Do you feel like the apocalypse is just around the corner? I sometimes do. I am an optimist at heart and never really liked dwelling on the negative for too long. But, geez, it just feels like we are stuck in this dark period for awhile, with big heavy clouds hovering above us that simply would not go away. From the Vegas massacre and Puerto Rico’s hurricane devastation to taking the knee during the national anthem, our world is burdened with many vexing issues that can make us all feel sad, confused and angry.
Naturally with all these developments, our children, especially younger teens and below, absorb what is going on and internalize family discussions heard at home. They then become our little ambassadors to the world representing the views held by us, their parents. The only problem is that we live in such divisive times where no one can seem to agree on many things. Debates, at least at my older daughter’s middle school, often leads to an “us versus them” mentality, which causes rifts even among the closest of friends.
I am not sure exactly how much I should interfere in my girls’ lunchtime discussions. But there are a few things I do try to tell them. First, I encourage them to hear the other person out and not to get too emotional about the issue. After all, no one likes to feel like they are getting attacked for their personal views. Second, I urge them to seek out people not like them so they will get exposure to others’ viewpoints and thinking. Third, I try to steer them to the causes of the underdog, the vulnerable, those who may not have the voice to defend themselves.
Again, with the polarization of America, it is hard not to offend others these days. I do hope that the foundation we have given our girls to accept others and embrace diversity will have a lasting influence on them as they venture further in life. I hope that they will also always remember that a little kindness and empathy go a long way. What about you guys? How are you handling these difficult times with your children?
It’s only been three weeks since the girls started school and yet I am already beginning to feel a bit lethargic and stressed out from our usual routine. The constant driving to and from activities, the numerous school forms, the different deadlines are enough to make any parent seek those dog days in July when the kids were driving us bonkers from restlessness and boredom. It is easy to feel frazzled and stressed out but we must keep in mind how easy our inner moods and disposition can permeate and affect our kids’ attitudes toward schooling and activities. Our kids are smart and sensitive and they can easily detect when we support or hate certain things that they are doing. So how do we cope with the drudgery often associated with parenting and avoid burn-out? Here are a few ideas:
- Think of the end goal – Remember why you are taking your child to different activities. Is it to help him get more comfortable with Math? Is it to work on his soccer skills? Don’t resent him or the activity because of the time commitment, just focus on why you are doing what you are doing and help your child get there.
- Days are long, the years are short – Another mom said this to me when the girls were little. I had a hard time agreeing to this expression then when I was constantly sleep deprived and pretty much in zombieland 24/7. However, now that the girls are grown and high school is not a distant reality for us, I realize how precious the remaining time I have with them. The girls will be gone one day and this juggling act will be nothing but a distant memory. Just remember to make everyday count!
- Three things – I recently heard this meditation strategy at my older daughter’s school. At the beginning of each day, think of three things that you are grateful for. Then at the end of the day, think of three acts of kindness that you might have done toward someone. Reflecting this way grounds us and helps us remember what is good in our lives and forces us to think in selfless terms.
- Have fun with your kids – Make sure that you have fun quality time with your kids. When you are in the car with them, listen to the music they like. Unplug and tell them not to use their cell phones. Kids are usually more relaxed in the car when they do not have to look directly at us. Start by asking small questions about their day but let them take the lead; they are likely to clam up if you pry them to open up beyond their comfort level. And make sure that you give them undivided attention when they do finally open up.
- Take time for yourself – Regardless of whatever utopian or benevolent approach we take in parenting, we all need to have time away from our roles as parents, providers and caregivers. Make sure to do something just for you on a weekly basis. What were your passions before kids? Do you have new interests you would like to pursue? Remember to always stoke the fires of creativity and individuality that make you vital and happy.
Hope some of the ideas above help. Let me know what your strategies are to cope with parenting juggling act. I would love to hear them!
I can’t tell you the last time we were in the US for July Fourth weekend since the girls were born. We usually pack up and leave for France as soon as school wraps up. But times are changing and the girls wanted to do a few summer camps here in July so we postponed our vacation a bit later till the end of the month.
It’s great to be in the US this holiday. I must say it was a little sad and felt a bit disloyal to celebrate Independence Day in Europe when this holiday calls for all things American. So I was glad to have spent the weekend a bit in the Catskills/Woodstock/Hudson/Phoenicia/Saugerties area and be home in time to see my sister’s new house and go to a friend’s barbecue party.
Beach Plum Farm, a market/farm/restaurant venue, was one of our stops in Cape May a few weeks ago. Yes, I know it’s a bit glammed-up for a farm but I still love seeing the gardens, looking at the local produce and just hanging out by the fire pit area. Most importantly, I love how the farm harkens back to Jersey’s agricultural days.
Beach Plum Farm was founded by Curtis Bashaw, who also owns Congress Hall and the Virginia Hotel. The farm also supplies local produce to these establishments as well as other Cape May eateries. If you’re visiting Cape May this summer, make sure to check out Beach Plum Farm!
Deemed as the Oscars of the fashion world, the gala for the Metropolitan Museum’s Costume Institute exhibit is always something to marvel at. There’s always controversial outfits donned by celebrities like Rihanna and Lady Gaga but the actual exhibit is often overlooked by many. This year’s Costume Institute exhibit is on the legendary Rei Kawakubo from the design label Comme des Garcons.
I have to be honest but I’m not a big fan of Kawakubo’s design. Her figure distortion in clothing design definitely makes us rethink of the relationship between the clothes’ fit and the human form. But I’m a classicist in this sense and love designs that flatter the body rather than contradict it. Nevertheless, here are some pics from the exhibit. What do you think?
Have you seen Erni Stollberg? She is the 95-year old Instagram sensation and model for Park, an Austrian concept store. A former dancer for a Jewish dance company in Austria in the 1930s, Erni and her troupe were able to escape to Buenos Aires before Germany invaded Poland in 1939. Her exuberance as a former dancer comes through so vividly in her expressive and full-of-personality Instagram poses. Yes, when I grow up, I want to be like Erni.
A young Erni
Images from vogue.com and @park_wien
Lately it seems that I’m obsessing quite a bit with interiors and home design. While we’re all a little HGTV-obsessed in my household where we critique home layouts like a national sport, I think all the binge-watching has helped refine my vision for what I want in our house. I’m slowly editing, getting rid of things that no longer reflect our aesthetics, and replacing them only with objects and furniture that we love. Personally, this meant getting rid of our old Pottery Barn dining set and replacing it with timeless midcentury dining table and chairs that can be passed down from one generation to the next. I’m done with bulk — all I want are sleek, well-designed chairs and tables in our humble abode.
Going to the Architectural Digest Design Show in the city, courtesy of my favorite artist Hollie Heller, is a bit to blame for my current design obsession as well. Walking through the show and seeing the newest design trends and innovations will make any girl want to redecorate, refine and tweak what she’s got at home. Some of my personal favorites were the light fixtures section along with the art/furniture and kitchen show areas.
…my little helper and partner-in-crime
…Hollie Heller’s booth that showed her newest creations
The last thing that’s fueling my design mania is this blog, www.thesocialitefamily.com, and its recently published book. I literally can spend hours perusing through different posts from this blog and dream of various spaces I can see myself in. Socialite Family’s design philosophy is boho Parisian chic but I think there are certain things that transcend geographical boundaries and work in many places. Check out the site and tell me what you think…
Those times when I feel like crawling underneath a rock and hiding from ugly things around us, I think of these girls, of the strong women who came before me and the courageous women who stand with me to fight through our current battles.
I can’t think of a world without women, can you?
It’s getting harder every week to come to this space and blog about simple beauty and joy. What can I say? We simply don’t live in a time when we can be frivolous and go about our lives as if it were business as usual, oblivious to geo-political developments in the US and the world. No matter what our political inclinations are, there’s no way we can breathe easily these days. There’s just too much unrest and discord in the news and social media as well as daily conversations that we often just feel exhausted and a little depressed.
Yet it is during stressful times like the one we are in right now when we actually need more self-care, often in the form of simple joys. We still need to find a moment in our days when we can recharge — read books, go to yoga class, laugh with a friend, and go to our happy place. Because at the end of the day, no one will hand these things to us on a silver platter and tell us we deserve these pleasures. We must guard our simple joys zealously to keep going, to continue fighting and resisting, for the road ahead is long.
Personally, my simple joy and happy place is a museum, any museum. Seeing works from various artists and learning the process in which they create always give me tremendous joy and satisfaction. Last week, I went to the Met Breuer and checked out Kerry James Marshall’s exhibit before it closed. Marshall’s inspiration and approach to painting and his subjects are refreshing. In depicting African-American life in the US, Marshall used a painting style that was largely influenced by diverse styles from the Dutch masters to Jackson Pollock and Romare Bearden while adding a distinctive touch into the mix. The result is eclectic, diverse and full-bodied masterpieces that use classical methods while pushing the status quo.
What do you do to tend to your soul? I’d love to know…
All I want for V-Day is some Diptyque’s Rosa Mundi Limited Edition candles. Not only do they smell delicious with notes of bergamot, lychee and geranium but the paper for the whole line also is quite unique. Diptyque partnered with paper manufacturer Antoinette Poisson to design the products’ vintage-styled domino packaging paper and sheets. The paper for the Rosa Mundi line are printed by using the 18th century technique of hand blocking with engraved plates and applying color with stencils. In this digital age when images can be a little flat sometimes, I can’t wait to get my hand on one of these goodies and feel the difference. Alright, hubby..hint, hint.