Author: Ashley

Parenting stories, fashion (mostly pants), and NYC life. No mommy wars and no bummers.

Happy Sugar Day!


Despite the evil and unjust war on sugar, Halloween is a day when we are allowed to openly celebrate it for the miracle of nature that it is. So since we’re already feeling super gross from eating about 8 fun size Snickers too many, I thought I would share a fun, sugary and most importantly EASY project with you guys. And I do mean easy. And fun! And sugary. Oh, and artsy. It’s totally art related, and therefore educational. What can I say, this project has it all.

1 can of condensed milk
Food coloring
Paint brushes*
A place for your kids to run wild after eating a bunch of sticky sugar paint
A plastic tablecloth (I did not think about this part the first time around. I’ve attempted to clean my table like 5 times and it is still super gross. Please learn from my oversight).
A fun variety of white food (not to be confused with “white people food” like avocado toast and artisanal pickles, I mean food that is the COLOR white).

Mix the condensed milk and food coloring, aka paint, however you please, and paint it on the white food. Voila! A magical, colorful snack.

*Maybe don’t use mom’s fancy paintbrushes from her textile class at F.I.T. and just stick with the ones from the kid’s craft aisle at Duane Reade.



My Donald Trump Story


This story is about the one encounter I’ve had with Donald Trump in my life. It is not shocking. In fact, it’s pretty boring. And to be honest, it’s not even REALLY an encounter. But I figured if I’m ever going to tell it, now is as good a time as any.

Once in the late 90’s, I was modeling in a hair show hosted by Downtown Julie Brown, the famous (to all of us 16-18 year old models anyway) MTV host. Word backstage was that Donald Trump was also in the audience. Everyone had one of two reactions- either a sarcastic chuckle or an eye roll. A very cool Irish girl laughed, “Donald Trump at a hair show? His isn’t even real!” I guess he was kind of a joke even then. Besides, we were all too busy trying to catch a glimpse of our junior high idol, Downtown Julie Brown. We were absolutely starstruck. I was the second model to walk out, and sure enough, there he was sitting in the front row all by himself looking…strange.

I told you this was a boring story. And I would have forgotten about it completely if 19 years later he wasn’t the republican nominee for the president of the United States. It makes me think about what the democratic nominee Hillary Clinton must have been doing at the same time. Turns out she had just announced her candidacy for senate, which she would go on to win. She would become Secretary of State. She would play a leading role in the development of State Children’s Health Insurance. She would help create the Adoption and Safe Families Act and the Foster Care Independence Act. She would successfully fight to increase research funding for prostate cancer and asthma at the National Institute of Health. Through tireless investigation of the mental illness plaguing veterans of the Gulf War, she would help coin the term “Gulf War Syndrome.” The Clinton Foundation, founded by her and Bill, has improved the living conditions for nearly 400 million people in over 180 countries through its Initiative program. No biggie. And there are so many other things. All done while actively campaigning for women and children’s rights around the world, helping to raise minimum wage, and combating climate change.

Donald Trump was bumming around a hair show at the Chelsea Piers.

I think the problem with this whole election is that we’re treating this man like he’s a legitimate presidential candidate. We just can’t normalize him as a real politician. The joke has gone on for way too long. And unlike the joke about his hair, it could get dangerous.




No Smoking (I’m talking to you, old people)


My daughter made a “no smoking” sign and hung it on our front door. I wanted her to know that smoking is gross and not cool, so I think I must have told her that only old people smoke. She drew this and said, “I want to make sure no old people come over and smoke in our apartment. So here is an old person smoking, see their wrinkles? I drew them outside our apartment. So they know if they feel like smoking they have to go outside. It’s so they know. We need to hang it on our door right now.”



I was sitting at a coffee shop with my daughter the other day, and she was eating one of those puréed fruit packets they sell there. She hadn’t had one in a while, and when it was almost gone I asked if she wanted me to push it up so she could get it all. Then I told her about how when she was little she would eat lots of fruit packets  while riding in the stroller, and when she was almost finished she would hand it to me and say, “pushitup.” She was just a baby, and it sounded like one big word. She said, “I remember that!” Then we sat quietly for a few minutes, looking out the window at the people walking by. Suddenly she looked at me and said, “I think you’re the nicest mommy in the whole world.” She had never said that to me before. I want to remember it forever.

Art Therapy


In the weeks leading up to the first day of preschool, I often tried to talk to my two year-old son about how much fun he would have there. His response every time was, “Not go to school. Too scary.” Then the week before, his teachers did home visits to get to know the students a little better. When they asked him, “So what’s your favorite thing to do at home?” he thought for a second and said, “Hang art.” They noticed how our walls were covered with it, and I explained how every time we hang a new piece he’s right there with his tiny toy hammer, and always has suggestions about where exactly it should go. His teacher Robyn promised that he could hang art at school, and he happily said, “Ok!” For the first time, he was excited about going. Sure enough, during the first week when everyone was adjusting to their new schedule and parents and nannies were sticking around for an hour or two, Robyn suggested that he hang one of the drawings he had just made after he finished building the block tower he was working on. That’s when he finally gave me a kiss goodbye. I think he could take over at Cluster Wall pretty soon.

C. Martin Croker


Just the other day I had the following conversation with my daughter.
“Are praying mantises real?”
“What do they look like?”
“I think you’ve seen one before. They’re kind of big and bright green and have funny front arms. Oh! You know the picture of Zorack on the Space Ghost CD we always listen to? He’s a praying mantis!”
Then my husband looked at me like he thought I was crazy for using Space Ghost as some sort of educational tool. Whatevs. Anyway, rest in peace C. Martin Croker. Thank you for your amazing work, and giving us so many laughs, and teaching my daughter what a praying mantis looks like.

What I’ll Never Forget About 9/11


On the morning of September 11, 2001 I was sitting on the balcony of the tiny West Village apartment I shared with my sister and roommate, late for class as usual but still taking my time eating a bowl of cereal and enjoying the gorgeous early fall day. When seasons change in New York it’s better than anywhere else. We don’t walk out the door in the morning and get into an air-conditioned or heated car, so we tend to form an intimate, personal relationship with the weather. I was excited to be wearing long sleeves for the first time since school started. This was huge in my simple college world. My back was facing away from our view of the World Trade Centers as I gazed at a father and his young daughter crossing Thompson street. Suddenly, I heard an explosion unlike anything I’d ever heard before. The father grabbed his little girl, quickly and protectively put her on his shoulders and pointed at the sky, screaming. We all know what happened after that. The European tourists visiting our neighbors who shared the small balcony walked out, clutching tickets to visit the World Trade Center in an hour. They laughed nervously at the irony. Stranded friends showed up throughout the day to drink beer, and sit in shock. The most noteworthy thing about this sad and confusing day was the underlying outpouring of love. Rodney the homeless man, a very tall black guy named for his spot-on Rodney Dangerfield impressions who lived on a mattress across the street from our building, made SO much money that day. As we watched the chaos unfold, all we could talk about was how every single person was stopping to give him money. He became our focus for a little while. That night my hometown radio station asked if I would speak on the air about what was happening, and I said “sure.” All I remember saying is, “New Yorkers are so good at working together. We’re all going to help in any way we can.” I have no idea why I said that, but it sounded right. Like something I should say.


In the weeks that followed, friends came over after volunteering at ground zero to talk about the horrors they saw there. School was back in session almost immediately. I waited a few extra days to go back. Everyone was a little different. Unhinged. I saw a woman on the train burst into tears because a man left a newspaper on the seat when he got up to leave. She shouted at him as he exited the train, “You can’t do that!! You can’t just throw trash on our city like this! This is OUR city!” She looked like a totally normal person. And I understood.


The following spring, the three of us moved down by City Hall Park and directly across from ground zero. New Yorkers will do anything for cheap rent, including living in the middle of a literal disaster area, then say things like, “But we’re right by Century 21!” We lived on the 17th floor and the building was in the process of renovating all the floors above us. Eventually we found a staircase that gave us access to illegally roam around the construction site. There were no security cameras anywhere. Friends and I would carefully climb the broken stairs up to the crumbling tower on the very top of the building and look down at ground zero. We did this at all hours of the day and night, and it was absolutely fascinating. They worked around the clock. Watching the crew at ground zero from that rickety spot in the sky that summer made me feel safer than I ever had since moving to New York. I already knew I lived in an intense place where people worked hard, played hard, and thrived on competition. But 9/11 made me realize that we work for all the right reasons, and when it comes to things that actually matter, we look out for each other fiercely. It’s like I got a little peek into the real New York, and it made me never want to leave. That’s what I’ll never forget.


You Can’t Wear Flip Flops, This Is FLORIDA


I learned something this week. Apparently I was so hung up on the injustice of dress codes in schools all these years, that I didn’t realize that some restaurants in South Florida also have dress codes for real, grown adults and they are much worse than high school dress codes could ever be. For example, you can make a reservation at a regular ol’ steakhouse and then not be allowed in simply because you’re wearing flip flops, even when you are wearing a perfectly on-trend yet classic urban summer dress from Allsaints with said flip flops (in FLORIDA. Didn’t you guys basically invent flip flops? They’ve got to be your state shoe or something). Even when everyone else in the casino where said steakhouse Council Oak is located is dressed like it’s 2001 and brown lip liner and pageboy caps are literally everywhere you turn and you notice someone’s hot pink thong poking out of their low-rise studded jeans and suddenly you just really need to sit down and close your eyes for a second. Even then. Even when right outside on the strip there is a guy with dreadlocks and an ironic trucker hat singing Red Hot Chili Peppers covers (not even like “Fight Like A Brave” or anything, I mean straight up Californication BS), drawing a small crowd of no-necked guys with buzz cuts and identical button up shirts holding glow sticks. Even when he switches to Sublime covers, and are your eyes deceiving you? Are you seeing an Ed Hardy shirt? Oh yes you are. EVEN THEN. Even when your husband is talking to the manager like the seasoned professional that he is and explaining, “Look, I know you are probably just starting out in this business. But if you decide to continue on this career path, you will realize one day that this was a mistake. Are you honestly going to look at this woman and tell me something is wrong with her appearance? You WANT people who look like her dining at your establishment. She could walk into any $300 a plate restaurant in New York City dressed like this and be welcomed with open arms.” Even then. Then I zoned out for a second during their conversation and thought to myself, “Huh. I’ve worked in fashion my entire life. Is it possible that I don’t know as much as I think I do? Was that degree from the Fashion Institute of Technology a waste of money? Has this restaurant staff never flipped through the pages of a J. Crew catalog? No, that can’t be right. I mean I’ve been in print meetings with Nicole Miller and Anna Sui with people wearing flip flops. I’ve been in trend meetings with people who INVENT FASHION TRENDS wearing flip flops. I’ve even seen people wearing the occasional flip flop paired effortlessly with a caftan or leather legging during New York Fashion Week events.” Years ago my best friend designed t-shirt graphics for Abercrombie & Fitch, and they gave their employees two options of footwear to wear to work – Converse or FLIP FLOPS. Their dress code WAS flip flops. And they were actual clothing designers for gods sake. When I texted this friend about this, he replied, “It’s Florida, are you sure you didn’t get kicked out for wearing heels?”



Sadly, places with these micromanaging rules reek of desperation. It’s as if they want so badly to be “fancy” because they know deep down they’re mediocre at best. You’re basically asking your clientele to do the work for you. “Please try to look so good that nobody notices how subpar our food is. And then pay us for the privilege.” Unfortunately you’re going to realize soon that people are tired of doing your work. But it’s not too late. Before that happens, let me Obamacare your whole problematic dress code system. Wait, maybe that’s a bad example. Anyway, the fact of the matter is that we live in an age where Barneys sells ripped (ahem, “distressed”) t-shirts for $440. And people buy them. Like it or not, this is the current situation when it comes to fashion. This antiquated notion that you can’t look cool or put together in flip flops is as outdated as women thinking they need to wear shoulder pads in the workplace to be taken seriously. Would I walk into 11 Madison Park wearing flip flops? Probably not. But if I did, it would be none of their concern because they would be too busy being the very best at what they do. Council Oak, you absolutely must evolve from your current stagnant stance on fashion. Because you know what they say, “What is the difference between a living thing and a dead thing? In the medical world, a clinical definition of death is a body that does not change. Change is life. Stagnation is death. If you don’t change, you die. It’s that simple.” And you don’t want your restaurant to DIE, do you? Come on. Help me help you.


What’s So Funny ‘Bout Peace, Love, and Moodiness



This morning I put R.E.M.’s “Green” into the kitchen CD player on repeat (I’m a luddite), and when the song “Stand” came on I danced around with my children, everyone all smiles and laughter, and felt so much joy I thought I would burst. Toward the end of the song, my toddler disappeared. As the next song was starting, I heard coughing coming from the next room. There he was, suddenly with a full mouth of cereal, possibly choking. My heart was gripped by fear as I got down on my knees to investigate. He immediately stopped coughing, and started laughing. “I told you that game isn’t funny! You can’t pretend to choke! It’s not funny!” I said in a panicked voice. He continued to laugh, and then I laughed, because his laughter made it funny. My daughter walked in, and immediately started screaming bloody murder at her little brother. The sound was unbearable. “What is it? Use your words. Words!! Nobody understands that!” Apparently he had knocked over her Lego structure while waiting for me to come in and play a nonconsensual game of “Look Mom, I’m Choking.” Such an efficient multitasker, managing to distress both his mother and sister in such a short time. She was devastated. I was annoyed, and also filled with remorse for yelling instead of validating her feelings. That’s all you hear about now, the one thing you’re supposed to do as a parent besides feed your children and put a roof over their heads is, “validate their feelings.” I put myself in her shoes. Being misunderstood sucks. I asked if she needed a hug. She said she did. We all spoke in quiet, serious voices, about how it is wrong to destroy something that doesn’t belong to you. We were all a little sad about it. I suddenly smelled poop. As I herded them into the bedroom and started the diaper changing process, my daughter said, “AWWWW LOOK AT HIS LITTLE BABY BUTT!” and he laughed and happily said, “Butt!” It was hysterical. I felt like that “laughing and crying” emoji. Suddenly I understood why it was the word of the year in 2015. I was laugh-crying so hard that it took me a minute to notice the open sippy cup with a puddle of chocolate milk seeping into the white part of their black, white, red and green patterned rug. It had to be the white part. My heart sank. Out of the kitchen I heard “Stand” coming on again, and I couldn’t help but notice that in the time it took to listen to a complete album, all of us had run the gamut of human emotions. And I don’t think we were any worse for it. Why is “moody” considered a negative word, anyway? Could it possibly just mean you’re incredibly sensitive and living in the moment? I decided it was time to have a little talk with my kids about how quickly our emotions can change. And they totally got it. They got it because they’re moody by nature, and adults are the weird ones for trying so hard to water down their feelings. Well, my daughter got it. My son was still yelling the word “Butt!”

First World Elevator Problems

elevator bunnies

You know how when you’re in an elevator it’s customary for the guys to let the ladies out first, unless there’s a person with a stroller, then they get to go first? Well I was just in an elevator with a dad and his daughter who was in a stroller, and I had my son in his stroller, and we had a legitimately confusing time trying to figure out who should exit first. Babies first? Ladies first? Strollers first? Which stroller? Grown ladies or baby ladies? Maybe the larger stroller should go first? Is anyone asleep? Crying? Does either child have an older sibling at camp who is dangerously close to being stranded because their grown-up got distracted at a shoe store? Is anyone hangry? Did either child recently eat a granola bar? Did said granola bar end up on the ground or in their stomach? Perhaps there’s a blood pressure monitor on hand to determine which adult is in the biggest rush? Just trying to get through the day, people.