We lost our beloved Estelle Lana Pastarnack – Stelly or Nana to many – on July 6, 2016.IMG_0889

She was an outspoken and strong woman who loved red lipstick that left a telltale mark when she kissed your cheek. She loved designer shoes – especially if they were discounted at Loehmanns. She adored “making parties” and fur coats. She also could not resist a good hot dog, no matter what diet she was on.

Most of all she loved her four children, ten grandchildren, four great grandchildren, her nieces and nephews and her friends.
Continue reading

They Still Believe

I wrote the below three Christmases ago for “Parentlode” at the Huffington Post.  My twins were on the cusp of Kringledoubt.  I expected, when I wrote this, that by now, at ten years old, the Santa expiration date I talk about would have long past.  It has not.  I post their Christmas lists at the end.


Santa Claus has an expiration date. Every parent who has introduced Santa Claus to their kids knows this. You get a few good years and then the doubts start creeping in. Other kids at school are usually the catalysts in this process, which seeps through school lunchrooms with the first signs of frost every year. Usually it’s the hand-me-down scoffings of older siblings. Sometimes, however, it’s an axiom discovered through a child’s deduction alone. Continue reading

The Long View of Working Parenthood

Last week I had the fortune of being interviewed by Dr. Portia Jackson of for her podcast.  We  had a lot of fun talking about challenges and successes.  I talked about treating each child as an individual, which can be a challenge with twins.  (This article in Time about twins and gifted programs resonated with me as we submit our applications for public middle school this week – yes, applications because we have no zoned school.) Continue reading

Best Intentions

I was going to write an essay about my mother, pinned to this greeting card and flower company holiday, Mother’s Day.  It was going to be effusive but witty; long but concise.  It would be featured on some popular website and be shared many times. It would explain how my mother, who birthed and raised six kids, gave us her unconditional love and devotion, yet somehow could never be accurately characterized as a Tiger Mom or a helicopter parent.  How I grew up to look nothing like her on the outside but so much like her on the inside.  How her parenting model is one to which I will always aspire and how, despite being so actively involved in my kids’ lives, the only parenting advice she ever gave me was, “Every child is different.”

And how the ultimate measure of her parenting success may not be the success of her six children measured in predictable ways, but that, as adults, we all want to live near her.  And how each of us talks to her virtually every day – some of us multiple times – not because we think we have to, but because we want to.

But… when I sat down to write this essay a few times over the past few days before or after work, my youngest child would have none of it.  “Read to me mommy.”  And, “Can I have some milk?”  And then one of the older ones.  “I need new sandals.  My old ones are too small.”  And, “Should we give away some of the old stuff to make room?”  And of course the ice skating – the freestyle session and the tots class.  So the essay did not get written before Mother’s Day morning like I wanted because I poured the milk and I read ‘The Little Red Lighthouse” and got new sandals and filled up the charity bags and shivered in the rink while I waved to my kid skating by.  And decided not to worry about it too much.  That is how my mom would want it.

photo (2)

At my wedding in 2001


Nine Years After the NICU

On my birthday last week, I was at Brain, Child Magazine’s Brain, Mother blog discussing two other birthdays – the day my twins were born and the day they came home.  I talk about the scars my twins’ NICU stay has left on me, but not on them.  It’s a piece I thought about writing for many years, but had not collected my thoughts.  The essay is here.

The twins on their actual ninth birthday

The twins on their actual ninth birthday