Actual Conversations at Our House

April 9th, 2015 § 4 comments § permalink

Boy is doing his English (ELA) project at the last minute:
Boy: Can you look at my ELA project?
Me: Adam, you do it. He doesn’t like what I have to say.
Adam: Looks super.
Boy: Thanks.
Adam: Why can’t your mom look at this?
Boy: Because she told me it looks half-assed.
Me: Well someone has to tell you the truth.
Boy: I have such a loving, caring, supportive mom, who will always say nice things to me.
Me: As if.

We put girl to bed. Recently the girl expressed surprise that women get their periods once a month.
Me: We need to read It’s Perfectly Normal. I think there are some concepts you’re unclear on.
Girl: No! I don’t want to read it before bed!
Me: Okay, we can do it after school tomorrow.
Girl: Nooooooo! It’s sooooo boring!
Me: But you need to learn about puberty.
Girl: I know about it!
Me: I think you’re rusty.
Girl: No, I’m not.
Me: What does the body do when a girl gets her period?
Girl: I don’t want to talk about it! I don’t want to know about puberty! Why do I need to know?
Me: Because it’s going to happen to you.
Girl: It’s so boring!
Me: When you get your period, your uterus sheds its lining and—
Girl: STOP! You’re making my butt hurt.
Me: Fine. We can talk about it another day. Go to sleep so Daddy and I can watch House of Cards.
Girl: Why do you ALWAYS have to watch House of Cards! This is the fifth night in a row!
Me: We like it.
Girl: But it’s the FIFTH night! Why? Why can’t you not watch it?
Me: Why is this upsetting you so much?
Girl (becoming very anxious): BECAUSE IT’S THE FIFTH NIGHT!
Boy: Look, would you rather have parents who watch House of Cards or parents who smoke meth?
Girl: I JUST DON’T UNDERSTAND!

Status of things in the house? Boy’s project is half-assed. Girl knows nothing about puberty. Adam and I are going to watch House of Cards.

Here Comes the Flower Girl

April 5th, 2015 § 2 comments § permalink

The torch has been passed. I have entered a new phase of my life. Apparently, I can now go to a family event and not be the drunkest one in the room. In fact, not only was I not the drunkest in the room, I was downright sober, watching the millennials have fun at the open bar at my first cousin’s wedding. At the morning-after brunch, my son went around telling folks that for $2 to $20, he’d tell them what they did the night before (the amount correlated to how drunk the person had been). My cousin, the groom, offered him $5 to not tell him what he did. I will say that the boy collected a decent amount of money before I realized what he was doing and I made him return it. Somehow, extortion at a family wedding didn’t feel right. In my family, extortion is reserved for the holidays.

The wedding weekend was not just lovely, but a bit surprising. At the cocktail hour before the rehearsal dinner, my notoriously “I hate all people” son asked if he could go sit by himself on the couches in a more secluded part of the balcony. I told him he could–I was proud he could recognize when he’d had enough and needed some alone time–so off he went, Shirley Temple in hand. But then, when we sat at the table, older couple came up to me and said, “Is that your son? He is absolutely wonderful! We had the most delightful conversation with him. Such a wonderful boy,” and the boy looked at me with a big grin, nodding his head. When they left, I asked, “Who were they talking about?”

“Me,” the boy said.

“How is that possible?”

He shrugged. “I sat on the couch. They came out and sat down next to me and started talking. I had to talk back.”

Progress, people! Progress!

And then what turned out even more surprising is that 1) my boy has some serious dance floor moves, 2) those millennial women can’t get enough of him, and 3) he totally didn’t mind one bit.

My girl was the flower girl and she reveled in it, to the point where, when I took her to hang with the (14!!) bridesmaids to get her hair and make-up done, she finally turned to me after about an hour and said, “Mom. You can go. NOW!” as she pushed me out the door. I’m sure it had nothing to do with the spread of food and candy she was hoping to get her hands on.

I decided to have my make-up professionally done. As someone who never wears make-up, the whole thing frightens me a bit, so when the opportunity presented itself, I took it. A woman spent a good while doing up my face (and it wasn’t cheap to have done), and the girl and I agreed that I looked pretty good. The boy begged to differ. “Wow, Mom,” he said with horror in his voice. “Your face looks weird!” The kid knows how to make a woman feel confident.

The wedding itself was lovely. My cousin’s then-fiancé seemed determined to marry into this family, despite my many warnings. And then, foolishly, no matter how I pleaded with her not to, she decided to change her name (does the world really need another Brown in it? That name has been a curse all my life), so she is now one of the Dr. Browns of Dr. and Dr. Brown. At least if we have a medical emergency we’ve just doubled the chance that a family member can solve it.

Oddly enough, my Houston born-and-bred cousin met his now-wife at school in Atlanta, yet she’s from Miami. And it turns out that her grandmother married the father of one of my high school friends (who is the sister of the Tweedle Twirp’s BFF), so not only was this a family wedding, but a mini-Beach High reunion, guaranteeing everyone had someone with whom to talk. Adam had my father. I had my high school friend. Tweeds had her high school friend. The girl had 14 bridesmaids. And apparently, so did the boy. A beautiful time was had by all. Even if I was sober.

The Delusions of a Middle Schooler

March 27th, 2015 § 2 comments § permalink

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

March 11th, 2015 § Comments Off on Israel im Yeled Gadol § permalink

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

March 9th, 2015 § 1 comment § permalink

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

March 6th, 2015 § Comments Off on Skidding to Israel § permalink

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

March 5th, 2015 § 1 comment § permalink

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

March 2nd, 2015 § Comments Off on A Tale of Two Blogs § permalink

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

February 14th, 2015 § Comments Off on Conversations That Will Horrify the Grandparents § permalink

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!

February 12th, 2015 § 1 comment § permalink

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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  • Who I Am

    I read, I write, I occasionally look to make sure my kids aren't playing with matches.

    My novel, "Modern Girls" will be coming out from NAL in the spring of 2016.

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