Monday, November 30, 2009

Brown Baggin' it!

I was going to do a post about mass customization.  But I decided one on lunches was more appropriate.  I know, don't all run out in the street screaming about the lack of a mass customization post.  It will come, it will come.  It has been bouncing around in my head for so long, I need it to leave, so I will write it.

But for now, on to lunches.  We packed them.  Yup, the kids packed their lunches, into the little lunch bags.  We put them into the fridge.  The night before school.  It was like the first day.  Everyone got their backpacks all set to go.  We even remembered to take the lunches out of the fridge this morning.

Bob packed his lunch.  He packed his brief case.  He got up, and put on big boy clothes and went to work.  It really is like the first day of school.  He too remembered his lunch.

We no longer have free lunches at school, because Bob has a job.  It was a happy moment in a perverse way to write the check to the school so the kids could get milk.  I have to pay for my milk.  Yippee.  I know, that is so unlike me.

We may not be out of the woods yet, but today, it looks like we are headed on the right path.  We packed our lunch.


Some other unrelated topics:
*  I snaked a toilet yesterday, because all the plunging in the world wouldn't solve the problem.  It was seriously gross, but I did it, saved a call to the plumber, I am woman, hear me ROAR.
*  Hannah left the freezer open AGAIN.  Seriously, when do they learn?  Oh, and she denied it.
*  Is half way through the party the very, very end?  I don't think so.  I hate people who break the rules.

Sunday, November 29, 2009


Luck.  Some people seem to have it and others profess that they don't.  This has made me start to wonder, is luck something you have or something you create?  Is luck a perspective on life or is it just a thing?

There are arguments that say that luck is something that in inherent to how we perceive the world.
The key to good luck may be a heightened sensitivity to your surroundings.  Richard Wiseman, a professor at the University of Hertfordshire, spent a decade studying people who had self-identified as either lucky or unlucky. He posits that lucky people, through their superior observational skills, consistently encounter seemingly chance opportunities. In one experiment, Wiseman asked his subjects to count the photos in a newspaper. In the middle of the paper he placed a message that read “Tell the experimenter you have seen this and win 50 dollars.” The lucky people tended to notice this, but the unlucky — with their narrower focus — often missed it.

Think about it, some people will tell you they are unlucky, but maybe it is just that they miss the opportunity to be lucky by not perceiving the opportunities in their surroundings.  It is my belief that once you start to believe you are lucky, more luck tends to come your way.  Also, just like a positive attitude, lucky people tend to have a belief that they are lucky, and tend to ignore the bad things that happen to them.  Conversely, unlucky people tend to believe that they are unlucky and tend to ignore the good things that happen to them.

This makes me wonder, can you change your luck?  If you focus on being lucky and trying to be more aware of your surroundings can you turn the ship around? 

There is lots of research out there that basically points to the fact that luck is a matter of perception, just like a positive attitude you can have a lucky perception.  Research proves out that people who perceive themselves as lucky tend to minimize the bad things that happen, and look for the "silver lining."

Bob and I would say we are lucky.  Sure we have just gone through a rough patch, but we have had amazing support and it has hopefully, worked out ok for us in the end.  I look at life as a series of self-corrections.  I believe that when things start to go bad, it is time to try something else.

At the end of the day, can you change your luck?  I think so.

Saturday, November 28, 2009


The definition of discriminate in it's purest form is to differentiate.  This can mean you can discriminate between good quality and bad quality.  The word is often use to describe someone's taste.  She has very discriminating taste.  Used in this way, the word is a compliment.

But, when folks start differentiating based on race, religion, looks, socio-economic class, politics, etc, we start having problems.  Is it showing discriminating taste to not allow people that are different from you to feel included or welcome?  I think that when you are in the group that is making the decisions it might feel empowering.  You might feel like you are popular so you get to choose.  Usually when I find myself in situations where we have to exclude anyone, I feel a little uncomfortable.

Sometimes situations come up and not everyone can be included.  There are only 6 seats in my van, so only 5 other knitters can ride with me to the Fold.  If I leave you out, am I discriminating against you?  I guess it would depend on the criteria for the selection.  I tend to be of the first come first served philosophy to avoid using any other criteria, because I don't want to hurt anyone's feelings.

If in knitting club, for example, there is a decision being made about something that impacts the entire group, then the decision should not exclude anyone in the group.  It is not ok to say, you may come for part of the meet-up, but you can not stay for the whole thing, because making sure the activity in inclusive isn't important to us.  Essentially, if you are saying the club wants to do something, and the majority of folks are ok with it, then you have to get on board, will exclude minority groups.  You may not like the minority group.  You may not agree with their opinions, but if you differentiate between one group and another you are discriminating.

Apply this rule to your life, have you ever made a decision that excluded one group/person?  Did you make that based on religion, politics, socio-economic class, etc?  If you made the decision to exclude someone based on say, religion, you have discriminated.  But, only you can know your reasoning for the decision, insert your reason, and it may be that you have discriminated.  In our culture, discriminating against a group based on religion, socio-economic status, race, etc, can put you in the position of being called a bigot. 

I am not asking you to out yourself.  I am not asking you to tell anyone, but I am asking you to look long and hard at your behavior and think, do I discriminate?  If so, am I a bigot?  If the answer is yes, and I would find it hard to believe that it isn't, think about what you can do to right the situation.  None of us is perfect, and we all have biases.  I know that I make decisions that could be classified as discriminating, and not in the good way.  I try not to, but I am not perfect.

Finally, it is my opinion that if you did discriminate you did something wrong.  Judgment aside, saying you are sorry you hurt someone's feelings does not mean you have to acknowledge you did something wrong, only that you are sorry that they are hurt by the situation.  If you did do something wrong, and you recognize that, it is also a good thing to acknowledge your part in the situation.  But, some people don't realize that their actions are hurtful, so they don't know that they were part of the situation.  This is why I am so big on saying sorry, even if you don't think you did anything wrong.  Trust me, it will go along way.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Thanksgiving Play by Play

The Thanksgiving Day play by play.  As a kid, my mom got up at o-dark-fourty to start cooking, and was in the kitchen all day.  Was that just a ploy to avoid my Grandmother or did she really need to cook all day?  I thought today I would find out.  I did not do any prep before the big day, except to shop and defrost and brine the turkey.  I know I have all the ingredients on hand, but can I pull it off and still have time to knit and blog?  Let's see!

8:30  After sleeping in, I wake, grab a sweat shirt and go eat breakfast and read the Black Friday ads.
9:00  A few warm up exercises, to prep for the big day of cooking
9:15  Make pumpkin pie, with fresh pumpkin and crust from scratch  (My Mom used canned)
9:30  Put pie in oven.
9:45  Turn down oven and settle into some knitting and watch the Thanksgiving Day Parade, while toying with the idea of also making an apple pie, really isn't it all about desert?
11:00  Finally convinced that we need a second pie
11:30  Put apple pie, with crust from scratch into the oven, and work on hat for Mac's teacher
12:30  Pull out turkey, stuff with lemons and dressing
1:00   Put turkey in the oven
1:05  Take shower
1:30  Watch UP with the kids and knit
3:30  Discover someone left the freeze open and most of my 100 lbs of meat is defrosted, all the ice cream is ruined.
4:00  Start to cook meat from freezer so as not to loose all the meat.  Discover not all it totally lost, but have about 15 pounds to cook up ASAP, and about 15 more can be cooked tomorrow.  The rest is not defrosted and can be refrozen, according to my mom.
4:30  Finish potatoes, putting steaks in the crock pot, make stuffing, set table, drink 1/2 bottle of wine
5:00  Drink other 1/2 bottle of wine, and eat dinner
5:30  Put turkey carcass in stock pot to make broth, open new bottle of wine
6:00  Drink dessert
6:30  Eat pie... there are 2 of them

Realize that it does not take all day to make Thanksgiving dinner, but it is hard not to be in the kitchen all day.  It seems someone wants something all the time.

OH, and we have about 5 pounds each of beef and sundried tomates, orange chicken and BBQ beef, not to mention the Thanksgiving left overs.  Guess I won't have to cook for a while.  Tomorrow I will make mexican chicken and beef for enchilladas and tacos.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Three things

Three things.  Laurie Perry over at did a post about the three things she is thankful for.  It got me thinking.  It has been a hard day kid wise... what three things am I thankful for...

1)  My friends who have been an amazing source of support.  They understand why I am upset about things, they laugh at my jokes, and they read my blog.  They are there with yarn and ice cream if needed.  I could not have made it through the last 18 months without them.

2)  My husband.  He works very hard and is very dedicated to his family.  He lets me do what I want to do without question.  He is always available to watch the kids, should there be an alpaca farm to visit or yarn tour or trip to the spa.  He loves me for what I am, what I could be, and what I am not.  The good, the bad and the ugly, pretty much without complaint.  I am a lucky girl.

3)  Free Turkeys.  Seriously, life with 45 pounds of free meat in ones freezer is a darn good one.

What are your three things?

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Key Lime Cove

We celebrated Bob's new job by taking the kids to Key Lime Cove!  The picture above is a shot of the splash pad area, where Sam and Hannah hung most of the time.  They ran around like wild monsters for about 5 hours.  When it was time to leave they cried, and begged to stay longer.

Mac and Bob did the big boy slides.  Which take you out of the 65,000 square foot water park.  The body slides were fast and furious and the tube slides were great fun.  Not a fan of enclosed body slides, it took quite a lot of doing by Mac to get me to go down them.  I did the two body slides the first day.  The next day, I told Mac no more slides.  But, he convinced me to try the tube slides.  They were awesome.  So much fun.  I wish I had tried them the day before.  I would have lived up there.

Bob loved the lazy river.  Jump into an inner tube and float around the park.  It was a great way to chill after riding the slides!

They also had craft activities, scavenger hunts, a story time and family game night.  We never spent any time in the room.  Which was a good thing.  While the rooms were entirely adequate, they were a bit small for a family of 5.  We are spoiled by usually having a suite, and just having 1 room was a bit tight for us.  The whole facility is on the edge of needing a remodel.  The carpets are beginning to show wear and tear. 

The pool area was very clean and the life guards were definitely on their game.  I watched them pull 3 people out.  They don't screw around.  Which gives you a great piece of mind when your kids are running around without you!

The hotel was deserted, so we never had to wait to do anything.  I can imagine that if it was full it would be as much fun, but Bob and I agreed that it might be a fun week-day winter activity in the future!

Monday, November 23, 2009


Half.  There are some times when half is good.  The things I can think of are:

  • 1/2 a burger at Hamburger Mary's
  • 1/2 a huge dessert served at those places that serve the big desserts
  • 1/2 a time out
  • 1/2 the time unemployed
  • Half-time, as a band geek, I like half-time
But half isn't always good as in:

  • 1/2 your old paycheck
  • 1/2 a party
  • 1/2 a book
  • 1/2 of a cookie
  • 1/2 a movie
  • 1/2 an outfit
Sometimes things are ment to be whole, not half.  Sometimes half makes sense, but sometimes half means you have to give up something and be left out.  

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Love the Laces!

Lorna's Laces... it was a beautiful day.  The weather was perfect.  We didn't get lost.  I of course mapped it out a million different ways, and brought the Navi.  Get lost once, oh well.  Get lost twice, shame on me!  I was leaving nothing to chance.  We didn't get lost even once.  Yeah us!

I drove into the city, without fear.  I had my directions, the Navi and a local, I was good to go.  It was also Saturday morning, so traffic wasn't too bad.  We arrived at Lorna's Laces, found a place to park, where we wouldn't be towed or booted.  We then grabbed a bite to eat at a local coffee house, under the el.  Yeah, I sat under the el and sipped a latte.  Growing leaps and bounds here aren't I?

We then hooked up with other crazy knitters and went and saw the Lorna's Laces dye house.  It was so cool to see all the pretty colorways.  It was also interesting to see how they dye process works.  Sure they use acid dyes, and I use food safe dyes, but it was still a good learning experience.  I learned how to keep the colors separated, use your hand... who knew?  I also learned that I am really sensitive to acid dyes.  So, I don't think we will be using them here at the house.

The owner, Beth Casey, is really inspirational.  She quit her job and shuffled around for awhile and then bought this business, and she has really turned it into a top notch dye house.  It like to hear stories like that.  It reminds me to follow my passion.  Her husband is super cute, and supportive.  Sort of like mine! 

I bought a few souvenirs from the mill end table.  Which was good fun.  I can't wait to knit my goodies up.  It was a lovely day, with great company.  A nice way to kick off our week of de-stressing!

Saturday, November 21, 2009

9 years ago

My Dad died 9 years ago today.  He was 70 years old.  I spoke to him about a week before he died.  I was looking for a brief case to buy for Bob.  We talked about the importance of it not looking like a laptop bag, because when you are in an airport you don't want anyone to know you have a laptop, because they might steal your bag.  How much have things changed in 9 years.  Now it is assumed every businessman/woman in the airport has a laptop.

We discussed leather vs. canvass.  We chatted about colors.  I eventually selected the bag I did, based on our conversation.  Bob used the bag until it disintegrated and I bought him another one just like it.  I still have the brief case that my Dad bought me when I got my first professional job.  I don't think I will ever get rid of it.

My father died on my second day back at work full-time after having Mac.  I was in my office when Bob called me, but I was just walking out to nuke my lunch.  I let it go to voicemail.  When I got back I listened to the voicemail and I will never forget what went through my mind.  Bob told me it was important, and I needed to call him immediately.  I thought, Mac is ok, he is at daycare.  Something bad happened, maybe his Dad died, or his Mom.  It never occurred to me that it might be my Dad.  But I knew something bad was up.  So sure I was that my family was ok, when Bob told me, I was immediately sympathetic about the fact that HIS father had passed.  I asked how HIS mother was taking the news.  Bob set me straight.

I threw my lunch in the trash.  Turned my computer off and told my Secretary I was going to California.  I would call my boss and let him know what was up later.  She wouldn't let me drive myself home.  So she drove my car home and the other Secretary took her car so they could both go back to work.

It was the Tuesday before Thanksgiving.  Of my family I had to travel the furthest to get home.  I was also the only one who made it that day.  Besides the ones that lived in town.  My brothers said, Susanna will get here, she will charter a plane if she has to, but she will get here.  Sure enough, I did.

I still can not believe that it has been 9 years since he passed.  I miss talking to him.  So many times I wish I could ask him for his advice.  I wish he could have met my kids.  He got to see Mac, but he never got to see the others.   I wish my kids could follow him around in the garden and eat peanuts with him.

Now, my Mom is the Grandma without a Grandpa.  I miss my Dad.  He was a good man.

Friday, November 20, 2009


We have rules in our house.  Most of the rules have been created to solve a problem.  Such as the no electronics in the morning before school.  It solves the problem of no one being ready on time and freaking out because they have to do everything all at the last minute. 

A greater proportion of rules in my house have been created because Mac needs so much structure.  The breakfast menu was enacted because Mac could not decide what he wanted to eat and had a major melt down every morning. 

Some rules have been created to keep order in my life.  The one rule I have, to save my sanity, is if Mommy is in the potty, NO fighting.  I don't really care what he did to you.  I don't care if your sister took your toy.  If I am on the toilet, unless the house is on fire, please do not bother me.

Seriously, if I need to move my bowels, the kids need to have some drag out fight.  I hate it.  At what point to I get to poop in peace.  I have complained about this before, but I can not express enough how much it annoys me to start my day with the kids fighting while I am trying to poop.  I ask for this every year for my birthday and the holidays... I want to poop in peace for 1 day.

Well, someday, I suppose they will be out of the house I will be wishing for the days when their voices filled the silence.  But for now, I want want to poop in private.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Elephant Slides

Mac likes elephants, but I am not sure if I would let him use this slide.  I am not sure where it is located, but who thought this was a good idea? 

The thing that gets me is that there is more than one of these in existence.  Some engineer didn't think this all the way through.

This door has closed

The post I have dreamed about writing.  I have imagined in my head a million times what I would say, how I would say it.  Now, it all seems sort of flat.  Now that it has happened, it is sort of anti-climatic. 

Bob got a job.  He actually got 2 offers.  Since you can't have 2 full-time jobs he had to choose.  Both offers had their pluses and minuses.  In the end he chose the one he wanted most, in spite of the fact that it was not really more money.  In this economy, he got 2 offers, and potentially, had the timing worked out he could have had 3.

There was a safe, comfortable choice and a risky, high potential choice.  When we came out here, we took a risk.  I think we were a bit cavalier about the whole thing.  Things were bright and shiny in Connecticut.  We had the world by the balls.  Nothin' bad would ever happen to us.  This whole experience has been humbling in that respect.  It doesn't really matter how good you are, shit happens.

So, here we are, faced with the challenge of choosing between risky and safe.  We chose risky once, and it didn't work out so well for us.  So, the intelligent choice would be to chose safe right?  The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result. That said, no one ever got rich or had a great opportunity by playing it safe.  Playing it safe means that you are going to do the same thing over and over.  Didn't we just say that was the definition of insanity?

We went round and round about this, one minute safe would be the winner.  The next minute risky would be in the lead.  Risky, safe, risky, safe.  What to do.  At no point did either company make is easy by giving us an offer that was clearly better.

We have learned a lot in the last 24 months, especially the last 12.  It would seem this was some sort of final test, to see if we got it.  If we understood.  I don't know if we understood, or if we made the right choice.  Time will tell.  Since no one ponied up to let me borrow/buy their life decoder ring, we chose.

We chose the way we always have, risky.  Because well, Bob was lookin' for a job when he got this one.  We hope and pray that this time it will work out better than last time.  Perhaps last time was a fluke.  This isn't the first risk we have taken.  Generally they have paid off well for us.

So, keep praying for us.  We will keep praying for you.  Thank you, thank you, thank you to everyone who supported us during this difficult time.  We truly love and appreciate everyone of you.  Seriously, we would not have made it if it wasn't for you.  You know who you are!

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Out of the pot

Just out of the dye pot:

The colors are a bit brighter in real life, but it is so pretty.  I really don't want to break it up into a bunch of mini hanks and swap it!  But, blanket needs more yarn.

On the topic of blanket, I am almost up to 200 squares.  Sam got some new sheets and they came in a nifty plastic bag, which is now my new mini storage container.  Works great, and now I don't have ziploc bags all over the house.  With all the zippies everywhere, I felt like a drug addict!  I guess swapping mini's is kinda like crack.

As for all the baby blankets I was working on, I decided I wasn't feeling it anymore and have been focusing on socks and mittens for me.  It was so freeing to work on projects that I actually wanted to do, not ones I felt like I should.  It certainly has brought the joy back to the knitting!

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Not a Christmas Tree

At Temple today they had a family program.  Since Hannah is not involved in Sunday School yet, she tags along with us.  As part of the program we were painting umbrellas and making Hannukah cards for a member of our Congregation who is in Isreal. 

Hannah immediately got to work on her card.  Bob showed her how to make a menorah.  She made a really nice one.  It was very pretty.  Clearly the artistic talent in the family fell to her.  Then, Bob showed her how to make a dreidle.  I walk up to the scene.  Hannah, hard at work, Bob reading the paper.  I look down and what I see, is a triangle, colored green and red with a brown square at the bottom.  I wish I had a picture of what she had drawn.  But, it looked just like a Christmas tree. 

This is the point, I think, great, her father isn't paying attention and our four year old has outed us as bad Jewish parents.  Great, how am I going to explain this one?  I mean really, what was her father doing, if he had just been paying attention, we could have avoided the situation all together.  Of course, there is our educator and our Rabbi, coming now, to see what she is doing.  Making a freakin' Christmas Tree at Temple, that is what my daughter is doin'.  The feeling was close, but not quite as bad as when Sam wished the Rabbi Merry Christmas.  Another proud moment.

I ask Hannah to let me see her card, thinking I could hide it from them.  Do some last minute rip and eat the evidence.  At which point she announces that she made a menorah on one side and she was working on a dreidle.  The sigh of relief was audible.  I was looking at it upside down.  It was not a Christmas Tree, and I did not have to 'splain myself to the educator and the Rabbi who where now talking to Hannah.  Not that our lesbian, recovering alcoholic Rabbi with a partner who was not born Jewish, and we aren't sure if she has even converted, would probably care.  But, it is still a sticky wicket I was glad to have avoided.

So, we left Temple today, with our gold star of good Jewish parenting, still intact.  I am sure I will blemish it sometime this week, but at least it was shiny for Temple.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Why do you blog?

A couple of people have asked me why I blog.  I have actually had a blog since Mac started Kindergarten.  So, it isn't like this is a new concept for me.  The part that is new is that I try real hard to write one post a day.  I have been averaging 6.5 a week since May. 

Blogging for me is a creative outlet.  Here I have this blank canvass that I can fill with anything I want.  I think it is really tapping into my inner, closet columnist.  I think ever since I was a kid and I would read Jack Smith in the LA Times, I wanted to write a column about my life.  Sure sometimes Jack would touch on issues that were topical in the greater environment, but mostly he just talked about his wife, kids and their dog.  It is interesting to me that I still remember those articles so many years later.

The likelihood of me ever having a column like Jack Smith is pretty low.  Folks who write those daily columns have spent years in journalism.  Actually know how to write without making stupid grammatical and spelling errors.  They do not have hanging participles in their columns.  They have paid their dues.

Many times I think about what I am going to say before I write it, and sometimes I sit down and start typing.  Some of those posts end up in places I never really imagined that they would go.  Sometimes I got nothin' and that is why posts with random stories appear.  Some posts just write themselves.  Sometimes things that happen are too amazing to make up and they literally show up in my life as gift wrapped little blog posts.

I have been asked recently if I blog to cause trouble.  That is the furthest from the truth.  But, at the end of the day, this is my house, my story if you will.  If you don't like what I have to say, then don't read it.  Seriously, there are about a million other blogs out there you could read.  This blog is narcissistic, it is about me and my opinions.  I make no apology for that.  That said, I also want people to read what I have written.  I always find it interesting who reads my blog.  When someone comes up to me and says, "hey, great/interesting/stupid post, it really made me think/laugh/spill my coffee," it kinda makes my day.

So, until I am published in the small town paper, I will blog.  Hopefully some one will read it.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Is this the point when things change?

I never thought that on the eve of our prayers being answered I would feel so apprehensive.  I thought it would be all balloons, confetti, musicians and champagne.  But, I keep waking up with my jaw all tight and clenched, which means I am grinding my teeth at night.  Perhaps it is because life has kicked my little family so much that when ever we turn a corner I have come to expect someone to dance the funky chicken on my spleen. 

It is hard for me to accept our good fortune.  Because the last two years have basically been misfortune, with small sprinklings of good.  Just enough for me to maintain my hope.  Usually in my darkest hours something happened to restore my faith.  I have spent so much time licking wounds, trying to figure out what to do, how to keep on keeping on, that it is hard for me to roll with what is currently going on.

I am not trying to be cryptic, I guess I just don't want to talk about it until it is all hammered down.  I guess I really believe all of this is some trick, and as soon as I relax, the universe river dancers will be on my spleen like flies on poop.  Even once it is all hammered down, I think it will be hard for me to believe that it will be ok.  I have such a horrible feeling of foreboding.  I feel like perhaps this is just another lie.

Have I really become such a cynic?  It is sad that this is the point that I am at.  But, it would seem a larger proportion of people have not lived up to their end of the contract with our family than actually have.  That is the state of nature for us.  It makes me wonder if I am just worried because that is what I do, or if we are really heading off into the abyss of another bad decision. My intuition is generally accurate.

Sure, I should roll with it, stuff happens to all sorts of people.  Sure what happened to us wasn't so bad.  Well, for us it was.  This is not to minimize what others have gone through, and I know there are much worse stories.  This last year in particular, has been hard, and while some folks have really supported us, and I try very hard to focus on them, others have been very mean.  It was a meanness that I was really not accustomed too.  People you would expect and some that you would not, have been down right mean and nasty.  To them, ppppllllllbbbb. 

It is scary to head towards the light, because given our luck it will be a train.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

I don't get it?

Some things just don't make sense to me....

Pokemon Cards, my kids will kill themselves for these things.  They play with them all the time, and yet, I still after 5 years of this, have NO clue why they like them or what they are doing.

If two people love each other, why can't they get married?  Seriously, I don't understand what all the fuss is about.  They will just live together anyway, so might as well let them get married.  It is not going to have that big an impact on the economy or our society.

Why it is ok for me to take my nephew to the gym childcare but not my daughter?

 If it is ok to get into a major all out brawl on the playground, why is a slap fight punishable by 3 days of detention?

Are 6 adults really enough to manage 200 kids?  I don't think so.

Should our kids play on a playground that is actually a public park with such little supervision?  It isn't my 4th grader I worry about but my 1st grader? It is all fun and games until one of these kids is abducted.

Non-Religious = religious activities ok.  So where I lost the meaning of non-religious.

What exactly do they want him to do?  It is so unclear, I just don't get it.  It makes me nervous.

When is the sheep going to have fingering again?  I need a fix.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Last Names

I didn't change my last name when I got married.  There are a number of reasons why I didn't do it.  One of them was that I didn't want to have to go to the DMV.  It was going to be a hassle, and I just didn't want to deal with it.

I have friends who have gotten divorced.  Some have kept their married names and others have gone back to their maiden names.  So, you get to do the whole DMV thing twice if you choose to change back.  Then what happens if you get married again?  Do you start the whole thing over?

Bob and I have been married for a long time.  The fact that my last name is different has usually been a non-event.  Sure it has created some funny situations with Bob being called by my last name.  But other than that, nothing ever.  The kids all have Bob's last name.  This has never created an issue for me.  I have flown with them, I have gone to the Dr. with them, I have registered them for school, etc.  Never has anyone ever once given me a hard time about the fact that our last names are different.

There are many reasons why the mother of a child could have a different last name.  The list is long and the reasons are as varied as there are situations.  The fact that my kids do not share a last name with me does not make them any less MY kids.  The one thing we know is that they are mine.  They are Bob's but you can not prove that as easily as you can that they are mine. I was there when they were ripped from my body.

Lifetime Fitness Centers seem to think that if your last name is different than your kids, you are up to something and you have to PROVE that they are your kids.  The only way to do this is to show them a birth certificate.  I would think my word and my money would be good enough.  Apparently not.  Since I can not find Hannah's birth certificate, I hope they can come up with a solution.  Because if they can't my money and my daughter will be going to the gym elsewhere.  Somehow, I think that if her father shows up and says, this is my daughter, this is my wife, see the marriage certificate, they should be able to work it out.  But no one is available to make this decision, so tomorrow I can't go, because I can't take Hannah, in spite of the fact that I have a 2 foot long scar on my gut, a huge butt from being pregnant with her and she looks like me, she isn't in their eyes, my kid.

Something else to keep in mind, they try and sell you services every time you are on the equipment.  There you are on the treadmill and the trainers come up to you and harass you.  To the point where you have to be rude.  It is like telemarketing.  It is so horrible, that just that alone makes me want to leave the club.  Perhaps this is a sign that this place isn't for us!

For the record, at this late date, I am not changing my last name.  They can bite my big butt that Hannah made.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

One Last Post

Can we tolerate one more post about Santa?  If not, perhaps you should just skip today's installment.  I will wait a second for you decide.  (imagine soft music playing while you weigh your choices.)

Ok, if you are here, I am going to assume you have signed on for the ride.  There are no chicken exits, so here we go, you sure?  Last chance.  Suddenly I feel so alone.

The essential spirit of Santa, the giving aspect of him is very appealing to me.  I know the shock of it all, but I actually really like spirit of the claus.  To give unconditionally, without expecting anything in return.

My family engages in and receives many random acts of kindness, which is in my mind the spirit of Santa.  I have shared with you many of the different random acts of kindness we have received.  From yarn in the mail to flowers on our door to dinners piping hot that show up at dinner time.  My neighbors, friends and family are an amazing source of support.  To each and everyone of you, I say thank you.

We try and teach our children to do the right thing, even if it isn't the easy thing.  It was in my mind the right thing to try and create a club where ALL people are comfortable, while the easy thing would have been to stay quiet.  Sometimes things don't work out the way I want them too, such as when I gave the homeless man money and he used it to buy alcohol.  But that gift was between me and G-d, and how he chooses to spend it is between him and G-d.

Mac and I have spent a lot of time talking about this issue.  He has read and we have discussed everything I have had to say on the topic.  Mac as usual is very thoughtful on the this issue. I was very proud of him when he told me that he stood up for a kid that one of his friends was trying to pick on.  Mac shares his good fortune with his siblings.  Of my three children, Mac has the most generous spirit.  The irony of that is that of my three children he is the one most offended by Santa.  Out of the mouths of babes, he said to me, "Mom, I get the idea that Santa is a generous spirit, but it seems to me that he really just represents getting stuff not giving."

He went on a little bit more, and said, "if they really want Santa, why can't the club do a party at a hospital or homeless shelter and instead of giving more stuff the the kids that already have plenty, give to kids who have nothing?"  My reaction was a mixture of pride that my kid gets it, and annoyance, I mean where was he with this idea last week?  What a great idea.  Too bad that ship sailed.  But, I told him I would do one last post on Santa and share his idea.  So, this one is for you Mac!

His final idea is that next March, a month chosen as it was the first one that came into my head, do something to embrace the spirit of giving.  Give without the expectation of getting.  To do the right thing, even if it isn't the easy thing.  Rather than waiting until March, try it tomorrow.

Ok, seriously, I warned you, you had a chance to leave.  That said I promise to try and not preach anymore... I will try and retire my soapbox and stick to the funny things the kids do.  Just remember, I really like my soap box, it is green.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Things I love

1)  Mr. J is back.  In a cacophony of car horns, yelling of welcome back, hugs and high fives, our crossing guard returned to work after being off for about a month.  All is right with the world and order is restored to our little corner.  Mr. J is back.

2)  Knitting on Monday mornings with M.  Yeah, this helps with the goal of a knitting group everyday.

3)  Scarves hanging from trees and hats in a circle.

4)  That Hannah puts her poop in the potty.

5)  The Dizzy Sheep.  Seriously, the best prices, the best service, the funniest blog.  LOVE that sheep.

6)  Sheep in general, but the Dizzy one is my fav.

7)  That K is back from vacation.

8)  Free food and food they pay me to take out of the store.

9)  S because she is my favorite born-again, muslim lesbian friend, don't worry her husband is ok with it.

10)  That my knitting group is diverse, open minded and generally supportive of everyone.  All we have in common is that we knit.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Summer of 1988

The scene, it is 1988 and I am in the parking lot at the Amenesty International Concert with my college friend.  I am a junior, majoring in philosophy and religious studies.  We are picking up her old boy friend, who is coming to hang with us.  I am supposed to take him to a party the next night because she is going to be busy.  I was like what ever, he is a looser, I will ditch him at the party.

In the headlights of the car, I see this guy walking towards us.  I can not describe it, but it was an instant attraction.  It put a giggle in my chest.  I think my eyes popped out of my head.  He gets in the car and I had to work really hard to be cool.  She drops me at my dorm, and I go in and start to plan what I am going to wear that next night.  He was so sexy it was mind boggling.

So, I picked out my best going to a party outfit.  My friend drops him by my dorm and we go grab something to eat.  Well, that was the plan anyway, we ended up totally connecting and we were on the same page.  It was totally amazing.  We ended up spending the entire time he was there together.  We had a blast at the party.  Although I don't really remember who else was there.

When he left, I was bummed, but I knew it was a short term thing.  My friend tells me that he called her and he wants my number is it ok to give it to him?  Is it ok?  Uhh, yeah.  Anyway, she does just that.  That is the beginning of a tumultuous long distance relationship.  He moved to LA to be with me and in the end it didn't work out.  Too much passion and not enough in common.

Anyway, the song by Kidd Rock about Summer in 1984, reminds me of this guy.  Driving home from knitting, I was blasting the tune, drivin' a little to fast in the mini-van, but not so fast as to attract the attention of the police, I may be slow, but I learned my lesson.  Yeah, in the mini-van that I swore I would never own.  But like Kidd Rock says, he will always hold a special place in my heart and that song reminds me of our trip to Bass Lake.    Good times, good times.

Friday, November 6, 2009


Don't get to excited, we didn't celebrate a job offer, but after 5 long, dry months, it seems like it might be starting to rain.  So, we celebrated.  This process of finding a new opportunity has been hard on all of us.  Not just Bob, not just me, but the kids too.  Since we have had a lot of good news on the job front, we decided it was time to celebrate the win.

We went to Culvers, toasted our current good fortune with milk shakes and spritenaide.  We ate in a restaurant where they bring you your food.  Yes, you order off a menu on the wall at the front of the store, but hey, someone brought me my food.  This is the first time we have spent money to go out to eat as a family since all of this started.  It was a fun surprise for everyone.

We hope that this brush with good luck continues, that we are able to put this experience behind us and focus on the future, soon.  I have said it once, I will say it again, pray for us to make good choices, and to be able to find the opportunity that puts in the right place.  But, most of all pray for a job offer.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

The time has come, the time is now

The time has come, the time is now, Marvin K. Mooney, please go now.  I love the Marvin K. Mooney book by Dr. Seuss.  It cracks me up every time I read it.

The last two years of my life have been about change.  I have changed my address, my friends, my life.  The last thing that needs to change is my acceptance of the fact that I am no longer the mother of small kids.  All my kids are in school, and I need to adjust my life to that.  Sure, Hannah is just in PreSchool, but she is no longer a toddler or a baby.

What this means is that, as much as I fight it, it is increasingly more difficult to attend playgroups, because Hannah just isn't into it anymore.  She wants to do big girl things.  I am not in the same place as these other moms at the playgroups.  They don't get it when I am dealing with the issues of a 9 year old.  Hmm, someday I should do a list, Issues of a 9 year old... is there enough space in blogger to do that...

The issues of a 9 year old leave you longing for the issues of toddlerhood, except for poop in the underwear.  I won't take that back EVER.  The next time poop is being cleaned out of underwear it had best be mine.  So, as my kids grow and change, I think it is time I grow and change with them.

So, the time has come, the time is here, it is time for me to take the step into what I am going to do next.  It is time to act and not plan and dream.  It is time.  The whole issue with Santa, crystalized this for me, I am not really at that stage anymore.  I have older kids, a different perspective on things.  I am not in that early stage of wonder and belief that they can be or do anything, I see my limitations and my kids limitations differently.

This is not to say parents of small kids are wrong, silly or anything, I was there once too.  I am just not there, and it is different.  So, I shall be exiting this chapter on a zike-bike, and while the fireworks were not really part of the initial plan, they are there, so be it.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009


I have this friend, she is so awesome, M and she jokes that she lives in a bubble.  She says that she would rather just pack herself away from all the stuff that happens that she doesn't like.  LOVE this idea.  It is sounds like sooo much fun to me.  I want a bubble.

This of course makes me think, do you want your bubble to be clear?  I would assume you would want some windows, but it might be nice to be able to hide away in the darkness of your bubble and not have to worry about anyone looking at you.  Of course a few holes for some sneeky peaky spying might be useful.  You never know when you might want to people watch.

If my bubble is mostly solid, then I am thinking green would be a fine color.  It will enable me to blend into the trees and grasses.  Be one with nature and all of that stuff.  Green is definitely the color of choice.  When I was in high school my BFF and I would joke that when they came for us she would make sure I got a green straight jacket with fringe, if I got her a purple one with rhinestones.  Ever the fashion divas we were.

I think this would look something like a hamster ball, because occasionally you might want to exit your bubble and use the potty or what ever.  Hmm, I wonder if the bubble comes with a potty?  That would be great.  I could jump into the bubble, with a couple of skeins of yarn, some needles, a few snacks and the potty and not come out for days. 

So, if you happen in your travels see a green bubble let me know.  Of course I am also still looking for a life decoder ring, let me know if you happen upon one of those, I will pay top dollar.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Why you ask?

Why, you ask, am I going on about the December holidays?  I know we have barely recovered from our sugar high of Halloween and I am harping on December.  Skipping Thanksgiving entirely.  Rest assured I will have something to say about that!  It is because this is topical in my life.

I belong to an organization, that is secular, and states that they are not religious.  We are in the the throws of planning a Holiday Party.  Without going into a lot of detail, having Santa at this party is more important than having me.  I was hurt beyond words.  I was and still am moved to tears by the whole event.  I am also angry, about the violation of the contract.

When Mac was 2ish, we were in the grocery store, and the bagger asked him what Santa was bringing him.  He said, "I don't celebrate Christmas, Santa does not visit my house."  This woman looked at me like was a beast for denying my child this experience.  Mac didn't understand why this woman told his mother she was a meany.  I have had the school call me because Mac does not want to a Santa project, because that is not his holiday and he is offended that he has to participate in the activity.  He was then teased because he freaked out about it.  It pains me to go through this with my kids.  To see the hurt in their eyes when people say and do things that are ignorant and mean.

I try and insulate them as much as I can.  It is not practical or possible to fully protect them, but as much as I can I avoid situations where they are forced to choose between the activity and their religion.  It is not a fair place to put them.  They are still so small.

I am very careful about the organizations I choose to participate in.  I quiz them eleventy-billion times and ways to make sure they are not religious, or if the are they are Jewish.

I ask the Principal at the school to make sure that Santa won't be at school events.  That my kids will be allowed to opt out if need be.  That if they are forced to opt out, that we will not have that event next year.  I have this conversation every year, with the same Principal, just to be sure.

The preschool we attend does not acknowledge any religious holidays at all.  How refreshing.  They ignore them completely, and guess what the kids still have a good time at the Winter Party.  This frankly, was the number one reason I choose the school.  I wonder how we spread this plan to all.

I never understood all of this when I was growing up, because I didn't experience it.  I haven't built up the thick skin of my husband.  I feel the pain the kids feel for the first time right along with them because I can not imagine anyone would want to hurt them, and yet they insist on doing just that.

It is jaw-dropping-mind-boggling-ly unimaginable the things people have said and done to my family because we are different.  Some of it comes from a deep place of hate and some comes from ignorance.  The folks that come from the place of ignorance are the reason for the first three posts.  I wanted to capture their attention and educate them.  You could argue I alienated them too, and maybe I did.  I really didn't want to do that, but if some of them felt the sting of the words, so be it, you walked in my shoes a bit.  I know my posts were provocative.

I want to thank the folks that got it, that engaged in the conversation, and participated in the discussion.  That respected me enough to understand that I am muddling through this as best I can, and that I may have gotten some of the theology wrong, but that my intent was to open a dialogue around this issue.  For those of you who read, but didn't participate, I hope you understand.  If you don't, lets talk about it, you know where I live.

This post has been the hardest, most tissue intensive post I have written.  I still feel that I have not actually captured how hard it is to be in a situation where you think you are safe only to have the rug pulled out from under you.  To think you have done all your due diligence and that religion is not and will not be a part of the discussion, only to find out you are horribly wrong.

I have learned a lot about myself, my beliefs and why I feel the way I do about this.  I have grown through this process.  For that I am grateful.  That said, I hope that out there someone understands how much it hurts to have to choose between a party and your religion.  That combining the traditions just really isn't appropriate, and is not really the meaning of our holiday.  That maybe next time we won't have to choose.  Maybe next time having me will be more important than having Santa.

Until then the Great Pumpkin and I will be in the pumpkin patch working on his marketing plan.

Christmas Trees, they ain't ok either

I shall preface this, by saying some of my best childhood memories involve my father putting such a tree on top of our car and driving home. Only to have it fall off and we would repeat the whole tying up process on the side of the highway.  Let me assure you, I learned a lot of colorful language as a young child.
It seems all the trappings of the holiday have some sort of religious under-tone.  I have pulled a listing of what all the various symbols from Christmas mean, from
  • The Star: A heavenly sign of prophecy fulfilled long, long ago- The shining hope of mankind.
  • The Color Red: The first color of Christmas, symbolizing that Savior's sacrifice for all.
  • The Fir Tree: Evergreen- the second color of Christmas shows everlasting light and life. The needles point up to heaven.
  • The Bell: Rings out to guide lost sheep back to the fold, signifying that all are precious in His eyes.
  • The Candle: A mirror of starlight, reflecting our thanks for the star of Bethlehem.
  • The Gift Bow: Tied as we should all be tied together in bonds of goodwill forever.
  • The Candy Cane: Represents the shape of the shepherd's crook, used to bring lost lambs back to the fold.
  • The Wreath: A symbol of the never ending eternal value of love… having no end.
The big ones in my mind are the tree and Santa, but it is not a mistake that his coat is red.  The Christmas Tree is a tricky one, because it's roots are in a pagan celebration of the winter solstice.  It was adopted by the Germans, and has only been a custom in this country for a very short time.  There is an interesting story about how the trees came to the city of Chicago.  But, I digress.

Some Jewish scholars have given up on the tree.  It is so ubiquitous, that they have decided to concede that argument.  That is it ok for public places to have Christmas Trees.  In reality it still is a religious symbol.  Using the same logic as applied to Santa, we really should not have Christmas Trees in public places, funded by tax payer dollars, non-religious organizations should not have these trees as part of their celebrations, they should not show up at schools.

Why is there so much fuss about all of this? I think it is important to understand the origins of the Hanukkah. It is about not assimilating with the culture around you. The basis of the holiday is that the Jews returned to the temple which had been destroyed, rebuilt it. G-d gave them enough oil to burn, and we celebrate that miracle.  Yeah, it is a cliffs notes version of the cliffs notes, but you can google it to get more info.

Gill Mann, on says, "However, the irony of Christmas and Chanukah coming at the same time of year is that Chanukah celebrates how their identities would not assimilate into the Greek society around them."  This is why there is so much conflict.  Jews are celebrating a holiday about being Jewish, and that type of celebration isn't really done at a party that is also celebrating Christmas.

This is why, when well meaning Christians say, we will celebrate everyone's holiday, they are so offensive.  It shows that they don't understand the meaning of Hanukkah.  It becomes a battle of wills.

Since we live in a country without a mandated religion.  A country founded by people escaping religious persecution, as good Americans, we should keep our religious celebrations at home, and not in the public eye.  Because we can not do for all, what we do for the majority.

Now, cue the patriotic music, show photos of the flag, etc, etc.  I am off to promote the Great Pumpkin.

Maybe Santa is Religious

Ok, let's not storm the castle.  Call off the dogs, I am not as bad as you might think.  I have gotten a lot of feed back about my last post.  Which was the point of it.  I am thrilled that the conversation is open about the topic, people are discussing it.  Not the people I wanted to engage with me about it, but hey, it still has been a good conversation.  Just so we are all on the same page, my point in my prior post was that if you want to say that Santa is totally secular, then you have accept that he discriminates.

I don't actually accept that premise.  Santa is not a secular being.  He lives in a gray area between religious figure and secular figure.  Bottom line here is that other cultures and religions have not adopted Santa, as they have say St. Patrick or St. Valentine, who were both also religious figures.  Santa hasn't had his prior brush with sainthood erased from the public mind.

Really, I think it has to do with his relationship to Christmas. Christmas is the big boy holiday in Christianity.  That and Easter.  Clearly the Easter Bunny needs better marketing.  Seriously, Easter isn't quite as festive as Christmas.  I think that is what puts the damper on the good old Easter Bunny.  But he too straddles that line.

So, when were are participating in events supported by non-religious groups, it is not ok include Santa.  It is one of those situations where saying, fine we will do Hanukah too, doesn't really solve the problem.  Throw a menorah in the corner and you are good to go.  If it is a non-religious event, then NO religion is the way to go.  Don't add more traditions, because we can not get them all.  Besides, Hanukah is not the same type of event as Christmas.  It isn't Jewish Christmas.  It is a minor festival about some oil that lasted for 8 days.  It isn't the big boy holiday of the Jewish tradition, the High Holidays are.  You don't see these same organizations making a big deal about that.

I would like to go on record, saying I do not really believe that Santa is a bigot.  I believe that he is a Christian figure.  I believe that he has religious under tones.  But, if you want to argue that premise with me, I will refer you to my earlier post.

At the end of the day, I stand by Linus, he was on to something with the Great Pumpkin!

Monday, November 2, 2009

Santa is a Bigot

Santa is a bigot.  I know, lovely way to start a Monday, but it is true.  Today, we will discover the dark underbelly of Santa Claus.  Brace yourself, it will be a bumpy ride.

When you say Santa is a bigot, it garners a reaction.  Santa?  The fat guy, jolly, spreads cheer to little boys and girls around the world?  Let me see, someone else said:  " Santa is not a religious symbol.
He is a mythical legend and a jolly old fat guy who represents good all around the world."

Yeah, only see here is the problem, he doesn't spread good to poor kids, Jewish kids, Muslim kids.  Really he picks kids of a certain level of wealth and who are Christian, and spreads joy to them.  I don't know about you, but the reality of the situation is that doing something for one group at the elimination of another is bigotry. 

So, unless you are willing to accept that Santa is a figure in Christianity, then you have to accept that he is a bigot.  You can't have it both ways.  So, we should allow our kids to hang with a bigot?  If the KKK showed up at a school function, would you be good with that?  Because if Santa is showing up at non-religious events it is the same thing.  Sure, Santa has better marketing, is slightly less of a bigot, because he doesn't discriminate against African Americans.  But, face it, it is a small improvement.

Don't get me wrong, I loved Santa as a kid.  Christmas was my absolute favorite holiday.  But as I have gotten older and now have a Jewish family, I see things a little differently.  I don't know if I want to let my kids drink that brand of Kool-Aid.  The kind that says if you are of a certain level of wealth and Christian, some dude in a red suit is going to swing by and give you gifts.

Dang it, Linus was a visionary, forget about Santa, let's all celebrate the Great Pumpkin, who brings joy to ALL the little boys and girls in world.