Sesame Street Blog

Sesame Family Robinson – From making Muppets to Raising Moppets

Entries with tag tagholiday .

Mother’s Day, 12:00PM

Word of the Day:   Mother

My first Mother’s Day, and Marty is away doing a lecture on puppetry.

The girls, dogs and I had a wonderful morning on the bed, just hanging out doing nothing but singing “Officer Krupke” and other West Side Story classics. Nell gets a little anxious when I try to hit the high notes in “Tonight.”   

9:00 p.m.

Marty’s home and has shown me the secret project he was working on before he left. It’s a video Mother’s Day card by Lyra and Ripley. He’s done our classic puppetry of the baby so Ripley is “narrating” through a whole slide show of pictures from birth up until now. It’s full of classic Martin humor and his baby voice is just a killer. I wept.    

I’m a happy mother. 

My typical serenading position.

Our Mini-Break Holiday

Curriculum of the Day: Rest

The next morning, we were in a fabulous mood despite the fact I had an 8 a.m. conference call for the Indonesian Sesame Street. Marty was in a great place since all the Emmy pressure was off. He was already dreaming up ideas for HandyMan on an adventure in Hollywood. He took care of the babies while I did the call and typed up all the script review notes. Then, we packed up our clothes, our babies and checked out of downtown LA.

First stop on our tiny holiday was the Jim Henson Company Studio. About a decade ago, the Jim Henson Company purchased the original Charlie Chaplin studio in Hollywood. They renovated it, putting back some of the charm that had been lost over the years, even ripping out blacktop and putting in cobblestones. Of course, a large Kermit the Frog now graced the front gate and other Muppet memorabilia was spread out around the facility. We were given a tour, Marty got to play with some of the cool, digital puppetry equipment, and we even put our feet into the concrete footsteps of Charlie Chaplin. The girls were just wonderful, never getting fussy despite the Hollywood September heat. A healthy salad at the commissary made it the perfect visit.

We headed west to the other side of the 405 and my friend Greg Germann’s house. We were going to spend our last two days here, enjoying the 20 degree cooler weather and visiting with friends. For dinner that night, we brought the girls to the Santa Monica Promenade. We strolled them up and down the blocks, with no agenda whatsoever, settling on a Japanese restaurant for our meal. Lyra decided it was finally time to kick up a fuss, so I walked her back and forth in front of our outdoor table, picking up a piece of sushi every time I passed by.

The next morning, the girls and I played on the floor of the playroom while Greg’s son, Asa and his friend played some car chasing video game while Marty kibitzed. The girls had their first balls to play with and got very excited by the potential of round things that roll. We all headed to the Santa Monica beach and the girls and HandyMan got to dip their toes in the Pacific Ocean. Dolphins were swimming in the distance. The girls tried to see what sand tastes like. Thanks to our SPF 50 sun block, the afternoon was burn-free and quite idyllic.  

We did some quick shopping for food since we were having some old friends from my theatre days over for dinner. Max Mayer, Leslie Urdang, and Mark Linn-Baker started New York Stage and Film Company back in the late 1980s. I was their only employee at the time and I stayed for a decade becoming their literary manager for the last several years. It was my working graduate program where I got to meet fabulous actors and learn what makes good writing. The theatre is still going strong, although I had to move on and into children’s television land to earn a living.

Leslie, Max and his daughter Jude, Terry Urdang and her family, Jayne Atkinson and her son all hung out in Greg’s playroom catching up and meeting the twins. We ended the evening with a friendly game of poker with the kids. It was so good to see Greg after almost a year and a half. I love being able to just pick up where you left off with people, despite time and distance.

The next day, HandyMan took a little visit to Hollywood Boulevard, and then we were off to the airport. This time, we gave ourselves PLENTY of time. The airline wasn’t nearly the disaster it was in LAX. It even had a security line for people with strollers and kids. The rest of the trip was uneventful, even getting everyone into the car at JFK was rather painless.

It was a fast and furious five days. Despite Marty and my three nominations, we didn’t have any Emmys to stash in the overhead compartments on the way home, but we’d certainly be happy to try winning again next year, even in Los Angeles.

Turkey Time Once Again

Curriculum of the Day: Holidays

Thanksgiving for “Sesame Family Robinson” always has to revolve, well, around Sesame Street. While most families have that day off to prepare for their big feast, Marty has a standing gig at the Macy’s Day Parade. Yes, there are real puppeteers on that Sesame Street float, and one of them is Marty with Telly singing and waving to the crowds.

Marty really enjoys this job. Although it requires him to be at the float by 7 a.m., it’s always full of high energy and good spirits. (Even when it’s freezing cold and raining! One year, it was so cold that we had hot potatoes in our coat pockets.) Back when I still had my apartment in New York, we’d stay over on Wednesday night, often going to 80th Street with the crowds to watch the balloons being blown up.  I’ve gone several times with Marty in the early morning to wish everyone well and wave as the float heads off down Central Park West. One time, a big gaggle of high school cheerleaders jogged by the float and caught a glimpse of Bob practicing his dance steps.  

“BOB!!! IT’S BOB!!!” All these enthusiastic gals in short skirts and ponytails rushed the float to shake hands and take pictures with Bob. It was adorable.

Our cast and friends practicing their moves before the float starts its parade journey.
Our cast and friends practicing their moves before the float starts its parade journey.

Two years ago, they introduced the Abby Cadabby balloon. Leslie Carrara (Abby’s puppeteer) was over the moon with joy.

Leslie and Abby with the Abby balloon and handlers.
Leslie and Abby with the Abby balloon and handlers.

Marty always calls his mom while inside the float so she can watch the TV broadcast while listening to it live on Marty’s phone. He’s very sweet to his mommy.

Marty Robinson at the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade
That wild and crazy Thanksgiving guy.

Once the float starts down the long road to 34th Street and 6th Avenue and the Macy’s building, I usually go back to my apartment and watch the events unfold on TV. The last few years, we stayed at our friend’s house up on 147th Street, so I’d wait for Marty at a nice breakfast place closer to midtown. This year, with 9-month-old babies, I’m staying home and Marty will just have to get up very early to make his way to NYC by 7 a.m. This is the first year we’re going to host a Thanksgiving dinner on the actual day since we’ve been together. Usually, after the parade, we’d head to Long Island to have the big meal with my parents and brother. Now, with Dad living up here at his new assisted living facility (see June 27th post), everyone is coming to our place to celebrate.

The cook in this household is Marty, so the turkey will have to be ready to go before he leaves. I am capable of turning on the oven at the appropriate time. Most of the side dishes will be made on Wednesday. I’m in charge of dessert so, of course, I’ve ordered pies from the local bakery. As an ex-New Yorker, I’m great at ordering. My friend Catherine and her boyfriend MartyMath (He’s a math teacher, and we call him that so we don’t get the two Marty’s confused) are bringing several classic dishes as well. My brother and his wife are staying over and heading to Cape Cod the next day for Thanksgiving again. I don’t know what they’re bringing; it will be a surprise. Bryant Young, the back end of Mr. Snuffleupagus, is also going to be a guest. It’s a new paradigm with Dad up in here in CT and new babies in our midst. I’m looking forward to hosting Turkey Day with great thanks in my heart.

Thanksgiving Grace

Word of the Day: Thankful

Eleven adults and two babies were seated at our dinner table in front of our mismatched plates, silverware, cloth napkins, wine and water glasses (our household has always been more eclectic than elegant). The turkey, vegetable dishes, stuffing, gravy and sweet potatoes were already being spooned out. We were just waiting for Marty to finish with the mashed potatoes. Finally, he took his seat in between Ripley and Lyra’s high chairs. I immediately tapped on my wine glass with a fork to get everyone’s attention. It was time for the traditional moment of thanks. Since Marty was the main cook and seated at the head of the table, I whispered it was his job to say the grace. He humbly agreed and started to welcome everyone to our feast. Ripley and Lyra, sensing the spotlight, joined him. Ripley did her very loud soprano: “Ahhhahhhahhhhahhahh.” Lyra put her thumb in her mouth and began to warble: “Babblebabblebabblebabble.” Marty instantly ceded the floor to the girls and we listened with amused awe. Obviously, Annie was wrong. Grace was meant to be said by our daughters. Once they finished their Thanksgiving musings, we all dug into our full plates with full hearts.

The Macy’s Day Parade – Muppet view 2009

A view looking downtown from the top of the Sesame Street float.

A view looking downtown from the top of the Sesame Street float.

Telly’s own personal uptown view from the float.

Telly’s own personal uptown view from the float.

“What are all you people doing here? Don’t you have turkeys to cook?” sayeth Telly Monster

“What are all you people doing here? Don’t you have turkeys to cook?” saith Telly Monster

Telly and his bottom half.

Telly and his bottom half.

“They’re packed in like sardines!”

“They’re packed in like sardines!”  



The Annual Holiday Card

Word of the Day: Salutations

Marty and I have become known for our holiday card. This is wonderful in many ways. Friends you don’t see often will stop you and gush about how they always hang your card on their refrigerator. We often hear how people can’t wait to open our card when it arrives. “Where did Annie and Marty go this year?” We usually make a 5x7 card that opens with several photos from our Sesame Street international teaching trips. Here are just some examples of photos that have been part of our previous holiday greetings:

 Our Renaissance Fair outfits with the pets
Our Renaissance Fair outfits with the pets

 St. Basil’s during one of the coldest Russian February’s in history
St. Basil’s during one of the coldest Russian February’s in history

Annie and Marty with two elephants.
Our Elephant Ride in Bali

The downside of doing an extravagant holiday card is people expect it from you. Because I was pregnant and on bed rest last December, we didn’t send out a card. We didn’t get calls and letters asking where it was, but I did feel like we let our family and friends down a little. So, we’re sending one out this year and are in the midst of deciding what will be the main photos. It won’t be a big card; we are still in a recession mentality here at our house. Still, we will probably use at least these two pictures. The shot of Ripley in the air was actually suggested by one of our blog readers to be on the card.

 Sesame Family Robinson at a lake.
"Love at the Lake” shot on the August Vacation Post (us in the Water)

Martin and baby at play.
Ripley in Flight.

We’ll probably put some kind of line next to the Ripley shot about “Flying happily into the New Year.”

Happy Holidays to all!

Holiday Card

Hoilday Card

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Mail Box

Like your family we have twins, boy/girl, that turned three last month. I saw your blog entry for January and it looks like we have something in common, potty training twins. Like one of your girls, my son WILL NOT pee in the potty but his sister was doing well until she caught on to "Bubbie" not trying. I was just letting things run their course but our local pre-schools/mommy day out programs require the children to be potty trained and this mommy needs a day out. Bribery isn't working. Have you had any success?


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How often is the telly puppet renewed or replaced?

Katherine Sydney, Australia

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I read in 40 Years of Life on the Street about an incident involving Snuffy's puppet where a sombrero caused the wood frame to collapse on you and Bryant Young. Did they rebuild the puppet after that or did they just make a new one?


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I just wanted to say thanks for the blog. My daughter Kylie (who just turned two yesterday) loves to ask if we are going to see "the babies." Thank you so much to you and Marty for bringing the joy of Sesame Street into our lives every day.

Kendal and Kylie Montreal, Canada

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I've noticed that there are fewer Muppets and people in an episode now than there were twenty years ago. Does everyone show up on the set for filming days or only certain ones? Who decides who gets to play the Anything Muppets? There are some voices I hear more than others.


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