Monday, June 29, 2009

Star light, star bright

I am on the back porch with my laptop this nice evening, thinking about the day.

Today I submitted a sample of my writing to an organization. Now I wonder if I chose correctly in my haste.

So today's thought is simple. As I look at the stars, thinking about other mistakes I made today, I wish I had more patience.

Friday, June 26, 2009

Too many thoughts for one blog

BRRSD:
It seems that someone saw the light, and the BOE is revamping the K-4 Language Arts in BRRSD. It's a bit too late for my kids (N will be a 4th grader in the fall, and while it is apparently financially budgeted for this year, I doubt they can implement both a new LAL and math program in the same summer). In another wouldashouldacoulda moment, I realized I missed a very important BOE meeting on Tuesday. The following was e-mailed from the district yesterday. Click to download the following file: K-4 Language Arts Adoption

I have read it, but not digested the information. Will speak with people more knowledgeable than myself and report back if I hear anything newsworthy.

Re: Murphy's Law
It's alive and well in our household. I came home yesterday afternoon to a beeping dishwasher and water all over the floor. Our decision: buy a new one ASAP. Home Depot - nothing we liked. Same at BestBuy. So off to PC Richards... on the way between BestBuy and PC Richards - at that tricky ramp onto 202/206, where it merges with 22... the power steering died. T nearly wasn't able to make the turn onto the ramp to the Somerville Circle. After a few phone calls, some relatively short waits and a few signatures we were on our way with a loaner car and his car was being towed to the dealership. My question: what are the statistical chances that the dishwasher and car both break on the same day. The dishwasher is only 4 years old, the car only 2 1/2. Click-click-click - a new one was ordered online. Hopefully here in a few days.

Re: The Soundtrack of My Youth
I've never been one of the biggest MJ fans, especially after the molestation charges. But when I was 13 he was the coolest thing in the world.

And I have to admit, I believe he was guilty and got off.I am amazed how people have forgotten how "DUH!" people felt about the charges at the time. I also remember how I felt about it: where were the parents who let their kids sleep alone at Neverland??? There was plenty of responsibility to go around.

My Aunt wrote on Facebook "I am saddened about the death of Farrah..and so sad about Michael...I know what loneliness looks like, I know he suffered with loneliness for a long, long time. His family must be suffering the loss in addition to not knowing how this happened, and having to wait for the autopsy report and listen to all the speculation...they have such a long ordeal to get through. My prayers are with them"

OK... must do dishes. And then I am buying more paper plates until we get the dishwasher back!!!

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Too warm to blog, but I just have to say YES!

Glad to hear that the Supreme Court made this call even if they are farther to the right than I like... Listen to what Nina Totenberg said when the case was heard last April, here.

The court found in the girl's favor!!!!

Of course a 13 year old girl's rights were violated when she was strip searched based on a rumor!!!! Duh! Read the actual court decision here.

I remember hearing about this case last year. A 13 year old was strip searched by her middle school administrators when another student falsely claimed she had prescription drugs in her possession. She is now in college. I heard her speak on the news about how haunting the experience was for her and her mother and I haven't forgotten her.

When it comes to this kind of stupid stuff in the world, no one is immune. It's there before the grace of God go I... I can't imagine the fight if it happened to my daughter. Hopefully this case means it won't!

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Better than the NY TIMES Dad???


I read this article in Sunday's Style Section.

It made me think. We've been big on cool kids' parties since the first ones. Through the years I found a previously untapped talent for creative birthday eats. Tellytubby toast were made as over-sized chocolate chip cookies. Two years in a row N picked out which Thomas Tank Engines he wanted: Percy, Thomas, Edward... they have all been recreated in the kitchen using small bread pans as molds. He turned three - then four. I've also recreated Digimon, as well a Pokemon, as well as high heeled shoes and a "barbie cake" for my daughter. If I remember correctly, I only "outsourced" 3 parties in almost 12 years (had parties outside of our home). At the 2006 karate party, I made the R2D2, shown above.

C hasn't been left out in the coolness factor. She had one of the first big sleepovers in kindergarten where each guest baked her own mini birthday cake. It only went up from there. Every year has been a new gig. Some years we've had two parties. One year C slept with 3 friends at the Marriott but we still had a ton of girls at the house for a karaoke night. Another year she constantly used an expression "I like eggs", so we had an "egg-stravaganza". Games revolving around eggs, egg painting. This past fall each kid had a small sleepover for their birthday, but to compensate we invited a ton of kids for a post-trick-or-treating Halloween party. N's sleepover was supposed to be sleeping in a tent - too bad the kids scared themselves so badly they moved into the living room. Another year we had a surprise party for C when she earned her black belt. After all the times she couldn't have a playdate or missed a birthday party, we felt her friends and she deserved a payback.

This weekend we'll have a movie night, no birthday. The future is a vast open calendar of things to celebrate in a new way.

I am pretty sure the kids have long forgotten the actually Halloween parties we threw for the pre-school neighbors in 2000, 2001 and 2002, but I hope that my kids remember that Mom and Dad have always tried to give them the best of memories. And maybe we even did better than the self-appreciating New York Times Dad! OMG I've finally become my worst nightmare: a New Jersey Competitive Mother!! (At least I'm competing in the category "who gave their kids the most memorable birthday parties at home").

Monday, June 22, 2009

aahhhh!

I felt it today. The weight lifting off my shoulders.

Summer vacation is here. Today I took a deep breath - and exhaled.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

The fight you just can't win


...EQUITY

No, I'm not talking about feminism, or racism or any other -ism.

I'm talking about the inevitable - the teary, the whining: "why is she getting to do that?" Or: "Why did he get to bring a friend and I didn't?"

And the unending attempts at parity. All in vain.

C has HS visiting from our former neighborhood far away. A once in a lifetime sort of thing, so she had a few friends over to meet the now-famous HS. As the half-dozen or so girls sat eating ice-cream around our kitchen table, N was in tears. "Where are my friends?" A reasonable question, I thought.

And so movie night was born. Click-evite-click and a few friends are now invited to see what some parents will inevitably think of as inappropriate, but that the boys LOVE. Monty Python and the Holy Grail was this year's hit with 3rd graders in a certain class in a certain Bridgewater school.

Then comes the other question of equity - who gets invited, who doesn't?

I used to be of the mindset that you "over-invite" - everyone you could possibly think of gets an invitation, and let the cards fall where they may. This worked until N's birthday in 2007. He is born in mid-September, so we don't know who his class-friends will be. So we invited ALL the boys from his 1st grade class, plus all the boys from his 2nd grade class, plus the neighborhood boys and a few other friends. 25 seven year old boys showed up in our backyard! On top of it, about 1/3 of the parents stayed. I think they were expecting us to serve them beer and appetizers, and I was expecting them to help. We were both somewhat disappointed! This year N had 3 boys here on his birthday, sans parents. Hurt feelings for the other 30 boys we could have invited? Probably... even as I write this, I am feeling guilty that I didn't invite more of C's friends when *I* wanted to keep it small and simple.

It's when the claims get ridiculous that I loose my temper. As I did with C last week when she complained that we spend more time with N's best friend's family than with her friends' families. I looked at her like she had 10 heads. I can't think of a single day in months when I haven't spent time with a parent of one of her friends.

You can't please everyone - and every parent who has more than one kid knows these struggles well. You have your own too - even if you don't have kids. Do you tip your hairdresser the same % as you tip your waitress? If you spend Christmas with your family, do you spend Thanksgiving with his? How do you pick a maid of honor???

It's tricky - I beat myself up over these insignificant inequities. Why? Maybe I am remembering parties I didn't get invited to when I want to invite absolutely everyone? Maybe it's residual damage from my own parents' inability to keep things fair (in their defense - they certainly tried!)? Maybe it is fear my daughter's friends' parents will reject her/me if I can't keep it just about right?

But I'll keep on trying. I love the patter of kids' feet running through the house, no matter how many sets of grass-filled footsies.

What is my quest? I seek the Holy Grail, packaged in a happy household. Then why do I feel like the soldier who lost all his limbs who keeps fighting?! Maybe because I also want to be happy in this household and I can't be happy if everyone else isn't? It certainly is a Holy Grail that I seek!

Friday, June 19, 2009

NYC

Love being in New York...

I don't love to shop when I don't have any money (today is one such day) but I love being in new York anyway.

I had a great day with my daughter and our friends. The best part of the day wasn't the lunch, the shopping, roaming streets of SoHo. It wasn't even seeing long lost friends (although that was really great!)

It was the car ride home when I got some one-on-one time with my daughter. We talked about whatever she was wanted. I was happy that there were no distractions, no rush, no stress (well, traffic) and it was just us two. 7th heaven.

...
and, I was proud - I drove in and out of the city with no crashes, and no nervous breakdowns. I drove almost without using the GPS.. even choosing my own directions over the map's. This is a big deal for me: I am usually terrified of driving in NYC. One small Broom broom for womankind! One big step for me!!!

Excuse ypos - I am writin this without my glasses.......

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Last Day of School & other things on my mind

I can't believe it is the last day. It seems like the first month (and not just because it feels like October outside). We've been lucky and continue to be. I know it sounds strange, but I love being at the school volunteering. In the summers, I miss the administrative assistants at N's school (I don't know them well at C's school), and although I haven't been helping nearly as much as I want, I love being in the elementary school library. I could be a children's librarian, I love books that much. But most of all, I am having déjà vu. When N was finished with kindergarten, I wished I had more children to be in Mrs. Kindergarten Teacher's class (my kids both had this fabulous teacher!). Today I feel that way about Miss Teacher. Through the year my relationship with her has grown quite close, so now I am confident we will stay in touch. T commented on how fast time is flying now: N has only one year left at his wonderful elementary school. I can hardly believe it either. In the fall, C will switch classes!

Today is another special day. C's first BFF, HS, is arriving in New York tonight. Tomorrow morning, we'll wake up and show her the Big Apple. HS has been running through my house since she was about 18 months old. It will be great to have her run through my hallways again after 6 years. This time as a tween. I'm thrilled to see her Mom too. She is one of my first Mom-friends. We have traveled together twice and I miss living near her.

My final thought is a sad one. My Dad's BFF, CK, got word this week that he has pancreatic cancer. He's apparently too old for surgery. Poor CK! My poor dad! He has lost so many people: his parents, his mother-in-law, his wife, his step-son, and countless friends. Two of Dad's long-time friends died in May. I don't like to use names on this blog, but I have to for this one.

I can remember my often Dad saying, "Charlie says..." with some conservative comment, and my Mom's retort was usually, "I don't care WHAT Charlie says..."

I hope Charlie keeps having lots to say for a long time.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Tuesday - A good day!

I have a distant cousin who I have friended on Facebook. Her life is very complicated - nasty divorce in the works, estranged from her father and sister, uncertain living conditions. As much as I like being back in touch with her, sometimes I feel as though she only writes negative things. Where is the joy?

Then I began to wonder if I am not just as negative, despite my better circumstances.

So today I am happy to report I had a good day. I was lucky enough to attend my son's end of year party for his 3rd grade class. While I wished the year wouldn't end, I am happy that it ended nicely: a few outdoor games, then inside for make your own sundae. I couldn't resist - when they offered them to parents also, I had to take a nice scoop of vanilla, but instead of marshmallows, I covered the ice cream with blueberries and called it "healthy".

I came home, picked up one kid and her friend, then the other kid and his friend. Drove to TKD and took a long walk with my husband. It must be several years since we went for a walk alone together and it was wonderful! There was even a little sunshine - something we haven't seen much in Bridgewater these past weeks. We tried to train doggie-do how to walk without pulling us. Not as easy as we thought, but we tried.

As I write this, I have a nice grilled chicken breast to look forward to, an episode of Weeds to watch with T once the chickadees are in bed, and hopefully a good night's sleep.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Back to the same question

Caught another article in the New York Times (the online version, I'm not sure when it was in print) looking at the question of how to best place students. Integrate all the kids regardless of ability, or segregate the kids by academic niches?

You can read the article here.

I have grappled with this question for several years. Our district has a highly elite AI program starting in 2nd grade but otherwise very little segregation in K-4. For grades 2-4 AI students are segregated into a single classroom at Adamsville school. Fifth and sixth grade AI students attend insulated classes but within either Hillside or Eisenhower schools, depending on where they live.

Once children get into 5th and 6th grades there are various classes offered - children are put into either e, regular or remedial math classes - with the vast majority fitting in the regular bracket. The same holds true for language arts classes. Social studies, science, Spanish and other academic classes have only one level - save for the AI classes who have a contained classroom for these subjects as well but with the same curriculum.

Only about 2% of BRRSD students make the program, so it serves only a very small audience. I have blogged about the AI and e programs before on a number of occasions.

When I was in college I took two classes that looked at Plato's Republic. I remember one of the professors said "people who love the idea of Plato's Republic do so because they think they would be Philosopher-Kings". That's how I feel about the AI program. People who love it are also the same people who have children in it. People who aren't in it have various opinions. Mine include disappointment, apathy and envy. Why are the best teachers and best classrooms left for the Bridgewater's Philosopher-Kings? Maybe I should dust off Plato in my free time this summer! Where are those Gov 100 notes????

The NY Times article rang true in two main themes of this blog. I love and hate the idea of differentiation in classroom. How can one teacher differentiate a lesson to individual students' breadth of needs. It is tricky to do.

And is it the right thing? Parents of future Philosopher-Kings want segregation by ability. If you're kids are going to be Warriors, I am not sure that the segregated classroom is their best path to educational utopia.

Either way, without a solid education, kids won't be able to analyze Plato or any of the other classics once they get to college, where they certainly won't be surrounded by only like-minded Philosopher-King wannabes. I think, as I felt when I first read Plato, that mixed education, like mixed government is probably the best suitable answer. A mostly inclusive environment, with some segregation. Oh, wait, that's what we have and I'm not pleased. This type of question is what drew me to political philosophy in the first place - and Dr. M-H, my most challenging professor! (Rest in peace, Dr. M-H!)

Thank you NY Times for yet another article making me think about education. Where was this idea of comparing modern public education to the Republic when I needed to write papers in 1988?

Re-reading this blog today, I wonder if it makes any sense to anyone but me? Apologies if it is all Greek to you! :-)

Friday, June 12, 2009

Quickie blog

This morning I got to hear those fleeting words, rarely uttered aloud: you were right.

My day has been made. Unfortunately, "You Were Right" led to a change in plans and now, when I normally blog and drink coffee, I have to head out.

I thought I would share with you (but I don't know why you'd want to be tortured by this too) something I heard on the train back from NYC yesterday. It has been haunting me - both acts, but mostly the first one - all evening, all night and all morning.

A segment of This American Life from April 2009 called Didn't Ask to Be Born. When Ira Glass says it's not appropriate for children, he forgot to mention that it is physically painful for Moms' ears too.

The first act is my worst fear. Could C ever hate me as much as these girls hate their Mom?

I have to listen to something nice all day long today just to get the mental images of these family tragedies out of my head.

Heard this on the clock radio this morning and it had my feet tapping:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nCAso76mbdI
For AS: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cMfrLFirGWc
For new Auntie MR: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JjD4eWEUgMM
For JL: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FHBpBffGuq0&feature=related Thanks for yesterday!
And to wish my daughter's team good luck playing this weekend: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8I9HGdrlRE4

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Juxtaposition

I'm writing this long hand (well, now I'm transposing it) from my personal hell on earth, Chuck-E-Cheese. I haven't been here in years. Is my memory fading or was it tolerable when there are this few kids? Usually I think of C-E-C as punishment for having kids, but today I'm sitting near the window overlooking scenic (ha) Applebee's parking lot and knitting. It seems like an ok use of my time.

N has new friend who is allergic to dogs, so I was scrambling to find an alternative to playing at our house. The boys came up with this. Not as cheap as my idea (ice cream) but the boys are enjoying skeet ball. Best of all, I can knit to my heart's content.

This morning I was in the opposite of this room. Yes it was noisy - and sometimes smelly - but a completely different experience. It was as if I were two separate people in two countries. I spent a wonderful morning roaming the Upper West Side with my friend JL and her husband D. We talked, walked and searched for just the right place to have a bagel and coffee/tea/eggs. It was a simple morning, but I was so happy to see them. It was wonderful to know that no matter how much time goes by I always fall into the natural flow of our old friendship. I could have spent weeks with her talking through the night, as we used to do. She is a beautiful person and her husband is so fortunate to live with her. BTW I still have her copy of The Prince. She'll have to come pick it up!

In the past seeing college friends has caused me a bit of internal tension. I went to college with some very smart, talented people who have bloomed into interesting adults. While I love to see them, it sometimes brings a tinge of regret and jealousy. Until very recently I was the only one of my close college friends to choose to stay at home to raise kids. While I attend PTO meetings, they attend board meetings, travel to conferences or sales events or teach college students. Their careers span a broad spectrum of fields and (presumed) incomes. At least one friend has balanced a big career with the challenges of being a single Mom. Only about 1/3 of my college friends have kids.

When I think about my expensive education (in addition to my BA I have a pretty useless MA) I often feel wasteful. I see all these women in my life - from college and otherwise - who juggle work and kids, and I am often impressed at their versatility. When I see or hear about my friends exciting careers I sometimes sigh: why didn't I choose a different academic path, one with an obvious outcome? I could have been a...
... and I'm not even sure how to end that thought.

Today I was in the apartment of one such friend, with a sensational career and cosmopolitan lifestyle. I've always been a bit envious of her and I found the little green woman in me is still alive and kicking. It probably was good she didn't see me drool over her fab NYC apartment too. She hangs with international jet setters, she has a home on two continents - and her parents live on a third. She has everything I ever thought I wanted when I was in college.

But today was strange. For the first time in the 20 years since I met her I also felt sorry for HER! Her closest family are all on other continents. She has never been married - has no boyfriends worth mentioning, and she doesn't even have a cat to come home to. Although it was gorgeous, her apartment was sparsely decorated, although she'd been there for 2 or 3 years - just around a dozen books, a few pictures and a few pieces of art.

For me, all the money, prestige and frequent flier miles in the world can't be traded in for the key relationships in my life. I too have lived far away from my family - both on this continent and others. While it sounds very glamorous, in practicality, its actually quite unfortunate. Now my Dad lives a few hours away but he happily stays with us for several months a year. We cook together. We shop together. We talk incessantly. While I complain to no end about the schlepping, my kids are my joy. Several times a week I catch myself tearing up as I watch them do something that I am proud of or happy to witness. Yesterday it was moving to see how excited my son was about dissecting a squid. My husband is my rock. My partner and my friend. What would I do without him??? He happily supports me while I stay at home.

In addition to these and other wonderful family members whom I can call on day or night for love, fun and affection, I have my friends. Old and new. How many coffees do I share each week with them? How many glasses of wine have made their way down while we discuss the news of the day? Who is there for me when I cry? My friends. As I said, old and new!

So while I have often felt I am losing out by this hiatus from the working world, it is important to be reminded how happy I really am in my life.

Chuck-E-Cheese has grown more crowded and unpleasant. Just as I remember it. Time to bring the play time to a close.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Swim team decision


It's summer. You wouldn't know it looking out the window, but considering there is about a week left of school, I'd say it's here.

As I mentioned before, we joined a pool club. It has a swim team that apparently is "just right" (not too competitive, not too lax). Although he loves to be in the water, N isn't the strongest swimmer - I'm really tempted to get him lessons, which he really doesn't want, so the swim team would be a great venue to strengthen his skills. Moreover, most of his buddies at the pool take part in the team, and he might be left out if he doesn't join.

There are two problems: he doesn't want to do it and he'll be away for about half of the competitions, and probably for the end-of-season party (i.e. the Carrot).

All spring I have been planning to "force" him to join the team. It would be good for him both physically and socially.

Today I decided that since it's his summer vacation, he should have a say in how he spends it.

Am I being too weak? Is he getting off easier since he is the youngest? I wish I knew what was the best course of action. It comes back to the eternal question of Bridgewater competitive mothering mentality vs. letting a kid be a kid.

I was on a summer swim team as a kid. I think my Mom just wanted us out of the house for a few hours every day. Today I look back on a mixture of happy memories and arguments with my Mom of "I don't want to go!" The pool was cold on early northeastern mornings and some of the kids were mean. On the other hand, the swimsuits were cool, and I learned all the strokes.

I'm guessing that it would be like that for N. Some things would be fun, but not all the time.

While his buddies are swimming, he'll be at the township run summer playground program with other kids or out of town. What's done is done. Let's hope I made the right decision. It's always so hard to know...

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Hard work pays off

C got the letter yesterday - she made the e-math program. She didn't quite make e-language arts, but she is thrilled about getting into math. As she reads and writes for her own pleasure, I'm not too stressed about it.

Maybe it's a Pyrrhic victory: lately I have heard that since BRRSD BOE has voted to change the regular math program, but not the e-curriculum, it would be better to stay in the regular program. But, we'll take our chances for now. After working so hard to get accepted, it would be silly not to take this opportunity.

Apparently e-math also comes with piles of homework. C says she's ready. She may have to sacrifice some of the time she spends at extra curricular activities. She's dropping the violin, and starting cheer leading. I would hardly say she's gaining much free time. The fall will be a challenge.

At least C feels vindicated. Her work has catapulted her toward her goal. We're all very proud of her.

Saturday, June 6, 2009

Mazel Tov

When I was 13 I knew two Jewish kids. Only two. Although I went to school with both of them since kindergarten, neither of them invited me to their Bar/Bat Mitzvahs. I felt like the only child on the planet (or at least my hometown) that wasn't invited. Recently I attended my HS reunion where pictures of the Bat Mitzvah were posted online, and found out that indeed most of the my grade school was invited to DR's Bat Mitzvah except me. Why would that still bother me after 25 years?

Saturday we were invited to an awesome Bar Mitzvah. I loved it - and so did the kids. Even my husband wore a yarmulke in temple and attended the entire party. N managed not to fidget too much during the nearly 2 hours service.

At least my kids can say they have attended one. The Bar Mitzvah boy has a sister who will be a Bat in about 18 months. I'm already looking forward to my next opportunity to take part in a HORA! Let's hope C & E are still friends - they've been inseparable since kindergarten, so I'm hoping....

It's good to see my kids have better social skills than I did at their age.

Friday, June 5, 2009

Dog eat dog house


I love our new dog. We got him in January and he has brought us lots of joy.

And some pain.

Yesterday was one of the painful days. He got to my knitting and chewed through a small wedding present I had been working on and off for a few days. I was planning on making a few of these dish clothes (picture above). You can download the pattern for free here. Unsalvageable. He even chewed through my bamboo (read: expensive) knitting needles. So today I bought new needles and new yarn. It was only $14 for new needles and yarn, but it was the principle of the matter.

I got very little sympathy from T who reminded me that it isn't the dog's fault. It's mine. I carelessly left the knitting where the dog could easily get it. The dog loves yarn. He's a mutt - and I think he may be part cat.

It is always easier to blame someone else. The kids being late for a practice, when actually *I* started dinner late. The house being a mess, when actually I set a very bad example. The kids going to bed too late, when I haven't organized our lives such that they are ready earlier. My non-career, when actually I am not looking for work. It's easy to blame the economy, or say the kids need me. But I am not sure what I want to do with my life so I haven't been applying for jobs.

I do want a cleaner house and to be less rushed. So maybe I will learn from this episode. It's not the dog's fault. Instead of finding someone or something to blame, I can actively change what isn't working.

And in the future I will not leave temptations like yarn and needles lying around for Cujo to chew.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Difficult day

Last night N had a mini-trauma. It was hard to watch my son in a (figurative) train-wreck before my eyes.

He didn't want to go to school today, fearing the fall-out from yesterday. I can't say I blamed him. If it had been me, I would have wanted to crawl under the covers for a few days myself. I even thought "if I call him in sick, can I still take him to a movie"?

Wiser minds prevailed, and off N went to school this morning. I checked on him after the PTO meeting. He was FINE. Gotta love Miss Teacher. Most teachers would have told this hovering parent to take a hike! She understood my position completely.

At the end of the day N got off the bus and could report that the worst fears were not realized. Kids certainly can be cruel, but at least today they weren't.

He says he doesn't want to go tomorrow.

This time I can say, "I think it'll be fine," and this time I'm not lying. He learned a valuable lesson: face your fears. Things are often worse in your imagination. Maybe I can learn this from my son's example sometime.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Definitely NOT a G-rated movie...

This weekend I took my friend's advice and watched Little Children. My friend had my attention when she said it had some of the best scenes she'd seen in a film (interpret that as you will...) but she said that I would relate to it as a suburban mom.

I have been thinking about the film for several days.

I just thought about it again now, when I saw a group picture of Moms from my son's grade. The photo was taken at a party that I wasn't invited to, although I know all of the people in the picture. This particular group of Moms often make me feel alienated and I feel like the judge me. Some of them I would call "competitive parents". Who can be the most overprotective? As I saw the snapshot, I remembered a scene from Little Children. Watch starting from about minute 2:05 through about 5:30.

That is how I feel sometimes. As if I sit on a bench several feet away from them, being judged as a bad mom for something as innocuous as forgetting snack. In fact, snack is a perfect example because I forgot to send my kids with snack almost as often as they bring it. I even sent Miss Teacher a Wegmans gift card after N said she shares snack with him every day... along with a mea culpa note.

I could write several pages about this movie (about suburban hypocrisy, longing to be recognized by your spouse, bad judgment - and not the extra-marital relationship with a hot stay-at-home Dad) but we'll leave it at that particular scene.

In my daughter's grade I think I'm can take a seat at the popular Mom's bench. But with my son's grade I'm definitely not a-list. Judgment runs strong with this clique. I just need to muster the self-confidence not to care, much as the protagonist does.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Tragedy in the news

An Air France flight has disappeared and it is assumed everyone has died in an ocean crash. How tragic! Grief beyond belief. Think of all the families that are ruined by this news.

The other tragedy is the shooting of Dr. George Tiller. How does a person justify shooting someone while they are praying at church? (Not that killing him on the street, in his office or home would have been right, but the hypocrisy of shooting someone during Sunday services is biting). I wonder if this will flare up the debate again as discussed in this NPR report.

How do either of these things relate to a Soccer Mom's mandate of raising great kids? Regarding the Air France flight: if my kids hear about it, how do I keep them from being afraid to fly when we travel so often?

The other issue - abortion - I wonder how adolescents develop any political opinions. I hope that my children have a healthy balance of agreeing with my beliefs and questioning them in order to learn to make up their own minds. That said, I want them ultimately to agree with me, especially on this issue. Don't you want your kids to agree with you?

Both of these events are tragedies! In the end, my children and yours are living in a world filled with both tragic and happy events. Teaching them to accept the tragic and embrace the happiness is a main task of parenting.

Monday, June 1, 2009

Summer's almost here

N's teacher wrote today "13 days left" on her Facebook status today. That means summer is here. I spent the morning enjoying the perfect weather for a lovely walk. My friend and I talked about the summer. Planning summer getaways is one of my favorite past times, even if it doesn't always work out as planned. I really enjoy this on June 1st with the entire summer right before my eyes. It should be an easy drive (preferably less than 5 hours). This evening I spent time with another friend discussing summer camps.

The New York Times Travel Section had an article "One Summer, 14 weekend getaways"

Here's my weekend getaway wish list for summer 2009...

Weekend 1 -June 20th - NYC. We have friends who will be in the city that weekend from Europe. Count on all the things foreigners want to see, plus shopping, plus my kids' fav, Mars 2112 for at least one meal. We'll also do Chinatown, Times Square and other typical tourist destinations. Oh, NYC

Weekend 2 - June 27th The shore - Beach or Bust!

Weekend 3 - July 4th The Finger Lakes. Nothing like my favorite cheap retreat. Wineries, beaches, good food, slow pace... It's not summer without a night at my favorite drive-in.



Weekend 4 July 11th Hershey Park


Weekends 5-7 - boating, swimming, water skiing...


Weekend 8 - Toronto. I've been dying to go.....

Weekend 9 - Boston. I've been dreaming about visiting friends who live on the MA/NH border. Maybe this is the summer???

Weekend 10 - Jersey shore - once isn't enough and by the end of August, maybe weekend traffic will be better???

Weekend 11 - Philly. There's always something to see and parking is cheaper than NYC.

Other options include: Dorney Park, Camden Aquarium, Outdoor concerts at Central Park.

Labor Day weekend???? Last year the girlfriends from high school descended upon our house for a weekend of wine and good times. They are threatening to come again in 2009... so we'll keep it open. Otherwise I can think of a lot of other places I'm ready to head to. Maybe we'll extend down to Delaware? Who knows!

Who knows what the future holds. But this dream summer sounds like a good one, right??? There's plenty going on right here in Somerset County. Long walks at the Sourland Mountain preserve, summer evenings in downtown Somerville, long evening walks with my neighbors.

Note to self: don't overbook. The kids want to sleep late and lie around the house, so do I. I have to keep that in mind when making all these elaborate plans!

The summer is full of possibilities.

Because before you know it, we'll be getting ready for....