She’s the co-author of the new book It’s Not You, It’s the Dishes, the paperback version of Spousonomics, one of the best relationship books ever—maybe the first one I’ve ever read that actually gets what we’re actually, really thinking about and dealing with.
I recently became a mother of two. Ida is 2 and a few months, and Noa is nearly 5 months. My husband Nivi and I live in Sunset Park, Brooklyn, in a brownstone we bought and renovated last year, and are kind of still moving into, and probably will be for many years. I work at Newsweek & the Daily Beast as an editor, and co-wrote a book called Spousonomics, which is being released in paperback June 12! We renamed it It’s Not You, It’s the Dishes: How to Minimize Conflict & Maximize Happiness in Your Relationship” because Random House thought it was better that way and I do what Random House tells me to do. I blog when I can, at itsthedishes.com, and lately I’ve been doing a lot of Bikram yoga, which I used to make fun of Nivi for doing (he’s also a Bikram teacher) but now I get the appeal. Life is generally good, but it’s tough for two working parents to raise two kids in this city, and it requires teamwork and lots of alcohol.
Do you have a go-to dinner that appears weekly?
Chicken wings, meatloaf and frittatas are always in the rotation. But we’re also just as likely to throw together what I call a mezze, which might include olives, cheese, hummus, sardines, grapes, tomatoes, cucumbers, steamed vegetables and whatever else we have around. As long as we can sit down together with real food from our own kitchen, I think that’s what counts.
Regarding screen time, would you say you’re very conservative, easy breezy, or completely confused as to what is appropriate…
Fairly conservative. Ida, our oldest, is now obsessed with our phones, the iPad and the computer. She’s always begging to watch Grover videos, or truck videos, or play Sound Touch or fish school or look at pictures. We try to only let her have it when the baby is demanding attention and we’re stressed. But that means we’re constantly telling her no, and that sucks. I’m impressed with how much she’s taught herself with these games, and I’m sure they’re not terrible for her, but if we don’t put our foot down she’s be glued to them all day, and that feels not ideal.
Tell us about how you celebrate birthdays in your house.
Thank god our kids are still too young to require birthday parties. When our oldest daughter turned one, we had some friends over and all her favorite foods, which at the time included bagels and lox, gefilte fish and tomatoes. We sang happy birthday with a candle in her bagel hole and she cried because she wanted her bagel back. On her second birthday, we gave her a cupcake with two candles and made her wait to eat it until we took a million pictures and video. Again, she cried.
Tell us about a typical weekend.
Fairly boring. Usually my husband gets up early and goes to yoga and I spend the morning with the girls, having breakfast, breastfeeding the little one, and then going to the park across the street. Then Nivi gets home and we either meet up with friends or go get lunch or do some other random thing in Brooklyn and come home by 2 for nap. Then I go to yoga and he stays home. 5 pm we reconvene, hang out at home, make dinner and put the kids to bed by 7:30. We either pass out on the couch in front of the TV, cocktails in hand, or we occasionally get a sitter and go out. Repeat on Sunday.
Any family rituals you carry on, or that you have created?
Now you’re hitting a nerve. I fantasize about “family rituals,” the kind Ruth Reichl would tweet about. They’re such a romantic notion, but it feels like life is too hectic to have any rituals. And if we tried to set any down on purpose we would invariably break them. Or maybe I’m being too rigid in my definition. For example, we live across the street from Sunset Park in Brooklyn so we tend to spend a lot of time there, in the playground or watching the Chinese ladies dance. It’s not a mandated time or anything, but it’s something we end up doing a lot because it’s easy, and it’s there. Bath time, books before bed, meals, sitting on the stoop together, could be called rituals, but feel more like “habits”. Ritual implies there’s something sacred about the activity, doesn’t it? That it holds us together as a family. Like the road trips we took every summer growing up. This question gives me agita.
Favorite activities for when you’re stuck indoors, or do you not let the elements get in the way?
We’ve recently started singing. My husband takes out his guitar and we jam. And by “jam” I mean I sing, Ida barks orders at us, and Noa, the baby, rolls around on her play mat. I long for the day when the kids can sit through a whole movie and we can all four watch movies together on a rainy day.
Do you listen to music or are you stuck in what you liked post-college and what your kids listen to?
My husband is very good about finding new music. He’s had Bon Iver, Kurt Vile and Sonny & the Sunsets in rotation lately. We’ve been on an Adele kick. I listen to a lot of Pandora, stations like Sam Cooke, M. Ward, Nancy Wilson, Joni Mitchell, Bob Dylan, Gillian Welch.
What’s the thing that always stays on your to-do list and never gets crossed off and nags at you?
Backing up our photos, which all live on an old Macbook that could die at any minute. Putting our videos up on some site like YouTube. Moving our kids into one room. Framing family photos and putting them on the wall–we don’t have a single photo up in our house. It’s scandalous.
Top 3 favorite books—for your kids, top 3 for yourself? Last book you read?
For Ida: That’s How! by Christophe Neimann; I Am a Bunny by Ole Risom; The Important Book by Margaret Wise Brown; Cars and Trucks and Things That Go by Richard Scarry.
Last books I read and liked: Foreskin’s Lament by Shalom Auslander, The Emperor of Ocean Park by Stephen Carter; Anna Karenina by that famous Russian guy.
Do you have a fail-safe beauty product or routine or something that just makes you feel armed for the day when you leave the house, or do you have a routine before you go to bed?
Except for Neutrogena sunscreen, no, neither. I never feeled armed for my day, beauty-wise, and my bed-time routine is to get in bed as quickly as possible. Floss, brush, bed. I would like to take the time to put on makeup, which does actually make me feel good, but I’m too lazy.
Your favorite family trip ever?
Two summers ago we spent two weeks in San Sebastian, Spain. We rented an apartment with my brother, his wife, and their son, who is about the same age as Ida. So we had lots of great family time with the babies, ate great food, took things slowly, and drank heavily. Many nights we cooked at home and played games or got a sitter and went to a bar to watch the World Cup. That was the year Spain won, and the night of the last game, we accidentally ordered a plate of cured horse meat.
In my previous life, before I was a mother, my husband and I went on a backpacking trip in Kootenay National park in Canada. Six days in the most stunning wilderness I’d ever seen.
You feel your best when?
After a Bikram yoga class.
Favorite clothing item and why?
My black-and-brown wool Tocca coat that I got at a sample sale in 2003. (see photo)
Second are my No. 6 shearling, lace-up clog boots with a little heel. I believe certain clogs can be sexy, even if most people don’t agree with me.
And third is my funny blue summer dress with boats on it.
Proudest moment in parenting?
Recently, when I got Ida out of her bed and the first thing she said was, “I want to eat French toast for breakfast on my pink chair in the living room.” Not only was it an impressive full sentence, but she totally knew what she wanted, and it’s exactly what I would have wanted at her age (still do).
What do you feel you could be better at?
Looking at the bright side.
What makes you feel guilty?
Looking at my iPhone when I’m with my kids. Is Twitter really more interesting than they are?