Tag Archives: #exercise

Catch This!

My friend needed help – fast!  Her son’s 10/31 birthday was quickly approaching, and she needed to pull of a Yankees themed birthday party the weekend before.

Cue the party assistant (me)!  I helped make this BOYS & GIRLS party (full of second graders) a HIT, and everyone left with a pretty cool “thank you gift”!
I created a special banner (with photos of the birthday boy), fun framed decor and party bags filled with themed necklaces or keychains …

  …the girls loved the necklaces!    

I used this same idea to create boys’ high quality keychains.  I used blue or steel colored beads along with baseball beads to make a cool yet different design for the boys.  They love to hook the keychains to their school backpack zippers!

Here’s a look at the BASEBALL party…

…his “Bronx grandma” brought an amazing cake, and the kids played at the Baseball Center on the UWS!

      There were at least 25 kiddos, and a few younger siblings tagged along.  Everyone received a party bag — however I didn’t fill it with Cracker Jacks, peanuts, Big League chewing gum and such.  I know NY kids LOVE Air Heads!  Plus I added some Halloween stickers and red, white, and blue pompoms for a little whimsy.    

(my son above right): He would rather juggle than play baseball.  He’s a circus kid, what can I tell ya?

One of the coolest things about this party (besides watching “Manhattan Grandma” cheer on her grandson) was seeing our friends from (ex.) Sweden and Columbia join in, and learn the sport of baseball!  They were not ashamed to admit they never played, didn’t know how, didn’t know the rules, etc., It made me appreciate diverse friendships, supporting and teaching others, and cheering on your fellow teammate!  There is unity in our little world in the UWS.

Above: juggling Henry and “TuTu” (grandma); Enjoying yummy pizza on this super stormy rainy Sunday — what a great day to be inside!



Night at the …Zoo

We go to Griffith Park every week… (Sometimes twice a week).  Henry gets “stuck” in the same fun attractions (the teen workers at the merry-go-round may end up in my annual Xmas card this year)!  So…..I wanted to mix things up by going to the Old Zoo.  I learned it was only minutes away from the merry-go-round, and I love discovering new places; so after a quick two spins on the merry-go-round — we were off to an new spot!


Henry reluctantly followed my instruction, but I reassured him and told him it would be like a new play ground, and he could bring his bike and cruise around.  I told him the Old Zoo was kind of like visiting tunnels and caves!  They are the old pens that still exist and kids usually crawl around in them, climb, roam and explore!

To our surprise there were some young people dressed like as animals in the parking lot.  I thought they were school mascot kids from high schools and maybe there was a pep rally or game.  But I was wrong.

I went on line, and asked my FB friends if they knew what “this” was…. and learned the animals were “Furries” and they were LARPing; the game I was hearing was a battle of some sort – that is LARPing as well.  Live Action Role Playing….the older teens had swords and they seemed to be acting out a fantasy match against one another.  Just my luck, my son has a hard time investigating new areas of Griffith Park and we encounter this!

Furries at Griffith Park?   ride    ride2


What the heck?

IMG_0128  So my poor Henry had several mini-tantrums on the trail to the Old Zoo, but ASD aside who could blame him?  I was having trouble comprehending this, myself.

Henry got through the weirdness, then had fun cruising the old caves A.K.A. animal pens.

IMG_0129    IMG_0130

The bars above the staircase and the bars in the monkey bar cage seemed a little unpleasant — I couldn’t imagine being in a cage like the one on the right.  A woman passed by me and said, “I guess they didn’t believe in giving the animals a lot of space back then…”  She seemed a bit disturbed and I could’t blame her.  The old zoo was a bit creepy.

IMG_0127    IMG_0119

old zoo

Cruisin’ the Old Zoo

We stayed up here until the sun went down.  Henry loved it!  Then we went back to the playground in the pitch dark (at 5:00 PM)!  He really can’t get enough of that playground…We love Griffith Park!




What Do 40’s Look Like?

Featured Image: Little Lady  Makeup: Elisabeth Lehoux, Assistante: Coralie Paquelier

I’m not talking beer or malt liquor.  I’m saying Lordy, Lordy….here comes “40”…4.  Yup…10-14-14 will be here before you know it.

I’m OK with my age.  I just have a few moments where I freak out — OK maybe more than a few.  We know our looks change as we get older.  Skin loses elasticity, baby weight comes and goes (or hangs on).  Our weight even fluctuates monthly.  Some weeks I think it’s going great, other weeks not so great.  It’s kind of hard to let go of that self-centered “self” sometimes.  I was very focused with my fitness level and goals up until just a few years ago.

me at 35 in NYC

Damn, who knew 35 could look so lean?  NYC

Always being very sporty and active, I loved to swim, do gymnastics, and dance.  I was blessed with a super fast metabolism.  As a kid, I remember being skinny, but muscular with a very *flat stomach; my mom also made sure we ate pretty healthy, and we seldom had junk food.  *OK, you can’t have a flat stomach, because your stomach is an internal organ that aids digestion…it’s just a figure of speech.


1993…Here I am almost 23 with Sara, my first daughter.

I always loved to exercise, and as I entered my 20’s I found the local gym complete with weights, stair masters and hi-low aerobics classes.  I was hooked.  Even after my first daughter, I was able to sculpt my bod with diet and exercise, and see those incredible abs once again.  Friends used to comment that my physique reminded them of Sarah Connor from Terminator 2.  This was a new concept for the ‘everyday woman’ in the early 90’s… muscles!!!

killer body!

killer body!




My 20’s and 30’s were much of the same….a little narcissistic and really into the gym, and staying active.  Exercise, fitness classes and really, strict eating were a way of life.  I think my daughters thought I was obsessed.  I might have been.

Once I turned 40 (and this was right after my third child) I completely saw a change in my body and metabolism.  I took crazy-hard-boot-camp classes, exercised regularly, and tried so hard to get down to my lean, lean self again….but it just wasn’t happening.  At least by my standards.


…at 39 my belly was huge with Henry…and I still had about a month to go!

Something else happened in my 40’s….

I wanted to let go of being so concerned about body fat.  I wanted to go out into the world and not worry about eating plain tuna fish, or plain chicken, and veggies with no salad dressing.  I wanted just “be” and eat whatever  (in moderation).  I wanted to enjoy life with my family, and I wanted to ‘give back’ even more.  For example, anytime I can help Henry’s teachers — I do.  Also — I am able to see situations from many perspectives, and my interests changed.

Then, as Henry got older, I actually wanted to share a hot dog with him….and I found the healthiest version I could.  I highly recommend the Kobe beef hotdogs…at $8.00 for a small pack at McCalls here in Los Feliz — they’re about as good as you can get!  I wanted to taste potato chips again…..and I swear Utz on the east coast is THE BEST!  I wanted to just enjoy life…go out on day trips in California, travel, see new things, try new foods, and share new experiences.  I wanted to be there for Henry and get him the most help and early intervention as possible for his ASD.  That took a lot of work.  The kind of work I used to do for myself when the focus was on my fitness level and body fat %.

This California mama wants to be on the phone for hours with my daughters, who are living in Buffalo, NY.  …marathon talking session?  Yes!  I want to be there, not out at the gym and unaccessible.


…when I saw this picture — I knew my “shredded” days were over!  Me at 43.

Do I still work out?  Yes!!!  I hike some badass trails here in LA.  I walk, and walk, and walk.  I still do my push ups, ab-work, and favorite Pilates exercises.  I will go to Yoga, and Spin……Will I skip a work out?  Yes!  if it means I have a chance to go to Las Vegas and hang out with my family — for sure!  I don’t get to see them that often so a huge beer (with my sister by the pool) is my arm workout for the day!  If I am exhausted — because taking care of Henry is exhausting — yes!!!!  I will skip that workout.

I don’t have chiseled abs any more.  I curse out the clothes in the dressing room, and leave feeling depressed.  I just split my shorts last week, and that wasn’t the first time.  Sometimes size 4 really just isn’t my size anymore (and that’s OK)!  ….something’s gotta give, and sometimes it’s the seat of my pants as well as my lifestyle!  I simply cannot go back to eating “so strict” that my stomach feels empty and my soul feels deprived.  And that is what it takes for most women to have what society deems “a perfect figure”.

Thank goodness I am in my 40s — because my perspective has shifted.  It is important to have your health, but keep evolving and embrace who you are.

Travel, hike, go some place you’ve never gone before.  Do a wine tasting excursion (near or far)….visit your family, see a concert, go to a live sports game, visit the ocean, and when you get there– jump in and take a swim.  I have to say that eating delicious pizza with my nineteen year old, enjoying ice-cream sandwiches on a HOT, HOT day with my four-year-old, and drinking sangria with my 24-year-old are much more meaningful.   And if I want that killer body?  Hey, this is L.A….there’s no shortage of plastic surgery here. I am totally joking.  Sort of.

What does 40-ish look like?   

   betsy     bryna    lauram

    barb  jana   friends

It’s pretty special, and there is something very special about all of my friends.  Here are just a few — faces of the 40’s — women who embrace life, have fun and make incredible contributions to the world.  They are teachers, they are entrepreneurs, they are nurses, artists, care-givers, and performers.  Some are moms, some not…  Some are married, some single.  They are all thoughtful of the world we live in, and truly know how to help others, and make a difference.  

mq          michele

anniejpg   mimi

alex  robin kelli               tricia   chriss

stacie We don’t have perfect skin, or perfect bodies –by media standards anyway –but we do have beautiful skin and beautiful bodies.  Most importantly we have beautiful minds, hearts, and souls.  We are real, we are hard-working, we are compassionate, and we have all lost at least one (maybe more) close loved-ones by now.  We’ve cried, we have laughed, some of us have divorced, some not; we have lost pets, and cried some more; we have had people betray us, and our hearts broken, and then picked ourselves up and moved on.  We know how hard life can be, but we continue to embrace it, sometimes challenge it, and make a difference.  It seems like society wants you to be afraid of your 30’s, 40’s, 50’s and so on —  like they are scary.  But if you ask me — 40’s are totally refreshing!!!

Special thanks: Sandrine (feature image) and from top left: Betsy, Bryna, Laura, Barb, Jana, Mia & Theresa, Michelle Q., Michele T., Annie, Mimi, Alex, Robin, Kelli, Tricia, Chrissy, and Stacie

Sun Kid!

Henry is taking his first ever summer camp program!  It’s called “Sunkids” and its 3 hours long daily.  The program is located in Pasadena, CA!

“Sunkids is a therapeutic summer program run by occupational, physical, and speech therapists as well as trained volunteers. Planned events and activities include water play, music, pet day, crafts, walking field trips, as well as gross motor and sensory motor play. These activities are used to facilitate gross and fine motor skills, social interaction, and play in a safe and fun environment.” — Center for Developing Kids.

We are so excited!

campReady, set, go!  The first activity is a dance and music circle.  It’s huge (there are a lot of volunteers and kiddos singing and clapping).  Henry doesn’t like this at all.  It’s too much stimulation, too loud, and seems scary.  Bigger kids are in the circle getting their sillies out.  Henry has no sillies.  He usually doesn’t get silly in public.

We sit on the side and watch.  His O.T. asks if Henry wants to participate.  I say no, and explain it’s too much for Henry.  I can’t get him to do this at parties either.  She explains that it is a good activity to start the sessions — as parents are signing in their kids, and arriving.  (People run late so  its a flexible activity).  I totally get it.  I tell Brenda that as well.  I go on to explain that I used to do the same kind of thing when I started and ran a children’s exercise program called “Fit Kidz”.  We would have the kiddos run a fun obstacle course to energizing music until everyone arrived.  Then we would “officially” begin the class, and continue with more structured activity.  I see some parents having a hard time with their kiddos as well.  They seem stressed.  They seem to take it out on Brenda and the other workers.  It’s good to remember that the FIRST day of anything can be tough on everyone.  It’s best not to give the hard working, passionate staff a hard time.  They are trying… they care so much,  and have worked so hard.

Brenda tells me that they will end with this activity too.  If I want to bring Henry a few minutes late (so he misses the dance circle) that may be a good idea!  She wants him to get used to the routine, but also have a great experience.

There are so many fun activities planned!  Henry is in the green group!  He has all of his supplies and there are a lot of kids!  The dance circle is over.  One child with more severe ASD runs for the door and takes off….his mom runs after him (she is wearing 3 inch heals and a dress); She catches him.  Whew.

Henry goes in with Brenda, and he is a little scared.  I feel so weird as I walk away.

…even a bit shaky.

I drive off and run some errands, and then get back in time to park, and walk to the building to retrieve my son.

I see the big dance circle going on.  I don’t see Henry.  I look off to the side to see if he is seated on the outer parts.  No Henry.  I see Brenda!  “Where’s Henry?”  I say.  Brenda replies,  “He’s in the circle.”

There he is — face down lying on the floor in the exact center of the dance circle.  It’s almost insanely funny.

It was a great first day!









Discover, Play, Enjoy!

What’s fun at Kidspace Museum in Pasadena, CA?



Build, create, play!


 DSC_7898   Creek Walk!    DSC_7900



Frolic, splash, cool off!



Watch that water wheel go!



Find a bucket and catch some H20!


Even fish love it here!


OK, enough fish watching, back to playing!



It’s so cool here!


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 Make the fan GO!  Turn the wheel and see the fan work (and spray water)!





DSC_7949Climb up, up, up….and down, down, down!

There’s lots of indoor play with (ahhhhh) air conditioning!



YUMMY — a cool treat at break time!



 It’s electric!   DSC_7955      kidspace



One last look at the electrifying wall!


kidspaceEven with Henry’s ASD, he can pick and choose from the many exhibits that make him happy.  I will prompt him a bit to see if I can get him to try new experiences!  Each time we visit — he gets better and better!

Until next time….

Kids Have Need For Speed!

We took Henry to a FAVORITE kids spot here in SoCal…and after a simple reflection — I discovered that much like our LA traffic — kids (too) have a need for speed!

Henry has never liked bike pedals.  He truly couldn’t understand them, and they seemed to slow him down…so he used his feet (and scooted).  Even from the featured image (above) you can see that his foot is off the pedal (it slips off a good amount of times)!

When the time was right, we decided to get Henry a “Strider” bike (with no pedals).  He is a pro on it, and I’m a huge fan; there are so many benefits of kids skipping the trike and going right to the Strider!  However pushing those pedals is a good skill for Henry to learn, and practice; We’ve practiced many times in OT.  It’s good “heavy work” for him!  Well — today he really, really got the hang of it.  He was going at his own comfortable pace…but the other kids on the path were eager to display their biking skills and almost make a point of showing him to get going!!!  These other kids don’t have time for Henry to slow them down.  They have sh*t to do, and they are in a big hurry!  Wait….what?!  Have our busy, fast, rush – rush – rush lifestyles been transferred over to the next generation already?  Let’s take a look!

DSC_7924     Hmm….looks like Henry is causing a traffic jam…one kid has had it, and decides to go around!


…trying to keep the kids off his tail…


…jammed up again!

I helped him out a bit, told kids to go around him, directed Henry on other paths…but this scene (above) seemed to happen at my every attempt to redirect him!

Luckily Henry was a trooper.  Rather than accept the fact that he was going too slow — he looked at the others almost as if to say, “Why are you on my tail?”  This is a new skill for him, and he gets that.  Also he can see that many of the bikers were older (maybe too big)!  For the most part, the other kiddos were good spirited, but one thing was clear: they had the need for speed!

I try to slow thing down at every opportunity.  Even when I seem to be running late, or have the speed demons on my tail in traffic… Calm is better.  I stop at every stop sign when others roll (its called the ‘California Roll’)…I pay attention to the speed limit, and take care when driving.  For as many accidents that I see on a daily basis, I am in no hurry to be another bump, dent, or crash casualty (especially with my precious cargo inside)!

When I was in my late 20’s and 30’s — I did have that need for speed though.  I was speeding through everything!  There was never enough time in a day.  Now I am at liberty to toss out the things that aren’t so necessary and simplify when ever possible.  I know that its no easy task, but it is worth it to evaluate your life and see where you can cut out the “crazies”.  The rat race still exists…mostly we impose it on ourselves….and apparently our kids!

Find this adventure at: Kidspace Museum, Pasadena, CA!  It’s great fun…and there’s so much to do!  Helmets are provided in the biking area!  Biking is great fun, and great exercise for you and your kiddo!  Enjoy!


Peanut Butter Problems

Recently three of us “40-something” mamas somehow found the time to meet up for some chit-chat with children in tow!  We are 41, 42, and 43.  But soon it will be: 42, 43 and 43.  Funny how those numbers change so fast!  We each have a three-year-old (with birthday #4 on the horizon)!  We have a boy, a boy, and a girl.  We relate the the “late” potty training experience.  That is quite a conundrum!  Pre-school has been a very different journey for all of us, and it ‘s kind of fun to exchange stories about figuring it all out!  We also talk about finding the right schools, finding the right neighborhood for the right schools…or possibly private schools?  Kindergarten is coming!

…they all grow and develop at different rates (and we all know other kids who do this-or-that differently too) so we find ourselves sorting out all kinds of things!    

Henry has been our little puzzle for the past year and a half though.  He is really, very smart, (amazing cognitive abilities), but he has a speech and language delay.  Also his emotional development seems to have a bit of a delay as well.  We are in the final stages of “testing” — awaiting just a few more details, but we are getting some answers!  What we do know is that speech therapy has been amazing for him, and OT (or occupational therapy) looks like it will be amazing for him as well!  I’ll pat myself on the back too– having a masters degree in education, and all of my teaching experience has helped!

Although he was very nervous — Henry’s OT evaluation went well.  He didn’t warm up to her at first, but really liked his OT evaluator, Jennifer.  She was super cool.  But Jennifer didn’t have room in her busy schedule to take on a new client.  Darn!  Henry’s next appointment (meeting his new OT therapist Brenda) kind of bombed, but the next visit was much better!  He listened to directions, followed cues, and truly performed the tasks beautifully (even when they got harder and harder)!

I go to all of his appointment fully vested — wanting to learn as much as I can.  I help, watch, listen, and usually walk away with another question answered.  That is truly a gift.

Navigating through BIG L.A. can be exhausting though!  Phone appointments, phone tag, return phone calls, research, reading, more research, paper work, more paper work, even more paperwork, meetings, appointments on the calendar, driving to the appointments — driving: traffic, traffic, traffic, parking, (don’t forget to pay for your parking), helping Henry stay happy in the car, getting back home from the appointment, goal setting, working on goals at home…. it kind of makes me want to just be in LA LA land.  Oh wait, I am in LA LA land!

Which leads me to my hike today in Griffith Park.  Peanut butter problems….a girl was talking to her friend about her peanut butter problems.  Well, I guess it’s not coming out of the jar in an appropriate manner.  Are you kidding me?  I don’t really consider myself to be an ease-dropper.  Loud voices on the trail make me run, sprint, or jog past them (up hill or down) until I have my quiet path once again.  Before my sprint — this is what I heard,  Girl A: “I know this is really random but I have been having problems with my peanut butter.  Girl B: “Oh really…what happened?”  Girl A: “Well, I get my peanut butter at Trader Joe’s… and instead of stirring my peanut butter with the oil on top I turned in upside down and….”  SPRINT!

Tuesday mornings are my hiking days, after I drop off Henry to his little pre-school.  I go for a long (challenging) hike for some not-so-fresh air, but breath-taking views.  I clear my head, and sweat it out.  The terrain keeps me tough.  It reminds me that the journey seems steep and long, but take it one step at a time.  Never, never give up.  Getting my son the help he needs means I will climb mountains for him.  I will problem solve with professionals, friends and family, and figure it out.  Henry will be fine.

Isn’t it kind of funny how your conversations change over time though?  Who knew that in your 20’s you had peanut butter problems?  In my 40’s — life seems like a “Rubik’s Cube” puzzle.  And I could never, ever solve that when I was younger.

….my “Henry puzzle” is tricky at times, but I feel like the answers are coming.  Early intervention is truly the wisest solution to helping children.  The journey has begun, and I am fortunate to be on the right path.


Henry goes to speech therapy at Briggs & Associates.  We love his speech therapist, Catherine!  She has been so great with Henry (and he absolutely loves going to see her every single time)!  He even asks to go see her on various other days of the week!  His OT is at Center for Developing Kids.  Super, super awesome!  Big L.A. has a lot to offer, but can seem overwhelming!  We also started the intake process with the Frank D. Lanterman Regional Center.  If you have any concerns about your child’s development, talk to your pediatrician, and contact the regional center for help.





The COOP – Studio City, CA

Henry works out!

You know I love a space that promotes exercise, imaginative play (note the boy in the butterfly costume) and fun!  The Coop offers an indoor play space with many toys and props that spark creative play and make-believe!

DSC_6572   DSC_6588



Indoor playgrounds were new to me when I first moved to sunny Los Angels! I had spent so much time indoors (as a mom) in snowy Buffalo, NY (that’s where they need a COOP)! I wondered, “Why on earth do you need to be inside when you live in SoCal?” Ohhhhh — Ozone layer, sun burn, eye damage, skin cancer, ultraviolet light, over-heating, dehydration….. ding, dong!

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DSC_6591            DSC_6590

We love the cheerful, super cute snack area out on the patio (and notice how detail oriented the owners are) — their flowers even match Coop colors!

DSC_6604       The Coop sets the bar! It’s a super-classy space that adults and kids can both enjoy! Don’t even get me started on their awesome party services! Bravo!


DSC_6612        At the end of our excursion, both Henry and I got so much exercise I thought we were worthy of a hot dog treat, at none other than the FAMOUS Pink’s!

Yes, exhausted Henry is about to enjoy that chili-dog with onions! Kidding!