February 26, 2014 Life Lessons 1 Comment

Life Lesson #1

juanThe Bachelor is not high on my list of television shows that I enjoy watching. I’m more of a Scandal/Parenthood/Mad Men kind of a girl.

However, I think it is important to take an interest in what my children like to watch. As part of my parental duty, I made the valiant effort to sit down for two hours every Monday night with Jenna to tune in to the life and times of Juan Pablo. Juan is a simple millionaire – a good looking, retired professional soccer player and a “player” in general.  The most notable traits that I can tell you about him – besides his nice face and abs – is that English is not his first language and he uses this as his favorite excuse every time he offends a woman on the show.

Last night was the ultimate in language barrier/offensive behavior when he told one of the three finalists that she was there by default and that he talked about another girl on their date. NICE! The plot unfolds as she tries to get to know him better and learn about the type of man he is while he seems to be more interested in which girl he has the most fun with.

He just didn’t get it.

Why am I telling you all of this? I think it is because after all of those hours of mindless TV I have logged in over the last few weeks, a  teachable moment appeared before my eyes.

So, to my children, I give them this advice:

  • Finding a partner to spend your life with is more about having fun and looking sexy. It’s about making sure that you are compatible and understanding where your differences lie.
  • Finding a partner means learning about their philosophy on life, their beliefs and answering important questions about what kind of life they want to have with you.

I hope you find someone who loves you for who you are and what you believe in. I hope you find someone who will love you even on your worst days, rejoice with you on happy occasions, and celebrate the big moments and all of the little ones in between. I hope you find someone who makes you laugh, not cry. I hope you find someone you can talk to about anything that is on your mind.

Do set standards for yourself that guide you to finding the right person for you and never settle. But also don’t let your standards get in the way of opening yourself up to new people and experiences.

And if he talks about another girl or guy or talks about himself the whole time during your date, RUN! FAST! The girl that left the show last night didn’t leave because of the language barrier – she left because of the “jerk barrier.” She finally woke up from the haze of the television cameras and had a moment of clarity. She is just not into him. If my children ever have that moment of doubt and clarity, I hope they have the courage to move on – just like she did, with class.

February 21, 2014 Random Thoughts 2 Comments

So Grateful

The lady who lived down the street died in her sleep this week. I didn’t know her very well, but she is all that I have been able to think about.

I knew her name and that’s about it. I only learned her husband’s name this week. In the 15 years that I have lived here, I may have spoken to her only a handful of times. Normally, I would only wave to her as we went about our busy lives. I remember her smile and I always thought she had an infinite amount of energy for her work and family.

In the days following her death, I heard that her husband found a note that she wrote to her grandchildren. It was her last gift to them with her own words of wisdom and love. I have often thought of writing similar notes to my family, but I’ve never gotten around to it. Partly because it seems like such a morbid thing to do and partly because I don’t want to think about my own mortality.

Maybe I think I will jinx myself – like if I write the notes, I’m giving the universe the cosmic permission it needs to let fate takes its course. I know that sounds crazy – but this is where my mind goes sometimes.

There are so many things I want to tell them – like how being their mom is the best thing I’ve done in my entire life. I want to tell them what wonderful people I know they will become. I would ask them to eat a Boston kreme donut on my birthday every year to remember me.

I want to tell them stories and give advice that all mothers share with their children. Right now, they are still too young to learn those lessons but some day they will be old enough. What if I’m not here to tell them when the time is right? That’s where the notes come in – just in case.

I can only imagine the range of emotions that her husband felt at the moment he found that envelope. I can picture her family sitting in their living room listening to her words read out loud. I’m sure it meant the world to them. I hope that she knew that when she took the time to write her words down on paper- she was giving them a gift that they would treasure for years to come.

She will never know that her act of love has inspired me (again) to do the same for my family. It will not be easy to do, but once they are done I will put them away in a drawer. Then, I’ll go on living my life and have some peace of mind in knowing that I left nothing unsaid to the people in my life that I love the most.

And for that, I will always be grateful to the lady who lived down the street.

 

Hamakom yinachem etchem b’toch sh’ar aveilei ziyyon viyirushalayim. 

May God comfort the bereaved and all who mourn in Zion, Jerusalem and around the world.  Amen.”

 

January 3, 2014 Uncategorized No Comments

Top 5 List of My Favorite Lists

list cute
I love my lists. I don’t know what I would do without them. They are like a security blanket to me. When I make one, I  feel so organized. Then, I cross things off and feel very accomplished. I find comfort in adding things to my list so that I won’t forget what needs to be done.

G-d forbid I lose my lists and I’m in big trouble.

Lists are a big thing on the website BuzzFeed. A friend introduced me to this website of pop culture and all things silly and fun today and from decades ago. Almost every article is some kind of list.

If you are looking for one big, fun time-suck, this is it. Even more so than Facebook.

Don’t say I didn’t warn you.

Here are some my favorite lists.

  1. The 40 Most Divine Things Zac Efron Did in 2013 – Okay, I admit that I’m a fan of an actor who is several years my junior. But, he is adorable and here are the pecs – I’m mean pics – to prove it. Ladies, check it out.
  2. 37 Things You’ll Regret When Your Old – This one just made me look at life a little differently.
  3. 28 Things Only a Mother Can Do - Because we rock. We just do.
  4. Improv Everywhere ”missions” - Some of the funniest videos I’ve ever seen. Classic movie scenes -like the famous deli scene from When Harry Met Sally – are acted out in real life. Hilarious.
  5. 10 ideas for bloggers to get inspiration – just a great article for my fellow bloggers.We all get writer’s block and these are some good suggestions.  Read it. Love it. Bookmark it. Own it.Your turn! What are some of your favorite lists?

January 3, 2014 Uncategorized No Comments

The Speech

NaBloPoMo_January_Pressure_0

I have to write a speech. I want it to be perfect. It should be an easy speech to write, but I have a lot to say and I’m not always my best editor.

How can I edit what comes from my heart? I want to make sure that I say it all, but I don’t want to make it too long. And I don’t want to wake up the next day and wish that I said something different.

I have put this pressure on myself. I know this. I will lose sleep over it. I know this too.

And then, I have to give the speech – at the bat mitzvah in front of a lot of people. I took a public speaking course about a year ago, but it hasn’t cured me of my nervousness. It just gave me ways to cope with it.

I’ll have to go back and look at my notes again.

I want to be eloquent. 

And I don’t want my voice to shake.

I want it to be special.

And I want to get through it without ruining my mascara.

January 2, 2014 Uncategorized No Comments

Under Pressure

NaBloPoMo_January_Pressure_0As a former newspaper reporter, I have learned to work well under pressure. In those days, it would not be unusual for me to cover a meeting at 7 pm and return to the newsroom by 9:30 or 10 pm to make the midnight deadline.

On the way back to the newsroom, the article would present itself in my head. By the time I reached my desk, I had my opening and the first few paragraphs already worked out. I’d fill in the details from my notes and have the whole thing to the editor by 11 pm.

It helps that I type about 80 words per minute.

I guess you could say that I work well under pressure, but I prefer not to. My days as a reporter was good training for thinking fast on my feet. Twenty years ago, I enjoyed the thrill of the adrenaline going through my veins and the excitement of reporting my story. I loved working hard all night to see my byline on front page the next day.

But nowadays, I’m not so much of a thrill seeker. Too much pressure causes more gray hairs than I’d like and I could live without the insomnia. I’d much rather be more prepared. I like my lists. I like to know what is coming down the pipeline and make a plan.

But, I know that life doesn’t really work out that way. So when the shit hits the fan, I’m the gal for the job.

 

Writer’s Note – This month I am writing posts for BlogHer. The theme of the month is pressure. G-d knows I’m under a lot of it right now. It will be interesting to explore this topic over the next few weeks. Tonight’s question – Do you work well under pressure?

December 21, 2013 Uncategorized No Comments

Healthy & Hopeless

greensKale.  Quinoa.  Edamame.

If all of the above items are on a menu, chances are I am in the wrong restaurant.

Yet, I found myself at such a place on my most recent trip to San Diego. The restaurant was lovely. The company was excellent. The menu scared me.

As I read it, I could feeI myself breaking out into a cold sweat. This was nothing like the menu at the Cheesecake Factory.

I desperately wanted to fit in with my friends and get excited about the spaghetti squash and the quinoa burger. I couldn’t fake that kind of enthusiasm if I tried.

I knew I was in trouble when I was quickly overwhelmed by the drink menu. Yes, the drink menu! Would you order a drink that had Sea Buckthorn in it?

What The Heck is Sea Buckhorn?!!!

Anyway, I decided to take a chance on the carrot juice, ginger, honey lemonade drink. But I also ordered the honey lemonade – just in case. It is always good to have a backup plan. I guess I don’t like that many ingredients in my lemonade.

Don’t get me wrong. I love to eat healthy. I’m all for the Portobello mushrooms. Give me a good eggplant entree anytime and I’m a happy girl. Since neither of these were available, I opted for the Teriyaki Brown Rice Bowl which thankfully turned out to be a good choice – and within my comfort zone.

Of course, dessert is never an issue. The flourless chocolate cake was divine and quickly devoured.

The fact is that uber-fancy health food and I do not get along. I’ve tried. I really have. I’ve attended countless workshops and even subjected myself to 3 sessions with a healthy food coach two years ago. She gave me all of these “delicious” kale recipes.

You know how this is going to end, right? The poor girl didn’t know who she was up against.

The funny thing is that I am a regular at Trader Joe’s and The Fresh Market. Whole Foods is not around the corner from me, but when I go  – I find it to be an enjoyable experience.

I want to eat healthy.

I want to be healthy, but not at the expense of subjecting myself to a juice cleanse or a tablespoon of apple cider vinegar a day. I don’t want to have to suffer to reach my goals.

I do want to succeed. It is at the top of my New Year’s resolutions list to take care of myself in 2014. But, I have to do it in my own way. I’m just not sure what that is yet.

I’ll let you know when I figure it out.

December 3, 2013 30 Day Blog Challenge No Comments

What’s In My Glass?

These days, I’m living la vida loca – the crazy life.

Work. Family. Swim Practice. Laundry.

I don’t have a lot of time to consider whether or not my glass is half full or half empty. If I have a glass and it is clean, I’m 0 – 2.

I guess that makes me a realist.

So, the more important question is – what is IN my glass?

  • Kale and spinach smoothie – I’ll take the glass half full – and then I’ll take a sip before throwing it down the drain.
  • Fruit smoothie – Much better.  I’d be disappointed with a half empty glass. I’d finish the whole thing – and probably yours too when you aren’t looking.
  • Wine? – Now you are talking. Fill ‘er up!

Yes, I’m a realist and on some occasions an optimist. But, rarely a pessimist. There are a few things that keep me from going down that dark path of negativity.

  • Look at the positive in life and the good in all people.
  • Life is too short to complain.
  • I’d rather spend my time appreciating the people I love and being grateful for the things I’ve accomplished.

My cup runneth over… and it’s all good.

 

Theme_Large_Nov_2013_0I’m trying out a new blog challenge for the month of December. The theme for this month is “More or Less. What I want more of in 2014, and which habits I’d rather not bring into the next year.

Today’s question is – “Am I a glass half full or glass half empty kind of person?”

 

 

 

 

November 26, 2013 Random Thoughts, Uncategorized No Comments

Decisions, Decisions!

Blogging takes two things – time and ideas.

I don’t have either of these things to spare right now. I’ve tried to write a few posts over the last month, but my mind is filled decisions related to planning my daughter’s bat mitzvah. And if I’m not planning, I’m talking about it with my friends and anyone else who will listen, advise and even sympathize.

What vendor did you use? Were you happy with them? (Cue the caterer horror story…)

Did you do a photo montage?

What was your theme?

Where did you buy your dress?

Did you hire a video guy? 

Seriously, this is what we discuss. It takes over our book club meetings, our walks around the neighborhood, and even on the sidelines at soccer. There is no escape.

I wonder what will I talk about with my friends on January 19th when it is all over?

Every step of the bat mitzvah party planning is about decisions. If you are not a decisive person – you are so screwed. There are at least 5 steps to every decision – if not more. And of course I want to stay within my budget if at all possible so I’ve logged in plenty of time on the Internet, especially Pinterest for ideas.

Do you really want to hear about all of the decisions I’ve had to make? Probably not, but here is a small sampling.

When we talk about decorations, we need to pick a theme, a color, and create a logo. And that is just the beginning. Once we have a theme, we incorporate it into everything that the guests will see from table names to the place cards to the cake. It even goes on the give away to the kids.

And do we want a sign in board or a sign in book? And for an extra $200 should we add more balloons? I DON’T KNOW!

(Caution – meltdown in progress…)

Welcome to my world. 

We met with the caterer a few weeks ago. More decisions were made. We chose to add high top tables to the cocktail hour so that people have a place to lean against and put their food down. (Your welcome). Now we have to chose our appetizers, our main meal and what will the kids eat? I can’t go wrong here -the saving grace is that I’m not cooking it so it should all work out fine.

Are there any more decisions to make? You betcha!

Next week, we meet with the DJ. Endless choices there. How many dancers? (2 at the most) What games do 65 kids want to play? (um… maybe Yahtzee?) What songs do we want to enter the room to? Who will say the blessing? Who will make a speech? How many speeches?

(Note to self – write speech)

To be honest, while it is a lot of work – it is also totally worth it. She has worked so hard and deserves to celebrate. For the last year, she has spent 30 minutes a day learning on her prayers, Torah and HafTorah. She has two speeches to write and a community service project to complete.

We have spent a lot of quality time together and I am so thankful to be able to share this special time with her. While she sometimes gets frustrated, she doesn’t complain and never quits. She is proud of the work she is doing and so am I which is why we are doing all of this for her.

The biggest decision…

In the end – the only decision that I really care about is the one that I pray that she will stick to -which is to continue her Jewish education through 10th grade. It isn’t really a question of whether or not she will do it because we expect it of her.

But, I hope that she continues to enjoy her Jewish journey – and get the most she can out of it. It is a tough world out there and having a strong faith is a huge part of finding out who she is as a person and how she will make her way in the world.

And that will stay with her much longer after the party is over.

 

 

November 4, 2013 Uncategorized No Comments

I Heart Books!

In my spare time, I search for good books to read. I love picking through the stacks at the local library or bookstore. I’ll even take a stab at your bookshelf – if that is okay with you. You are more than welcome to check out the books on my shelves when you come to visit. As a matter of fact, here is a preview.

First – here is not what is on my shelf. When I ask for recommendations, some people will automatically suggest titles of Holocaust books. As an observant and professional Jew, people think that reading every one of these books is a requirement. But this would not be the case. While I certainly remember and honor this part of my heritage, I am more inspired (and humbled) by watching movies and hearing these stories out loud from family members and in some cases the survivors themselves. Reading about it doesn’t do it for me. And I’m sure I am missing out on some great reads here, but there are so many books to read and so little time.

This isn’t to say that I won’t read books with Jewish themes. I can’t wait for our synagogue book club to start in January (shameless plug) because I know there will be some great selections and discussions. And I highly recommend This is Where I Leave You. Hilarious! Just go get it – Jewish or not – you won’t be sorry.

I like to read chick lit and historical fiction. I like to peruse the best-sellers list and buy great titles as long as Oprah didn’t already pick them for her book club. That is the kiss of death for me. She and I just don’t have the same taste. Far from it.

My favorite fiction books right now are Me Before You and Beneath the Marble Sky. I couldn’t put either one down for long. I’m still trying to finish Mary: Mrs. A. Lincoln . It is a great book and very well written, but one that I just can’t seem to finish. It’s been about 6 months now, but I am determined. It is 700 pages long – and it is my Everest.

Meanwhile, I like a good brat pack or retro TV star bio. I loved Michael J. Fox’s first bookRob Lowe’s book was an excellent read (surprise, surprise). Maureen McCormick (Marsha, Marsha, Marsha) kind of freaked me out. Sex. Drugs. Rehab. On the Brady Bunch?! How is that possible?

Melissa Gilbert’s and Alison Angram’s Little House on the Prairie memoirs were just okay for me. I’m waiting for the juicy version of what really happened in Walnut Grove. Maybe Mrs. Olseon will write about it.

The best 80′s movies/behind the scenes book is You Couldn’t Ignore Me If You Tried. I lent it to someone once and I guess they really liked it too because I never saw it again.

I will sometimes read books to better myself.  Most of the time, these books give me a good laugh. The authors don’t seem to be relating to me. They are talking about a much richer and smarter version of me. You know – the one that doesn’t exist. The version that has several ivy league degrees hanging on the wall, lots of well connected friends and a 24 hour nanny, housekeeper and chef.

My parenting books are a comfort to me. They tell me what I’m doing wrong and how to do it right. I have learned to listen first and then speak. I’ve read about raising kids in the digital age and the importance of carving out family time. These books inspire me, remind me that I’m not alone, and that it could be so much worse.

My shelves are full of Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff and Chicken Soup essays. You may even like my collection of Dilbert and Peanuts. I tried to donate these books, but I just can’t bring myself to do it.

To end, here are a few fun facts about my books that I’ll bet you didn’t know (or want to know):

  • I rarely read a book twice, but I like to hang on to them and look at them.
  • I like to have a book in my hand and a stack of them sitting on my nightstand.
  • I keep a book in the car because I never know when I’ll have a chance to read a page or two.
  • I hate when I have a moment to myself and nothing to read.  
  • I love the e-reader for the convenience and the fact that I can adjust the font size. But nothing beats holding the real thing. I like to peek ahead and look back, but I try not to read the end before I start the book.
  • I read the dedications and the acknowledgements.
  • I answer the reading club questions.

Okay, now it is your turn. What books do you like to read and what strange reading habit will you share with the world?

 

 

 

October 22, 2013 Random Thoughts No Comments

Planning with Post-Its

post it notesDo you look at your calendar at least 10 times a day or is it just me? There are so many things to keep track of and I just don’t trust my brain to remember it all correctly.

Usually, I write the weekly schedule on a white board in the kitchen, so that people stop asking me what are we doing today. But  I was too busy to even do that – which brings me to yesterday afternoon.

I had a minor meltdown. But instead of crying, I had to laugh as I tried to squeeze in an orthodontist appointment, a piano lesson and a bat mitzvah lesson not to mention swim practice – into a 90 minute period.

It was laughable because it just couldn’t be done. Since my clone is on back-order and my nanny is on vacation (as if!), I had figure this puzzle out on my own.

I needed a visual and the calendar just wasn’t cutting it. So, I did the only thing I could think of – I took out my Post-It Notes. The blue ones were for one child and the yellow ones were for the other. I wrote each activity/appointment down for each kid and put them in time stamp order. From this angle, I was able to cross reference their locations in my head.

At this point, you might be thinking that I have a lot of time on my hands – but it is really the opposite of that.

I have very little time and I’m trying to use it wisely.

Sadly, I had to forfeit the orthodontist appointment and reschedule the piano lesson for another day. But I earned bonus points for turning to a friend and asking for help. And I still picked up dinner and went to a meeting at night without shedding a tear.

So, the moral of the story is this – when you are over-scheduled – as we all are these days - try to laugh instead of cry and keep post it notes in your purse. They really do the trick!

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