile. While I’m exhausted each time we host, I always feel joy and satisfaction in having great conversations and laughter with friends over a home-cooked meal and a few glasses of wine.

Have a great week, everyone!





Advent Calendar Crafting

Posted by on Nov 19, 2015 in Lifestyle | 0 comments

With the mild weather we’ve been having out here in the East, it’s hard to believe that Thanksgiving and Christmas are just around the corner. I guess there’s nothing like good, old holiday crafting (and eager kids) to drive the point home that the holiday season is upon us.

Last Sunday, I attended an Advent Calendar Making Workshop at Parcel in Montclair.  I love this unique stationery and card shop that also features vintage, one-of-a-kind trinkets and finds all over the store.  I guess for me the best way to describe Parcel is that it’s akin to what Anthropologie would have been like as a stationery store.  One of the great things about the shop is that they offer seasonal workshops for people who are interested in learning how to craft things like autumnal wreaths or advent calendars — perfect for someone like me who’s a little DIY challenged. Plus,  I’ve always longed to create something for the holiday season instead of just getting something from a store, so this workshop helped me accomplish this wish.

The workshop was ran by Emma who was wonderfully patient with all of us who were there.  We started the class by choosing pre-selected store trinkets, which we then wrapped and tied to a wooden star that was also given to us by the shop.  There were numbers from board games and likes that we used to number our 25 gifts.   The class was a lot of fun with a  steep learning curve for someone like me.  Just note to those who want to make their own advent calendars and are new to the process — make sure you allocate plenty of time because wrapping that many gifts and tying them to a star, or however you want to showcase you advent calendar gifts, can be pretty laborious. But I guess that’s how it is for a lot of crafting projects.






adventcalendar.6 Some of my chosen advent calendar goodies

adventcalendar.7 My finished advent calendar

52 Weeks, Week 46

Posted by on Nov 16, 2015 in Family and friends, France | 0 comments

Weekly snapshots of my girls and life in general in 2015

Last Friday, my friend Mia and I were looking forward to going to an Alliance Française-sponsored event in Montclair where former New York Times Paris Bureau Chief Elaine Sciolino was supposed to talk about her new book, The Only Street in Paris. An hour and half before we were to leave for the event, I get a New York Times Breaking News beep on my phone. Of course, we all know what that breaking news is now, but at that point, the newsflash only said that there was an explosion in Paris and that a hostage situation was taking place with 18 people dead.

My daughters were having their French tutoring lessons at this time.  I rushed downstairs to share the news with Aurore, the girls’ French teacher. She and I looked at each other in disbelief. An explosion in Stade de France?  But there’s a match going on and François Hollande is there.  Can’t be.  So we both did a bit more Google’ing — she on her phone and me on the desktop and distractedly, she and I gave each other updates until the girls finished their lessons. We said goodbye that night distractedly with heads spinning, not knowing how to make sense of it all.

Then, Mia and I left for the Alliance Française event.  I thought how weird it was to be going to a French-related event that’s supposed to be an ode to living in Paris when heinous killings were happening there at that very moment.  When we got to Van Vleck Gardens where the event was taking place, things felt a bit eerie.  Everyone sort of had that “deer in headlights” expression on their faces and the place was strangely quiet.  I saw Elaine Sciolino working with her assistant and wondered how they were going to handle that evening’s discussion.

But Elaine surprised me. She showed unbelievable humanity as she shared with us how she just got a hold of her husband who stayed behind in Paris while she is doing her book tour in the US.   She told us that she pretty much discarded her speech for the evening because she felt it was rather inappropriate and irrelevant at the moment. So she just proceeded to talk to us candidly about the attacks, the tense situation in France right now with the rise of the xenophobic National Front Party and the current migrant crisis in Europe. Elaine has extensive background in Middle Eastern politics, which includes covering the rise of the Ayatollah in Iran at the beginning of her career, so it was very informative to hear her take on the various terrorist attacks that have happened the last 25 years or so.

Being in that room with Elaine and a bunch of other people who have French connections one way or the other was therapeutic.  There was a lot of outcry, confusion and expressed grief for what was going on in Paris, in France and the world. Frustration filled the room as we all try to deal with our lack of control and vulnerability in the face of terrorism. The discussion was therapeutic because we were all able to share freely what we were feeling that evening; we weren’t home watching CNN show those scary images over and over again and have the media scare us to the point of paralysis.

I also think that Elaine was able to lift some of the dark clouds in the room that night by talking to us why she fell in love with Paris and the street she lives on, Rue des Martyrs.  At the end of evening, she showed us a slide presentation that introduced the various French women and men on her street who make the neighborhood alive with their quirkiness and eccentricities. It’s unfathomable that ordinary people, like them or like us, can just be obliterated from the face of this world because of some fanatics’ belief that our lives are simply not worth living.