Zika on the brain

About 7 days ago every single conference I had planned for 2016 and 2017 got cancelled because of Zika. Two were in April. One was for over 1,000 people.

Almost 2 years of work basically out the window. There were tears. There was anger. But at the end of the day, it was the right decision.

We made our calls to let everyone know. We sent our apology emails. Not only did we distrupt the lives of all our attendees, but we also had to face our hotel partners. Yes they would get some of what we would be spending, but not all of it.

But it was done. And now we move on. Like the Bionic Man, we will rebuild. Better. Stronger. And we did. Or are. 

We’ve worked 24/7 to reschedule almost everything we’ve cancelled. It wasn’t/isn’t easy. (Insert your pity here)

These are all uptown problems, I know. No one is sick or dying or even hurt. We derailed vacations, not real life. Things will be fine.

Although I woke-up the other day, in mid-March, with frost on the ground and found this on my wrist. A mosquito bite. Oh universe. You’re so hysterical.

   

 

A gem

  
I take a lot of pictures of my kids. Like an abnormal amount. I have a ton of albums and suitcases full of loose photos. I take a ton of pics. Still do. How can I not? First of all they are super cute, and I know I’m not supposed to say that, but #truth. Second of all it makes me happy. So there. 

All our relatives make fun of the way we’ve trained our kids. As soon as I take a camera out, they take position and smile. Usually when they don’t want to. But they do it for their crazy mama.

Every year of their lives is fully documented. Even before social media. That’s why I was so surprised when I got this picture. Taken at the home of a sister friend years and years ago. 

A new picture from those days, a picture I had not taken is like finding a treasure. She sent it to me this afternoon and I’ve been staring at it ever since. 

Kera intensely doing a craft – Jack smiling with his chunky cheeks – both of them golden brown. Where they back from the beach? What was that day? Where was I? 

I thought I owned every picture taken of my kids. It’s a sweet surprise to see otherwise. Thank you aunt Katherine! Xoxo

I used to blog

 

Now I just watch videos on how to contour in all my free time. 
Seriously. 

And I don’t even do it to learn how to contour – which if you are interested requires wearing layers of heavily caked on make-up. 

Remember what people used to call “theater make-up”, the kind that had to be exaggerated to be seen from the bad seats? Well that’s what I’m talking about. But instead of you playing Carmen at Lincoln Center, you’re just going to Starbucks.

I’m not a hater. I went through a no make-up phase after I had kids, but that just went along with my no-sleep phase. And I do wear make-up. Eyeliner, bronzer, lipstick. I’ve even been accused (rightly so) of Tammy Faye Baker eyelashes. So I’m not judging.  I am just in complete awe of these ladies. 

It’s like everyone went to beauty school in their free time. 

Anyway I have to get back to it. No rest for the weary!

Hope you aren’t sitting inside on this beautiful day. Go out and live your life! Then post it on Instgram so I can see it. 

Good morning roast

Sometimes…on a Friday morning, for no good reason, I wake up and make a roast. 

Normal right?

A few years ago my husband got me a Dutch oven. It’s high romance around here. Since then, I’ve slow braised the hell out of chicken, beef and lamb. And oh the chili I’ve made! 

I don’t make any veggie things in it because I feel like there’s braised meat in the bones of this Dutch oven. The soul of it is now meat. That’s right. It’s got a meat soul.

It’s an easy recipe. Cover the roast in salt, pepper and garlic. Sear the meat on high to get crust. Let the meat rest while you cook down onions, carrots and celery. Then add beef stock and a few bay leafs. Put the beef back in. Cover and into a 350 degree oven for 2-3 hours depending on size of roast. Done! 

Now go about your day, smelling like meat and bay leafs. You’re welcome.

   
    
    
   

So you wanna be a corporate planner?

I’ve done corporate events for my entire career. I love what I do. I love my job. Really I do. Even now, in our busy season, when we seem to work 24/7. It makes me happy. I started doing event planning almost right out of school and haven’t looked back since. It’s stressful. It’s creative. It’s fulfilling. In every sense of the word. I adore working with a team, and being with them in the trenches. I like working with the business to figure out how the event can help spread a message or build goodwill. There’s tons of fun to be had too. I’m not going to lie. We laugh a lot. And sometimes we cry. Unlike baseball, there is crying in corporate event planning.

So with all that said, it still isn’t what you think it is.

Here’s the best way to describe it:

Imagine you planned your brother’s wedding or party. You worked for months to help plan the look, the feel, the whole experience. You advised him on if the vows should be long or short – or if the newlyweds should do a first dance or have a cake cutting. You decided that because of budget, his party should probably be only appetizers, not a full meal. You worked with him to invite the right amount of people and were careful to not offend anyone.

Now imagine that after all that – the day of the wedding or party comes and the happy couple exchange vows or the invitees start coming in –  everyone is seemingly happy and content.

Now imagine guests start coming up to you randomly and telling you things like:

  • “Who picked this place? I was really hot in the back”
  • “The party…umm it was ok, but this morning the hotel I’m staying at took really long to bring my breakfast – kinda ruined the day for me”
  • “Why am I not sitting with the groom? He loves me. He told me I’d have really good seats”
  • “I wish we could have done it in June. August is so hard for me”
  • “I really wasn’t crazy about the vows. They were kinda cheesy”
  • “I know you can’t do this for everyone but my kid likes hot, curly fries for dinner. Everyday. Made with organic purple potatoes. Can you get that for us?”
  • “Did you actually pick the food on the buffet?”

And guess what. You do get the organic purple potatoes. And you apologize for the hotel not delivering room service fast enough and picking the wrong time and wrong space. You nod your head instead of saying the groom hates that person and specifically asked not to sit with them. And finally yes, you picked the food. You didn’t know it would suck that day. You should have known. Somehow.

You do all of this not because you’re forced to – but because your job is to make people happy. Not just the bride and groom or one family – your job is to make everyone happy. Which, by the way, never happens. So good luck with that.
Welcome to corporate events. Leave your sanity at the door.
 
 

Snow dayzzzzzzz


I think this picture was taken in 2000. We were living in NYC on the upper east side. Kera was 2. Going for walks with her daddy was one of her favorite things, even in a blizzard. Even in dirty city snow.

That white snow suit was a gift from her godmother Colleen, my sister-in-law. Colleen bought Kera every winter coat until she became a teen – and stopped wearing winter coats.

The picture with the pink hat below became our Christmas card that year.

This was Kera’s first major sledding adventure. Look at that face! Look at that hat! Remember when you could put your kids in anything and they’d wear it? I don’t.

  I think this is that same year. We had moved out of the city to upstate NY.

  Then Jack came on the scene…ready to party.

 Just look at Kera’s toothy smile! I like taking this trip down winter coat memory lane….

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We still meet with family every year right before Christmas – back then we met in Lancaster, PA. Thanks to Aunt Dee Dee we’d see a show, stay in a hotel and kick off the holidays. The picture below is from one of the last times we were there. We drove down and a blizzard hit. The show was cancelled but we found an open restaurant and made the best of it. I’m not sure why Jack isn’t wearing gloves. I seem to have him wrapped up like a babushka except for his little, cold hands. I was too busy taking pictures.

Snow makes them happy. And anything that makes them happy is fine by me.

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Chicken Marsala and other things

Happy January! Is the new year treating you well so far? Are you deflating slowly from the merriment like I am? Well, I’m trying to atleast. Work goes into hyper speed until…oh about June. Gulp. Here’s what we’ve been up to – a visual tour:

I call this, I spend a lot of time with chicken for a vegetarian.

 

We’ve been trying to cook more often and I went all old school this past weekend with a Chicken Marsala. The way to my husband’s heart is pretty simple – a meat, a gravy, and a noodle. This was an old Martha recipe. Remember when it was just Martha and all her superiority? Miss that.

I took some time off during the holidays from work and I think my husband and I may have seen a movie a day. One of the benefits of our kids getting bigger is that we are no longer tied to a sitter. If we want to go to a movie, we go. The kids manage to survive for a couple of hours. Here’s three of our favorites. Two of these movies aren’t for the faint of heart – and the other is not the love story you would expect.

My daughter, Kera, spent this long weekend at her high school’s senior retreat. Even though my husband and I both went to Catholic schools, neither one of us ever went to a retreat.  We blame Obama. Just kidding. Last night we went to pick her up in the “homecoming” ceremony. It was so raw and emotional. I fully expected the girls to be crying and happy when they walked in, because that’s how I would be. And isn’t it all about me? No? Ok. You’re right. What I didn’t understand was how many young men would walk in that room with tears in their eyes and talk about their emotions. And the mix of kids was also amazing. The sports guy, the cheerleader, the computer geek, the comedian – all together. The entire weekend is called Kairos, which is a Greek word that means “the right” or “the moment”. That’s about all I can tell  you because the cell phone/tv/computer free retreat, is also about how to protect the things that your peers have shared with you. Each group did get to share one thing with the parents – surprisingly it was all boys talking about their experience, except for one, brave, strong, beautiful girl. Guess which one? Yep. Here she is walking in from her “Kai High” as it’s called.


One last thing. For many years I’ve heard funny, crazy, happy, sad, and completely engrosing stories about my mother-in-law’s childhood on the Upper East Side of Manhattan called Old Yorkville. When we lost her too early, I started asking even more questions. Her two sisters and extended family have been filling me in. Initially I was just interested in my mother-in-law’s story, but now I’m obsessed with her mother, Irene. She was a stone cold beauty in every sense of that phrase. I met her just twice. By the time I came into the picture, she had lived a hard life. She didn’t play a huge part in my husband’s childhood, which was dominated by the other grandmother in his life – on his father’s side – Nana. That’s a cool story too. When I first met Joe I didn’t even know he had two grandmothers. I only heard about Nana. I didn’t meet Irene until amost 3 years into our relationship. She was so different than all the other women in his family that I’d met. A little withdrawen and quiet. I was so absorbed with my own little life back then that I really didn’t open up to her at all. Now I’m completely obsessed. Her marriages, her daughthers, her life – I want to know it all. I’ve been bugging everyone to share their stories, and they have. Generously. I’m not sure what I’ll do with it yet. I do hope to share some of what I learn here (if it’s ok with the family). Here’s a picture of Irene on her wedding day. Makes you want to know more about her doesn’t it?


Writing this blog makes me so happy, but it also requires that the people in my life are ok with what I choose to share. I usually don’t ask permission, but I am careful. It’s a tough line and that I’m constantly pushing. Why do I think you want to know about what I made for dinner or what movies I saw? Because if we were to ever meet, or had a cup of coffee together – that’s what I would ask you. Not because I think what I’m doing is so important – but because it’s a detail of life. And I love all the details that go into a person’s life. Do you agree?

 

 

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