Friday, Jul 12th

LifeasweknewitOne of the goals of a superb education is to ensure that the next generation – our children -- are ready to compete in a global economy. Upon graduation, will they have what it takes to survive against powerhouses like the Japanese? The Germans? Those darned Sweeds? In the wake of recent meteorological events, I say we shift gears a bit and refine our American educational goals. Forget reading and writing and Singapore math. Let’s just hope that everybody survives.

Fact: My ten-year-old son has missed about 20 days of school for weather-related causes. 12 and a half of those were from “superstorms” or rogue/freak/this-never-happens crazyass damage caused by wind or ice. (That half day was caused by the Halloween storm of 2011, when the elementary school opened for a costume pity-party parade in the school parking lot and then sent everyone home because it was too effing cold and dark to eat candy inside the building.) He and his sister have begun to think that missing a week of school every third year is the new normal, much as one might say that navy is the new black, or that New Coke was momentarily the new Coke. Right now it’s like my offspring are professors at a prestigious university, enjoying their god-given sabbatical.

I am starting to think that my children’s memories of school will be fond because they only attended once in a while and thus looked forward to it with heightened anticipation and glee, much like Laura Ingalls Wilder did during planting season on the prairie. “We really get to go to school, Ma and Pa? For a whole week? Say it ain’t so!””

“Don’t forget your chalkboard, Half-Pint!” I’ll say, as my daughter bounds out of the house, petticoats and braids flying.

You think I’m kidding? When the power goes, there won’t be a chalkboard app on her iPad for long. She’ll have to use an actual chalkboard. And then I’ll start calling dressing her oddly and calling her Half-Pint for fun.

What our children need in order to save them from the hazards caused by global warming is an educational foundation grounded in this very same earth that is now imploding all around us.

Our children need to learn how to wield an axe to cut down the trees that fall into their homes and then use those trees for kindling to heat their homes. Or, perhaps, to build new ones. They need to think and act like scouts without the sex abuse scandals, learning what the word ‘orienteering’ means and helping old ladies across 6-lane intersections without the guide of any working traffic lights. Refine the Phys Ed curriculum to include sandbagging and roof climbing, I say.

Also, globalization is critical, as the next generation will need to learn how to read the Mandarin instructions that come with a black market crank-handled radio or an imported Croatian generator. Our teenagers need to know how to style their hair without product or ionic hairdryers and how to talk directly to people by looking at them face-to-face - because there will no longer be texting to hide behind - and because we’ll all be living side-by-side on cots in shelters on high ground. They’ll need to learn how to walk to school uphill in the snow both ways all summer long. When I say back-to-basics, I really mean back-to-basics.

And so, I’d like to propose a curriculum for the end of the world. This step-by-step manual contains pre, during, and post-apocalyptic teaching guides intended to home school your child in the dark of your very own, semi-submerged house, using your state’s learning standards. It is applicable for grades K-12.

For those of you with gifted children, there are AP and Honors tracks available, at least until those tracks get washed away by the approaching tsunami.

To give you a little taste of what’s in store, attached is the Summer Reading Guide of Realistic Fiction (note: these used to be called “Apocalyptic Fiction” or “Dystopian Fantasy” but, in the wake of Sandy et al, the genre has recently been renamed.) Remember also, the term “summer” now extends from January to December.

These titles can be purchased on Amazon.com; summary content was taken directly from that website.

Life as We Knew It by Susan Beth Pfeffer

I guess I always felt even if the world came to an end, McDonald’s still would be open.

High school sophomore Miranda’s disbelief turns to fear in a split second when an asteroid knocks the moon closer to Earth, the way “one marble hits another.” The result is catastrophic. How can her family prepare for the future when worldwide tsunamis are wiping out the coasts, earthquakes are rocking the continents, and volcanic ash is blocking out the sun? As August turns dark and wintry in northeastern Pennsylvania, Miranda, her two brothers, and their mother retreat to the unexpected safe haven of their sunroom, where they subsist on stockpiled food and limited water in the warmth of a wood-burning stove.

This awesomely depressing trilogy will feel like another day at home with the kids.

The Age of Miracles by Karen Thompson Walker

In The Age of Miracles, the world is ending not with a bang so much as a long, drawn-out whimper. And it turns out the whimper can be a lot harder to cope with. The Earth's rotation slows, gradually stretching out days and nights and subtly affecting the planet's gravity. The looming apocalypse parallels the adolescent struggles of 10-year-old Julia, as her comfortable suburban life succumbs to a sort of domestic deterioration.

This blurb had me at “domestic deterioration” and “long, drawn-out whimper.” Feels like life with the spouse who cannot commute to his/her office because that office is no longer there! Fun for the whole family.

The Dog Stars by Peter Heller

A first novel set in Colorado after a superflu has culled most of humanity. A man named Hig lives in a former airport community—McMansions built along the edge of a runway—which he shares with his 1956 Cessna, his dog, and a slightly untrustworthy survivalist. He spends his days flying the perimeter, looking out for intruders and thinking about the things he’s lost—his deceased wife, the nearly extinct trout he loved to fish.

Doesn’t this description make you want to run/swim/paddleboard right past your McMansion and to your nearest CVS for your flu shot, while fishing along the way? (Don’t drive – it’s a waste of scarce gas.)

Trapped by Michael Northrop (To be release on Dec 12, 2012, if there is such a date)

It’s a setup just plausible enough to give you chills. A nor’easter, which will ultimately be known as the worst blizzard in U.S. history, sweeps into a rural New England community, trapping seven kids inside their high school for days. Northrop begins with some dark foreshadowing—“Not all of us made it”— which makes the students’ gradual realization of their predicament all the more frightening. First the snow piles up past the windows; then the water pipes freeze; then the roof starts making ominous noises. What begins as a sort of life-or-death The Breakfast Club (there’s the delinquent, the pretty girl, the athlete, and so on) quickly turns into a battle for survival.

A life-or-death Breakfast Club? Are you kidding me? Best way to die in a book ever. Can’t wait for it. Literally, I can’t wait.

In summary, I’m just working out the basics now, but hope to have the curriculum ready to go before next Wednesday, when a non-fictitious nor’easter threatens to psychologically damage every weatherman by making him question whether he can possibly be that unfortunately historically accurate twice in a row. Until then, stay safe, stay warm, and stay dry.

And read about the end of the world – it’s only fiction, after all.

gerstenblattColumnist and blogger Julie Gerstenblatt writes with humor and candor about her life in Scarsdale, her friends and family, and the particular demands of motherhood and wifedom in modern-day suburbia. Read about her new book Lauren Takes Leave and keep up with the latest from Julie Gerstenblatt at http://juliegerstenblatt.com

 

 

ivivvaFirst, let me just say, on behalf of all the Lululemon-loving women out there with young daughters…OMG! When I heard that the Vancouver-based athletic wear designer Lululemon had an entire store of dance and yogawear for girls, I was, like, so excited. And then I was shocked, because, um, where have I been? How did I not know this important piece of info? I immediately surfed the Internet and saw for myself that it was true.

Hooray!

As a former gymnast, dancer, diver, and wannabe Knicks City Dancer, I know a thing or two about active wear. I know it has to flatter your body and not crawl up your butt. And, now, as an indoor cyclist and writer who sits around in sweatpants, I know that there’s nothing I’d rather wear for both/either activity than my Lululemon Gather and Grow cropped pants and a Cool Racerback tank.

Not to mention, I have a seven-year-old daughter who likes to pretend she’s a hip-hopping rock star.ivivvadance

Let me put on my journalista cap and get down to business, sharing what I know with all of you Lemonheads out there.

The first Ivivva Athletica store opened in Vancouver in late 2009, and now has about 8 outposts throughout Canada. But we live in the US of A, so we don’t care that much about those stores. We want ones here. And, guess what? We’ve got ‘em. There are Ivivva showrooms in New York City, Boston, Chicago, The OC, and Bellevue, WA. (These smaller, cozier stores are opened for limited hours on certain days, so check the website for specific information before you go.) Temporary pop-up stores currently exist in Scottsdale, AZ and St Louis, MO (this one opens at the end of October).

As expected from Lulu, the Ivivva active wear is cool, hip and functional, as well as slightly overpriced. But, in a sort of funny way, that higher price point probably makes us lust after the clothing even more, and the Lulu people know that. And they know that we know that. And we buy it anyway. And they like that very much.

Anyway, back to the girls.

To quote the website, “If you haven’t guessed by now, Ivivva is made for seriously active girls. All of our clothes are designed with input from dancers, gymnasts, ice skaters, movers and shakers. And, we even have dance classes in our stores every week.”

(Is your blood pumping harder? Is your heart beating faster? ‘Cuz mine sure is. Let me quote on.)

“As members of the Lululemon athletica family, we share the same DNA. That means we use the same, high-quality, technical fabrics in all our clothes and that everything we make is designed for active girls who love to move and aren’t afraid to sweat.”

Go, girlpower!

Should you not live near an actual Ivivva store or showroom, do not fear. You can shop online. (Just make sure to switch from CA to USA so you are ordering from the American website and paying in US dollars. FedEx Ground shipping is free.) Should you need to get an item hemmed, bring it to any Lululemon store for free alterations.

Plus, Ivivva cares. “Gymnasts told us they were tired climbing out of the pit with little bits of foam stuck to their outfits, so we started using the foam-resistant power luxtreme fabric for our Rhythmic Shorts.” I mean, I think I want to cry. They love our daughters that much? Can they make chalk-resistant leotards?

“The vents in our Double Time Gym Bag came from a dancer in Calgary who wanted more air vents for her stinky shoes.”

They do love us. They really do.

And we heart them back.

Now, click over and shop, please. Your daughter will thank you from the top of her Showtime tank to the bottom of her Get Down Crop ii.

Namaste.

Ivivva New York Showroom
215 West 83rd Street
New York, NY 10024

Hours:

Thursday & Friday 2:00pm to 6:00pm
Saturday 10:00am to 5:00pm
Sunday 11:00am to 5:00pm

Phone: (212) 362-3839
Email: newyorkcity-showroom@ivivva.com
http://www.ivivva.com

gerstenblattColumnist and blogger Julie Gerstenblatt writes with humor and candor about her life in Scarsdale, her friends and family, and the particular demands of motherhood and wifedom in modern-day suburbia. Read about her new book Lauren Takes Leave and keep up with the latest from Julie Gerstenblatt at http://juliegerstenblatt.com

MaizeLOGO

Every season offers up some kind of country fair that promises to make me gain weight while simultaneously upsetting my allergies. And yet, wherever I travel, I am drawn to these country carnivals, fairs, and hayrides like a moth to a flame.

Take, for example, last weekend’s excursion to Confreda’s Farm in Cranston, RI. This “fahm,” to use the local vernacular, is the home of Fall Fest, which boasts a corn maze, called The Maize, and an event called Scary Acres RI, a nighttime haunted corn maze and hayride, destined to freak you out completely.

We went during the day.

As explained on the farm’s website, “The first of the increasingly-popular ‘MAiZE craze’ to reach Cranston, the 10-foot-high labyrinth is designed in the shape of Rhode Island, with graphics celebrating our 90th anniversary. Carved into a cornfield the size of 6 football fields, the MAiZE is much more than a corn maze, it’s an interactive attraction with learning activities for kids, challenges for adults, and FUN for all ages! You don’t just tour the MAiZE…you experience it.”

To reach the maize maze, we embarked on a tractor-pulled hayride through several fields and tried to stay warm. In order to achieve inner warmth, I planned to myself with hot cider and funnel cake and a caramel apple upon returning to the “fahm.”

If anyone’s looking for a niche business opportunity, educational corn mazes are the next hot venture. I’m telling you: you heard it here first. People can even host corporate events and birthday parties in the maze (which gives an entirely new meaning to the phrase Children of the Corn). A company comes in and creates the maze and then sets up cool interactive activities throughout. This wise addition to the old-fashioned corn mazes of yore keeps families focused and deters them from wanting to kill one another when they realize they’ve been walking in circles for twenty minutes and it’s all Daddy’s/Mommy’s/Papa’s fault.

Look! We’ve found clue number three, everybody! Mommy is this much closer to binging out! Let’s punch a hole in our Farmopoly card and turn left! Only seven more clues to go!

What else is on our to-do list this fall? How about the Great Jack O’Lantern Blaze at Van Cortland blazeManor? It’s spooky but fun and shows off amazing pumpkin artistry that puts Martha Stewart to shame. Or, perhaps, the Horseman’s Hollow, which I’ve never been to and will never go to because, according to the video testimonial of the event, one girl says, “It was fantastic. I was scared you-know-what-less several times!” That is not an endorsement for me. I like to sleep at night and I like my children to sleep as well. But, if you like being scared you-know-what-less, go for it.

Historic Hudson Valley offers these and other events and celebrations as well. Visit http://www.hudsonvalley.org/events for more information.

And, if you live in or plan to visit Rhode Island this fall, plan ahead at http://confredas.com.

Where do you go for (spooky or not) Fall fun? Looking for more ideas? Check out Scarsdale10583’s guide to picking the perfect pumpkin and getting some lavender too.

gerstenblattColumnist and blogger Julie Gerstenblatt writes with humor and candor about her life in Scarsdale, her friends and family, and the particular demands of motherhood and wifedom in modern-day suburbia. She recently published her first novel, Lauren Takes Leave.

 

 

audreyhepburnThe other day, as I was driving out of the CVS parking lot, I saw my friend Leigh walking into the store. I waved and slowed the car. She gestured to me like she had something important to talk to me about, so I stopped and rolled down the window. She approached my SUV with purpose.

“Hi! Ohmigod, I’m so glad you’re here!” She said. I wasn’t sure why, but suddenly, so was I! It was great fortune for us to meet up like this! Leigh stepped back from my window and gestured to her legs. “Are these pants too tight on me?”

She was wearing skinny black Capris and a black button down. “No, they are perfect,” I said.

“No, seriously,” she said.

“Seriously!” I answered.

“Like, look again. They aren’t like way too tight?” She turned this way and that. Someone honked and I checked my rearview mirror to make sure I wasn’t blocking traffic.

I tried again. “Seriously. I just saw you walking here, and, in a flash before I recognized you, I thought, there goes a thin woman.”

“No, but seriously.”

“Leigh. You look like what’s-her-name, Audrey Hepburn, in those capris.”

“Because, you know, I’ve recently lost weight, and –“

“I know! You’ve lost a lot of weight. More weight even than you had before.”

“Yes! And so now I have no idea what fits me. Like, I looked at the tag on these pants that I haven’t worn in years and was like, no way an I fit into them, but here I am!” She said, excitedly. But then she reconsidered her potential joy. “Unless they are too tight.”

“Ugh! They are perfect!”

“You need to be a good friend. You would tell me, right? If they looked bad?”

“Yes, I would tell you! Of course I would.”

Notice the interesting shift here. My role in this exchange quickly morphed from fashion advisor/giver of an unbiased opinion to “good friend.” Why was I accused of being a liar and, perhaps, not a good friend? Because of my flattery? If I told her she looked like a fat cow, would I have been deemed an honest, good friend…or a bitchy and jealous wench?

Was there any way to quote-unquote win this, or, at the very least, conclude it and get the hell out of the CVS parking lot in one piece?

Leigh paused. “You aren’t going to put this in your blog, are you?”

I smiled. “Yes, Leigh, I think I am.”

What is it with us women? Why can’t we accept a compliment, or be a fair judge of our own appearance? Why is it that, more often than not, we crave the supportive thumbs up from a wingman? Is flying solo with our fashion choices and body image really that hard?

I think the answer is a complicated yes and no.

The first problem that messes with our womanly bodies and heads is childbearing. I’m not one of those people that goes around blaming her children for her fat ass, but I will say that my body definitely changed post-baby. When we get pregnant, we gain a lot of weight, and then we lose a lot of weight. Then we have another child and do it again. And perhaps, again and again. Or, perhaps, we inject hormones and try in vitro and that messes with our bodies (and heads) in an even more extreme way. And then, once we have these children, we are too tired to exercise. For the better part of a decade, our bodies may be in constant flux as we ramp up up up and down down down, perhaps not losing all of the baby weight in between pregnancies.

And, throughout, we look at ourselves in the mirror, and go, huh. Like, at 7 months pregnant, we go, look at my boobs! And, then, seven months after the completion of breastfeeding, we go, oy, look at my boobs. And my hips. And my stomach.

And my arms.

Fine, my atrophied arms are probably not related to pregnancy or childbirth, but they are different now than they were before. Which brings me to point number two.

Age. Whether or not you’ve had children, you’ve had time. And time is a bummer on the body. Gravity pulls things down. The jowls, the butt, the aforementioned arms. Suddenly, we feel insecure about parts of ourselves that used to be just fine, or points of pride, even. Spanx helps some of it, and exercise remedies a lot as well, but the fact is, my face is slowly sliding off my skull like the California coastline into the Pacific, and no amount of lotions and push-ups and antioxidants can really prevent that natural downward drift.

And these are just a few of the reasons why we might ask a friend, “how do I look?” Because we don’t always know anymore.

But here’s the upside of time: it means that I’ve stopped caring so much about what other people think of me. Of my weight, and my face, and my butt. I don’t even care that much whether people like me anymore, although I certainly try to be nice. Not caring….it’s so refreshing!

And so, I think we can all agree that a healthy self-image is top priority, because, ultimately, we can’t get younger or taller. (I’ve tried.) And we can all agree that feeling good is much more of a from-the-inside-out process than an outside-in one. And, yet, I do give some thought to how I dress when I leave the house, and I do like receiving compliments from time to time, so I understand Leigh completely: no one wants to be walking around in pants that are too tight.

Long ago, my mother imagined a device that would allow women to see themselves in motion from behind, like when walking down a New York City street. Do these pants really make my butt look big? Should I be wearing different underpants with these white jeans? It’s a mirror-like gadget called “Ass Backwards,” and she’s currently working on an app for it that she feels might help save women’s lives.

Which brings me back to Leigh, her Capri pants, and the CVS parking lot. Leigh had finally lost her baby weight - and more - in time for her son’s bar mitzvah. It’s been a while since she had seen herself as a smaller person and she didn’t know what to make of it. Her insecurity came not from insanity (okay, fine, maybe a little bit from crazyland), but mostly from complete unfamiliarity. She was tall and newly thin…and her hair was highlighted and her skin was tanned, because, she explained, her best friend’s son was also becoming a bar mitzvah, and Leigh was being called up for an aliyah on the bimah. (For those of you unfamiliar with Jewish-isms, this means that she would be standing on a platform in front of a room filled with hundreds of people, so she wanted to look her best. Not just before God, but before the Bernsteins and Shapiros, too.)

So, Leigh, even though we know appearances aren’t everything, I want to declare here, in my blog post, so loud that everyone on the World Wide Web can hear it: those pants look great.

Seriously.

gerstenblattColumnist and blogger Julie Gerstenblatt writes with humor and candor about her life in Scarsdale, her friends and family, and the particular demands of motherhood and wifedom in modern-day suburbia. She recently published her first novel, Lauren Takes Leave.

 

statementnecklaceI love clothes. I love looking at beautiful clothes, trying on clothes, and, most of all, I love wearing clothes. Which is a good thing, I think. Wearing clothes. Every day. But here’s the funny thing: when I stopped working fulltime five years ago in order to write from home, my wardrobe took a big hit. Suddenly, it didn’t make sense to buy several pairs of nice Theory pants every year or two. Blazers just hung around my closet, bored, talking to the Blahnik boots that were yawning on the floor. Overnight, I found that I had absolutely no need to go into stores like Ann Taylor and Banana Republic, my teaching-wardrobe superstores. I used to know the names of their pants, the mid-rise Martin, the higher-waisted Jackson, but now I could care less. I didn’t even wave to them when I walked by their windows. Pants? Who writes at home over their garage in wool/polyester/spandex blend pants? Who walks the dog in trousers and kitten heels, unless they are going off to a workplace right afterwards? Not that I have a dog. But if I did, I’d be walking that furball while wearing jeans or sweats.

My life’s daily rhythms had shifted into a quieter mode and now my wardrobe needed to chillax as well.

Although I was excited to have the excuse to shop for new items, I was concerned that it wouldn’t be as much fun to dress up to go nowhere as it was to go to work.

How could I hold on to a sense of style while looking appropriate for the occasion? And what if that occasion was serving pizza lunch at my children’s elementary school? Or having coffee with a friend in Greenwich?

I found myself buying jeans. Lots of jeans. Skinny jeans, colored demin, and J Brand cargos. I bought flowy tops and sweaters in solid colors that were easy to wear and didn’t require a lot of thinking, as mornings were now about packing lunches and going to PTA events. As I was transitioning into a more casual look, I didn’t want to lose my flair, that sense of fun, just because I had nowhere to really be. I knew that I was a suburban Mommy, of course, but that didn’t mean I couldn’t go out dressed like the best suburban Mommy and freelance writer possible.

But there’s a fine line between having fun with fashion in the suburbs and dressing appropriately. We all know at least one woman who seems too fancy for her everyday life, and I didn’t ever want to be pegged as Way Overdressed Mommy. Or worse, Who Does She Think She Is? Mommy. Yikes. We also know the ones who, in their love of dressing hip and young, end up looking too much like their teenaged daughters. Let’s call these ladies Sweet Sixteen Mommies.

How is it possible to have fun with fashion at forty (two)? And, what are some great fall fashion finds that could instantly update my/your/our collective wardrobes? These are the questions I asked stylist and fashion blogger extraordinaire, Stephanie Unter, also known as the Fashion Hunter.

Where many of us may have adopted a particular look or basic uniform that we feel comfortable in, Steph is a fashion chameleon, wearing pigtails one day and a hat the next. “I’ll put on red lipstick just to feel different. I see fashion as exploration. I’ll wake up and think about what that day is going to be about. I want to project a little bit of who I am in what I wear.” Where most of us see fashion in a somewhat practical way, she views fashion as theater.

So, I needed to know: how much emphasis does Steph put into the trends? “Trends are not the bible. I don’t buy into every trend. I’m obsessed with fashion, but comfort, wearability, and sustainability – can I wear it again – are close seconds.”

So, while she reports on high fashion and street style daily through her blog, she says that, “I need to figure it out for myself, both budget-wise and for my body, because I’m petite and not all trends are going to look good on me.”

Here is Steph’s must-have, how-to list for Fall:

1. Perk up your wardrobe instantly with a pair of statement boots. Check out these perfect Isabel Marant ones.marantboots2

2. Cropped trousers are in, which work nicely with those statement boots, since the shorter pant draws attention to your ankle, “and the boot pops out” because it’s not being hidden under long pants.

3. Add a statement necklace to any simple outfit and boom, you’re glam. Try Danijo, Erikson Beamon, or Pono jewelry.

4. Interested in trying out a trend? Do it smart. “I love Zara and Asos for knockoffs. They copy D&G and Prada prints. Getting into runway looks? Go for the cheap!”

ponotwo5. Want to tell the world a little bit about yourself without uttering a word? Let your t-shirt do it for you.  “Graphic T’s are huge!” Steph says. Anything you believe in or any place you love – say it on a basic t under something fantastic,” like a gorgeous blazer or jacket. “I love mixing high and low.”

6. At most, incorporate two trends at any one time, and make it subtle. “If you want to try the brocade look, do it with a bag or a pin. Into oxblood? Put it on your nails.” You don’t have to wear it all over. “If you appreciate the color, wear it however you want it.”

7. “In terms of colorways, I’m also seeing greens, navy with black, and winter whites. Also, metallic pants in gold and silver.”

8. What else is hot? Jean shirts, leather everything, and pencil skirts. And biker jackets “are always a fall staple; they never really left.” Also, continuing from last season into this one and spring are the use of lace and peplums.

Ultimately, Steph takes “a lot of inspiration from street style, from movies, and from what’s happening in magazines.” Also, “I love seeing the transition from season to season,” she says, noting the way the buttery soft leather with beautifully cut-out patterns continues into spring in pastel hues.

Not everyone is as into fashion as Steph is, whose work in the industry brings her incredible joy. “I love to see who is following me on my blog,” she says. “That’s my way of getting high. Fashion is fun and funny, fast and furious. It keeps me going, keeps me alive and on my toes.” Check her out at newyorkfashionhunter.com.

Now, stop reading this and get shopping, people! We have trends to tackle and fashion to flaunt!

gerstenblattColumnist and blogger Julie Gerstenblatt writes with humor and candor about her life in Scarsdale, her friends and family, and the particular demands of motherhood and wifedom in modern-day suburbia. She recently published her first novel, Lauren Takes Leave.