Saying Goodbye. Bang Bang Pop Pop.

Me, Sheppard, Roan, Anson + Smith

Me, Sheppard, Roan, Anson + Smith

I’m not so much a fade-to-black person as I am a cut-and-roll-the-swelling-anthem-and-credits kind of person. Even so, I’ve put off writing this post. This post where I say goodbye.

Smith, Roan, and Sheppard running the F Train to Coney Island

Smith, Roan, and Sheppard running the F Train to Coney Island

Pistols and Popcorn has done everything I needed it to do. I started it at a time where Roan and I had the majority of our time to ourselves. We shared our time with New York, letting her be the third-wheel in our adventures. I would plan things to do with him with writing about them in mind. I feel like it was a way to inject some adult conversation into our very child-centric days. And the way Pistols and Popcorn caught on totally blew my mind. These small entries about hanging with my kid – people care enough to read them?? Who knew?

Smitty, Shepz + Ro with Nathan's Famous.

Smitty, Shepz + Ro with Nathan’s Famous.

Over the years Pistols has helped me make decisions, lent me support, served as a sounding board, and sometimes helped me ride my high horse. Pistols propped me up and kept me wrapped up in my readers’ strength and support during some pretty hard times. It offered up interesting opportunities I never would have come across otherwise. It started friendships with people I have absolutely come to love. Most importantly, this place has served as a record of years of my family’s life.

Ro + Anson. This pose happens more and more often.

Ro + Anson. This pose happens more and more often.

And now it’s just time for me to say goodbye. Things in this life have changed, and I’m constantly grateful for the direction they keep moving in. I’ve been able to begin working with old friends, circling back to old talents. My free time now sends me on these ravenous scavenger hunts for all the right words for my new gig. I couldn’t be happier. I couldn’t be having any more fun. And these writing assignments are all during nap time, so I’m still loyal to the toddler park circuit,  being the mom who lets her kids climb up the down slide without an apology. Fear me.

Spiderman, Smitty, Sheppard, Spiderman, Roan.

Spiderman, Smitty, Sheppard, Spiderman, Roan.

I still have so many stories to tell. The twins, my Smitty + Shep, leave me full-to-the-eyeballs with stories on an hourly basis. But my Roan is getting older, and that is a thing I think about. I can no longer talk about everything he does and says with the abandon I used to, when he was a child. He is older. He deserves some privacy. And it just doesn’t feel right to be telling his stories anymore. And obviously, there is no way for me to talk about this family without including him.

Smitty + Me.

Smitty + Me.

I just see the signs, really. It’s time to say goodbye. The dumb luck part of it is that it’s ending in a Hollywood-happy way. Life is good. I have everything I ever wanted. I have way more than I ever hoped for. We are healthy, this family. We love each other in ridiculous amounts. We are stupid together and fight often and laugh and eat really good food. We have embarrassingly good friends. This is a nice place to leave it.

Thanks for being here. Thanks for your emails, comments and time. Thanks for sharing in this family and our weirdness. Bang pop.

Homemade with Love

"Homeade with Love"

“Homemade with Love”

My friendship with Jennifer Perillo wouldn’t be entirely predictable. She has this inherent elegant quality.  She’s a woman who  always looks like she has a team of people who are dressing her, professionally lighting her, and styling her. As unfair as that is, to boot, she is also a mighty, mighty sorceress in the kitchen. This woman’s “simple” meals would be my highest culinary accomplishments.

But that’s cool you needn’t hate her because she’s also very, very  rad.

Jennifer’s cookbook “Homemade with Love” was just published and let me just laugh along with you when you’re snorting about the fact that I’m going to tell you about me cooking from it. But non-believers (Mom, Dad, all the rest of my family) let me just tell you:

I did it. I cooked from a cookbook. Food. I made food not the heat-up kind. The kind of food that my homie Jennifer Perillo makes so stop laughing. But the good news is I’m not going to even try to do those awesome food shots where the product is lit up gorgeously and everything is in its place. Nope. We Nelson Calls will not press pause where there’s food concerned, and I would likely be lynched by two toddlers if I held them back from their grub.

Apparently the "orange scent" comes from the orange.

Apparently the “orange scent” comes from an orange.

However, I will tell you this: Roan, my 9-year-old son, made Orange-Scented Waffles. All by himself. He’s totally kitchen-curious, partly because that room is somewhat of a mystery in our house. What is it used for? Why do people go in there? Does it do something other than house glasses and take-out menus? But he went in, spent some time, and came out with a plate of waffles. They indeed were Orange-Scented. And easily the most delicious breakfast food I’ve ever eaten. Get this book, turn to page 50, and whip these up some morning. Especially if you have guests. The way my house smelled? Amazing. And if my Roan can do it then so can you.

I was trying to go less ambitious. Tacos – everyone loves tacos and who could actually screw them up? So there’s a recipe for “Twice as Nice Tacos”, which use the leftovers from a roasted chicken recipe. Apparently first I need to create some leftovers. Not that hard usually, as my dishes aren’t exactly clamored over. But I’ve never roasted a chicken, and truthfully wasn’t feeling all that confident about it. I’m scared of cooking meat. I always believe I’m about to poison my family. Still, roast I did.

Again, with the house that smells good. So that’s how people do it! They cook!

And the simple recipe, called “A Simple Roast Chicken” was a revelation. I had no idea that I could make something so very very very easy, that was so very very very delicious. The tacos were not going to happen because there was no left over chicken. It was essentially inhaled by every boy who lives here. Yeh yeh yeh and me. And no one was poisoned (thanks to the instructions about thermometers and chicken thighs.)

Big recommend: buy this book. I know it’s tempting to always get a recipe online (which, by the way Jennifer has an awesome blog. Not just recipes, but stories as well.) but having a real book, that you can flip through, is a satisfying thing. The pictures are gorgeous and dark in the vein of the olden Gourmet Magazine days. There are personal stories that preface some of the dishes. And mostly, my friend Jennifer Perillo has put this thing together with much, much love.

 

Space to Breathe

I realized something yesterday. That at about 2 years, 4 months and 15 days after my twins were born, a thing happened. A cloud passed, light was let in, and warmth radiated a bit more comfortably from the planet. This all happened yesterday.

Sheppard. Chopper. Who's Bad?

Sheppard. Chopper. Who’s Bad?

Yesterday our family decided to fire up a chocolate fountain that was gifted to Anson from a recent photo shoot he worked on for West Elm. We stocked the house with pretzels, potato chips, pound cake, strawberries, whipped cream, shortbread cookies, Peeps, and marshmallows. Then we called in the troops: the neighborhood boys are girls, their parents, and a cat called Chuck Norris. Our maiden voyage with the chocolate fountain yielded somewhat lumpy chocolate results but it was gobbled up nonetheless. After a ridiculous amount of sugar, we all went into our backyard for an hour or so, then moved to the front to play “Kick the Can”.

Sheppard and Smith played with their friend Leela, riding bikes/trikes/scooters/anything with wheels up and down the street. Roan, Sachin, and their dads ran around the block hiding, running everywhere, ambushing the can for bragging rights. I watched my little ones talk to delivery guys, and then try to keep up with the bigger girls.

I watched them.

I stood back and got to see them interact in the world without holding my hand, or being held by me. They were confident and happy, being little adventurer pirates up and down the block. They played and went fast then slow, fell down then shouted, “I’M OK!” triumphantly. And that’s when it smacked me right in the kisser: these boys, all of my three boys are at amazingly fun ages.

Smitty and Shepz no longer have to watch kids play while they squirm in my arms. They don’t have to stay right in front of me, at an arm’s reach. They are brave enough and capable enough to go down the block. They have been told that Superman does not want them to go into the street without an adult so they do not go into the street without an adult. They attack each other and then work it out. And Roan. He proudly has the ability to walk three blocks away from home, crossing two streets, with enough money in his hand to grab some drinks for everyone. On his own. Yesterday he confidently led his two friends on this journey.

They returned somewhat more grown up.

So telling, this picture.

So telling, this picture.

I do love the time in life when a baby needs me for everything. But it is exhausting and it is more than exhausting when there are two. I am ready for these guys to play in this world. Under a careful and watchful eye, mind you. But still – out of reach. I welcome their independence and am so proud of each of my three sons that they yearn for it as well. Their safe feeling in this world, the trust they have for it, is my biggest source of pride. And their ability to navigate it, even in these most basic ways creates a little more breathing space for me. This is a happy time.

My Friend, Ilana

Ilana + Dominic, sitting in a tree....

Ilana + Dominic, sitting in a tree….

I have a friend named Ilana Levine. She’s one of those women we would all hate if she wasn’t so undeniably in-your-face loveable. I mean, it’s almost a dare to try not to like her. There’s really no point in trying though. Beautiful? Check. Smart? Check. Giving? Check. Funny? Double check. Got marriage, mothering and friendship all balanced? Checkity-check-check. Oh yeh, and there’s also this: she enjoys a successful career as a TV, Screen, and Stage actress and is married to Dominic Fumusa, star of “Nurse Jackie“. They have two children who are probably going to be kidnapped by me because I love them so.

I cannot crush on her any more or else I’m going to risk the wrath of a jealous husband. My jealous husband. I don’t think Dominic is feeling too threatened.

It is with my whole heart that I recommend reading an entry Ilana wrote for The People’s Choice Blog, describing the push and pull of balancing what a woman wants to do for herself and her career with the needs and wants of her children. Start here and click over to finish it:

“Hey guys, let’s do a test run.”   “A test run?” my two small children asked, “what do you mean?”  My agent had called to tell me I had been offered the play My Name is Asher Lev, an off Broadway hit in New York City.  “Let’s pretend it’s Tuesday night and it’s six o’clock and Mommy is about to leave for the theater. I will kiss you both and say good bye and what will you do?”

Immediately both kids grabbed hold of my legs and burst into tears, real tears, salt and all. Within seconds it turned into full on sobbing. (And I’m the actress?!)

So this was the test run. The rehearsal. Mommy wasn’t really going to work, that was still two full weeks away. But once D-Day arrived this would be the drill for at least three months.

I looked at my husband who was engrossed in checking scores on ESPN.com, oblivious to the three act Ibsen play that had just unfolded by the front door. “Don’t worry, babe. They’ll be fine. They are always fine when I leave for work.”

Yes, it’s true! Why is that? Many mornings my husband is picked up before dawn and heads to the Nurse Jackie set where he plays Kevin Peyton, Edie Falco’s TV husband. Often the kids and I wake up to a sweet note he has left on the kitchen counter. He uses lots of colored markers, writes each of our names in different colors and says Daddy will see you tonight with lots of XXXs and OOOs.

Click here to keep reading. Do it. Just click…

The Easiest Best Vacation Ever

Spa Castle (Image from website)

Spa Castle (Image from website)

Roan and I just got back from a high-priority, top-secret get away with our buddies Jen + Issey. (Ro forbade me from talking about it before it happened, believing it would jinx the likelihood of it actually happening.) After Anson got home from an exotic working vacation in freezing cold Minneapolis, my eldest and I flew out the front door and into our friend’s car, headed for paradise in a borough called Queens.

Sauna Alley (image from website)

Sauna Alley (image from website)

Since Mid-Winter recess was shortened from five days to two, courtesy of Hurricane Sandy, (kids in NYC missed a week of school during the storm and its aftermath. Had to make up for it somewhere.) I knew we had to smash an insane amount of good times in. So we charted a course for Spa Castle. This is a Korean spa, with five stories, and 100,000 square feet of  ”luxurious serenity”. The place is absolutely awesome and also hysterical. There are bade pools outside, and saunas everywhere. Roan’s favorite is the Ice Sauna, mine the lay-down-and-die sauna (I can’t remember it’s name.) It’s clean, everyone has to wear a uniform so there’s not a ton of hoochie-mama stuff hanging around to embarrass my young-but-old child, and mostly, it just feels like you’re nowhere near NYC. Roan + Issey especially enjoy the Korean cuisine, going totally native and ordering…wait for it…cheese fries. heh. Well, no matter. It comes down to this: anyplace that has a sleeping room is cool in my book.

My favorite pool.

My favorite pool.

A person who is especially good at relaxing can spend an entire day at Spa Castle. And my boy and our buddies? We are champion relaxers. However, there was more sport relaxing on our agenda.  After Spa Castle, we headed over to Hotel de Pointe, which is about a half-mile away from the spa.

Balloons. Fireplace. Buddies.

Balloons. Fireplace. Buddies.

Staying in the theme of Korean-based surroundings, this hotel is super modern and has an amazing AMAZING Asian American buffet. Now. Roan + Issey briefly visited the dinner food, but mostly they were paying attention (read: 4 visits) to the chocolate fountain and cotton candy machine. I couldn’t stop eating the Sushi because you know, it’s a buffet. And you’re supposed to eat a lot. I did my best but am certain that if Anson were there, it would have been a better showing. There’s such things as octopus and a myriad of meats I could never eat. All stuff that makes Anson’s eyes dance in little spirals. He’s a competitive eater. I’m nowhere near his league.

White leather helps everyone feel super sophisticated.

White leather helps everyone feel super sophisticated.

However, I am a champion Karaoke participator, and the hotel has private Karaoke rooms, which Jen + I forced our bashful children into. After a good 1/2 hour of the moms raising the roof, belting out everything from Nicki Minaj to Lady Gaga, the kids took over and THAT was a treat. Karaoke: it’s what brings out the rockstar in all of us (Pro-tip: No one can resist singing to Katy Perry.)

If only you could hear me sing...

If only you could hear me sing…

A good night’s sleep (obviously after staying up late and eating snacks from the Asian market downstairs) and we hit the breakfast buffet. Roan pretended to be a kid who is allowed to drink coffee and I decided to play along. He took maybe one sip and sat and stirred the cup in between bagels and croissants and toast and cereal and sausage. We all ate breakfast while still in our PJ’s and stared at the amazing view that is NYC.

Rooftop patio. Windy but alluring.

Rooftop patio. Windy but alluring.

Breakfast. Prop coffee.

Breakfast. Prop coffee.

This overnight vacation was amazing for us. No babies and no distractions. Just a sweet little pocket of quiet and indulgent time. Roan keeps talking about it like it was a dream, or something that happened ten years ago. He misses it already. Little does he know that mama has found a new favorite thing to do with her biggest boy. We will revisit this “vacation”. Proof that sometimes the simple and easy get away is more than enough. Travel time approx 15 minutes, by car. Memories seared for a lifetime. That’s the goods.

Mystery, Starlux, School, Project Runway, Mondo, Breathe.

You know when that somewhat histrionic friend of yours posts vague status updates on whatever media outlet they’re addicted to? The ones that hint at something great, terrible, impending, or happening, but they won’t just come out and say, “Yo. This is what happened. It made me feel this way.”? And it bugs you, partly because the Human Being inside yours naturally curious about things that are unclear, but also because it’s pretty lame to post something and then clarify that you just actually cannot post about it.

I never do that.

Except now, I’m going to do that.

There’s a project I’m working on and due to the nature of the project, I really can’t talk about it in a public way. So normally I’d just work on it, and leave my Pistols and my Popcorn out of it, but I want to shout from the rooftops now that “Yo! I’m working on something! And it makes me feel really good and happy and productive! And it has nothing repeat nothing to do with children, parenting, me, or my family!” And that’s basically all I can say due to the dangerous nature of me being involved with it. Ok ok just kidding about the danger. But, yeh. I just thought you should know. And I’m sorry that I’ve just become that guy that does that one thing. But I hope we can still be friends.

Moving right along.

Roan - Wild

Epic past few weeks. Epic has become the most overused and totally annoying word in the jibberjabber world of teenagers and pop culture but too bad because I’m an adult, and I’m using it correctly. The end of the summer has happened, and so did our last BANG BOOM POP WOW chronology of events.

Hotel balcony, fake palm tree. Love.

First – as a family, we actually left the eight-block radius we rarely travel outside of (though we stayed in the Tri-State Area). We went on a vacation with my sister Lori and her family, to Wildwood, NJ. Now – full disclosure – at no point did I ever trade, barter, influence or hint at any type of potential review for this hotel we stayed at so our experience there is likely to be exactly the same as yours would be.

Wildwood Boardwalk

And it was totally epic. HAHAH – kidding – it was totally awesome. (Awesome is back, right?) We stayed at a place called the Starlux Hotel. It was lovely. A clean and surprisingly warm pool. A bubbly hot tub. A cool hotel suite (2 bedrooms, kitchenette, balcony, living room) for $135/night (off-season, FYI). They set up cribs for the tiny twin tyrant masters, they had free bicycles to cruise along the boardwalk with, they provided shovels, pails, and boogie boards for the beach, and even have a complimentary washer/dryer. The staff could not have been any more friendly or helpful. One morning they opened the pool early because Boone and Roan asked them to. Seriously. They gave my sister a stamp to mail her rent check. They doted on the twin boys. And always had coffee ready for us in the morning.

Delux Starlux

You’re in NYC looking for a quick beach weekend getaway? This is the jam.

Summit Street Gang, First Day of School 2012

The tragic ending is that the night we came home was the first school night of the year. Roan started fourth grade the next day. (Actually, Roan is a bit square and loves school, loves his friends at school, and was probably ready to get away from the park circuit I had him on during the summer. But still. He likes to pretend that starting school is a drag so I go ahead and help him spin his little fiction.)

Heidi Klum literally glows. She is from a different planet, here is the proof. Tell a friend.

The upswing is that Roan missed the second day of school to attend the Project Runway Season 10 finale taping at Fashion Week. Oh man my son and I love going to this thing. It’s just a little crazy to be a few rows behind Harvey Weinstein, Michael Kors, Heidi Klum, Nina Garcia, Debra Messing and Jennifer Hudson. Like, I totally could have nailed any one of those people in the head with a grape, had I chosen to do so. How many people can say that?

Roan + Mondo

Most importantly, Roan got to talk with Mondo, our favorite Project Runway celebrity. That guy is a supercool dude. He took a nervous 8-year-old boy and put him at ease, showing the greatest interest in the pillows that Roan has been designing. I want to fold Mondo up, put him in my pocket, and bring him with me everywhere I go.

But that’s probably illegal so I will not.

Right? So. Now it’s time to breathe, eat some goldfish crackers, watch a little Yo! Gabba! Gabba! and ask Fall….whatchu got to compete with this Summer finale, hmmmmm?

What Can You Do? Easy. You Can Help.

When my boys are sick, I move everything around in my life to make them feel totally and absolutely taken care of. As a child, I almost enjoyed being sick, because of how my mother would care for me. I think it’s a sweet thing, to be able to lavish total comfort on a child who needs his mom or dad or brother or sister – it’s one of those few times you know you’re doing exactly what they need.

Obviously, if I couldn’t take care of my boys when they were sick – if there wasn’t the correct medicine, if there were no movies, if I couldn’t feed them Popsicles and build up pillows and blankets to ridiculous heights – if I couldn’t make them feel better and promise they’d be well within a few days, I don’t really know how I would cope. And we all know there are parents in the world who have that situation. There are kids who are sick, and they are loved desperately by their parents, and they cannot be promised that health is right around the corner. So those parents need help – from their family, from their friends, from us.

I have a reader named Gillian who is determined to help her friend, who has a little girl with a disease called Cystinosis. Here’s part of an email I received:

Thus, we have my November Endeavor – to run the Pensacola Marathon, and in so doing raise at least $2000 for cystinosis.  Years ago, a very dear friend and former running partner of mine gave birth to the sweetest blue-eyed girl you’ve ever seen, a little girl who remains tiny and ill due to the vicious effects of this terrible disease.  I don’t know much about cystinosis – all I know is that her body produces cystine crystals which collect in her eyes and kidneys, compromising her eyesight (already, at 5, she is struggling with this), and likely making her first kidney failure occur at around puberty, at which point she will need a transplant.  I have a 4 year old and 2 year old myself, and . . . well, you’re a parent.  You know.

Yeh I do. I’m hoping you know, too.

This is one thing I will never hesitate to do – to put the word out that there is some good you can do. Because good is good. Good for those helped, and really good for those who do the helping. There are so few times in life you can be certain that you’re doing the right thing, but hey – here’s one of them.

To donate to Gillian’s cause, to help out a little 5 year-old girl, and to let her parents know they’ve got a team of people they don’t know behind them – click here and give what you can. I know, I’m broke too. But still. Some things are worth stretching for. Click here for Gillian’s Causes Page.

The (Gay!) Wedding

Bev + Jaime

I’m not a huge wedding ceremony fan, oh nay. I kind of find weddings long and boring and sometimes just heavy-handed. But the one Roan and I attended over the weekend had all the things I like – an intimate group, a supercool officiator, and a gorgeous setting, with my beloved city as the backdrop. My friends from Utah, Bev + Jaime came to NYC to get married because it’s still illegal for same-sex couples to get married in Utah. Still. Illegal. (Sidenote to readers of the future that are shocked I was alive when this type of discrimination was still happening: I know, right?!)

I connected my Utah girls with my Brooklyn people when they were looking for a place to stay. As many people know, finding lodging in NYC is usually the deal breaker for visiting here. Hotels are small and cramped, usually not especially clean, and always always always overpriced. But here’s a super duper secret hook-up: my friends, Loretta and Genarro have a unit they rent out here in the BKLYN that is dope. And cheap, considering it sleeps 6+ people. It is literally 1/2 block to the subway that gets you into Manhattan in 10 – 15 minutes. (I don’t even get a kick-back and look at me giving you the hard sell…what? I just really enjoy sharing insider info.)

This rental is part of Eco Brooklyn’s Show House, and to be rad, Genarro offered his rooftop patio as a setting for the wedding. I mean. You just cannot beat the views – Manhattan, Brooklyn, sky, and many neighbor’s backyards, including one neighbor with a pool whom I am interested in forming a friendship with.

Happy

The wedding ceremony was beautiful, and on the walk home Roan asked me, more than once, what exactly the problem was that people were trying to stop such marriages? That’s my boy. That’s a good question. He started doing funny-voiced impressions of people that oppose same-sex marriage offering, “Oh noooooo! What if they get married and are happy and use up all MY happiness?” I found that pretty ha ha ha LOL funny stuff but then reminded him that many people he knows and loves are in that group of opposers, so easy on the mockery. But then I took my admonition back and joined in the mockery because I just cannot for the life of me meet anyone in the middle on this one. Get over it already.

Not scary

I know I know I know that many people are put off by the flamboyance of Pride day, by the over-the-top behavior of some of the loudest and proudest people in the LGBT community, I get it. If it’s not what you’re into, it seems too fringe, it seems a little scary, it seems unnecessary. I understand the trepidation and difficulty of wrapping one’s mind around something that instinctively feels wrong. The hardest thing of this divisive issue is that there are people who are really and truly good, kind, loving people who cannot stop discriminating. It’s not discrimination from hate, but from a place of fear and sadly – ignorance. This ends up reading as hateful though, because honestly, there’s very little difference.

Even with these caveats, though, the discrimination is simply not ok. My friends and their family not having the same respect and rights paid to them as I have makes no sense to me, and happily, no sense to my son. I suppose little by little it is changing. State by state. Family by family. Blog by blog. I’m certain I have readers who do not agree with me on this issue – and that’s ok. But just for one moment, take a look at these pictures of my friends, see the kindness and love there. The happiness. And be ok with that.

Not scared

Taking Roan to Kaskade’s “Freaks of Nature” Concert

Ryan + me. Pre-show, and he's cool as can be.

My friend Ryan, who has gained a larger-than-life fan base of ardent followers for the music he creates as Kaskade, had a concert scheduled in Brooklyn over this past weekend. While I am a friend, I am also a fan, but I wasn’t planning on going because basically I don’t plan on going to anything, ever. It’s kind of funny/sad that it doesn’t even occur to me that, hey. I should go see my friend perform because how cool is it that he’s got thousands upon thousands of people dying to see him? Why don’t I scoot on out of my house and get my arse on down to MCU Stadium to show some love and support?

Yeh, that didn’t occur to me until I got a text saying, hey. Come to my concert, numbskull. Or something to that effect.

It was family friendly, and didn’t go too late, and Ryan’s whole family was going to be there, as well as another friend of ours from my olden days and his family so I said hey. I’m in.

But not only me. I was bringing the boys. (Not the smallest ones because they don’t respect authority yet and I fear they would end up in toddler jail for gatecrashing. Just the big 8-year-old one and the husband one because they sort of respect authority but more importantly, they just make me look good.)

Roan + Me - watching. Ok, maybe he took a short snooze.

Right off the subway at our destination I could tell this was going to be a party. There were Kaskade-bound kids everywhere. They were all dressed up in the ways that my friends and I used to dress when we were ready to throw down for the night. Bright colors, great shoes, lots of glitter, a few fairy wings, glow sticks, but mostly just an absolute buzz in the air of excitement. It made me smile and love them all – Roan was mesmerized and possibly a little jealous that he hadn’t gone all-out in his ensemble.

We got to the stadium and the line to get in was EPIC. We skipped it (Yay! Friendship has perks!) and met up with our people at the tour bus. We were all given passes and tickets and led through the catacombs of the arena, and I couldn’t help but feel that I was in that scene from Spinal Tap where they get lost trying to find the stage. Twisting hallways that last forever. Ridiculous. We met up with Ryan and after big hugs hello and an introduction to my cool son Roan, we headed up to our suite where we’d watch his show.

Anson being told what's what by his friends' daughters.

Ryan had about 45 minutes before he went on, so we were able to talk and hang out and it was a blast. Roan couldn’t believe all the people filing in to see the show – watching an arena fill up from above is pretty cool. And there he was, eating  chips and salsa with the performer. Ro started taking pictures for his newly activated Instagram account, while Anson and I caught up with our old friends (while Nightline was filming everything. That’s weird). Ryan’s wife Naomi couldn’t be any more awesome. For the Freaks of Nature tour he’s doing this summer (something like 50 shows – what?!), she’s agreed to accompany him – along with their three daughters. The oldest one is Roan’s age, the youngest, just a little older than Shep + Smitty. I just cannot imagine being that much woman, able to be adaptive enough to go from place to place with kids. Seriously, she’s possessing a superpower. Also, she looks really good doing it. I know. It’d be hard not to hate her if I didn’t love her so much.

Roan. Fireworks. Kaskade. Awesome.

The show was hugely amazing. The visuals were awesome and actually we Brooklyn folks got an extra treat because there was a fireworks show happening at the same time, which corresponded perfectly with his light show. The sound and energy and love from Ryan’s crowd kept giving me chills. He, my friend, has created such an experience for his fans – and he adores his people. After the show we hung out a little longer, but it was getting “late” (by my standards – heh – but it was only like 11:30) and I needed to get my body home. After securing an autograph for our friend’s son who missed the show, we bailed. Ryan and his family were about to leave (as soon as the groupies stopped swarming the tour bus) and head to Montreal, where he’d be performing the next night.

Ryan signing a mug for our neighbor Alejandro. Poor Alejandro missed the show.

I couldn’t have been happier to introduce Roan to concerts than with this. Of course – next time he wants to go see someone it’s going to be sort of a bummer to have to wait in line, be in a crowd, and not eat the band’s food, but with any luck, some more of my friends will hurry up and get famous. Yes, I’m talking to you.

What the After Party looks like at my house.

Monkey Bar Challenge

It’s no secret that I adore love worship Appaman. Their clothes are my everything. Dripping with style and cool, I have yet to see a piece that I wouldn’t gobble up. Plus this little vintage model shoot from years ago when Roan was but a wee young lad still makes my heart boom boom bang bang :

Bang Bang

Boom Boom

But those are just clothes.

The adore love worship part comes from the fact that the owners are basically the coolest people on the planet. Lynn and Harald and my homies for life, the people I would give a BFF heart pendant to if I were into that type of thing (duh, you all know I’m totally into that type of thing). So beyond their awesome clothes are their giant altruistic hearts which keep on finding ways to make the world better. And I’m all for a better world, particularly if it includes monkey bars. You?

I’m asking my readers to join me in the Appaman Monkey Bar Challenge. It’s for fun. And it helps fight cancer. Ok? Here’s how it breaks down:

  1. Register here. Appaman is asking that you pledge $25 to the cause to get in on the fun. 100% of the proceeds will be donated to Alex’s Lemonade Stand Foundation for Childhood Cancer. 100% of your commitment will be celebrated by Appaman, your children and your friends.
  2. Get your swag kit in the mail from Appaman.
  3. Get on those Monkey Bars, dude!! You have until Labor Day to challenge yourself to be as dexterous and deft as your children. Think you can go backwards? Try it. Think you can still skip-a-bar? Show me.
  4. Labor Day is go time. Send a video of yourself on the bars, in your Appaman glory. You could possibly get a movie deal out of this. I mean, Appaman didn’t say that, but I’m just trying to Pistols + Popcorn this thing up. You could also become a rockstar out of this. To your kids, anyway.
  5. If you’ll let me, I’ll post videos of my reader’s entries here. I can’t wait. But I call skip-a-bar. That’s my jam, ok? Don’t copy me.

Do this!! Great cause, good fun, and maybe possibly probably you’ll get a couple of bigger muscles from it. And also callouses. Awesome. Are you in? Say yes. And can you do one more thing for me? Spread the word. Tell your girlfriends. Get them in on it. Share this post. Let’s start something together here! As Lynn says, “Game on Sisters!”