Showing posts from January, 2011

Battle Hymns of a Bridgewater Soccer Mom?

After all the media buzz I'm afraid to buy Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother. I am worried about getting a case of suburbia's worst disease: Comparative Mothering.

Without having opened a page, I the think author is - at least partially - RIGHT. Kids need to learn that hard work pays off. And very hard work pays better! We see it in Bridgewater all the time. Many families send their kids to Kumon or Saturday schools to get ahead, and they do. But have we done that? No.

Americans are suffering from a coddle-til-you-choke mentality. That's why I loved this take on Marketplace.  I heard Michelle Rhee's description of her soccer-playing kids and their awards, despite their lack of ability and it reminded me of the soccer trophies in my son's room. He is no athlete. He hasn't quite bought into "practice equals results". He still thinks you are either smart or not, athletic or not, musical or not. Even in music where it is plainly clear for my son's audi…

Praise for a good idea

A couple of times a year my son's school throws a 5th or 6th grade Fun Night.

Each child is required to bring a parent to Fun Nights. In past years the PTO Presidents turned the library into a cafe for parents where they can be present but can enjoy themselves too. This fall they had a Fun Night without a room for parents, who ended up meandering around the hallways, needing a quiet place to sit and talk. I e-mailed the coordinator and suggested they reinstate the practice. The PTO Board didn't like the idea ultimately decided not to do it.

Luckily someone came up with even a better idea: a book club night for teachers and parents! It was the first time I'd been to anything like it run through the schools. We read Jon Gordon's Soup. It was a very open conversation, geared toward parenting and teaching.

I have never had 2 hours fly by faster. It was a wonderful evening and there was an interesting mix of teachers, administrators and parents. The talk was engaging and i…

Snowday number 17 (actually 3)

They canceled school today... I spent the morning clearing snow. I spent the afternoon trying to finish a sweater I've been knitting. I've sewn the shoulders together and ripped it up (just the sewing) 4 times now. I'm about ready to give up. But I have to finish what I started.... 

Enough about me. It's dinner time. Something easy. Just like today's blog.

Yes, it's all for the best....

"When you feel sad, or under a curse
Your life is bad, your prospects are worse
Your wife is crying, sighing...
And your olive tree is dying,
Temples are graying, and teeth are decaying
And creditors weighing your purse..."

I'm back to my curse. CHEER! It's January - and I'm worrying about August 2011.

Who makes the decisions? Do I guide my daughter in making a smart choice subtly, force it upon her harshly, or let her make up her own mind and let the chips fall where they may? She's 13 years old. Shouldn't she have a say?

Three years ago we were in the same boat. Do you remember, back when I really was a soccer mom? We went through a very similar conundrum with C in picking soccer leagues. Which organization best fits her (and, let's face it, my) needs. I pushed her and I still believe we made the right choice.

This time, it's cheer. I spent the fall stressed about the BFL coaches and their decisions. But I am concerned about Pop Warner, to…

Aruba dreaming on such a winter's day....

One of the best Christmas presents I EVER received was a cassette. With it were strict instructions. "Find a single source of light, like a desk lamp and put it on, put on a bathing suit lie on my bed with the light facing me. Close your eyes and play the tape." I was transformed from a snowy winter day to a hot afternoon on the dock of my friend's summer rental in the Finger Lakes of New York State.

On this cold January day when Bridgewater is digging out from yet another snowstorm, let me offer you a similar vicarious experience. You don't need to wear a bikini! Just pour yourself something warm in your mug and read, imagining yourself exploring Aruba.

We arrived in Aruba and found that their motto of "One Happy Island" did not include taxi drivers, so we rented a car.  It was a defining choice and made the vacation interesting.

We spent a night in the Aruba Renaissance.  The Renaissance has two hotels in one. An "adults only" hotel and "fam…


I'd like to share an epiphany. I was going to write a blog earlier this week about how one of the benefits of being a "working Mom" is that when you do stay home from work because you, yourself (as opposed to your kids) are sick, people take it seriously and let you rest.

This is what I started to write:

Yesterday I was talking with my 13 year old buddy CM that being a stay-at-home Mom sometimes sucks because you can't really take a sick day. Her mom works full time in banking and rarely gets sick (they have good antibodies). I explained that when someone who works gets sick enough to stay in bed, it is expected that they stay in bed, or at least, horizontal. When you are at home all the time, it is assumed that you can spend your days napping at leisure, so why get sick?

But for a stay-at-homer, a long weekend plus a snow-day is overtime. My husband went into work and left me to deal with the injured dog and kids-play dates on the snow day. Not to mention laund…


"In January it's so nice
while slipping on the sliding ice
to sip hot chicken soup with rice
Sipping once,
Sipping twice,
Sipping Chicken soup with rice"

Isn't it nice when children's literature inspires you? I'm going to check the fridge and freezer right now. Chicken soup sounds perfect for dinner...

If you live near Bridgewater you don't need me to tell you the weather. Today it is everything but sun. We've had snow, we've had freezing rain and now it's raining. It's windy too. I'm still hacking away. My cough and cold reminding me that my time would be best spent in bed... except in order to get there, I have to put away the clean laundry.



Got to Wegmans and decided to try to make home made clam chowder. The butter and cream don't help my diet, but it just looked so good.

A day of service?

It's Martin Luther King Day. My children are oblivious. To them it is a day off school to spend with friends. Say what you want about Obama, but I like that he is encouraging people to use this day for service to others.

I wish I'd spent my day in service to the needy... There's always room for improvement tomorrow.

All the news that's fit to... um?

Some of the news that's fit to... um?

A HODGEPODGE of News that's fit for Soccer Moms!

When I grew up we had my local paper, which we referred to as The Star Regret but my Mom devoured daily. I haven't lived in that area in 20 years or so, but I still check it online every day. We had 2 TV affiliates based in my hometown... CBS and PBS's affiliates were 60 miles away, everything else was out of New York city. When I'm home I never miss the 11pm news, if only as comedic relief, because it always looks more like a college journalism class than a serious news broadcast. There are technical glitches, errors in information and, of course, enough grammar mistakes to make any English teacher cringe. But it's a local broadcast with reporters who speak my home-town accent and I love the sound they make. You can click on the local NBC affiliate here for a sample.

In Bridgewater I often feel disconnected. There is no local TV news just for Somerset County, despite the fac…


Last night at 7pm, our lovely dog, Diego the wonder dog got away from N who was bringing him from the line in the back yard. Diego ran toward the street and was hit by, or hit a car. The driver didn't even slow down after the thump...

Both N and Diego were pretty traumatized. We took Diego to Anemerge. The vet seemed nice, but ka-ching! Just a 5 minute visit and 2 prescriptions (an antibiotic and a pain med) cost $200 - it could have been ten times that if we followed her suggestion: leave him overnight for tests and stitches on multiple sores. We declined and promised to bring him to our regular vet this morning.

I'm so glad I followed my gut! Our vet, Dr. Sam at All Pets was great! He took us in immediately - no nurse getting preliminary information, just the vet, straight to the point. Dr. Sam brought me into the operating room before he started and showed me Diego's armpit. It looked much worse than I thought. When Dr. Sam said he might need surgery and a drain, I didn…


Sometimes I can be "very thoughtful". Tonight I brought the rest of our dinner to ES. Turns out I wasn't the friend who brought food. When I checked Facebook, this blog entry about bereavement foods came up as some sort of ironic timing. Bringing food to the sick isn't exactly bereavement, but it's not exactly a celebration dinner either. I practically begged ES, DS and LS to call me when their daughter (LS) needs something - ANYTHING - and to call anytime - even when C isn't home or isn't available. They were worried about being rude or pushy yesterday (and ES didn't realize that we'd invited LS over today), but I insisted that they call from now on. Watching ES and her family struggle through these weeks has been beautiful and painful. So many friends with the same message: let me help you, let me love you.

But as I inevitably do, I then said the wrong thing. "Please, please call me. All I have is time. I'm home all the time!"


The cons...

...of being a stay-at-homer...

In the world of banking and finance I'm a 2nd class citizen. This spring/summer I'll need a new car, but to get a loan I'll need a cosigner. None of my working friends would need this (unless they were buying outside their budget).

Even though most wives are in charge of household finances, and many of the most important decisions - wills, mortgages, savings, etc. - the banking world doesn't see us that way.

I wonder if I were a stay-at-home Dad would I be in the same boat?

And that doesn't even scrape the top of how women are treated on the car lot once we've figured out financing.... and the assumptions being made a mile a minute, whether you work outside the home or not. Can anyone say "pink minivan"? I guess I'm not doing much to help this stereotype. I'll be looking for a seven seater, after 3 years of a hot Acura sedan. We'll see what I end up with. But I promise you it won't be pink!

Toning down the rhetoric....

There was an interesting juxtaposition going on in my kitchen yesterday morning. In the background I was listening to NPR's Scott Simon discuss his friendship with Gabrielle Gibbons, in the foreground we were discussing me. Specifically, we (my daughter (C), her friend (who mostly kept quiet) and I) were discussing how virtually all of C's friends have been scared of me at one time or another. I loudly berate C for various things she does - real and perceived. I can scream, yell and nag for up to an hour after any particular incident. C reminded me that once I said no I wouldn't take them to the mall, and when the girl then called her mom to see if she would, I freaked out for no apparent reason. (I probably thought the girl was being manipulative, if one parent says no, try another). This week alone I have called my daughter, "The world's most spoiled child." I have also called her "vain" and "irresponsible" for wanting to wear brand new …

My LIFE program...

People who follow this blog because they know me outside of cyberspace know that about 4 years ago I participated in (and won - me? win anything?!) something called the LIFE program at Somerville Martial Arts. It was hard work and I was thrilled to pry the $850 bucks out of the owner's hand at the end of my hard work. I don't know when I've been so proud of myself as that day. I only lost a total of about 16 pounds, but I gained so much knowledge and self confidence that I surely thought my life would be different forever.

Old habits creep up, and before I knew it, my favorite Thai place kept showing up on the Mastercard bill and my new clothes seemed to have shrunk in the wash. That first summer I was complimented at the beach for my hot bod' but the following summer you could see I was back to my less than athletic self.

I tried several other times to return to my former winning glory but I fizzled out almost every time. According to SMAA's evil scale I'm wit…

Where my thoughts are this week...

They are mostly with ES.

She is coming to the end of her 51-year life and she is doing so with dignity and with love. E is spending her final days as she seems to have spent all of them - focused on friends and family. I watch her with pain and admiration. It's like watching the Twin Towers fall - I'm powerless to change her fate, yet so overwhelmed by the enormity of it all that I can't think of much else. All I can do is be good to her daughter and take her to camp - that's the job she has delegated to me and some of our friends. She has found other tasks for others: help with the house, the finances, the computers. (I offered to make out with her husband from time to time... but I was clearly joking, in a small attempt to lighten her spirits, and I doubt he's interested, even if we had the same hair.)

And I can learn something: it is plain to see that what has mattered most to her in her life are her family - her daughter, mother, husband and siblings and the br…

January 3rd... has a nice ring to it.

One of my favorite jokes as a kid:

Q: What happens if you play a Country song backwards?

A: You get your car back, your house back, your girlfriend back...
Today I get my house back... the kids are off to school and my mother- and father-in-law, who have been here since before the Revolutionary War (well, only since 12/15), fly home tonight.

There are no new guests on the calendar until Spring Break! 

Happy first day of school in 2011, everyone.


C is taking Latin, as I've said before. She gets a lot of projects that require creativity, basic knowledge of Ancient Rome (the point, I hope) and some non-Latin skills. She did great on her last project where she outlined a Roman house and it's parts - she made sure that hers included a spa, as any dream house should!

This time she is making good use of a very expensive doll that has been lying unloved in a box in the basement: she is transforming American Girl Elizabeth into Roman Goddess Minerva. It is wonderful to see C use all of her creative juices in conjunction with her brain.  Can you believe that there is a site online that tells you how to make a toga for an American Girl Doll??? And while that was the original plan - C also learned women of ancient Rome (and their Goddesses) didn't wear togas. I had Latin for 3 years, I never knew that.

I am also very happy that she hasn't dropped the ball and left everything for Mom to fix. My soul contribution will be f…

Off to a bad start......

Last year I spent the evening of Jan 1st in the ER with my son. It was the first of some TWENTY January 2010 doctor visits where I schlepped the well or infirm to various doctors and hospitals. I hope that Jan 1, 2011 isn't indicative a of a month when people tease me....

I just got off the phone with a friend who asked me if I knew where my license was... I found it in my clutch in my husband's car where I left it the night before. Now I wish I didn't. One of the hostess' "friends" thought he was being really funny when he drew eyebrows and a goatee on my driver's license picture. It was "only" in ball point pen (I think he meant that he should be forgiven since it wasn't sharpee - it wasn't washable crayola either, like that would help), so I got 80% of the color out, but there are scratches that you can easily see around my mouth and chin.

Monday I get to go to the DMV and get a new license. Sucks to be me. If I worked, I could charge…