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Showing posts from 2012

Exhale....

Its the penultimate day in 2012. Looking back my year held it all: the good, the bad, the ugly, but it was never, not once in the entire year, boring.

Why spend time rehashing a year gone by when I can do so much today, prepare so much for tomorrow and make plans for an upcoming year?

This is a time when many people resolve to be better, different or to make significant changes. Most often we (and by we, I mean "resolution-makers") promise unreasonable things. After many broken promises I am just  keeping it easy:

I will try to live more simply.
Maybe this will include things like knitting with the yarn I have or I'll plan meals by looking first at what is in the freezer already . I'll continue my trend of cooking more, order in/eat out less.

I hope this will include being happier with what I have without buying more - if I don't have the right outfit, perhaps it is laundry I need to do, rather than shopping? I could use to add a few other habit changers:
Finish wh…

Lost voice, gained perspective

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Last night I called in to work to tell my boss I couldn't come in today. I have a terrible cold - no fever - but I'm quite the disgusting mess. Runny nose, sneezing, coughing. Not anything you would want serving customers - and likely contagious, too.

My boss was NOT happy. I get it - I work in retail and it's a week before Christmas. But if I'm sick I'm sick. This is not anything I am doing TO her.

I was feeling very guilty about this. Then it came to me. Had the tables been reversed? Had I been the boss and someone else been sick, would I take it personally and make someone feel guilty? Quite possibly. But just maybe, not.

And while she thinks my illness is a detriment to her bottom line, she doesn't know me very well. Today is the most stressful day of my year: tomorrow my mother-in-law arrives. I love K. I love having her here, but her house is neat. My house is not. To make her feel welcome (and maybe a little proud of her daughter-in-law who is trying to …

Too close to home

To quote the president "As a country we have been through this too many times"

It was enough to hear about it on the radio - I can't bring myself to see the images yet. Another shooting. Another tragedy where you least expect it. (I just heard that Newtown hadn't had a murder in 10 years).

You'd think these places are safe: a suburban elementary school, an remote island in the middle of a Norwegian fjord, Amish village schools. Shootings shouldn't happen anywhere, but at a school with the youngest students? Abhorrent. Why kill innocent kids? What could a shooter have against them? Or their grieving family.

An entire country is thinking about their children's school, or their own elementary schools.  Searching for answers to unanswerable questions.

So I sit here. I've finished my ginger tea with honey, but I keep dipping a fork into the honey. It could be anywhere, I guess.

Seems almost morally wrong that I'm about to get changed for a Christmas pa…

Over half way there...

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Sometime around midnight we passed it: the halfway point to Christmas.
Despite last week's claim that I'm letting go of stress, I have to admit that this pre-Christmas rush is taking the same toll on my nerves as every other Christmas has since college, when pre-Christmas ALSO meant exam time. Post college there were a few years with only joy and little stress, but once kids came Christmas meant all new responsibilities and expectations, not to mention gray hairs.
I love this time of year, despite the looming deadlines and the constant feeling that I am forgetting something. Some detail... I haven't lost my keys (at least I don't think I have) but it's the same angst.
Nonetheless, in some ways I'm a step ahead: the tree is up. Most of the gifts are either purchased or planned, and I am making headway on SOME of the cleaning. That's always been my personal shortcoming. Neatness.
But even if the to do list is long and patience is in short supply, I do love Ch…

December 7th

It's December 7th. One of my least favorite days of the year, falling directly between the anniversary of my late brother's death and my late Mom's birthday. It's easy to fall into the "woe is me". But also, takes less than a millisecond to snap out of it.

I am grateful for my family and friends and everything else in my life. A life full of friendship, travels, and good fortune, and I think that's what my brother and Mom would want for me.

I haven't been blogging much lately. Just haven't had much to share. Also, I'm trying to disengage from thing that cause me unnecessary stress. Turning off the TV and radio from the threat of fiscal cliffs and other political discourse. Staying away from school issues, local issues and focusing on the homefront. My family, the house and our dog. There is more than enough food for thought just worrying about tree removal. No one needs to hear days of blogging with titles like "Jane gets arms stronger th…

Family lore

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According to NPR today is the "National Day of Listening" in which people are encouraged to record stories from relatives about their lives or the past.

I thought instead of my usual blog, I'd share a story heard about my late (half-)brother Dino. Dino was bigger than life when he was alive, so you know he's almost a mythical figure now. I heard a story that I've confirmed with my Dad is true - at least mostly. I should also say that I know almost nothing about cars, classic, sports or otherwise. So if I am wrong about the details of cars or stamps or the like, please know I'm not trying to mislead...

Here is "How Dino leveraged a paper route into a Ferrari" (as told by cousin Robbie and now retold in my own words):

Once upon a time (ca. late 1960s) my then-teenage brother had a paper route. Not just a paper route - THE paper route. Through a lucrative area of then-prosperous Elmira, New York. Back in the day, paper boys (almost exclusively) sold on…

Update

Went to the BOE meeting this week and heard the Assistant Superintendent speak. You can hear the presentation here. (I was looking for the powerpoint to share here but couldn't find it at this time).

I learned three key items:

7th graders do poor on the Language Arts section of the NJ Ask and other testing. Some feel this is because of the unique age. Others talked about the test perhaps being more challenging. No one mentioned poor instruction. My daughter had a FABULOUS 7th grade LAL teacher - but I don't know about the others.That the new way that test scores are being considered may water down results, making it seem as though issues that were being noticed by the old way of number crunching will be hidden in the new way to look at results.Returning the lost days to the calendar isn't going to make anyone happy. The Superintendent had something like 5 suggestions... to which the board and the community suggested various tweaks.   I was sad to see that Cindy Cullen will …

Three minute blog

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I don't know where the time went!

It seems as though "three minutes ago" I was happy about one portion of election results and distraught over others. I think my predictions of party politics invading the school board elections came true: a well-known R family is now represented on the BOE. Am disappointed that Cullen will no longer be on the BOE - she is one of the few members that openly challenged and the leadership and asks questions that show thinking out of the box. She was a good antidote to the reputation that the BOE is most concerned about gifted kids. Maybe other members are just as broadly-minded in their concern, but hers was palpable. Her loss is my loss.

I was much more distraught about a different win... but what can you do with opposition who has a winning grin and the right connections?

Then "two minutes ago" I was at work in Metuchen when the power went out (we kept working)... and I came home through the sleek snow - followed by another elec…

Hangover

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First - and foremost - thank you to all our friends and relatives from around the world that have shown such concern and care. It's hard to imagine how quickly life changes when you go from techno-addict to a dark house with no cell phone service, tv or light. We tried to make the most of it. Realizing that so many people have experienced extreme hardship makes it easy to pull ourselves out of the trap of self-pity. A week or two without power is horribly annoying, but not life-threatening. (Although it sucks to be in the midst of a power outage). Even our neighbors behind us still are without power, as is most of this section of Bridgewater. How we ended up as the lucky few in the "Eisenhower section" is beyond me!

Our yard got the beating that our house was spared. Today I spent a couple of hours trying to clear some tree branches so that we can use the chainsaw (which I was considering to take on, until my husband suggested that maybe I shouldn't play with tools …

"It gets more ridiculous every day"

It's hard to complain about a school when I just had such a positive meeting with several of its staff members. I'm looking forward to positive results in the weeks to come. BUT...

"I sense a blog coming on!" was my friends comment when I told her the following story:

My child needed a physical - as all kids do to participate in athletics - or, in his case, to participate in the lottery to take part in one (a school with over 1500 kids, there are about 45 slots for skiing).

My son handed the physician-completed physical form to the school nurse. She handed it back to him because it was incomplete. "Have your mom bring it back to the doctor," she told him. What was so vital?

His basic vitals... his pulse was missing from the form.

Now, I am quite sure that the first thing they teach in any nursing class is how to take a pulse. Even *I* can manage to take a semi-accurate pulse.

But our nurse, who apparently needs to be very careful about this sort of thing (o…

Oh, what to wear?

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It's going to be a busy day for the Poppet Household in Lake Woebegone ("where all the kids are above average"). Or is it Stepford (my friend's name for BW)? Today we are hosting the Field Hockey Team for the final pre-game Pasta Dinner.  Pasta dinners are something I can make with one hand tied behind my back - it's the pre-arrival straightening that has me a bit worried. I need to remove all evidence that people actually live here.

Because of the dinner, I can almost guarantee I won't make the BOE meeting where one of the hot topics is implementing a dress code at the high school. (If you plan to go, remember it is at JFK school in Raritan).  The dinner ends at 7:30, so even if everyone is gone by 8pm, I promise I'll be in my pajamas, horizontal on a sofa by the time JFK is filled with community members saying the Pledge (of Allegiance).

There may be talk of the contract, which is still being deliberated by the B-REA and BOE. (In a nutshell: 0% raise fo…

It's simple

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I read that (I'm paraphrasing) today on Facebook.

My baby girl loved it when I read to her. "Good night moon" (Can you find the mouse?)

As a toddler she still loved it. And on it went. "Some are red, some are blue, some are old and some are new..."

We went through many phases of fine and fun literature (and some books I'll thankfully never open again). Ooing over pictures in Angelina Ballerina and then laughing over the storylines. And sometimes discussing how bossy Angelina could be.

Then she became a school girl and we read to each other. Starting with "The Fat Cat Sat on the Mat".

Then there were the American Girl doll books - and I'd read to her for HOURS.

And then... of course... it came time. She started only reading books like Judy Blume's Tales of a 4th Grade Nothing independently. Novels and series.

And now, we share books, like the Uglies series.

I hadn't realized that she models after me: I love to read. Everyone in my fami…

Blogbreaking News

Today, Dick Bergeron's blog spilled the beans on the B-REA/BOE forthcoming contract. It looks like two contracts: a 2.9% raise for teachers for each of the next three years but 0% raise for 2011-12. Another way to interpret it is 2.1% yearly over 4 years... which is very close to cap.

How do I evaluate this? Is it a 9% (almost) raise over 3 years or over 4 years (which would lower the annual raise if divided by 4 years)?  I would have bet money on a 2.5% increase.... so I'm also a bit surprised.

I don't know the exact details: Does it mean any more in "deliverable"? Will this equate to even LARGER student : teacher ratios if it comes time to cover a potential gap? The BOE does rely on "breakage" (the cost difference salaries of seasoned teachers who retire and the new teachers who replace them) to cover budgets that spend beyond regular taxes. What if there aren't enough retiring to cover almost a 1% increase beyond the cap? This is one of those tim…

Hungry?

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I have been a bit annoyed by the uber-focus on school lunches. It's really ridiculous when no one is forced to purchase lunches, that so many people who send their kids with brown bags (or perhaps Vera Bradley lunch bags with a matching ice pack??) have so much to say about the issue. So the US government wants to make them healthier and cut down on the crap-content?  Good for them. If you don't like what Michelle Obama is trying to do - promoting exercise and healthy eating - maybe you're not the target audience anyway!

My kids buy their lunches more often than bringing them. Neither complained about the rise in whole-grains or the smaller size. In fact, my son - hadn't noticed at all - and a 7th grader who is growing by leaps and bounds should be hungry if he isn't getting enough to eat!

I also don't buy that home-brought lunches are so much healthier (or even much cheaper if you send fresh bread and cold cuts and fruit). The staple lunch for Americans is st…

Choices

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I had a chance to spend the morning in NYC.

It would have been a beautiful day to eat a croissant while walking across the Brooklyn Bridge or taking in one of a gazillion outdoor markets.

But this morning I did something even better... I watched the Bridgewater Raritan Freshman Field Hockey team beat its opponent. C played defense and while she was on the field quite a bit, the offensive players got a bigger workout.

Now my sister is coming with her kids, and we are going to enjoy an unseasonably warm and beautiful day at the Visiting Nurses Association Rummage Sale. If they consider it rummage in Far Hills, then I have a feeling it is high-end stuff in my world.

What else will the day bring? Hopefully a long run and some good food. Otherwise, sky's the limit. What we do on any given Saturday is about choices.

Today I'm choosing hanging with the family. Not a bad choice, I hope they like being outdoors, because that's where I plan on spending this beautiful Saturday. Back…

a day to myself

Today I had a special day to myself.

Or, well... part of day....

I ate pancakes.

I went for a walk.

I bought a book with a description that was so similar to my life that I think it is actually an inside joke (no, I won't tell you the title).

I knit.

Now I'm "back in the saddle" - picking up kids while at two different activities, carpooling and making dinner (doing laundry, too).

A few hours of paradise were just what I needed to restart the motor and revive my spirits after a particularly hectic week.

And now back to carpools, clean-up and laundry.

three days at a time

You're supposed to be taking one day at a time.

I feel like I'm on hyperdrive. Taking three days and cramming them into one.

The last couple of weeks I've been juggling two part time jobs, with chairing a book fair, hosting my father and all that is expected of a SAHM (I just learned this term for "Stay at Home Mom"). It's been a challenge to keep the balls in the air. Some days it is the little things: commuting. Some days we haven't had dinner. Sandwiches for dinner is unusual at the Poppet household. Last Friday I spend 3 hours folding and sorting laundry. It was literally the first chance I had gotten. On Monday I went to bed at 7:45 pm. I had to be on the road by 6:30 am.

With the economy the way it is, I can't be choosy. I'm looking for full-time work, but for the moment, splicing two part time jobs is the best I can do. The irony is that now I've stopped looking for a full time position, which is the goal from taking on new jobs. (That,…

Shameless plug for WHCC

Last night I attended a benefit gala and silent auction for the Women's Health and Counseling Center. If you know me, you know that I don't attend these kinds of events very often (I've been to 2-3 basket auctions in 10 years). I had NO idea what to wear and literally tried on nearly every dress I own before I found the one - the dress I bought for a fancy wedding about 11 years ago. I was like Goldilocks... not too fancy, not too plain but just right.

I had heard of The Women's Health and Counseling Center and love the idea of it - a place where women, regardless of income, can get safe, professional medical help and counseling for issues large and small. And they serve many "kinds" of women (and offer limited services for men too). Somerset County has wide socio-economic demographics. They serve plenty of women who have the means.... just not the insurance. And there are many who don't have either.

The baskets were bountiful. I hurriedly put my name on …

TGIM

Thank God its M-tonight

It's Friday, and in a little while I'll be with MB.

It's literally been more than a year since I sat with my dear friend M and enjoyed time. We used to be neighbors and have stayed friends. I have special place in my heart for this woman. I respect her so much. She's everything I aspire to be: strong, beautiful, smart, with a great career and family as the focus of her life. Oh, and she is funny as hell!!!

Her house is gorgeous, a white picket fence and decorated with warm colors and flowers. (And some of my parents' old books - an old house, with old built-in bookshelves, needs good books with a fair amount of wear and tear). But it's not about what she has - or what she has built for herself - it's about who she is.

She manages all this on her own. Without dependence on a man. Whenever I contemplate the "what ifs" of the world, I can only HOPE I would be a fraction of the success she is if it were just me.

And tonight she…

The night before *my* Christmas

I LOVE having kids. I'm grateful that I've been able to be home with them for many years.

AND... I love that tomorrow they go back to school. 

I'm a bit nervous for my son starting the middle school. I'm a bit nervous for my daughter starting at a school with 3,000 students. (Especially all the 17 year old boys....)

But most of all, I'm nervous about the 5:45 wake up. It might not be enough time.

C is getting a ride to school from "one of the neighbor kids" (I know her, of course). I thought that C going via cars driven by teens was several years off. I'm getting nervous about that too.

Maybe I should be more nervous about the Middle School bus?

Best thing to do? Stick my head in the sand (or my softest pillow) and go to sleep. But first, I hope to see what Michelle O has to say first.

Best of luck to all you parents. I'm sure your kids will be fine (and so will mine)

The Knit is Right?

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The last few weeks have been overtaken by the kids. My escape: knitting and sleep. I've started so many projects that I am truly beginning to wonder if I have severe ADD, or if I am just extremely creative (but perhaps overly-ambitious)? In front of me I have I have yellow cotton yarn, blue and green variegated hand-dyed yarn (from the Finger Lakes) and several nearly-done projects. All this among papers with "red flag - must do" written all over them! I also have a red, silky ribbon-yarn for my sister. She visited "my store" (The Brass Lantern) and I told her to "pick any yarn" since she asked me to make her a scarf that will brighten dull, black dresses for work. I've started the scarf... and I'm not sure if I love it or want to rip it out (called "frogging" since you "rip it, rip it") or just keep at it and finish it so I can work on the next item on "the knit is right".

In addition, I've been knitting sma…

a few days and a few tanks

We spent way too much time away this summer. That's the verdict. This week, my husband is away again (for work). But I'm almost too busy to notice. We've had a house full of kids - but even more so - a CARLOAD of kids. I went through a tank of gas in less than 48 hours!
But in spite of my being sick of the Mazda, I'm having a blast. I love hearing them laugh.  Even with the constant reminder to turn down (or off) the inappropriate music (they want me to drive around blasting some really "heinous" stuff) I'm happy to be in their world. I wish that practice didn't trump day trips to the beach on days like today. But if four weeks of summer camp taught me one thing: I can go to the beach without them, but I prefer to be with them.
This time next week they'll be back in school. Back to school is a very different experience for the upper school parent than the elementary/intermediate school parent. I have to step back and let them step forward fighting…

YOLO, Ma! YOLO

It's times like these that I wish I had a parenting handbook. Is it too much to ask for guidance every once in a while? What would Gloria say??? How did she manage the four of us: my hippie brothers with their buddies gathering in the garage... my friend puking in our living room on New Years Eve and my sister's various boyfriends (Nicknamed things like "Biff" "The Priest" and "The Walrus")?

Despite being a parent for about fifteen years (and my own experiences as a kid), I still have so much I wish I knew. Here are a few questions:

How do I set realistic boundaries? I'd like something where my home is neither a maximum security prison and a 60's hippie love fest. My kids are good and have (so far) only made great choices. They do well and work hard in school. Can I trust them?What is fair punishment when kids do wrong? What is overdoing it? Am I too mean? Too easy? How can I get angry so quickly one day and not let things bother me as much…

Reminder

I read the obituaries in my hometown paper, online, every day or so. My family has lived in a small town for generations, so I tend to recognize names. My Dad stopped getting the paper about 10 years ago, and since then my sister and I check for his friends' names. I used to call him regularly to ask "didn't you work with this person?" Now he's older, with fewer friends left, so I only call every few weeks or so with bad news.

This morning I saw something really tragic - two people with the same last name had obituaries (I opened it because he worked with someone with the same last name, but it doesn't look like they are related). It turns out it was two brothers brothers who had died within a few days of each other after a car accident last week. One would have been starting his freshman year in high school. The other, beginning his senior year.

When I read such things, I realize that I am the most fortunate woman in the world. Two healthy, happy children. A…

A USPS pick-me-up

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I can't help it. I miss my kid. He's been away for 3 1/2 weeks this summer.... and, well, I miss him.

And my daughter is beyond being a teenager. She's a high schooler now and she clearly doesn't need me.

I'm disappointed that my new job isn't taking much time - the economy is bad so that I'm only working 1-2 days a week. A friend of mine e-mailed me today about her new job. It gives me hope that there is something great out there for me.

A one-day a week job wasn't my plan.

BUT something nice did happen to me today. I got a package in the mail. I'm in a yarn swap. I made something for a woman in Maryland and received a package today from a young woman in Louisiana. The max amount to spend is $20... but I fear she spent much more.

Here is a picture of my gift.

Four skeins of yarn, two bags - one of them hand-sewn (the black one in the foreground). Two sets of needles (never used any that big before), a book of patterns, a wine glass, which I'm …

New hope

I was at the High School very early this morning. The coaches and trainers were positive and helpful. Not sure if it was because the Trainer had a poster from my home town where he played baseball professionally, probably many years ago. We lamented the loss of the team and the downward economic spiral of Elmira.

I've been so apprehensive about the new year starting without a contract, (not to mention the fact that I didn't have my paperwork in by the deadline), that their friendly responses this morning came as a surprise.

Maybe the teachers have spent some time this summer, as I have, distancing themselves from the politics of the negotiations and enjoying a little family time and sunshine. Perhaps they've been reading nice books, enjoying a few beers with friends? Working on a tan?

As September approaches I am looking forward to my kids starting their new schools. I'm not sure how it is possible that I have a daughter who is almost 15 years old, since I'm far to…

Big questions get long-winded answers

A college friend of mine is sending her kids to public school for the first time - previously they either attended prestigious private schools or were home schooled. This is her question:

How do you feel about the argument that children don't need to be standardized, but rather nurtured in the best environment to bring out their individual strengths and then as they mature they may interact with the "real" world in a more authentic and empowered way? There are lots of articles coming out now about how single sex education is better for girls/women in every area of life b/c it allows them to be more creative and define leadership and intelligence in new ways...I feel the greatest WEAKNESS of our public education is the standardization...which includes treating every child and family as a cog in the wheel...if someone is just a number and has no real say over what they can think or do, why should they care? Maybe our public system needs to get radically creative and breakou…

Savvy in Somerville (an update from Sad)

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Just got back from Somerville. It was a little quiet at 11am - quiet enough for a film crew to manage shooting a commercial without much interference from the curious public (I'm not shy, I took pictures). I don't usually watch many commercials, as we DVR most shows, so I may miss an upcoming Heeley shoe ad, but if and when it runs, maybe you'll recognize Main Street?

Proud as a peacock after a fab cut from Ky (see previous post - but try this link for 75 West) I hope someone - anyone - notices I had my hair done. I see it... Ky gets my curly hair and I love the way it looks and feels!!!

After a primping, I returned to Discover Wines - and said I enjoyed the wine I had bought yesterday, but I couldn't remember what it was. No problem. He knew exactly what it was. And at about $10, I bought another bottle. He also picked out a red and white for tomorrow when I'm invited to a small barbecue. I didn't know what we will be eating, but he still found a good choice.…

Sad in Somerville

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One of my main gripes about Bridgewater is its lack of a downtown. I've adopted Somerville. Besides, it's closer than much of Bridgewater to our home. Among other places, I generally shop at The Hungry Hound, Discover Wine and Alexandra's Boutique. Today I had to run an errand at the Courier News and my daughter and a friend wanted to walk around Main St. They ended up eating at Alfonso's, supporting another local family business...

Unfortunately other Mom and Pops aren't going to be there anymore. Lloyd's European Market is holding a Going Out of Business Sale, but even at 50% off, I couldn't afford much beyond a pillow. Perhaps their target audience just resides in a different zip code? They are closing just a few months after changing their business plan to a more affordable model, but still it was a step beyond what I wanted to spend.

One of my favorite places for a bagel or an omelet no longer exists, Razzle Dazzle Cafe. It's sad to see so many pla…

In the news...

My friend Pam write this about The Brass Lantern. I was already so happy that she was willing to help me with input about the yarn, but when she told me she would blog about it too, I was thrilled.

I hope that this bring a little turnaround to the store's economic state.

Response to Dick's blog

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I was planning on posting a completely different blog today (that I wrote but will save for another day), but I read this on Dick Bergeron's Bridgewater Blog.

I was thinking about commenting, but I still wonder if my politicking hurts my kids. So, I'll post it here instead, where traffic mostly comes from family and friends. Here's what I thought about responding in the comments section:


In my humble opinion there are no winners here. Will a new contract restore good relations between the parties, or is this part of a wider national debate we see reflected on so many levels: California state universities cannot graduate students in 4 years because of funding. In DC and New York City we've seen battles over who should sit in the leader's chair - an educator or a fiscal manager (why not BOTH). And, of course, we've all watched Wisconsin. Here in New Jersey the suburban debate revolves around wanting top schools, but wanting lower taxes more.

Today BRHS schedules …

NIMSY headquarters

For years I've thought Bridgewater was the NIMBY headquarters of the world. (In case my dad reads this: NIMBY stands for "Not in My Backyard").

Sometimes I've been aligned with the groups declaring NIMBY, more often I've disagreed and felt that people were being too elitist. Here are recent issues you could argue were "NIMBY-ish" in no particular order:
The "Mosque" (and before that, the Indian temple)Various placement for Cell Phone towersSuggestions for turning "green spaces" into sports fields/dog walks, parks etc.Expansion of a fire station to add a meeting spacePlacement/movement of special programs in schools (ESL, AI, Special Ed)COAH housing proposals Not sure about NIMBY? My Central Jersey dot com blogger Dick Bergeron debates 18 Homes as a NIMBY-issue here. Well worth a read. 
Isn't it strange how we all see these items first how they would impact our lives, and how differently we see them when they don't? Take Green …