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The Delusions of a Middle Schooler

Boy: If self-driving cars become legal before I’m 16, will you buy me one?

Me: No. 

Boy: What if all human drivers become illegal?

Me: No. 

Boy: But how will I get around?

Me: You’ll take the self-driving bus. 

Boy: But you would have bought me a car when I learned how to drive.

Me: What?! 

Adam: This is where you make the woo-woo noise to signify this is a dream sequence because the boy is clearly not in reality. 

Me: You are NOT getting a car from us! What on earth made you think you’d get a car?

Boy: Well I just figured you would buy me one because when I learned to ride a bike, you bought me a bike. 

Israel im Yeled Gadol

My father gets up and dressed before I’m out of bed. I look at him. Blue and white checked button-up shirt, buttoned all the way to the neck, a black t-shirt peeking out. Long pants. He’s ready for a day at the office. 

Only today we’re hiking in the desert. 

I made him at least put a light color t-shirt on underneath (“But my gray t-shirt is dirty.” “So? We’re hiking in the desert!”)

And then:   

Peter: Don’t let me forget! I need to take my hearing aids out at the Dead Sea.

 Me: Okay. (Pause) You do know of course you absolutely, very importantly don’t get your head wet?!

Peter: You don’t? 

Me: No! Of course not!

Peter: It’s a sea. You don’t just go swimming and get your head wet? 

Me: No! It’s too dangerous. Did you read up on this trip at all? 

Peter: Yeah, but it’s a sea. What’s to read? You swim. 

 Me: Don’t swallow the water, either.

Peter: Okay, okay. (Two minutes later) So what’s Ein Gedi?

Sigh. I gave Peter my guide book. 



Israel sans Yeledim

We’ve reached that point in the trip where I’m not hungry for breakfast, but how can you not eat breakfast here? It’s. Just. So. Good. 

Peter and I spent hours at the Museum of the Jewish people (not a single “I’m bored” from either of us), visited the Palmach Museum (no one got scared), and walked all over (neither of us uttered, “Are we there yet?”). 

You know what’s in my purse? My wallet. A camera. Notebook. You know what’s not in my purse? Kindles. Half a melted chocolate bar. A Bamba wrapper. That rock that just looks so cool and some leaves that will be perfect for an art project back home. My bag is light and not sticky and easy to carry. 

Sigh. I miss my babies.

We are off momentarily to explore (on foot) Rothschild Boulevard, the Haganah Museum, and the Carmel shuk. Maybe at the shuk, I’ll buy a chocolate bar and let it partially melt in my purse. You know. Just because. 

Lehitriot!

Skidding to Israel

Some people like to thank God when they get to Israel. I need to thank my husband. Not for rearranging his schedule to deal with child care (I was gone approximately four hours when Adam had to leave work to pick the boy up from school because he had a fever). But because I literally (yes, literally) wouldn’t have been here without his expert travel advice (he should work for a travel company!).

My plan was to take a 12:20 p.m. JetBlue flight to JFK, where I’d meet up with my dad (whom I shall once again call “Peter,” as his name is Peter; unlike my sister, the Tweedle Twirp, Peter has nothing to hide). We’d have plenty of time before our 6:45 p.m. El Al flight to Tel Aviv. Except the night before New York was getting some major storm warnings. So I did the only reasonable thing: I started to panic.

I spent most of the Purim Megillah reading frantically refreshing weather.gov to see if the forecast had changed. I didn’t like its forecast so I surfed to other weather sites to see if I liked their forecasts any better. I didn’t. Either 2 to 4 or 3 to 5 inches of snow predicted, but with ice and wind.

The next morning, the forecast changed to 4 to 7 inches. Panic increased. But when I checked the JetBlue site, flights were fine. “It looks okay,” I said to Adam.

“There’s a 10:40 flight. Get to the airport early and see if you can get on it,” Adam said.

That set my panic off again. “But I don’t have time! Do you think I need to? What do I do if I don’t make it?”

Adam checked Amtrak for me. “All the Acelas have been cancelled. But you can still take a regional if you miss your flight.” Which would be cutting it pretty close. “You could rent a car at Logan and drive to JFK.” The flaw in that plan is that if the weather was too bad for airplanes, it would be too bad for me. Remember, I don’t drive in the white stuff.

I ate breakfast as fast as I could, hoped I didn’t forget anything (I did; my bathing suit), and I flew out the door two hours early. I was at the airport by 9:30 a.m. The 10:40 plane ended up being full, but as I was second on the standby list, I got a seat (and even one of those “roomier seats” you’re supposed to pay extra to have).

You know what’s fun about JetBlue? Those in-seat airplanes. Where you can watch CNN. As you fly to JFK. In a snow storm. As they air live coverage of a plane at LaGuardia that skidded off the runway.

And they tell you interesting facts. Like: do you know how they determine whether a runway is safe for landing? First, they go out and look at it. Second, they send trucks out on it to see if the skid. Very reassuring. 

 But I made it to JFK with serious hours to spare. I had lunch at an airport diner. Answered e-mail. Enjoyed a beer. Started a new book. And the El Al flight left about an hour late at 7:45 p.m. 

 And that 12:20 p.m. JetBlue flight I was going to take from Boston? Well it left Logan at 8:57 p.m. and arrived at 11:01 p.m., about when I was over Nova Scotia, enjoying a glass of Israeli Cabernet Sauvignon. 

 All hail my travel guru. Onwards to Israeli adventures.

Travel Companion

I’m off on another adventure, this time  a parent-child trip, just the two of us, to Israel. So far my travel companion has stressed about his seat (we changed it), forgot to take things out of his pocket at security (he had to get two pat downs), and came proudly to show me his calculator, which read, “755,” and asked, “Do you know what that is?”

No, I don’t know. (Do you?)  Smugly he told me, “It’s the number of steps from where we are having snacks to our gate.” He calculated it out. 

I guess I should expect this stuff when I’m traveling with the boy. 

Only I’m not traveling with the boy. I’m the child here as I’m traveling with my dad. Whose resemblance to the boy becomes clearer every day.

Lehitriot!

[edited: My father wants to make it clear he was calculating steps because he needs to hit 10,000 on his FitBit and  he wanted to find out how many he needed to get before we board. Now I’ve told you. And I don’t think this helps his case at all. He also denied “smugly” but I stand by it.]

How many airlines offer Hamantaschen? I’m guessing just one.

A Tale of Two Blogs

I’m struggling with this idea of having two blogs. I know it’s a bad idea—everyone tells you not to do it (and after six years of owning a Mac, I JUST learned how to make an em dash. Excitement!). However, I’ve been told I need to have a social media presence as an author (please say that word with a slightly drawn-out, British accent), and I was able to obtain the domain jennifersbrown.com, which is the name I’ll be writing under. This domain, the jennyandadam.com, is a leftover from our wedding almost 13 years ago. Not quite the professional demeanor I’m hoping to portray.

Also, I’m pretty sure I don’t want those who find my blog through my writing (I know, I know! Cart before the horse. Blah blah blah) to be able to look back on all the toddlerhood escapades of Doodle Boy and Sweetie Pie (remember when those were their names, rather than Doodles, Pie, or just the boy and the girl?), and more importantly, all my bourbon- and gummy bear–fueled parenting (I can make an en dash, too!).

On the flip side, I assume most people come here for my snarky take on my life, and don’t care at all about my writing research, my genealogy research, my writing life, my reading life, etc. So I keep that separate blog. Occasionally, though, the question comes, what do I blog about on which blog?

I think what I’ve decided is (and I may change my mind; I do that often) if it’s snarky and family related, it’s here. All else will be there. Two blogs may not last long, but I shall see where this whole writing thing takes me (could be a fad, you know. I’ve only been doing it for thirty years, so it may not last).

What this boils down to is, if you’re looking for all the details about our recent family trip to Cuba, head on over to the other blog at www.jennifersbrown.com for all the (not terribly salacious) details. The trip was fascinating and I don’t have much snark to impart about it.

I will say that the quote of the trip does go to my boy. “Can we not go away anymore?” he asked.

“We don’t have to. I had hoped to go to New York in the spring, but we can skip it,” I told him.

“New York is okay,” he said. “American cities are okay. I just don’t want to go to another country.”

“How come?”

“Because we go to another country and it’s all history, wars, and art. I’m just tired of it.”

That’s what happens when you disconnect a middle schooler from the Internet for an entire week. To see what else happens in Cuba, hop on over to the other blog.

Back with more snark as it happens.

Conversations That Will Horrify the Grandparents

Me: My first check will be coming in soon for my novel. We have to start planning my tattoo.
Boy: No! Your next tattoo is supposed to be our matching tattoos when I’m 18! Our matching dragons!
Me: We’ll do that. But I always said if my novel got published I’d get another tattoo.
Boy: Well then tell them not to publish it for seven years.
Me: Are you crazy? Are you telling me you’re not going to get any other tattoos?
Boy: I’ll get other tattoos. But after we get our matching dragon tattoos.

Can’t wait for him to go to college and tell folks that his cool dragon tattoo across his chest matches the one on his mommy. He’s going to be a real lady killer, folks.

Truck You, Snow!

People here go stupid crazy over Truck Day and not only do I find that annoying, but I find it more annoying that when people say “Truck Day,” I know what it is. In fact, not only do I know what it is, but I know where those stupid trucks are going. (Truck Day is the day when the trucks are packed with the Red Sox *equipment* [Yes, the equipment. Not even the team] to head down to Ft. Myers for spring training. The only thing more exciting [not to me, thank you very much] is the day that pitchers and catchers report, which is February 20 AND WHY DO I KNOW THIS, PEOPLE? That is valuable brain space that could be spent on so many more important things, like how does Bruce Jenner feel about the fact that he is no longer referred to as “Olympian Bruce Jenner” but as “Reality TV Star Bruce Jenner”?)

Even my own husband, when I complained about my Facebook feed being taken over by Truck Day texted me, “I was just about to post on FB ‘TRUCK DAY!!!'” According to Adam, “It’s like the New England version of Groundhog Day, [but] the answer is always ‘It’s almost spring!'”

Bostonians are morons. Including the ones to whom I’m related. Or maybe especially the ones to whom I’m related.

I know I’ve been MIA, but I’m happy to report, I’m done with my manuscript revisions so I am now free to write again. It’s hard to write while I’m writing. But now that I’m not writing, I can write. So here I am.

As I imagine everyone knows, we’re going a little snow-crazy here in Eastern Massachusetts, and I’m going even more stir-crazy because on top of the six snow days we had in a three-week period, I got a bonus two days stuck inside as Pie had a nasty virus. Luckily, she’ll get in one day of school before the one-week February vacation during which another blizzard is coming. Fun, fun. (I’m ignoring the darkening skies that are occurring right now, and the flakes that seem to be fluttering from the sky.) The whole thing would be enough to drive a person to the bourbon cabinet, but I have it on good authority (hi, Peter!) that I have a cousin on the Left Coast (hi, SB!) who reads this blog and fears for the well being of my liver and my sobriety. I would like to assure Cousin SB that both are well intact, and in fact, I have embraced “clean living.” Since January 1, I’ve had only a couple of drinks and–gasp!–no gummy bears. And, I will say, that there is a distinct possibility that I talk about bourbon more than I actually have the opportunity to drink it. That is not the case for gummy bears. When I talk about eating gummy bears it is because I am actually eating gummy bears. Mmmmm, gummy bears.

I’m a little ramble-y today. Sorry about that. That’s what happens when you’re as cooped up as I am. (Coops. Chickens. Chickens go peep peep. Suddenly I crave Peeps. Where was I?) Seriously, the snow is horrific. I wanted an award for taking the compost out, but no one in my family acknowledge my great feat of environmental do-gooding. Heck, I wanted an award for finding the compost bins.

There are two compost bins in this photo. Can you spot them?

There are two compost bins in this photo. Can you spot them?

But we’ve had some fun. There’s been saucering with the boy (“Climbing back up the hill is soooo hard!”) and snowshoeing with the girl (“This is too tiring!”). There’s been excessive computer and iPad time while I yell from upstairs, “I said BE QUIET! I need to finish my revisions!” There’s been a few days of slow-simmered red beans and rice and soup bubbling on the stove. And now I’m done. I’m ready for this stupid winter to be over. Which is good. Because we’re only expecting, over the course of the next four days, 12 or more inches of snow. And on that note, I will type the final “All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy” into my manuscript and send it off to my editor, and I’ll leave you with images from the snowy northeast.

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When Jews Get Excited for Christmas

On the way to the airport for our annual New Year’s trip to my home:

Me: We can start tracking Santa!
Adam: Oh boy.
Me: There he goes! He’s over Japan now. Hey there are two trackers.
Boy: Duh.
Me: I didn’t know. Both Google and Microsoft had to get in on the action. I can get an app! How do I get the app?
Adam: Why the hell do you want the app?
Me: Duh. To follow Santa. Hey, look! You can order a certificate from Santa.
Girl: Really? That’s cool!
Me: It’s really too bad we don’t believe in Santa. We’d be awesome Christians. Well, maybe not Christians. More like Santaists.
Girl: Where is Santa now?
Me: Headed to South Korea. Do you think he’ll skip North Korea? Maybe somebody hacked Santa so he skips North Korea.
Adam: You know, that really calls for some silent contemplation.

Note: checking out the apps, some are a little creepy. One promises: “This app allows you to follow Santa’s every move at any minute from anywhere (not just on Christmas Eve.)” Given that Adam doesn’t like it when I IM him about his children’s pooping habits, I have a hunch he’d really not like me texting him about Santa’s.

After much debate, I did download the free NORAD version. Adam said, “If I knew that that would keep you so busy on car rides, I’d have suggested it ages ago.”

Merry Christmas to all you SantaistS and all others observing tonight’s holiday. We will raise a stone crab claw in your honor. (Another idea I had that was shot down: I suggested we buy at the airport Legal Seafood live lobster and bring it home to pit it against a South Florida stone crab to see who dominated. Adam didn’t even acknowledge that one. Probably because he knows the New England shellfish are WEAK! Go crabs!) (And if anyone cares, at this moment, Santa is in Mongolia.)

TMI*

*Too Much Information. In other words, this post is not for the faint of heart. If this is you, move along.

 

 

(Still here? Okay.)
Yesterday morning, the boy picked up a piece of mail from my gynecologist that was sitting on the counter. “What’s this?” he asked.

“It says my lady parts are good,” I told him.

He opened the paper. “What’s a pap smear?”

“It’s a test women get to make sure everything is doing okay down there,” I said.

“How do they do it?” he asked.

“Well,” I said, thinking about how one explains a pap smear. “The doctor takes this thing called a ‘speculum’ and she puts it inside the woman’s vaginal canal and she cranks it open.” I make eh-eh-eh cranking noises here. “And then she sticks a long Q-tip inside of me to reach my cervix so she can take a tissue sample to make sure there’s no cervical cancer.”

“A speculum?” he asked.

“I bet we can find a picture online,” I said, and in a few minutes, the boy and I were engrossed in an article from The Atlantic called “Why No One Can Design a Better Speculum.” We only got through the first page because we had to leave for school but the first page really gave all the info we needed.

Also yesterday morning. The girl is, um, backed up. I fed her an Ex Lax and sent her to school. When I picked her up today, there wasn’t much movement. So of course I told Adam. Because wouldn’t a father want to know about that stuff?

Me: Pie still hasn’t pooped.
Me: Oh, wait! She might be pooping. Not sure.
Adam: We have the best IM conversations.
Me: Listen. I can have IM conversations with someone else, if you don’t like it. I’m sure the Duchess would be fascinated to know about your daughter’s bowel movements.
Adam: \o/
Me: If the boy can handle speculums, you can handle poop!

Oddly, I didn’t hear from him again. Whatever.

And if anyone wants to I.M. about poop–or speculums–just give me a buzz.