Wednesday, November 1, 2017


This year, Halloween started two weeks ago, with a visit to Boo at the Zoo - my favorite Fall activity. The kids wore costumes that they weren't going to be wearing on the actual day, and we had a great, gorgeous day at the zoo!
Milo now LOVES face paint.

Actual Halloween was finally the weather I remember - high 40s - so chilly enough to need a layer or two and not end up sweaty at the end of trick or treating. The neighborhood went all out, as usual, and everyone loved our Wonder Woman and Super Donut.

Work/school attire

The costume is store bought, but I'm pretty proud of this makeup job

Super Donut awaits his sister - she is putting on another layer, as it is windy. Will our heroes ever get some candy?

Happy Halloween!

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

The flu?

Last night, while getting changed into pajamas, Milo told me that the Band-Aid covering his flu shot injection site was bothering him. I offered to take it off (it's been on there for more than a week) and he slapped his hand over it, looked up at me with his giant puppy eyes and asked in all seriousness "Mommy, if I take off this Band-Aid am I going to get the flu?"

My heart shattered. He's so capable yet so very tiny. What a complicated giant world we are throwing our children into, and how many things like this is he afraid of all the time?

Saturday, October 7, 2017

Family Friday!

The first Family Friday of third grade was yesterday! Penny is still in the mini-school, so we drop her off in the big yard and she takes herself inside. We were so excited to get to join her for a peek into what her days are like.
 When we got n, we received our assignment - dressing up paper dolls for Halloween. Penny made a witch and we collaborated on a Nearly Headless Nick that I'm pretty proud of:
Milo had Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday off of school for Sukkot, so he's been staying home with Sara, our sitter. Sara has discovered Milo's main weakness

She is also a musician, and was going to record after her day with us, which meant she had a French horn with her. I tried to play it, and it is genuinely hard, but neither kid has a problem with it. This video is after Milo stopped scaring himself by making sound:

Monday, October 2, 2017

Milo's 3 year old check up!

Milo had a doctor's appointment today, and though he really did not want to go, he rocked it. He is now 30 lbs 8 oz, and 37 1/2 inches tall. There is a new crazy machine that the nurse holds across the room that somehow measures your focal distance, but also it chirps like a bird and flashes red and blue lights, and I'm pretty sure it's magic.
Our pediatrician, Dr, Julie, is totally the best. She had a big chat with Milo, talked him through the otoscope, which he was really nervous about, and answered the question he had been waiting all day to ask. Milo has just learned that everyone used to be a baby, so he asked her if she used to be one too.
At the end of the appointment, he got a flu shot, and though there was crying, he was very brave. As we were leaving, Milo said to me "I don't like shots!" and I told him the incredible secret of shots - NOBODY likes shots. This blew his mind.
After the appointment Milo got to choose where he wanted to go, and he chose the playground. We spent a little while playing the most 2017 game possible - me chasing Milo with him shouting "Don't take a picture of me!"

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Milo's Orientation Day/First day!

Milo had an hour of Orientation at Chai Tots on Monday, and his first full day yesterday! He is now officially in Nursery!
Insisted on wearing his Chai Tots shirt

This is one cool dude

Milo found "his letters" all by himself!

Wasting no time - they got right down to it.

Last year's first day and today's!

Milo picked the restaurant for his first day of school celebration

Full day take two!

Decorating his mitzvah tree branch decoration.
This morning on the way to school we stopped to watch a baby squirrel try to climb a tree. It took a really long time, working on various strategies, and eventually fell about three feet. It hopped right back up onto the tree to try again. As we walked on we talked about it, and Milo said that maybe its Mama Squirrel would be able to help it. Or its Big Sister Squirrel. Or its Morahs. We talked about all of the helpers we could think of and it warmed my heart that he is taking all of the pieces that he's being given from school and home and thinking about them in real-life ways.

Friday, September 8, 2017

First day of third grade!

Penny had her first day of school yesterday, and she could not have been more excited to be a third grader. Dropoff was chaos, as usual, and I still can't get used to just leaving her in the yard and not getting to see the inside of her classroom until October, but she is a total pro at school.

Milo both did and did not want to take pictures this morning.
While Penny was at school, I decided Milo needed a lesson as well, so he learned how to use scissors. One LL Bean catalog sacrificed for the greater good.

I found a pair that fit his hand better, early childhood educators. Do not fret.
Also, because I can't help myself, we laid out all of the Early Reader books and I showed him what "Dr. Seuss" looks like and he picked out which ones were written by him, and the three that were not. LEARNING.

When we picked Penny up, she decided she wanted to go out for ice cream, and then had her first violin practice as a third grader.
She had some math homework, we did a bunch of paperwork, and that's it. She's in third grade for real. She's going to learn cursive and have computer lab and chess and all sorts of real things. I am so happy to be getting back into the swing of things - Summer is great, but we love school around here!

Friday, August 25, 2017


Surprise! Penny lost a tooth today, and believe me when I say she was just as surprised as the rest of us. Unlike the last tooth, which hung on by a thread through three countries, this one was barely wiggly, and fell out into her hand after a bite of cheeseburger.
Now that she is missing teeth from either side of her top fronts, she has achieved Full Rabbit.

Saturday, August 19, 2017

Exciting Friday!

Both Penny and Milo had their last day of camp on Friday.
Penny's camp ended with a gallery show/performance that was super fun. 
(Front and center, that's my girl)

We got ices afterwards and came home. It had been pouring in the morning and really humid so as we finished dinner I had to lie down, I was so tired. That didn't last long, though, because Milo pooped in the potty! We had made all sorts of promises about what he would receive when this happened, so we quickly put some underpants on him (also a major first) and hurried out to the toy store. We got him some Playmobil sets, and got home just as it started to pour again.

Tonight he repeated his performance, and was pretty upset that he didn't get another gift. I told him that if he put on underpants, he could use bathroom words all over the house, and that worked really well. Farts are funny (Hi, Miss Annie).

For bed tonight, instead of pajamas he requested to just wear underwear, like Penny, so that's going on. I took him to the bathroom at 11pm as I was headed to bed, and his eyes opened but there was nobody home. It was creepy, but he peed, so hopefully his bed will stay dry tonight! Fingers crossed!

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Toothless wonder

We got back from an 11 day Scandinavian vacation four days ago, and Penny had a wiggly tooth for a couple of days before that. Penny's wiggly tooth has seen three countries. I brought along some Tooth Fairy supplies, but they turned out to be unnecessary. When I spoke to the camp counselor about it this morning, she let me know that they'd had a lost tooth on Monday and Tuesday already, so Penny completed the hat trick today.

Saturday, July 29, 2017

dear milo

And now you are three. You make the number three by putting your first finger and thumb in a circle, and sometimes you make one with each hand, hold them up to your eyes, and make them into "binoclears". You are the best puzzle solver around. You just finished up your first year of camp with a birthday celebration, and though every morning you tell me that you don't like your new friends or your new morahs, by the end of each day you don't want to leave. Earlier this week, the Elmo stroller lost a tire, and you now have a monster stroller. You have started giving the sweetest hugs and kisses, using amazing manners, and cracking jokes that we all find hilarious. You and Penny have some serious dance moves to the Trolls and Moana soundtracks. This year took you from daycare to preschool, and you rocked preschool for sure. You can recognize an "up, down, up, down" letter M, you know how to spell your name, you sleep in a big bed, you can put on your own shoes and pants and shirts. I love everything about you. I love that you call me Mr. Mama. I love that you eat ice cream with the same gusto that I do. I love that when I read to you at night time, you either hold my hair, or you put your hand on my arm. You are an invaluable member of Team Zalben. There are so many adventures ahead this year - I cannot wait to share them with you. Happy birthday, bugaboo.

Oh, also, last week I asked you how your temperature was, as it pertained to which pajamas you should wear. You told me you did not have a fever. I asked you if you were hot or too cold and you said "I'm good. I don't have any tentacles. Jellyfish don't have bones."

And while waiting for dinner in a restaurant, you were reading the cocktail menu. All of a sudden you looked up and said "I got an email! It says 'When you grow up, you are going to ostrich!'"

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

July catch up!

July has flown by - I can't believe it's almost half over!

Penny and Milo took their scooters out, and both have gotten quite good at scooting:

My aunt threw an early Fourth of July BBQ, for which I baked this ridiculous (but delicious) cake:

There were tattoos and glowsticks and all sorts of patriotism:

Penny had her first day of camp:
And afterwards, there was a screening of "Muppets Take Manhattan" in Bryant Park. A friend of mine arranged for a big meetup to make puppets, so we all met on the lawn. Penny and I did not stay for the movie, but we did make puppets:
One of the weird things about social media is that you sometimes find yourself documented in other people's photos. A high school friend of mine was also at the screening, and we are in her photo of the crowd!:

Afterwards I had Penny demonstrate her Patience and Fortitude:

We took our (what-is-now-an-annual) traditional trip to Coney Island for the Fourth of July:

Milo tried two spinny rides, but these are his speed right now.

Penny was so excited to be riding this horse with a picture of Zeus on it!

Please note that we did not actually ride the Cyclone. We're not QUITE there yet.

Mix your own Slushee! Penny went traditionally patriotic for the Fourth.
Penny stayed up to watch fireworks with me, making three days in a row that she stayed up past 9:30pm. This girl is living the life!