What Happened When We Followed Our Dream to Live a Life Less Ordinary

What Happened When We Followed Our Dream to Live a Life Less Ordinary

Everything has a price tag. In our case, living in an idyllic beach village in Costa Rica while one of the coldest winters in years descended on our home in Brooklyn, meant dealing with a few scorpions, perpetual dirt on our floor, and giving up Amazon. At a beach party shortly after arriving, I lamented  to my new mom friend about how I could not stand the feeling of dirt on my feet. She sweetly laughed and said, ‘We have a lot of unwinding to do on you”. I knew this was true, and it would be a good thing for me.

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Moving to Paradise Made Me Feel Like a 1950s Housewife

Moving to Paradise Made Me Feel Like a 1950s Housewife

We arrived in Sámara, Costa Rica from Brooklyn, New York after traveling seven hours (five flying and two driving) yet it felt like went about 7 decades back in time. Thanks to my sunset and beach bonfire Instagrams my friends are all convinced I’m having the time of my life. Yet nothing is simple in our new simplified life. I can’t even begin to capture in photo the absurdities I’ve encountered. The following musings begins to sum up some of the frustrating, strange, and funny experiences I’ve had in small town Costa Rica.

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WRNY: HOW TO MASTER FLYING WITH A TODDLER

WRNY: HOW TO MASTER FLYING WITH A TODDLER

Are you ready for take off? Tray tables locked, seats up, belts fastened and your toddler quietly, pleasantly sitting in his seat not kicking the person in front of him.

That whole “getting there is half the fun” was clearly not about getting there with a toddler. I highly recommend pursuing your travel goals with children, but it will take a little more prep work to have “a quarter of the fun” getting there.

To get you all there and back with as few meltdowns as possible, consider these five tips

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I LOVE FANNY PACKS AND I'M NOT AFRAID TO SAY IT

 I LOVE FANNY PACKS AND I'M NOT AFRAID TO SAY IT

The 80s were full of fanny packs and they were the kiss of death to your popularity. I am still scarred from that today and feel I have to justify my love and support of this underused accessory. Also note, I surround myself with cool, beautiful things so this adoration for the underrated bag is whole-hearted. 

Here I round up some favorites, but the market is totally underserved. Designers get to work!!!!! 

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KOSHER FOR PASSOVER

Our Oyster Seder Plate - So Wrong, It's Right

oystersederplate

As we prepare for Passover, I put a hold on ordering another loaf of bread from Freshdirect, order matzah shmurah to get extra mitzvah points and dust off the OYSTER plate we use as our Passover Seder Plate. This plate for crustaceans makes me chuckle a little and reflect on this life we are creating for our family.

Our family of three is an interfaith one that takes a little extra planning and thought when it comes to the holidays, and now there are A LOT of holidays. While interfaith marriages cause great strife in some nations, communities and families we chose to forge through it and let love prevail - the hippie faith is one we have in common.  My husband and I both come from rich cultures and neither wanted to lose that identity. Actually, the fondness and respect we have for our own cultures fostered an understanding and excitement to celebrate the other’s. While dating we invented a new holiday we named Purim Gras since both holidays are around the same time and have many similar jovial customs. We served hamentashen next to king cake and hung a greeting sign which read "SHOW ME YOUR TZIT ZITS ". To celebrate our marriage, we set the tone of our life together by calling it our Cajun Jewish Wedding.  We incorporated traditions from both cultures (FYI: Cajuns originally were Catholic).  We were married on the front porch of an Acadian style home under a Chuppah. We had a Friday night Shabbat Rehearsal dinner and a fish fry with crawfish etouffee the night of the wedding. Our goal isn’t to compromise but rather convene on ways to marry our rich cultures and give our new baby the best of it all. His name is part Hebrew and part Cajun with a birthday on the 4th night of Hanukkah and a week before Christmas. When I began to prepare for our first Passover Seder as a family,  I realized an oyster plate has 6 sections and a Seder plate has 6 symbolic foods. You can imagine the excitement  and sense of victory at this perfect melding of the cultures again. It was a sign from G-d letting me know we were doing things right.

To some our interfaith marriage has diluted our heritage and dishonored our family. Tradition and the tradition of marrying within one’s religion is not something to be taken lightly. I understand the desire and sense of responsibility to preserve one’s culture and religion. In many cases, preserving this lifestyle is a way to honor your ancestors’ struggles to maintain their beliefs. My family fled France and then British rule in Canada and my husband’s family left Poland before the war to be able to maintain our sense of identities.

Our journeys, thankfully on our free will, led us to New York where we too were trying to connect to an identity found in an urban space where all your dreams come true. When we met,he was looking for a Jewish girl and I was looking for a European prince to make me a princess.  We could not help but to fall in love. While our journey was not under the pressure of war or expulsion, still we were searching for the kind of life that allowed us to pursue our own version of happiness.  When I look into my baby's eyes, yes, he's not Jewish. He's Cajun Jewish and I am in awe that love created him. Our Oyster Seder Plate will be HIS tradition that connects him to two resilient cultures and serve to remind him of love, hate, acceptance and the ability to pursue happiness.  

 

 

BABY'S FIRST BIRTHDAY CELEBRATION

Made with Love, Not the Baby's College Fund

baby's first birthday cake

All birthdays deserve to be celebrated.  A lot of emphasis is placed on the first birthday, yet it seems unnecessary to expend the time and money Pinterest might guilt you into. When planning the celebration keep in mind the purpose: a fun day for the birthday baby AND to recognizing how much the parents have grown in one year too. While it's tempting to dip into the baby's college fund to throw a party they will never forget (haha), there are a few party tricks that can save a small fortune & time without sacrificing the important aspects.

1. THEME

By now the 1 year old probably has a favorite interest or object. This is a good starting place for a theme. Remember, this needs to be a "fun day for the birthday baby". In our case, Noam loved ducks so Rubber Duckies was the theme of his party - his first word was "QUACK QUACK"!!  Using a bright color(s) as a theme is also great for children.

2. DECOR

Who wants a closet full of cheap decorations after a party, and who has the time to make a bunch of expensive, time consuming ones? The Answer: Balloons! Children adore them, they fill up the space making even the drabbest room cheerful and they only cost about $1 a piece once filled with helium. Balloons also do double duty as a take home present for all the guests.

Other decorative items worth your while: Flowers, a Table Cloth, and a beautiful center piece Birthday Cake

3. SMALL GUEST LIST

Keeping the baby in mind - as tempting as it is to invite a crowd - consider a few tiny friends with whom the baby likes to play and invite those families. This way it's truly a party for the baby to have some fun.

4. MENU

Sticking to a theme for the menu will help to not get carried away. Themes could include Cooking style like BBQ or Regional fair like Mexican or Meal Based like brunch. Again, in trying to keep things manageable, serve finger foods that kids love and adults find novel.

With a party at 1 in the afternoon and a yellow theme, Brunch style food was appropriate. We served Deviled Eggs, Bites of Grilled Sausage, Tator Tots, Terra Vegetable Chips and Scones with Lemon Curd.  Oh, and PARTY PUNCH is a must. We needed something Yellow which is why I made a French 75 punch. This was a serious hit. I floated mini rubber duckies in the punch for a bit of humor. *The rubber duckies were also take home presents for the guests.  Other beverages included Lemon Water, Orange Juice and Hot Black Tea.

5. A SENTIMENTAL TOUCH

As this is a great milestone and everyone in attendance is there to celebrate it, this is a perfect opportunity to share pictures or videos of the last year. Displaying pictures in frames, on a banner or even rotating digital frame are all good options. We made a video compilation of photos we took of him every week. The 10 minute video was premiered at his birthday with our friend's and family around.

To add to this video collection, we bought him a Junior Chesty for his birthday so that he could wear our GoPro Camera and begin to make his own videos. Wearing this, he recorded much of his own birthday party. I think in years to come, when the memories of his 1st birthday are a little fuzzy, he can watch this GoPro video and see exactly what he did from his perspective.

 

CUDDLE UP WITH THIS BOOK

Reminiscing about my teenage years in the 90s, as an Advanced Maternal Aged woman

As crunch time approached, I could not read one more baby book, baby blog, baby app... I needed a fun read, something that felt like "me" again. Luckily my friend who works for a publishing house passed along one of their newest releases to me, "Champagne Supernovas" by Maureen Callahan, and it could not have been more perfect. This book not only made me feel like ME again, but it made me feel like teenage me! This book took me back to my coming of age in the early 90s when my junior high crush schooled me on Alternative music, when I studied fashion magazines with great care to craft new looks and when I first came to NYC discovering the West Village. It was one of the most exciting times in my life and I can not believe I am old enough to now be reading it as a piece of pop history. But here I was, big and pregnant in my Advanced Maternal Age reminiscing about my teenage years. I highly recommend it to anyone with the slightest interest in fashion and 90's culture. As I turned to the last page, I thought, "there is no way it can end now?" Then Callahan summed up 90's fashion and it's influence in one perfect sentence. 

Feeling inspired, I pulled out this black crepe dress I bought while on a trip in New York City in 1997! Amazingly it fit over my very pregnant belly. Even the accessories were a throwback to the era. Crystal necklaces were very popular when I was 13. I bought one at the mall and felt ultra hip when I wore it. My friend Faye, of Fashion Hound, lent me her favorite crystal necklace for this outfit. It was my laid back, herion chic, downtown meets uptown, Kate Moss inspired look that made me feel like ME again.  I think this is what they call "life imitating art".