Angles and Fractions and Decimals…oh my!

math blogI remember sitting in math class as if it were yesterday.  Specifically in junior high school.  I was a math genius until I met geometry.  We never got along…geometry and I – let’s just say we saw things from different angles.  I just didn’t get it.  Apparently, I still don’t.  Recently, my sixth grader asked me for help with math homework.  I’m always excited when he asks because quite frankly, as he gets older, I get asked less.  “Sure” I say quite happily.  As I walk towards him, I see it’s one of those free from sheets made by the teacher.  Ugh, no reference book to look up the answers.   “OK, let’s take a look” I say.  “What do you need help with (exactly how difficult is this going to be, I am thinking)?  “I don’t get it” he says.  (Me too pal, me too.)

The supermom in me feels I should know this.  I mean, I should be able to help my kid with his homework.  I can feel my body temperature rise and my anxiety start to build.  We stare at the paper for a bit as if the answer will magically appear.  “Wait”, he says.  “I get it.  It has to equal 180.”  At this point, I have no idea what he is talking about and I nod in agreement.  “Yes, all sides have to total 180.”  I vaguely remember something about that now.  We proceed through the rest of the problems to find the answers.  In the back of my mind I am trying to think of people who would be better suited to help him with this.  Tutor, teacher, anyone?

We ultimately got through it and, I had no confidence that the answers were correct.  A few days later he got the homework back and, sure enough, we had a few wrong.  “That’s OK Mom”, he said.  Such a nice kid.  The reality is that the way I learned math and even writing/reading (we called it Language Arts) is so different now than it was when I attended the New York City Public School system in Queens.  My third grader has a whole process of adding and multiplying that sometimes looks very long to me.  When I try to show her how I do it, she insists it is not correct.  I remember back then thinking that I will never use this stuff again and mad that the teachers made us do it.  Now I realize that we needed to go through it to be able to help our children.  It’s a changing world and our kids are learning differently than we did.  That doesn’t make it wrong, just difficult for me to help when they need it.  While that may sometimes be frustrating, strangely it also makes me feel a sense of pride that our children, our future, are bright people and will be able to look at things from a different angle to come up with solutions.  I also see it as an opportunity to take another stab at it myself to see if I can understand it better with my adult mind.

Perhaps that is how my parent’s generation viewed us and how theirs viewed them.  To me, that means that children are our future thought leaders, inventors, entrepreneurs, politicians, teachers, civil workers, nurses, doctors……..our everything.

I often wonder how they will all turn out.  What will they be and what will they do in this world?  What kind of contribution will they make to society?  When my children’s friends are over, I wonder about them too.  My only hope is that whatever it is, they do it with kindness in their heart, a fire in their belly and a passion for their work.

Mommy Dearest

Okay, so this one may require a Kleenex or two……don’t say I didn’t warn you.  I was in the city today conducting a site inspection.  A site inspection is when people in the events business go to a hotel/venue to check it out before they sign a contract to hold an event.  One of the venues I visited today was a world renowned restaurant in New York City – La Grenouille.   Matriarch and founder Gisele Masson’s portrait hangs front center in the dining room, three roses are propped on the top of the frame.  Websites say that it was her husband Charles Masson Sr. who founded the restaurant (see Wikipedia reference below).  According to Gisele’s son and current general manager Phillipe, that is not the case.  Phillip says his mother had a knack for real estate.  She was amidst a real estate deal and abandoned it mid negotiations.  She stumbled upon the space at 3 East 52nd Street and purchased the property.  She called her husband, a ship captain, Charles and said “Congratulations, you own a property in New York … and a restaurant”.  The rest is history.

She had a passion for the business and her son proudly carries that torch now.  I ask Phillipe if the portrait is of his mother.  “Yes” he says.  “It was time to display it in the restaurant.  She is the reason it exists.”  Very humble and very lovingly, he credits all the success to his mother.  He proclaims his love for her and respect for all she did, clearly a devoted son.  I ask where she is now.  “She passed away three months ago”.  I immediately connect the portrait and three roses attached to it.  I tell him as a mother of a son, I am sure she is looking down at him and smiling.  I have a feeling he knows this… innately.

The subject of motherhood continues.  I confess a recent incident with my own daughter.  She was having a difficult morning getting ready for school.  Her hair wasn’t right, her clothes were wrong, the bandaid wasn’t the one she wanted and her eyes looked like she was crying.  I tried and tried and just couldn’t console her.  Finally, I convinced her to get in the car promising to take the long way to school so her eyes can get “normal” again.  I drive …slowly… around the town’s perimeter.  As I pull in front of the school, she starts breathing heavily and the tears emerge.  “I’m not ready” she states.  No problem.  I tell her to take her time.  I need gas anyway.  Off to the gas station we go.  After I fill up, I drive past the street where the school is.  “Where are you going Mom?”.  “We are going for coffee and hot chocolate” I say.  My attempt to get her comfortable and spend some quality time with her.  She is thrilled.  About a half hour later, we pull up to the school’s main entrance again.  Immediately the tears and panic sets in.  I tell her it’s time to go in and she tells me she’s not ready.  Feeling frustrated and out of ideas, I tell her I will go in and talk with the principal.  She gives me an “I dare you” look.  Out I go and ring the office buzzer.  I go in to the office and explain my daughter is in the car and doesn’t want to come in.  The principal suggests I drive around the back and she will meet me there to discreetly bring her in.  Great idea…..

As I pull up, I see the principal …… and the security guard.  Okay, I get it.  Things happen and schools have to take precautions but at the same time I have an uneasy feeling.  At this point thought, I’m stuck.  Can’t back out now.  She quickly opens the door and encourages my daughter to come out.  Hesitantly, she eventually goes in and I drive away…..sobbing of course.  What have I just done?  Turns out, she was fine.  She went right to her classroom and when she came home, she scolded me and said “You didn’t have to call the principal”.  That was the end of it.

My colleague proceeds to tell me her story.  (Get the Kleenex ready.)  She is in second grade (age 7) and her father had a heart attack.  It had been several weeks since she saw him and was missing him terribly.  Her eyes swell with tears.  She told her mother she wanted to see him.  Her mother told her to stop carrying on.  She missed her daddy.  Her mother put her in the car and drove her to the police station.  She told the police that she was carrying on and needed to be locked up (wink wink at the officer).  What happened next?  They locked her up!!!!!!!!!!  At this point in the story, the tears are flowing.  I cannot even imagine what a seven year old is thinking.  “I miss my daddy so they put me in jail”?  Sadly, her dad suffered another heart attack and passed away a few years later.  This tough love clearly damaged this child.  It is uncalled for and, in my opinion, unforgivable.  Eventually, my colleague had a falling out with her mother and, to this day, still does not speak with her.

I’m a believer in following through and appropriate tough love.   My heart goes out to all the moms who struggle with children’s tantrums and emotional land mines.  This, however, I cannot condone.  We are the adults and, like it or not, what we do, say and act out leaves an impression on our children.  It’s fine to teach lessons but lets make sure we don’t damage our children’s delicate hearts in the process.

Below from Wikipedia:

La Grenouille (French: “The Frog”) is a historic French restaurant located at 3 East 52nd Street (between Fifth Avenue and Madison Avenue) in Midtown Manhattan in New York City.[1] It was founded by Charles Masson, Sr., a former Henri Soulé apprentice, and Masson’s wife, Gisele in 1962 and quickly became the location of choice among the fashion industry‘s most elite designers.

Aside from fine French cuisine, La Grenouille is famous for its lavish floral arrangements, a tradition started by Charles Masson, Sr. and continued by his son, Philippe Masson. It is also the last operating New York French haute cuisine restaurant from the 1960s, a time when it dominated New York City’s French haute cuisine alongside LutèceLe Pavillon, La Côte Basque and La Caravelle.[2]

Philippe Masson currently operates the restaurant. Charles Masson Jr. was the General Manager from 1974 to 2014 with a hiatus between 1993 to 1998.[3] It is still a hotspot among those in the fashion industry, including creative director of ElleJoe Zee.[4]

In 2013, Zagat’s gave it a food rating of 28, the highest in the East 50s, and rated it the 7th-best restaurant in New York City.[1][5]


20637541_sLike many families with busy schedules, meal planning can often be frustrating.  One of the things I have found that work for me is engaging my children, ages 11 and 8.  At the beginning of the week, ideally on Sunday night, they get to decide the dinner menu for the week.  That’s another ritual in our home.  Sunday nights we have a family meeting, usually during dinner,  and review the upcoming week’s schedule.  This helps to provide another opportunity for family time and avoids the “you didn’t tell me I had practice” arguments.


I write out all of the available options for that week’s dinner and keep them in the top drawer of my kitchen island. (Along with all my other school supplies, pencils, scissors, scotch tape, stapler, rubber bands, etc.)  

As you can see, my children are very plain eaters – we’re still working on that.  In case you are wondering, MYOP is “make your own pizza”, one of our favorites.  Brinner is breakfast for dinner and that can be anything from pancakes to cereal.

MYOP:  Dough is available from your local store (Sickles Market in Little Silver or Whole Foods offer great options).  Whole Foods sells the sauce and cheese in the same case where the dough is located.  Alternatively, get some mozzarella and ricotta cheese for a white pizza option, another family favorite.  Let the kids make whatever shape they wish.  We’ve had round pizza, oval pizza, square pizza and something that looked like an amoeba.  It really doesn’t matter.  The fewer the rules the more engaged they are and the more likely they are to eat it!

BRINNER:  Brinner usually ends up being pancakes or waffles.  I can usually add in some sausages as a caveat.  While I would love to, I don’t make them from scratch.  I usually get Aunt Jemima Original for pancakes and Krusteaz Belgian for waffles.  When I’m really feeling crazy, I mix in a small amount of food coloring for the pancakes.  Your local grocery store probably carries McCormick food coloring – I found a neon color option to use. When I’m feeling funky, I make multi-color.  A few drops of all the color and gently run your whisk through the batter – just a little.  They end up having a tie-dyed look. 

Stop waiting. Wear it now.

imageHow often have you gone to your closet and just stood there wondering what you should wear? There are so many options yet you always end up in either your workout clothes (because it’s easy and you might workout) or something basic because you are saving the good stuff for something special. I love clothing and dressing nicely but who has the time? Many of us are busy running errands, driving kids to their activities or keeping up with housework. When I was going to my office on a daily basis I noticed that many of the SAH (stay at home) moms were often in workout clothing. I didn’t get it. How hard is it to get dressed?

Apparently, it’s very hard.  Now I know.  I have even been guilty of leaving the house in my pjs just to get the kids to school on time.  Why is it that we always put ourselves last? My closet is filled with beautiful clothing that I don’t get to wear because I’m always in such a hurry.  School drop off, quick stop at the food store, next stop at the gym and another stop at a different food store (can’t possibly get everything in one store these days).  Back home, shower, well who are we kidding.  Let’s just say the intent to shower but then you realize you need to get some laundry done.  The phone rings and the caller ID says it’s the school.  Your stomach turns at the thought that your “free” time might be gone.  It’s your kid and they forgot their book or their lunch didn’t come or some other distraction.  You get back in your uniform (as if you ever got out of it) and you run back out.

The last few days I decided to get dressed in real grown up clothing.  Each day I did this, I got compliments.  Is that the trick?  Dress like a gym bunny for so long that when you actually wear real clothing you get noticed?  Now, mind you, I repeated the jeans, blazer, sweater but no one noticed.  And, I felt better about myself.  One day I even took out those beautiful boots that I’ve been waiting to wear.  Waiting for what?  Snow?  No, I wouldn’t wear them in the snow…….

So, no more waiting.  That special day is here.  It’s now, it’s today.  Do it.  Go crazy and wear some of your best things to the grocery store or the vet.  You will be amazed how good you feel and no one, I mean NO ONE needs to know you haven’t showered……yet.

This post inspired by my impromptu visit to J. McLaughlin in Rumson today with a dear friend. The current sale they have is amazing. I picked up two dresses, a shirt, a tote bag and a beautiful scarf….price tag $241.00! My friend got a great winter jacket, a dress and a valen”tie” for her special hubby for about the same amount. We walked out giggling and looking over our shoulders because we felt like we got away with something.  We promised to make a dinner date to wear our new dresses.


J.McLaughlin Clothing Store
15 West River Road, Rumson, NJ 07760
(732) 842-1142

My affair with Bertha

A few years ago I was in search of a new sofa for my family room. I looked in all the usual catalogs and stores. I found myself at a local store and saw a variety of options. While I liked what I saw, I did not like the idea of waiting eight weeks for a custom sofa. I’m more of an instant gratification type person. You know the type. That kid that goes for new shoes and HAS to wear them home. Admittedly, I have a hard time waiting. I see something I like and I want it NOW.

Big Bertha....the original

Big Bertha….the original

After browsing a few options I saw her. Big Bertha. A sectional so inviting that I wanted to dive in … and I did. The pillows plump with softness, the seats so deep that my feet couldn’t reach the floor. “What’s this?” I ask. “Oh, that’s Bertha. She’s big. Maybe too big for your room.” I wanted Bertha. Badly.

My designer, Eileen, wouldn’t let me order Bertha until she could measure the space. I like Eileen. She is sensible. Once she gave me her blessing we chose the fabric, size and pillows. It was so satisfying to build my own sofa. Once in place, Bertha became the preferred seating area and everyone who tried her couldn’t believe how comfortable she was. A year later we moved. We got new sofas for our family room, also from the same store. Sadly, The only sensible space for Bertha was in the basement. I don’t hang out there. I don’t sit there and I don’t plan to. Don’t misunderstand, our basement is amazing but it’s primarily a kids zone down there.

Berthette hugging my daughter.

Berthette hugging my daughter.

Like a long lost lover, I’ve been thinking about Bertha and how I felt every single time I sat on her. (I know that sounds weird, just go with me here.). So, a few months ago I decided to redecorate our enclosed porch. We had outdoor furniture out there, which was lovely but it was outdoor furniture that was indoors. Once again I took to online and catalog shopping. Nothing. Then it came to me. Why not get another, slightly smaller Bertha for the porch?! I called Eileen.  Of course she had to measure again….practical Eileen.  Yes it can work. She brought one fabric swatch (she knows my taste pretty well by now) and I enthusiastically approved it. Berthette, as I named her,  arrived last week and I could not be happier.

MAKtake: If you are lucky enough to get a Big Bertha in your home, prepare to be “seduced”. If I could sit in a cloud, I think this is how it might feel.

Store: The Store from River Road, Shrewsbury, NJ (designer: Eileen Cuje)

Sofa: American Country Home Store – Bertha Slipcovered Collection

I am MAK – these are my takes

So many people tell me I should “do something”, “write something” and so on. Perhaps its because of my attempt to have clever posts on social media or my love of writing.  Perhaps is the interesting adventure my life has taken or the glamorous job everyone seems to think I have.  Whatever it is, I am so excited to finally take this first step.  MAKtakes will feature stories about life, experiences, useful information and insights.  Get it?  My takes, I am MAK.

My daughter just passed by and said “What are you doing?”  I told her I was writing a blog.  “Oh” she sighed and walked away.  My son just asked me why I was doing a blog and if it is important to me.  Good question.  Yes, it is important to me and I am doing it because I enjoy writing and sharing information.  “What will you write about?” he asked.  Another good question.  The answer is everything and anything.  Whatever it is, it won’t be too long or too time consuming (for me, the writer or you, the reader).  Just snippets and just enough.  I promise.