How old are your kids and how long have you lived in Westport? Ethan is 13 years old, Eliza is 11 years old, and we have lived in Westport for 11 years.
What has been the most difficult age with your children to date? What helped you overcome the challenges at that time? I said to my husband Michael last night, “Raising a teen and a tween is more difficult than raising babies, and more draining than every two-hour middle-of-the-night feedings!” As the expression goes, “Little people, little problems. Big people, big problems.”
What is your favorite family activity to do in Westport or the surrounding towns? Ethan is a musician, very involved with School of Rock Fairfield, and Eliza is a competitive gymnast (Level 5) with the Westport/Weston YMCA. Most weekends are spent going to hear Ethan perform and Eliza compete. In the warmer months, we are always doing something surrounded by water, whether it be the pool or Compo Beach.
What was your most memorable family vacation and why? Family vacations are sacrosanct in our home. We can all be together for every meal, decompress and reconnect. There are two places we have gone (five times each), where we create new memories and relive old ones:
1. Our annual end-of-summer California trip to Disneyland, and Shutters by the Beach, and
2. The Cove at the Atlantis, Nassau, Bahamas.The kids absolutely love amusement- and water- parks, so Disneyland and The Cove are ideal.
What is the best white lie you have told your kids? I would NEVER lie to my kids. Just kidding. I totally lie to them. The rule in our home is that before they say “no” or that they “don’t like something” to something new, they have to try it once. (This relates to new foods, carnival rides, sports, etc.) Many, many times, I have told my kids that something tastes good (like Brussels Sprouts, which are delicious… as an adult), or telling them that a particular ride isn’t scary, even if it is. Obviously, I won’t tell them something isn’t dangerous, if it is. (I’ve “threatened” to send them to Boarding School, when they don’t listen or are disrespectful.) I’ve kept the “if you don’t listen to me, Mommy will die” under wraps. For now.
What is your proudest mommy moment? I’m proud of everything my kids do. Well, almost everything. Aside from their respective talents and awards, I am most proud that my children are happy, funny, compassionate and empathic toward others. That tells me that even though my kids (sometimes) tell me that I’m “the Worst. Mom. Ever….” who they are as people, says I’m doing OK.
What’s your favorite app right now- for you- and for your kids?
- My favorite app is Wolf + Friends, a lifestyle app for moms raising children with special needs. The app is really for anyone who knows and loves a different learner.
- Ethan’s favorite app is YouTube. All music, all the time.
- Eliza’s favorite apps are Instagram (even though she’s not allowed to have an account, yet…) FaceTime, and TikTok (because every tween MUST record their every waking moment, or their lives won’t mean a thing…)
What’s your can’t live without beauty product? At 52 years old, there isn’t just one beauty product; it’s an entire store of beauty products. Face: SkinMedica Facial Cleanser… Mascara: I still think L’Oreal’s “Voluminous Million Lashes (Blackest Black) is the best. Hair: Oribe Shampoo/Conditioner for Moisture and Control… and a Medium Brown Eyebrow Pencil. I like to say that G-d’s little joke was to make my eyebrows too light and my hair too dark, so I have darkened my eyebrows and lighten my hair. Oh, and never underestimate the power of Botox.
What’s your favorite restaurant for a family dinner? A night out with friends? Family Dinner: Sherwood Diner, Angelina’s, and of course The Granola Bar – all in Westport. Everyone knows us as these places; we should own stock! Friends: Martel Bistro, Fairfield. Always yummy and reliable.
What are you most excited about in life right now? I’m excited to watch my children grow and see who they become as people. I’m excited that Ethan’s Bar Mitzvah is in November, and Eliza follows with her Bat Mitzvah, 14 months later! Being busy and simultaneously juggling a myriad of things, is my comfort zone.
What is one thing people would be surprised to know about you? If someone is on my Facebook account, they know everything (about me) there is to know, but… People would be surprised that even though one of my greatest joys in life is to make people laugh, I do have a serious side. Oh, and while I do make jokes about my new breasts (courtesy of a double mastectomy in November, 2017), here’s a surprise and secret: cancer really isn’t as fun as I try to make it seem…..Also, I’m really a “loner” at heart. I’ll go out and have fun with friends, but I’d rather be at home.
If you weren’t doing what you are today, what do you think your career path might have been? Had I been more self-possessed and less insecure in my 20s, I would have loved to be an on-air sports anchor/news reporter, or actor.
If you had 24 hours to do whatever you wanted – what would you do? EASY!!!! I would sleep. Sleep again. Then, sleep some more. If there was any time in between, I would read my magazine backlog, and inhale Joe’s Stone Crab’s with mustard sauce. (I tell my husband that he should know I’d never cheat on him, because if I had any free time at all, I’d use the time to sleep. (I’d also never have an affair, because I don’t want to shave my legs that often.)
What is your most marked characteristic? Physically, my bleached blonde hair. It’s a carry-over from my Jersey days, and I like it. I tell my colorist to make me look fake. Personality, my Village-Idiot humor. Psychologically, I would say my ability to focus on the positive and be emotionally strong — and I’ve had a lot of challenges thrown my way in the recent past — and not allow the negative situations to “break” my spirit. Life happens; I refuse to be “Debbie Downer.”
What do you most value in your friends? I am blessed to surround myself with friends who are smart, funny, accomplished, selfless, supportive, trustworthy and loyal. In the past 3-4 years, I’ve experienced the deaths of my parents, and mother in law, breast cancer, and have a child on the autism spectrum. Everyone has friends or acquaintances who are there for the good times. But, it’s my friends who have consistently and unconditionally been there for me in times of crisis, who mean the most.
What is your greatest regret? I can’t regret what I can’t change. (Shoulda, woulda, coulda.) That said, while my Dad passed away at age 91, my Mom at age 83, and they lived in our home for 8 years, I wish they could have lived another 110 years, Although, that still wouldn’t have been enough time for me. I believe they watch over us, but I would have loved for them to have more time with their grandchildren.
How did you end up where you are now in terms of your job, or whatever passion project it is you might be doing? Aside from my job as a mother — the most important job there is! — and wife, the mystical forces of the Universe seem to dictate what I do. For almost 20 years post college, I was a Marketing Director at some of the most well-known consumer magazines. My job entailed creative proposal writing, events and promotions. Whatever I did, my work ethic was always to give it my all (even today); always first in and last out of the office.
When we started a family and Ethan was diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder, I used my writing, marketing and power of persuasion to become an autism advocate and fundraiser. In just a few years, our family team:
- “The E-TEAM” became one of Autism Speaks’ Top Fundraising Family’s
- Created “Autism Bites” an annual program (currently on hiatus) wherein Fairfield County restaurants, retail stores and auto dealers donated 10% of profits (or a flat fee for auto dealers) on April 2, World Autism Awareness Day.
- Co-chaired SPANSTOCK, a one-night music festival for Autism Speaks.
- Convinced First Selectman Marpe to declare April 2 as “World Autism Awareness Day in Westport” and April as “Autism Awareness Month.”
- Had School of Rock Fairfield, and Ethan’s band CLUELESS perform at Toquet Hall to engage the community youth!
- Work with Fairfield Theatre Company (I am on the Board of Directors) to raise money through special concerts, events and membership drives.
While controversial, I want to help fund research for an autism cure. Right now, there are so many genetic and environmental factors that affect/effect autism, so a cure is many years down the road, if at all. I will never stop fighting or searching for ways to help the autism community, or my son. While one member if the family is on the autism spectrum, every facet of the family — financially, emotionally, psychologically — are effected. Only when there is a cure for autism spectrum disorder, will I then focus on myself and finding a cure for breast cancer.