windex_originalAustin and I were away this weekend and when we returned late this afternoon, I walked inside and sensed there was something…different. I walked into my kitchen and things seemed somehow brighter. I walked into my bedroom and things seemed somehow cleaner. Our fabulous views were that much more fabulous — it was like the Empire State Building was right next to us. And without being told I knew my husband had released us from the grime that had been weighing us down. Windex had wiped away the gloomy residue of a rainy, rainy spring and early summer. Free at last! The windows had been washed and it made me feel so much better. When they’re dirty I don’t think you can appreciate how much it obscures looking out across the sky, but once they’re clean you know what you’ve been missing. I told Ken he should do it twice a year; he shot me a look. You know the one — that, “Oh yeah like I have so much time to clean the windows” one. So we’ll see…

If you haven’t cleaned your windows in a while, I wholly recommend grabbing a bottle of Windex (the old-fashioned blue kind seems to work best) and setting aside an hour or so to wash your windows. It really makes a huge difference. And if you can get your spouse to do it, all the better…

Angela’s Ashes lives on

I was sad to hear that the author Frank McCourt died. I had the honor of interviewing him a few years ago when he was coming to talk at my company. We spoke some about his memoir (which, if you haven’t read Angela’s Ashes, is a great book) and being an immigrant here, but the bulk of our conversation was about his over 20 years teaching English at Stuyvesant High School here in New York City. I could tell he was such a committed and inspiring teacher, and because you really only get the best and the brightest at Stuyvesant, he truly loved challenging the kids there. So incredible that he touched so many people through his books and through his teaching. He will be missed.

Etc.

Austin and I Amtrakked it on down to Wheaton Park for the annual Noshfest family reunion. I have to say, I was not looking forward to shlepping down there but the park was fantastic for the kids. There was a carousel and a train along with several different playgrounds. I thought it was going to be hot and humid but it was a perfect day — no humidity, sun and just enough warmth (low 80s). Austin enjoyed seeing and hanging out with his cousins. For dinner we hit the Lebanese Taverna in Silver Spring. The food was very good, particularly the hummos. It was good for a large group because there’s lots of room to spread out. This morning we tried to go swimming but the pool at our hotel didn’t open til 10 (boo!) so we took Austin into DC to see the White House. I’m not sure what short-circuited in my 5 year old but the view of the flowers and fountain at the back of Barack’s house caused him to go into meltdown mode. So I quickly ushered him out of the crowded “locked down” zone around the place, in tears, as tourists from around the world stared. When I asked him later on why he had freaked out, he said he had wanted to go inside the White House. Oh brother.

So we headed to brunch at our cousins Elaine and Phil’s house, said our goodbyes and then caught the train back. Somehow we ended up in the quiet car. Ha ha!! That’s funny…

Then we met up with Austin’s buddies Sabrina and Chloe at Bleecker Park, their dad Randall showed up with a huge hard cast and told me how he broke his wrist sliding into second (ouch!), and then it was blackened catfish at Cowgirl for dinner where I almost punched a lady at the next table who kept giving us dirty looks every time Addison coughed and then said to her friend, “That baby keeps choking!” and made a face as if we, the stupid parents, weren’t doing anything about it. “She’s not choking, she has a cough!” I barked back, equally irritated by her meddling, the fact that my daughter had a cough AGAIN, and that I had been stuck in the quiet car with a five year old for 3 hours.

A full weekend, indeed!

Hope you had a good one…

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No More Nyquil Hallucinations

February 16, 2009

ayr_12906_2I have never been a fan of cold medicine. It always makes me feel loopy and tired and generally worse than just suffering the symptoms of a cold. Once I tried Nyquil and had the most psychotic dreams ever. I scared myself and swore off the stuff. Then thanks to those crazy meth addicts you had to start meeting a guy in a back alley for Dimetapp and then studies came out showing kids under 7 could die from taking certain cold medicine ingredients and that was right about the time that I decided we would all just suck it up and blow our noses.

But there is one thing that I have found that does help somewhat, and it’s medication-free. About ten years ago I had to have sinus surgery and my doctor taught me about nasal irrigation. Basically you shoot salt water up your nose and clean it out. I find that it helps as a preventative measure during allergy season to clean pollen and other irritants out, and it helps relieve sinus pressure during a cold. Kids can use it too, given that it’s drug-free.

You can buy the nasal saline at the drug store. Ayr makes a good one, and stores like Target and Duane Reade make their own generic versions that are good, too. Or, you can make your own, using bottled water and salt, and you can put a little baking soda in to buffer it if you need it. Put in as much salt as you can tolerate. You can buy a baby aspirator to shoot it up into your nose.

Pair it with some vitamin C and Zicam nasal swabs and hopefully you can make it through any inevitable colds you’ll catch a little more comfortably. Or take Nyquil at your own risk. But don’t say I didn’t tell you so…

Recession Tip

Someone wrote in with an anonymous cost-savings tip: If you’re standing at the store and you can’t figure out which size of something is more cost-effective, don’t forget your cell phone has a handy calculator to help with the math. I always find it interesting that at Target with things like detergent, the larger size isn’t always the cheapest. (And with the saline spray, sometimes the name brand is less expensive than the generic.) So it does pay to figure it out before you commit it to your cart.

Celebrate the Luv

We had a bunch of plans to celebrate Valentine’s Day — brunch with our close friends at 202 in Chelsea Market (I’m a fan of the tuna burger, Austin likes the granola with fruit and Greek yogurt). At night we had a little soiree at home where we made Valentine’s hats, had lots of yummy finger foods and finished it off with Oreo cupcakes that Austin picked out at the bakery. Then Ken and I decided to watch a movie because it’s something we never have time to do and we watched the most unromantic movie ever: Will Smith’s I Am Legend. If you’re not familiar with the plot, basically everyone on earth gets infected with some sort of rabies-like virus and Smith is the last person left in NYC. So we got to see what our neighborhood would look like if a neutron bomb hit. Very uplifting! Let’s just say that it didn’t exactly put us in a Valentine-mood.

Today we took the kids out to lunch and Cowgirl had an awesome 80s soundtrack going on. Our kids were entertaining the restaurant with their crazy dancing to Sheila E’s “Love Bizarre.” Somewhere they learned this dance where they point their index fingers in the air and swivel their hips. Hilarious.

Delicioso

Delicioso!

Tonight their favorite nighttime babysitter came and Ken and I went out to Scarpetta (355 West 14th Street, at 9th Avenue). I had wanted to try it for a while but we could never get a reservation at the time I needed, so I was going in with a critical eye to see what all the fuss was about, especially in this economy. It’s excellent. The room itself is modern without being too cool, the service is attentive without being overbearing, and the food is delicious. I had a scallop ceviche as an appetizer and black pasta with seafood and sea urchin for my entree. Ken had braised short ribs to start and then cavatelli with rabbit. I recommend the pastas — the chef is known for them and they are all homemade and very tasty. For dessert we had a chocolate cake and a vanilla and chocolate parfait. The portions are hearty (which made Ken happy) but I definitely only had room for a few bites of dessert. The wine list is well thought through, too. Definitely a thumbs up!

Hope you all had a good one!