The Tovsky Tribe

Chocolates, Cocktails, Friends, Babies...A Girl Should Never Have Just ONE!!

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Jewish, not Jealous!

Recently, the boys learned the word jealous.  We were watching Barnyard, a hilarious Nickleodeon show with humor well over the boys' 3 ft head, and Big Foot, a guest star, grew a fondness for Abbey, Otis' girl. In the show they say he is jealous but the mature humor left the boys unsure of what that word meant. So, they asked me. I did the best job I could defining jealousy, and how it could be bad, and used the opportunity to explain that you should always be happy with what you have, blah, blah, blah. They looked at me, as if they got it, then responded with ." I am Jewish, not Jealous!!". Yes you are my dear boys, yes you are!!

We Won the Pennant...Again!

This picture, below, is what it looks like when the Phillies win the Pennant for the second year in a row!  The red shirts and hats filling the bar, the high fives and out loud cheers when the 27th out is caught, this is what that looks like.  We refer to this picture, to this moment, whenever we are reminded that, in the end, the Phillies did not repeat.  They lost the World Series, to the New York Yankees, in 6 games.  Oh well, there is always next year.  And, this cool shot of what it looks like to win!!


Ali has a pumpkin carving party every year. Every year for the last 7. This year was the first time I went. Part wanting to see her after so much time had passed, part the desire to take the boys to New York, on the last Sunday in October my mom and I and Chase and Ryder boarded NJTransit and headed up the Northeast Corridor.
What a day! When I told the boys about the adventure we would be taking, sure, the idea of going to the largest city in the world was cool, but the real excitement was in the dual treat of a first train ride and first taxi ride. Two exciting new vehicles for three year old boys.

The boys waited, hand in hand and beyond the yellow line, for a real train to pull in. They were pushed back, literally, by the forced wind of the passing Acela train and their anticipation grew waiting for the next arrival. Wide eyed they stood before trotting onto the train with delight when our commuter train arrived. Unlike any NJTransit car I had ever been on, this one was new, and clean, and double decker. Chase and Ryder both checked it out with curiosity before settling into our area.

Though I had packed books, and toys, and stickers, and more. And though we did read Toy Story, the train ride passed with all of the built in entertainment.

First there was the staring out the window in utter fascination at how quickly the trees were passing by. I too saw the beauty in the way my favorite autumn colors blended as they raced by us. Next, there was the studying of the posted train station map. Using our pointer fingers to trace the route from our starting point (Hamilton) to the destination - Penn Station, NYC, was a geographic lesson for the boys even at the elevated risk of exposure to H1N1.

A brief discussion about Big 10 schools was triggered when, after I said it aloud while pointing to Penn Station, Chase smiled and said "Penn Station? That's where daddy went to school!!"
Proud of his knowing Penn State at all, I chuckled and corrected him, both on the school name and the fact that it was I who went there. And, just to make sure Todd's Mountaineer pride would not be understated, I reminded him that daddy went to WVU. "That's right Mommy, he is a Mountaineer!"
Next, we looked for letters we recognized, both on the EMERGENCY EXIT window and on the sign indicating the next stop. R's, C's, and T's (for obvious reasons) are always spotted and counted, but E's both boys seem to know well too. Luckily, there are several of them in emergency exit!
Next, there was the fascination with the coat hook. When you pressed the bottom of the lever it came out of the wall. How Neat!!! But, when you let go, and put no coat on it, it sprung right back into the wall. MacGyver needed to do this at least ten thousand times, and several times I showed them how it stayed down with the weight of a coat. Nope, not as cool as it springing right back.
All of this and the few potty breaks to the amazingly clean, and large, potty (thank god for the new train) and we rolled into Penn Station.
From there we walked, two adults, three back packs, two high-energy boys, and one, empty double stroller, to Times Square. It was a beautiful day in late October and the New York streets were bustling with the expected crowds and energy. Chase and Ryder had no problem matching the energy level and were excited by everything they saw: the buildings, the sights, the people!

Our walk included a stop for a hand bag for mom, a picture of Chase outside the bank that bears his name (oh the Joy he felt when he saw his name so BIG - Gadol)), a picture of both boys with a large Bubba Gump Shrimp, a quick viewing of the Naked Cowboy whose underwear clad guitar playing was just oh so silly to my boys, and a game of eye spy in which we spied Shrek, Spiderman, a witch (from Wicked) and the M&M characters.
Once at Times Square we let those characters lure us into the colorful, chocolatey world of the M&M store. I think I may have hungered for the chocolate bits more than they did. Inside we let each boy choose their color from the rainbowed wall of choices- Baby blue (Chase) and light pink (Ryder).

Next we took photos with the Yellow M&M and had the boys collective color mood to be determined by the computer as Gold.
When we left the store we hailed the long awaited cab, finally, and Chase and Ryder climbed into the yellow taxi and strapped on their seat belts- without car seats. They were so excited, and sat perfectly still looking out the windows as we drove to NY's Upper East Side!
By this time we were exhausted. At least my mom and I were, the boys still had some energy left. We headed to Ali's and put on their Spidey costume. There, they banged on a piano, helped me carve a pumpkin, ate lots of candy and played with other kids. They were thrilled!! Of all the kids there, Snow White, AKA Anna Tucker, had their attention and it was a constant flirtatious battle for hugs!


By the time we were ready to head home we were near spent. We went back to the train station unsuspecting of the crowds awaiting us. A large group of Giants fans, blue jerseys and hats heading to Giant Stadium aboard our same train, took up more space than there actually was forcing us into a small space, double stroller and all. Unbelievably the boys did great amidst the crowd remaining quiet and still, but I was glad when they piled out and we were able to sit. The boys chatted up the two ladies who sat behind us, who not only, coincidentally, were members of Beth Or and Ohev Shalom, but were, by ride's end, well versed in my boys' life. Names, birthdate, parent's name, baby brother's name, cousins' names, where they went to school, and who their teachers are were just part of the revelations they made.
In the car they were asleep in no time and transferred right down for the night. I could not wait to hit my pillow but really had such a great time!!!


Friday, November 20, 2009


The following was written while we were on vacation at The Tides.

I am not sure I ever was a morning person. Even as a kid I remember staying up late and not wanting to, not being able to, get up in the morning. In college, and even after, any opportunity I had I skipped the morning altogether and began my day in the PM.
Now, I think I prefer the mornings. I am not sure I realized this until right now. Of course, I get up early every morning. But, usually, my kids are my wake up call.
Here I am on vacation with opportunity to sleep late. But I don't. We go to bed early, which is nice and when the pain in my back wakes me despite the time on the clock, I want to rise, and check out the stillness of the early morning.
I am sitting at the beach. The wind is strong and rustling my hair, my shirt, my pants. The palm leaf shadows are swaying in the sand. The only sounds I hear are wind and waves. If that doesn't clear my mind, nothing will.
Early mornings at the beach, something, despite my summers in Margate, I do not get to enjoy very often.
While sitting here, toes in sand, the answer to my daily chaos seems so obvious. If I would jut wake up before my kids. Have my time. Drink some coffee. Do some writing.  Maybe even, dare I say, exercise, the rest of my day would be so much better. I don't even think I would need to do it everyday, just some days, and a week could be improved.
Oh, yes it seems so obvious! But, I know as I smirk, that it will be a cold Wednesday morning not too long from now. The sun will still be hidden, the air will seem frigid. And, five more minutes is all I will need. Another five. Several times. And, the whole old pattern begins again.

For now, for today, I enjoy this quiet morning!

Embracing Nature!

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It's been well over a decade since I've written poetry. Back in college I considered myself a bit of a poet. But that girl was lost and unsure. Here, at the Tides, in this idyllic atmosphere you can't help but channel your inner poet. Here is my attempt:

One after another
After another
After another
Each one
My soul a bit more
As if
Even if just for this moment
Time stands still
Tickling my skin
Me with a warm cuddle
I am
Fully by nature's beauty!

Thursday, November 19, 2009


The following was written while on vacation at the Tides:

If I had to bet, I would say I am definitely the only person in all of Mexico, the whole Country, wearing a hoodie right now. It's not cold, but it's not the blistering sun I remember from my past trips here and since I've been here I am most comfortable with my sweatshirt on. It's probably the jungle surrounding us. Total privacy is granted by the enmasse of palm trees, just enough space for sun rays to peek through.
These are mornings I dream about, early morning calm, birds chirping, my feet soaking in a pool, a cup of coffee to sip, and my mind expressing its thoughts. Todd is sleeping nearby, his every breath an added comfort.
I love my life. I love my boys. I love the chaos that fills our days. I would not trade it, not for anything. But, this moment here is one I cherish.
I have always loved to write for many reasons: the way it makes me feel while I am doing it, and after, when my mind is purged; the creativity involved in making words flow together in a way that makes you want to read them over and over; the final product, hopefully, a well-read collection of thoughts, feelings, ideas, wit, sensitivity, and humor. The masterpiece.
None of them are actual masterpieces, yet they all are, to me!


One of my favorite smells in the world is onion, thinly chopped, and garlic, finely minced, sauteeing in olive oil over low fire.   To me, it is mouth watering!  Coffee and baked goods may also stop me in my step, but that onion and garlic sautee can not be matched. The smell alone can make a moment one to savor.
Todd and I just had an experience that ranks, quite possibly, as the best of my entire life. Our wedding, the birth of our children, and the collective weeks of my European travel also top the list.
In an effort to learn Mayan culture we prepared, cooked, and enjoyed a fantastic lunch.   Known as "Casita Maya" and described as "an ancient outdoor Mayan kitchen built from tree branches and a palapa roof, available for private dining and cooking classes for two to eight guests. Guests learn indigenous methods of cooking meat and seafood, simmering in banana leaves below ground. ".
We share a mutual love for cooking, for culture, and for eating good food, making Casita Maya the experience of a lifetime.
We walked the jungled path and headed to the secluded "readers" corner where we were greeted by Fernando and Jesus and a full explanation in what, and how, we would be participating. Of course, this five minute lecture was accompanied by a wonderfully refreshing watermelon juice and two mouthwatering tostado appetizers topped with a decadent shrimp and a juicy and flavorful chicken.
We then entered a foodies haven.


Waiting for us was the colorful array of fresh vegetables, an assortment of containered ingredients, samurai sharp knives, and a hole of burning charcoal. After a brief description of the meal we would soon enjoy, we were asked to chop the vegetables (tomatoes, peppers, onions, and tomatillos) into circles. Deploying the skills we had learned at the knife skills course we took back in 2000, we sliced the reds, the yellows, the greens, and the purples.   We tasted the fresh, juicy tomato and the sweeter than expected tomatillos.

We laid half of the beautiful mixture into a banana leaf lined clay pot then topped it with salt and peppered filets of red snapper before ladeling a fragrant, opaque, natural red marinade upon it. The other half of the vegetables were then placed on top of the deep red sauce.  More banana leaves were placed on top before the pot was transported into the smoky hole.  We watched, intrigued, as the sticks, leaves, board, and dirt were piled trapping all of the smoke in with the goodness.

While we waited, we made the soup that I wish I could still taste on my tongue. We began by sauteeing the onions and at the sound of the sizzle, that wonderful sizzle, my sense of smell was enjoying the same luxury the rest of my body had been thus far.  Then followed the garlic...ah, perfection. Next the tomatoes, then the lima juice, then the clarified chicken broth. All of this was brought to a slow boil, but the enjoyment of the essence was immediate.

We sat down at a private table just before the herb garden and just beyond the smoky casita and enjoyed the tastiest soup ever had. It was complemented by the Mexican Sauvignon Blanc we sipped between spoonfuls.

We then enjoyed our tasty, healthy, simple yet beautiful red snapper and vegetable concoction accompanied by Mexican rice. It was delicious.   It was healthy. It, in its simplicity, was fine dining. And yet, the experience outweighed the food due to its rarity, its culture, its purity.

Dessert followed, despite our full bellies and empty bottle of wine, and the beauty made you never want to touch it. Thin pineapple shavings towered into a flower petaled, alternately, with papaya and strawberry.  It was art!
Fernando was fantastic in his descriptions, his stories. Todd and I were educated and satiated and were left to wonder if another experience, ever, could compare to the all senses used experience we just had!

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

The Tides - Riviera Maya - November 2009

This was the picture I left on my camera while we were away so that we could see a picture of our boys.

I miss my sons!  I start off this way so that it is understood that as I gush about this place, the sheer beauty, the absolute exclusion, the pure settings, and the creative haven, that I do, indeed, miss my sons. But, holy cow, if there is a place, a way, a reason to miss your family, this is it. Right here. At the Tides. In Mexico.

I admit I was against Mexico when we first started planning this trip. I had been to Mexico before, and though beautiful, my return has always been welcomed home by the revenge of Montezuma and well, the locals always seemed to rub me the wrong way. But, Todd sold me on the beauty of this place, after Diana (our travel agent from Caribbean Travel Services) sold him. And, it seems, they were right. (And, as it goes, the local staff proved me wrong as well!)

Secluded is the first, and most appropriate word to use in describing this resort.
Although the ride to this paradise may lead you to believe you are being abducted to some remote jungle, it becomes clear upon arrival that ultimate seclusion is often hidden behind the rockiest of paths. Not only did we have to off-road through some twists and some turns enduring pot holes and dump sites, but we made several wrong turns before we found our destination.

One of many "rocky" sights we passed on our way to the resort!

Although the crazy, crazy ride to our resort was enough to bring up last nights dinner, I actually was intrigued to think that beyond these scary roads, or non-roads, lied a resort I expected to be beautiful. And, beautiful, the next word, it is.

Our room

Our outdoor bed where we napped, daily!

Our outdoor shower - unbelievable!

Private, another word to describe it here. Actually, more like ultra-private (only 30 villas- most of which are vacant.). So much so that the pool area and beach feel like our very own. Amazingly, we actually have our very own plunge pool within our private villa, next to our hammock and lounge bed, near our private outdoor shower. Incredible!  Yep, that's another word.


The jungled paths twist and turn and by following them you could end up at the reader's corner, the writer's corner (though not where I am writing this from) or the painters corner, where I intend to paint my first oiled canvas!


Continue more and before you find the infinity pool and the vast blue ocean, you may stumble upon a bamboo and palm leafed spa cabana, or a beautiful waterfall, or a tiki hut with a lounge bed and just enough open space at the top for the sun to peak through, or the temazcal, a mayan steam bath ceremony available by reservation only (for a hefty, additional cost, of course!)


The lobby, simple yet exquisite, greeted us and disposed of our stress out on the dirt path. We were offered a mayan drink of coconut milk infused with lemon grass. The first sip was refreshing but left an aftertaste that reminded both Todd and I of Turner's spit up.   Needless to say we drank no more of that and did not allow that tiny thorn to splinter the beauty we were seeing for the first time.


Gopal resin

On our arrival tour we performed some hollistic ritual at the spa. They asked us to face each other, hold hands, close our eyes, and breathe. We followed the orders as they burned a copal resin and we inhaled it with each breath. I suppose it was relaxing, only the scent was horrible forcing me to tense up my nostrils so that I did not have to smell it. Ok, another small thorn, but still, hardly splintering.


When we were brought to our room we were awed by the comforts before being presented with handmade, hand cut soaps of assorted flavors. The fragrance so delicious we wanted to eat it, bite by bite!!
We have only been here a few short hours and it is already the best vacation ever.  Absolute decompression was instantaneous  as soon as we set foot on Tides property.  Relaxing, quiet, peaceful, beautiful- the ultimate in vacation luxury,  With our three and half remaining days we intend to sleep, a lot.  Todd is excited for the array of tequilas for his tasting. Me, I look forward to the food!

Beach, pool, sleep, quiet...yep, we both look forward to that as well.


Adios, I must siesta now!

Sunday, November 15, 2009


I would rate my sense of humor well above average. I try, and often do, see the humor in most things and even fell in love with Todd, amongst many other reasons, because he made me laugh. One liners, sarcasm, even quick wit I am pretty good with and have been to known to get a chuckle, or more, out of people. But, I can not tell a good joke. Stand up acts were just never in the cards for me. I could hear a joke, know that it is funny and then go and tell the same joke to horrendous reviews. My delivery is usually off, my voice too monotone. Yep, one liners work better for me.
But, still, as we foster our children's sense of humor, raising them in a home where we laugh often, it is important they learn to tell a joke.
Over the summer, Ryder and I made up a not so funny joke that he seemed to love. After talking about how quickly ice cream melts in the summer and can get all over everything we came up with this "what is it called when ice cream gets in your eye?". "Eye Scream!". He and I laughed about this and he went on trying to tell others this same joke.
More recently, while watching an episode of Sid the Science Kid (a show I love, if only they felt the same) we heard a joke at the end that seemed age appropriate enough for them to tell to whoever would listen.
"What kind of tree fits in your hand?"
"A Palm Tree!"
This has become the joke we now use for them to learn to tell a joke, to learn the high you get from making others laugh.
It started out rough, a bludgeoning of the joke as if I were telling it myself: an excited "a palm tree in your hand" using the punch line without asking the question, or a "what's in your hand?" "A palm tree" leaving the receiver of this joke confused. But, we practiced. We discussed timing, and rasing your voice a bit on the punchline. And, they listened. And, as a result, they have a real joke to tell. And, they have. To everyone they can. Most people give the right reaction including a hand slapping out loud laugh and the boys walk away happy.
There are many, many skills we will teach our children in order for them to be well-rounded individuals, and, yes, I do believe telling a good joke is one of them. Perhaps they will learn to deliver a punchline better than me!

Sunday, November 8, 2009

A Letter to my Son on his 10th Month Birthday!!

Dear Turner,

Happy Ten Months!  It is hard to believe, but your first year is rapidly ending.  Time passes, and I know I am supposed to notice every little thing you do. I am supposed to write down your new abilities, your accomplished milestones, and each and every first. I am probably supposed to know what the book says you should be doing from day to day, week to week, month to month.  And the truth, my dear son, is that I don't.  I am not sure what the book says (I was never much of a book follower,) and I can't promise that I notice, nor remember, your firsts, each and every time.  I wish I did, but I turn around and my infant son's first birthday is looming and I realize that I have not.  But, that does not mean that I have not noticed you, wonderful you.  I have and I am in total amazement of everything you are.

I may not get to jot it down as it happens, but in every glance I take of you, every time I stop and look at you, smile at you, hug you I see everything that my pen does not take the time to write.

You are unbelievably wonderful.  You have a bright smile and an adorable laugh.  You are no longer just the baby, but the little brother trying to be a part of the action.  You are an active bugger who makes a diaper change a true challenge by the acrobatics you perform.  You love to stand and will pull yourself up on anything and everything.  Lately, you have been trying to stand up, unsupported.  From a seated position, you will try and try to get up on your little feet.  So far you have been unsuccessful but you remain determined and I know one day soon you will just be standing  in the middle of the room and I will have to wonder if that is the first time you have done that?

You are eating, and enjoying, much more table food, though you still do not feed yourself.  You have not improved at all with the sippy cup and I do a terrible job of  making you practice.  You get excited the minute you see a bottle and love to crawl right into my lap for a bottle feeding.

You are wonderfully pleasant, mild mannered and as flexible as they come.  You seem to be happy all of the time and we have yet to find much you do not like.  You have become more active and interactive and want to be in the middle of the good time.  You want to play with the toys your brothers are playing with, and only sometimes do they let you.  And, despite loving the action and wanting to be where Chase and Ryder are, you play amazingly well by yourself.  Content and happy to be alone, I will often let you, and watch as you learn a new toy or chase a ball, which I believe may have been your first word this month.

You love music, and books, and the airplane hanging in Chase and Ryder's room.  You love the gym class we go to on Wednesday mornings and enjoy music on Mondays.  You are a speed crawler and a master climber.  Though you have not yet figured out how to get down the steps, I do think you have realized that they can be dangerous as you now stop at the top and ask for help.  Of course by asking for help I mean shrieking.  For a pleasant baby you are very loud.  This comes your way naturally, and it may be a means of survival in order to be heard in this house, but it is astonishing how loud you can be, when you want to be.

You have 6 teeth, but there always seem to be more poking their way through.  Recently, your hair has gotten a lot thicker.  Your curls are getting, well curlier, and remain to be light brown.  Your eyes are beautiful and stormy and still a mix of grey's and blue's and green's that change with what you are wearing.  Your lashes are long and the dimple on your right cheek is deep and adorable.  You are ticklish and laugh out loud with your whole body with one ticklish touch.

This month we rooted for our beloved Phillies as they defended, but lost, their world championship title.  What a time to be a Phillies fan.  Unfortunately, they lost to the NY Yankees, which may take us longer to get over than the actual lost itself.

I took you on your first playdate.  I had forgotten how nice baby play dates can be, but unfortunately have not been able to get a second one together, yet.  You enjoyed being around other kids your age and I hope to give you more opportunities to do so.
We also celebrated Halloween, your first.  Dressed as Superman, you enjoyed the costume.  You spent a good part of the night running in circles, chasing your cape the way a dog chases his tail, but you loved it.  We went to Rachel's house, where we celebrated Ellie's 4the birthday.  We all had a blast.

You are a mommy's dream and yet, you are my reality. I treasure my time with you in ways I can not describe.  For every moment that I do not get to document, there are twice as many moments that are forever tattooed on my mind and heart.  You are my baby, my trooper, my Turner, and I am so very proud to be your mommy.  I  love you so.....

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