Showing posts from January, 2009


I went to a "big event" this morning - the DARE graduation. A celebration of 5th graders promising to resist drugs, alcohol, smoking and other temptations. There were several speakers (our dull mayor got shown up by the mayor of Raritan's vibrancy). Speeches aside, the kids have spent many weeks learning good choices and hopefully they will remember it.

I felt more than a little hypocritical - and a little panicked.

My drinking escapades started when I was only 2 1/2 years older than C! I was 13 when JK and I stole vodka from a relative and that we drank at her birthday party. I probably had only a teaspoon of the poisonous tasting stuff. The following winter a cute senior offered me (an impressionable 14 year old) swigs from his Southern Comfort flask. From then on much of the socializing I have been to has included or focused on alcohol. Even today "dry" parties are unusual.

While I have a lot of experience with alcohol, I have very little with drugs. If the …

No matter what..

... don't cut sports!

Last (this was written on Wednesday, but posted Thursday) night's BRRSD Board of Ed meeting had 3 main messages.

* One was from parents to the BOE - keep sports. Don't cut trainers, don't cut awards , don't cut middle school sports.
* One from the BOE to parents - we care about sports. Christine Schneider gave a heart wrenching plea to demonstrate how vital sports are to her. She thanked several big-wig sports families in the audience (I've never seen a BOE member thank individuals at a meeting, they normally barely recognize the public) for their support.
* Everyone's message was VOTE YES on the BUDGET.

In fact, several members of the BOE reiterated their support for sports, recognizing hard financial times. The BOE expressed their happiness that no one got as nasty as those pesky (my word, not theirs) library-fighting parents. Several BOE members compared the civility of last night's meeting to the messy bookie-vigilantes meetings 2 y…

The not so sick, sick kid

My mother had a strict rule - in order to stay home from school, you had to have a fever or had to have thrown up. "I don't feel well" didn't cut it. I remember going to school with many a sniffle.

N was what I would call "borderline sick" yesterday. I kept him home. No fever, but sunken eyes, very pale and just not himself.

So far my kids haven't abused this, faking illnesses to stay home. Mrs. Nurse called me last year saying C had a headache. It was the first time in 5 years she had complained of a headache, so I picked her up. C came home and slept for several hours. Clearly she had a headache.

On Sunday (I'm writing this Tuesday morning) N was complaining that he didn't feel well, but we let him go to his best friend's birthday dinner. He didn't have a fever. When the dinner went late he asked if he was going home soon, a 1st. I kept him home from school yesterday when he still seemed sick. He went to my workout place, still no fever, …

Facebook faces

It is a bit surreal. People from all aspects of my life are intermingled seemingly randomly, or via alphabetical order.

Today I uploaded pictures from my childhood, teen years, twenties, kids, family gatherings and a recent Christmas party. And it is all so random. Some people in these pictures I hardly know and have hardly ever spoken to. Some are people that were once major players in my daily life and now we send a short, superficial e-mail to each other with a "how are you?" subject line about once a year.

It's strange to think that so many people see me from so many different angles. I'm a sister, their cousin, someone they knew (and maybe didn't like) in high school. People I traveled with, where you form a random bond solely based on the fact that you are experiencing a new place for the first time and they are too. Some of those turned into deeper friendships. A couple of unsuccessful romantic relationships in there. People who know me as Mom. People who d…

Date Night

It's Date Night. Kids are farmed out (thank you MR and SM) and I've been straightening my bangs in the vain hope they will stay straight until at least 8pm.

T and I don't prioritize our relationship with each other. We spend very little time out together - yes, we have several TV shows that we watch together, but it is seldom that we go out to dinner or to a movie, just the two of us. Now that the kids are older, I had expected we would be have the freedom to do our own thing, but as the kids grow older they have more they want to do. If we weren't going into the city, we'd have been at the Pine Wood Derby. Last weekend we hosted sleepovers both Friday and Saturday nights. It seems like their activities are never ending and ours never start.

My parents went out a lot without us when I was a kid. We spent pretty much every Saturday night with faithful babysitting sisters C & MJ or with my grandmother while my parents were out either with friends or on their own…

A messy situation

So what do I do?

N's room is always a disaster. I yell, he whines. He cleans a bit, whines some more. I yell more. The cycle repeats itself on a very regular basis.

The cleaning lady is here today - N was supposed to clean last night before bed but I wasn't home to remind him, and his Dad didn't know the cleaning lady was coming today. When I got home last night I was so exhausted, that I went to bed at the same time as the kids... so no reminder. This morning I got him up to clean early and then remembered that the wonderful Miss Teacher has extra help on Wednesdays. N whined some more (about going to extra help), but I was afraid if I gave him a choice "clean or go to extra help" he would clean!

So here I am (taking a break) from cleaning his room for him.

One things is for sure: no allowance for him this week!

So now my break is over. Back to sorting legos, clothes (clean and dirty), pokemon cards, digimons, and every other toy that comes in small parts known to m…

A Sunday in History

Yesterday, while I folded piles of laundry, my daughter and I watched one of the best concerts I've ever seen. I tried to impress upon her that she would remember this for the rest of her life. I remember when I was about her age watching the hostages being released just as Reagan was being sworn in (with my parents interpreting the action completely differently from one another, but agreeing that if the hostages weren't released Reagan would declare war, with a knot in my stomach).

Yesterday we watched many musical icons of this country take the stage to praise Obama and celebrate his inaugural. Tears welled up when Bono said "Not just an American dream. Also an Irish Dream, a European Dream, African dream, Israeli dream and also a Palestinian dream..." You can see the entire U2 portion here. Watch Bono when he says "one man, he resists".

I spent a lot of time in Europe over the past 20 years. Sometimes I have been proud of being an American. Some people s…

Separation between Church and Kids

Toronto Diocese Choir School for Girls
ca. 1985, I'm hidden by my sister
(I attended Anglican/Episcopal choir camp
for 5 summers and LOVED it!)

We don't attend church. We're not even C&Es (Christmas and Easter attendees). Both T and I are both baptized and confirmed and we married in the church. Both of the kids are baptized. But the only time I remember them being in church (other than the occasional wedding) is when they have attended with friends. T doesn't believe in God and thinks organized religion is the basis for most of the world's wars (I agree with him on that point), so we haven't gone. When we met and married I went regularly. Now I haven't stepped a foot in a church since my friend's wedding nearly 2 years ago. I just don't know what I believe.

My cousin, whom I have turned to for parenting advise for more than a decade, only told me a story on how they ended up attending church. Her daughter K came home one day and said "Mommy, h…

Math mania

BW kids counting pumpkin seeds as part of a Halloween program (1st graders)
BW Every Day Math Wall (kindergarten)

It's coming up - the decisions about the Everyday Math program. Honestly I am ambivalent. Lots of kids struggle using Everyday Math. C is bored to tears. Like Baby Bear, for N, Everyday Math is just right. What are we getting instead? I worry that we will lose an entire school year in the transition. Unprepared teachers. Disconcerted parents. Confused kids.

So when I run into very enthusiastic parents I am unsure what to say. If I disagree they think I am an idiot. I have always thought C could be more challenged, but I honestly trust my kids' teachers opinions' more than my own limited view. I have not actually asked C's teacher's opinion this year, but all of their previous teachers raved about EDM. I don't like this unknown (again with BRSSD's lack of transparency) committee's power. What have they chosen instead? How come I didn't know…

Saying no is hard to do

Now that I'm not employed again and back in the volunteer's life...

Someone wants me to do something I don't want to do.

Lots of people ask me to do things I want to do, but only sorta.

How can I get myself motivated enough to give a straight no to the first category, and to go from YES! to maybe, let me think about it in the second category. Why can't I say no to them either? Is it a self-esteem thing? I want people to like me and am afraid they won't if I say no? Or is it the eternal guilt thing?

Also, is it right to force C to continue with girl scouts next year? I think it is a fabulous organization and I really, really love leading her troop. We went through this before. She wanted to quit a few years ago, and then MR stepped up to co-lead (for which I am ever grateful) and C stayed on. I want C to continue! We don't go to church, so it is important that she perform some service to the community.

Is it morally right to force her to do something she says she doe…

Short but sweet

I wrote a very long blog yesterday, but left it to edit it til today.

All I really wanted to say was this after a long-distance call yesterday:

Can't we Mom's accept that it is OK that we aren't ALWAYS doing our best at any given moment? Life is not a race or a competition. No one keep stats on how often we are late for activities, or how much laundry we actually do.

If we are always doing "one step better than your best" (the gym teacher's motto, not mine), we will burn out and resent our lives.

Forgive yourself. Your friends forgive you... try your best most of the time. That is enough.

Have a good day (not great, not perfect).

Sunday morning with NPR

I just heard the most thought-provoking segment of This American Life! I can't get over the FAO Schwarz-episode about the adopted dolls.

Click here to read about today's episode.

Although the first two acts were interesting too, the final act of this week's program caught my ear.

C has 2 American Girl Dolls, which she no longer plays with. I thought they were too expensive for her, so she had to "prove" she wanted her first enough and saved up to pay with her own money (either Santa or Grandma bought the 2nd doll). She also had to buy the dolls beds with her own money. Her first doll was a "just like me" doll. There are lots of dolls that were somewhat right, but none were exactly C. She ended up getting a doll with shorter hair than her own, and then within the week cut her own hair to approximately the same length. Life imitating art or vice versa? I don't know.

If you have a daughter (or if your don't you might be even MORE horrified as you ar…

NJ State Song?

A couple of days ago we woke up to 101.5FM morning show host and call-in guests pitching a fit about the cost for legislation allowing for a state song for New Jersey (or "musical representation"). Specifically their comments were aimed at the Bridgewater teacher who wrote the song with her students 14 years ago. I felt like calling in and asking them to shut up! I'm sick of 101.5's negativity!

Today again, it was in the Courier News.

The Courier News piece was a nice story. Something that undoubtedly someone will cut out and put on the school's bulletin board. Good thing that the comments section is only online because some moron called the deceased teacher something very inappropriate!

I understand that there is a discussion of wasteful spending in hard economic times, but this story was about a daughter honoring her dead mother's memory, and about children trying to accomplish a high goal and an effort for its revival.

Why do people have to write such nasty …

Back in the thick of it...

Last night I heard the BRRSD Superintendent speak. First I had to sit through a loooooooooooong meeting, but it was worth the wait!

I haven't been to a single BOE meeting this fall, nor have I been to a PTO meeting, and because of my job I have been largely absent from the school scene, so I felt somewhat out of the loop.

After a brief introduction, the talk turned, of course, to the upcoming budget vote. Two years ago, in an unexpected move, the district cut the library assistant position at all of the elementary schools. After that I started to pay attention to our district's activities. Last year the Superintendent held several pre-vote "get to know the budget" meetings. At one of them I pressed him, unsuccessfully to elaborate on what would get cut if the budget didn't pass. I left frustrated and a little bit mad. Apparently I wasn't the only person with that reaction, because this time he has made a "doomsday budget" public knowledge. He has i…

Feeling very trendy!

I'm feeling very trendy this week.

I lost my job on Tuesday with one hour's notice. So I'm back to my former position of "stay at home Mom and freelance writer."

I've been reciting all the standard lines this week:
"Everything happens for a reason"
"Something better's on it's way"
"It is what it is"

I haven't blogged much about my job because, although this is a nameless blog, I understand someone may recognize my employer. I will share that I found the environment most stressful.

So it's a mixed blessing. We got used to the income. I was just getting used to the balancing act, albeit I hadn't mastered it.

But I have to admit, I am pretty happy right now. It's late morning, I'm in my PJ's drinking my coffee, listening to NPR and not stressing about ANYTHING. I hope that I can channel this positive feeling into being a more put-together Mom for my kids. I said to C that I would be less stressed now, but sh…

Pinewood derby

It's upon us again. N is a pretty sore loser and he loses often. In fact I can't remember a single competition that he has ever won - or even come in 2nd or 3rd place. The heat is on: it is Pinewood Derby Time. Two years in a row he has built very cool, cute cars. It is a team effort, as he can't do much on his own. None of our cars were particularly fast. Two years ago my dad helped design the car - drawing to N's specifications. Last year he had a cool design too. Alas neither won any design awards. Speed both years was a total bust.

The tips I read on the internet offer ideas that are not allowed by our rules or sell how to manuals that we don't want to buy.

How do we help him to succeed? C was born with boundless luck, a strong work ethic and usually wins competitions. N doesn't.

Most people don't win, most of the time. Most of adulthood is a series of disappointments. The dream job you didn't get, the supposed love of your life who chose someone else…

Friends facing dilemmas...

It's a new year and another blog posting!

My daughter's punishment is formally finished. I am hoping that she has learned a lesson about the value of friendship and not just spent the week letting her anger at me fester. She spent the last 3 days lying around the house watching movies with her dad. Is that punishment? Not really! Was she thinking about what she had done? Doubtful. Time will show if she learned her lesson. Hopefully things will improve at lunchtime for a certain group of 5th graders...

In the mean time I have had friends facing dilemmas big and small.

One girlfriend was at a New Years Eve party and a husband (not hers) grabbed her ass, not once, but twice in front of a room full of people including his wife. What's Oprah's advice on that one? What would Miss Manners do? She asked if I think my friend should tell him this behavior isn't appropriate or appreciated? Hell yes! So for the record: inappropriate ass grabbing is always bad form!

Another girlf…