10:30 AM

My Top 10 of 2008

Better late then never, right?

1. My kids made it through another year in one piece. I must say, I am impressed with them both. They are two of the happiest, funniest, sweetest kids ever, if I do say so myself. I am also excited to report that Emily, on two separate occasions, demonstrated that she has not inherited my pitiful sense of direction.

2. I read 17 books. Not my personal best, but I will take it.

3. I visited the fabulous city of Seattle to go to the most wonderful wedding. I went alone. No kids. I took leisurely showers, drank wine, faced my fear of public speaking, and stayed up all night having the most wonderful time with the most wonderful friend. Oh the independence!!!

4. I discovered boots. Where have you been all my life?

5. I got an awesome job. There is no commute and it is extremely rewarding. Plus, I get to stay home with my kids. And it has benefits. Wow.

6. We celebrated our 7 year wedding anniversary. Despite working from home together all day every day, we still manage to have new things to talk about. And laugh about. And, it appears as though he still thinks I am hot. So hot, in fact, that he can't refrain from grabbing my ass multiple times per day.

7. I didn't get pregnant! With all the ass grabbing going on around here, I think this is worth mentioning.

8. I started writing regularly again. It is good for me.

9. I started playing the guitar again. I practice nearly every day. And, I actually played guitar with someone else when I went to visit my sister at college for her 21st birthday. I believe this is commonly referred to as a "jam session". Yeah, a jam session definitely makes the top 10 list.

10. The Phillies won the World Series. Let's get one thing clear, I am not a real sports fan. However, when a Philly team makes it to the playoffs, people are a lot nicer around here. Strangers are actually polite to one another. It is odd, but reassuringly remeniscent of another time and place. Fortunately, it looks like the Eagles are inciting this odd phenomenon once again.

8:28 PM

I think I may be afraid of imaginary heights.

I am writing to discuss a rather odd phenomenon. A couple of years ago, Romy took Emily and I to see "Annie" at the Academy of Music. Beautiful venue, really wonderful show. We all LOVED it. We had great seats, a couple of rows back from the balcony. When I think back to this particular day of fun, I always get a very nervous feeling and make a note to myself that I should never take my kids anywhere near a high balcony. When I was on the actual balcony with Emily, I was not nervous about it, but if I imagine the balcony, I get very afraid.

Exhibit 2: Kristy takes me to see baseball games sometimes. I always have an awesome time. Every time I go, I think to myself "We should bring the kids to a game some time. That would be so fun for them. They would be fine here." Oddly, every time I consider actually taking them to a baseball game, I decide that it would be way to scary to have them there. When I am in the high stadium seats, I am not nervous about it, but when I imagine the high stadium seats, I get very afraid.

Exhibit 3: The kids got to go on their first hike this year. Turns out, they are excellent little hikers. Emily, in particular, is excellent at "climbing mountains". I think she may be part goat. While we were there, everything felt safe. I am sure you know where this is going: Now I am very afraid! So, what's up with that? I am afraid of imaginary heights, but not actual ones. I don't get it.

11:27 AM

My Writer's Workshop Assignment

I finally got my act together and came up with a post for this week's prompt, courtesy of :

If I could live in any era of history, what would it be -- list 10 reasons why.

This is an easy one. I would definitely live in the colonial days. Here's why:

1. Being a part of this experiment called America would be inspiring.

2. The founders of our country had so much foresight and we so very smart. I would love to meet them.

3. I would spark the women's movement early.

4. I would appreciate my current luxurious lifestyle far more if I had to beat my rugs, handwash my clothes, and tend to a fire for a while.

5. I could see the city of Philadelphia in its prime...as the commercial, creative, and social hub if the country.

6. I could wear those beautiful dresses with corsets that puffed out at the waist. That would be fun for a while.

7. A little bit of extra "padding" was favored in those days. I would welcome the opportunity to take pride in my curves.

8. I could go to a ball.

9. I could make those cool candles out of real beeswax and use a loom to weave stuff.

10. I would have never stepped foot inside a WalMart.

6:40 PM

Pumpkins, Candy, and all that Jazz

I am way late on the obligatory Halloween post. We have had an extremely nice couple of weeks, including two Apple Picking excursions and a trip to the Pumpkin Patch. We also watched the city of Philadelphia celebrate their first World Series victory in a quarter of a century, saw Emily participate in her first Halloween Parade, and then later collected and ate a bunch of candy. What could be better than that?

Apple Picking excursion #1: Went with my Dad and Sue. Picked 20 lbs. of apples. I made one pie and the kids gobbled up the rest, which necessitated another trip to the orchard.

Apple picking excursion #2: With Jill. Didn't pick quite as many apples, but had just as much fun.

Pumpkin Patch: A couple of years ago, we went to this pumpkin patch that charged admission. ADMISSION. $7 a head. To look at pumpkins. What the hell is this world coming to? We vowed to never go to that Ridiculously Pricy Pumpkin Patch again. We lied. We got free "wristbands" for said pumpkin patch, so we took a nice trip there on a very windy October morning. So there, I finally beat you, Pricy Pumpkin Patch.

Emily's first Halloween Parade: I remember how excited I was to walk in the annual Halloween parade at my elementary school. Walking around the school wearing your costume is a huge deal for a kid, and is apparently a big deal for me as a mom, as I got all teary over it. Yep, I got teary over my kid walking around a parking lot. Here is Emily giving her Daddy a high-five as she walked by.

She later thanked him for initiating the high-five. She said it made her feel really cool in front of her friends. That made me teary too. The next 20 years may be a little hard on me.

I would also like you to note the gold medal around her neck. This was my ONLY contribution to her costume. Everything else she put together on her own. I thought a medal would be a nice extra touch and really tie the whole costume together, so one night after she went to bed I made it for her as a surprise.

As it would turn out, this medal did not fit in with her overall "vision" of the costume. Maybe she was making a statement that everyone is a winner, maybe it didn't go with the color scheme she had going; whatever the reason, she wasn't into it AT ALL. She flat out told me that she didn't want to wear it. It didn't "go" with her costume. Like I said, the next 20 years might be a little hard on me.

I squelched the urge to insist that she wear it or try to guilt her into it. Instead, I just asked her a couple of times a day over the next few days if she had changed her mind about the gold medal. Every time she said no. On Halloween, I told her that I would put it in her school bag just in case she changed her mind. She was pretty sure she wouldn't change her mind. Whatever.

So, I get to the parade and there she is with the medal on. Awww.

While at the parade, Ethan insisted on having me chase him around the school lawn while we waited for the procession. He also insisted that I call him Alvin for the entire day. "I not Eshan, I ALVIN!" So all day it was, "Alvin, please stop jumping off the couch", "Alvin, the eggs stay in the refrigerator", "Alvin, chipmunks don't draw on their faces!". That Alvin is a mischevious little fella. But he sure is cute.

Next up on the agenda: Trick or Treating. This was fairly uneventful, if you call everyone you know handing out free candy, staying up past your bedtime, and being allowed to eat a bunch of junk without hearing your mom nag uneventful.
Overall, it was a memorable October. Stay tuned for some more fun adventures and some pret-ty big Emily news.

7:39 PM

The Women's Monthly

My dearest friend and fellow concerned citizen, Megan, and I have decided to start a blog about things that matter to women. It is called...brace yourself: The Women's Monthly. Catchy, isn't it!?

Megan and I have known each other for our entire lives. We often see things from different perspectives. She lives on the West Coast, I live on the East. She is a newlywed, I am an old married lady. I have kids, and she does not get interrupted every time she pees by relentless knocking. Oh, who am I kidding, I don't even bother closing the door when I pee anymore.

Anyway, please check it out. It is our goal to tackle important issues. Issues that all women care about. We want to start a dialogue and maybe, just maybe, make a difference. Here is an exerpt from today's post:

One of the most pressing issues on my radar is education. As a mother, it concerns me. As an educator, it concerns me. As a taxpayer, it concerns me. Education is the key. I know that is cliche, but it is absolutely true. The best way to help someone is to provide them with an opportunity, and we are fortunate enough to live in a country where the opportunity of education is a right. It actually hurts my heart that this opportunity, this right, is often taken for granted.

I remember working with a high school student a few years ago. He was 18 years old and in the 10th grade. He was so truant that if he missed one more day, just ONE MORE DAY, of school, he would go to jail. Not get fined. Not get community service. Not got to Juvie. He would get cold hard time in actual jail. Pretty high stakes.

Now, I barely knew this student, I didn't know him at all compared to the other students in the small classes at the alternative school. Now, finally, here he was, and he wasn't going anywhere unless he wanted a one-way ticket to the slammer. I wanted to know what made this kid tick. What the heck was so bad about school that he never wanted to come?

So, I asked him. "What's your deal, Truancy Boy? Why don't you ever come to school?" I didn't actually call him Truancy Boy, of course, but I felt the need to protect his identity in this forum. I was shocked by his response. He replied, "You just don't get it, do you? School is pointless. I am going to end up just like my parents. Losers."

Wow. He was right. I didn't get it. I didn't get how nobody had ever told him that he could be somebody. I didn't get that he felt so hopeless. I didn't get it that every message that was ever sent to him was that he was destined for loser-dom. This kid had no spark left. He actually, truly thought that he would end up living in a dirty trailer drinking cheap canned beer for the rest of his life. Nobody had ever bothered to tell him any different. So, so sad. There is nothing worse than cheap canned beer.

This was one of the turning points of my career as an educator. From this point forward, I wanted to "get it". And more than that...I wanted my students to "get it". I wanted to transform them from apathetic victims to successful, contributing members of society. Truancy Boy let it slip that he was interested in computers, and by the time he graduated from high school, he had also earned his A+ certification. He was no longer a Truancy Boy...he was now a Tech Guy. I would venture to guess that he moved himself straight out of that trailer and only drinks bottled microbrews.

So, that is the true story of one student who did not fall through the cracks. But what about all of the other students? What can we do to reach them? How can we prevent our children from feeling this apathetic? We need to raise the bar. We need to expect more from ourselves (especially if we are parents), expect more from our schools, and expect more from our children.

So, where do we go from here? How do we expect more out of our citizens when they aren't expecting much from themselves? How do we break the cycle? Where do we start?

If you read all that, thanks! If this maybe sparked a thought, a perspective, an idea...please share. Head over to The Women's Monthly and leave us a comment. Otherwise, Megan and I will just be replying to one another, and I am pretty sure we already do that fairly regularly via telephone.

The Women's Monthly

6:49 PM

I missed Wordful Wednesday...

but I had to share this picture. I found it while snooping on my sister's Facebook page. I just love it, even though it is clearly staged. My sister doesn't usually drive really fast past cornfields with a lighter in her mouth. At least I hope not. You don't, right Naomi? Anyway, I think it kind of captures a youthful recklessness that I once enjoyed. Actually I never really enjoyed recklessness...I was always a little paranoid. I appreciate others' ability to enjoy youthful recklessness. Except of course my own children. For them, recklessness is forbiden. They haven't gotten that memo yet apparently because I was just called up to their room to fix the piece of furniture that somebody tipped over while attempting to climb. Either that or it was a ploy to get me to tuck them in one more time. And get them new books. And cold, cold water as cold as the arctic. Let's hope it was staged. Just like this photo.

6:45 PM

A couple of Days Late and at Least a dollar short

My suer late homework courtesy of

This week's assignment: Write about a time you hid from someone, or a time you disguised who you really were. My response:

So remember my beautiful friend Megan? (You just saw her bachelorette picture in Wendesday's post.) We have known one another since I was born and she was two, so we have had countless adventures together. Countless. One such adventure took place circa 1993 in Philadelphia, PA. Megan's mother lived in this City of Brotherly Love and we decided to take a road trip via Greyhound to visit.

From the minute we boarded the bus, Megan and I assumed alternate personalities. We were now advocates for the National Beef and Poultry Association" and we were conducting research. Our main research question: When individuals are making a burger, do they prefer to "slap up their own patties" or "buy them pre-slapped"? As you can surmise, this was very impotant research. Very.

In order to gather data to answer this important question, we interviewed folks, clipboards in hand. I was in charge of the video camera, and Megan was on-air talent. The response was very interesting. Some respondents commented on "What a cool job" we had. Some folks would utter "This is ridiculous" and then proceed to answer the question with great sincerity and conviction. Others would offer culinary advice "well it depends...if I am making Turkey Burgers, I always add an egg". Regardless, we reached a conclusion: the majority of individuals interviewed during this groundbreaking survey prefer to "slap up their own patties".

As an adult looking back, I have to wonder what these respondents were thinking. Did they really believe that we were representatives for the National Beef and Poultry Association? Is there a National Beef and Poultry Association? Were they just humoring us? What on earth were these people thinking when approached by two awkward pre-teens asking about their meat preferences?

So, that's my story. A time in my life when I pretended to be someone I am not.