December 3, 2013
30 Day Blog Challenge
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.
I’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
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
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 book. Rob 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
Do 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!
October 4, 2013
I say hello to the very nice man in the coffee shop who always has a big cheerful smile.
I compliment random people on what they are wearing.
I see someone reading a book that I already read and make a comment about how much I enjoyed it.
I sigh and comment to the person closest to me when I can’t find a top to go with the cute pants I just found.
(I hate when that happens!).
I share stories with the woman next to me in the dressing room about how hard it is to shop for our tween daughters these days.
I talk to rabbis. I talk to scholars. I talk to people at parties like we are old friends – even though I just met them.
My daughter is so embarrassed when I do this.
“Why do you talk to everyone you see?!” she ask me and rolls her eyes as if I’m from another planet.
I don’t get why she finds my friendly ways so strange. It’s not like I’m sitting them down, buying them coffee and telling them my troubles.
Now that would be weird.
I don’t even notice that I do it. It is just part of my personality. And I don’t know when I started doing this, but I do know who I learned it from.
Last weekend, my mom’s cell phone rang while we were sitting in my kitchen. It was a wrong number. Yet, my mom took the time to ask him what number he was trying to call. She told this person what number he got wrong and then laughs because she has done that a million times before. Before she hangs up the phone, she wished him a good day.
I guess the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree.
The other day, I had a volunteer in my office who took some photos at a recent synagogue event. I know her only in passing. We never really had the chance to talk before so while I’m downloading her pictures onto my computer, I asked her how she got into photography. Then, I found out that she is taking classes at the local college towards her psychology degree which led to a conversation about people in general and what makes them tick. She was so insightful, a great listener, and validated some of my own personal values and truths.
It was great. My day became richer and brighter because of her and I hope that her day brightened a bit too. It is those little moments with people – even the random stranger – that bring me great joy and fulfillment.
So I guess I will continue to embarrass my daughter with this little quirk. While I certainly don’t want her talking to strangers right now, I do want her to find ways to express herself, encourage her to meet interesting people, and experience the world around her.
This is my way:
“Say little. Do much and always greet every person with a cheerful smile.” - Pirkei Avot
September 13, 2013
I’m just going to get right to it.
- Changing leaves – I live in such a pretty part of this country. I like the obvious change of the seasons and while I know that it is a sign that colder weather is coming – it brings so much beauty to the day.
- Soup – Gazpacho just doesn’t do it for me in the summer. And soon, my favorite local lunch places will be serving hot soups. It’s not good for my diet, but I don’t care. I’ll add up the points, count the calories, and exercise a bit more rigorously just to make room for that delicious cup of cream of broccoli.
- Sweaters - I love my fall wardrobe so more than my summer clothes. I love warm sweaters. I want to wear my Uggs and my boots. And I will happily trade in my sandals, shorts and bathing suits for fashionable scarves and cute knit hats.
- My shows – They are all back for a new season. Scandal. Big Bang Theory. Parenthood. More Dax Shepard. Yes, please! And Michael J. Fox makes a comeback. I can’t lose.
- Family Time - Halloween. Thanksgiving. Chanukah in November! Plenty of quality time with the kids while traveling to bat mitzvah lessons & soccer games. Fall is the best time to reconnect with the family.Fall officially begins on Sept. 23rd. What are you looking forward to?
September 11, 2013
I’ve been a news junkie for as long as I can remember. In fact, I even had a brief career as a newspaper reporter after college.
I spent my first few months on the job as an obituary writer. This means that I was busy when people died. I was very friendly with the local funeral directors. I waited by the fax machine for the service, burial and donation information. It was depressing work, but I guess I was paying my dues.
I graduated to a stringer which basically meant that I was a floater in the newsroom. I didn’t have a “beat.” I was sent out where they needed me most. I worked as a runner delivering results from the courthouse on Election Night. I’ve covered local crime, vandalism, and a house fire or two in my day.
I finally got a beat in South Jersey which covered the township and school board meetings in four communities. There was some corruption and a few wild and crazy nights of unhappy residents. I even wrote a story that was picked up by the Associated Press.
But I didn’t have that hunger that many reporters had to get the big scoop. I was more interested in feature stories. I liked to write profiles on leaders, movers and shakers. I wanted to talk about the good things that were happening. But apparently, that doesn’t sell papers.
Do you know what sells papers?
- A home invasion in Montgomery County
- A child being chained to a radiator for 2 weeks in Camden
- A school shooting in Connecticut
- A chemical gas attack in Syria
Twelve years ago today, I was glued to my TV to watch the breaking news as 3,000 people lost their lives in New York City, at the Pentagon, & in rural Pennsylvania. This time the news hit a little closer to home. My husband worked in Princeton. My sister lived in the heart of D.C.
Six days ago, more breaking news. My childhood friend went missing in my hometown. I remember being at her house to help her family celebrate Christmas. We watched The Brady Brides movie in their den for the first time – in our pajamas with bowls of popcorn by our side. The memories flood back to me as I watch and read about organizing a search party & the use of thermal imaging over a dark & heavily wooded area.
Last night – breaking news. Heartbreaking news. My friend was found and under the worst of circumstances. For a few days, Facebook lit up with hope and photos asking everyone to keep an eye out for her. Now, we are saying prayers and sending condolences.
And my mind is back in the newsroom where there is an obit writer sitting at her desk who will be busy today.
I’ve been a news junkie for as long as I can remember. I tune in to the breaking news. But today, I just want to tune it all out.
On this day of grief and reflection, I will remember all who suffered great loss on 9/11. And I will add another beautiful face to memory.
And I think I’ll put the paper down and give the television a rest.
September 10, 2013
Sometimes a blogger should go outside of her comfort zone to stay sharp, interesting and even a little bit different. I write a lot about my kids, myself, my faith, my dreams and of course, baseball. But do you really know me as a person? Here are a few things that you may (or may not) know about me:
- If you really knew me, you would know that my middle school years were the worst time of my life. I was bullied by a small, but relentless group of boys. I didn’t have the right clothes, hair or religion. I had a nervous tic which they picked up on and made matters worse. I didn’t have a lot of friends back then, so I was an easy target. And apparently having a father as a teacher in the school did not deter them. I am a forgiving person, but there are memories of this time in my life that I cannot forget . It was lonely. I was trying to fit in and couldn’t find my way. I often wonder how this time in my life would have been different if the anti-bullying campaigns we see today started just a few decades earlier.
- If you really knew me, you would know that high school was much better and college was just plain awesome!
- If you really knew me, you would know that I love my family very, very, very much, but I have to be a mom who works outside of the house. While there are days when I wish I could just stay home and clean out closets, make healthy and nutritious meals and catch up on all of my laundry, I know that I need to have something else in my life. I need a place to go where I can be of value and use my skills and talents to make a difference every day in my community.
- If you really knew me, you would know that I am a people person. My first priority is to help anyone who comes to me for anything. And if I can’t get an answer or close the deal, I will find someone who can.
- If you really knew me, you would know that I am afraid of big dogs. I like little dogs that sit on my lap and are no bigger than my calves. Once, I went to pick up my daughter at her friend’s house and their big dog was sitting – no standing – on the front lawn barking at me. I tried to walk up the driveway, but he started to follow me. I got very nervous and retreated back to my car where I called my daughter and told her to come out.
- If you really knew me, you would know that I am a little bit of a hypochondriac. When I get sick, I’m afraid that I am dying. I am not normally a dramatic person, but when I have the flu or bronchitis or some other health issue – common sense goes right out the window.
- If you really knew me, you would know that I love Disney World, a great book, and white chocolate covered pretzels. I won’t eat anything with blue cheese or strawberries in it or on it.
- If you really knew me, you would know that I have edited this post five times already. I’m all for transparency as long as it is well written.
I hope that I have the courage in the next year of blog posts to allow you to get to know me better – the good, the bad and the ugly. This week marks a new Jewish year – 5774. It is a new beginning. A clean slate. And who knows where it will lead.
September 4, 2013
“Mom, I want to ride my bike to school today. I’m in 4th grade and I’m allowed to.”
“Oh, okay sure why not.”
I was totally blindsided.
I forgot that 4th graders were permitted to ride their bikes to school. How could I say no to him? At the same time, I just wanted to continue our normal routine of getting in the car and driving to school. Sometimes we like to sing together in the car.
And yet, it was time to cut the cord yet again and let him ride his bike. I watched as he rushed to get his sneakers on and head outside. It was 8:05 am… 15 minutes before it is time to leave for school.
I told him to wait for me and then I joined him moments later in the driveway. There he was with his bike helmet, bike lock and a big grin on his face. Before he left, I laid down the rules again as I had done once before. Stay on the sidewalk. Look both ways before crossing the street. Wait for the crossing guard to stop traffic so that he can make the final turn towards school.When I gave the go ahead, he took off.
And I let out a little sigh.
I’ve been down this path before. Three years ago, I saw the same excitement in Jenna’s face when she was in the fourth grade. You can read about that day here. Now it was Andrew’s turn.
Of course, like any normal parent, I followed him the entire way. I met him at school and told him to have a good day. He was beaming with pride and I was too. Then I set off for work. And when one of his favorite songs came on the radio, I sang it solo.
September 3, 2013
I have read some recent blogs about the importance of instilling a sense of modesty in our children and I couldn’t agree more. But, I am also a practical parent who likes to pick my battles and save some time in the mornings. (Is that bad?) So, I have a mental checklist of things to watch for when my children come downstairs each day.
- No off the shoulder shirts
- No clothing with offensive sayings
- Nothing too tight fitting
- I don’t want to see their underwear
- Socks with sneakers (matching socks are not required).
In the future, I am sure that I will add things like low cut tops and other items that will never see the light of day. Not while they are living under my roof!
These days, girls are tough to buy for. Everything seems a little shorter than we’d like them to wear. In the 21st century, Moms have had to come to terms with the fact that short is in and it isn’t going out of style anytime soon.
When I go shopping with her for dresses, many styles are border-line. I used to see girls who are my daughter’s age at parties and wonder how their mothers let them out of the house like that. But after going shopping for my own daughter, I totally get it now. There are no long dresses. It is a little sad that the fashion world has dictated that short is the only option, but it is a reality.
We each have our line in the sand to draw. Some of my friends don’t like their daughters to wear bikinis. I totally respect that. My daughter has two bikinis and a lot of one piece swimsuits. I’m okay with the bikinis (for now) as long as they are age appropriate and not of the string variety. As my daughter points out, it is much easier to go to the bathroom in a two-piece. I can’t argue with her there.
It is tough to be a mom. We are raising young ladies and gentleman. Fashion plays a big part of their everyday lives whether we like it or not. And it was the same way when we were their age too. Don’t you remember wearing Levis when everyone else was wearing Jordache jeans?
Or was that just me?
Ultimately, I want my children to be happy and healthy. I want my daughter to have a good body image for herself and confidence in her sense of style. Just as long as she follows my own version of “what not to wear…”
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