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What I Have to Deal With*

*Yes, I know, that should read “With What I Have to Deal,” but I’m taking poetic license here because it just sounds too snooty the proper way and I’m going to be writing a snooty post as it is.

First, though, I’d like to ask why, given my love of baking and my fondness for my religion, no one has bought me one of these tzizit baking pans (it’s even nonstick!):
Bake Pan
C’mon, people! Get your game on!

Now, to the heart of the matter. As amazingly hard as it is for me to believe, in about two months, my Doodlebug is done with elementary school. Not really sure how that happened, but apparently it is so and there is nothing I can do about it.

We are considering–just considering, mind you–the idea of private school for middle school. Our town’s middle school is a fine school, and if it were Pie who were finishing elementary school, I’d have no qualms sending her there. But Doodles is a quirkier kid who needs different things than what our middle school may be able to provide. He’s asked a number of times over the years to be homeschooled, and while I’m not willing to go that route, I’m open to seeing what our other options are. He’s the driving force behind this and will have a large say in whatever is decided.

The process, however, is all me. Researching the schools, making the boy study for the tests, getting him to those tests, touring the schools, arranging for his visits, getting him to those visits, filling out applications, sending in fees, giving teacher recommendation forms to fill out, having transcripts sent. It’s not a quick process, but to be honest, it’s a lot more time consuming than I had originally thought it would be. So in the morning, when the boy has trouble getting up, and his father says, “You know you’re going to have to be up and out the door about an hour earlier if you’re in a private school,” and the boy responds, “That’s not going to be my problem,” I can be excused from smacking him in the head a couple of times.

His father, though, is not much better. This morning the two of us went to look at a school that is a significant commute away. However the classes are small; the math is differentiated so the boy could be exactly where he should be; they study Latin, which is something high on the boy’s list; they have a 40 book challenge to read 40 books a year in eight different genres; they have a campus on a gorgeous setting in the woods; terrific technology; and class sizes of no more than 15.

Adam and I got into the car to drive back home. “So,” he said. “What did you think?”

“I think there’s a lot to like there, but we’d have to weigh the commute against the advantages of other schools.”

Adam nodded.

“What did you think?” I asked him.

He hesitated a moment, and then he said, “Yeah, it looks good. But…”

“But what?” I asked.

“Did you notice,” he said, “that they were all drinking Dunkin Donuts coffee? I mean all of them! I can’t help but judge that.”

Getting to what’s really important. That man should be the poster child for Starbucks. Meanwhile, I’m not letting coffee selection dictate my child’s educational future. Coffee is a value that should be taught at home, anyway, and not in the schools. And I’m pretty sure I’m not inviting Adam along for the next school tour.

What’s Goin’ On*

*You must be humming Marvin Gaye while reading that, please.

Tell me what’s going on
I’ll tell you ya, what’s going on

My to-do list is a mile long, and while I’ve accomplished a lot, none of it has actually been on my list, so my new to-do on my to-do list is to add all the non-listed to-dos I’ve done just so that they can be crossed out. Only I can create more to-dos merely by doing to-dos. Did that make sense? How much wood could a woodchuck chuck if a woodchuck could chuck wood? Exactly.

The first order of business is I need to acknowledge the events of the past Saturday. Three momentous things happened on March 29. The first, in 1917, the magnificent Thoroughbred Man o’War was born. The second occurred in 1940, when my father, just as magnificent, but not quite so thoroughbred, was also born. The third happened two days ago, on this March 29, when my newest niece, hence forth to be known as Lalune, was born (brother-in-law, do you need me to explain that to you?). I’m sure you too, Lalune, will be magnificent.

The next order of business is to express my love for my town. Our town is run by a Town Meeting (and Selectmen), and my town meeting representative sent out the list of warrants up for consideration. Nothing gives me more pride than reading all of the important things my town is up to. This, my friends, is Article 42 (which means you can imagine how spellbinding the first 41 are!):

ARTICLE 42 APPROPRIATION/RESTORATION OF UNCLE SAM TO TOWN STATIONERY
To see if the Town will vote to restore the phrase “Birthplace of Uncle Sam” on all applicable
town stationery, to appropriate funds not to exceed $500.00 for this purpose, to be implemented as
current supplies are exhausted; or take any action related thereto.

Personally I’m much more fascinated by this than I am of the consideration of rezoning for medical marijuana dispensaries.

Next, let’s turn to my son. Oh, my charming son. First off, my son has an e-mail account. We gave it to him in third grade after he had proven he could touch type. Note, the girl is now in third grade, but she refuses to learn to touch type, so she is e-mail-less. This causes many fights and tears. Learn to freakin’ type, girl!

Anyway the condition of the e-mail account is that I get to see every e-mail sent. It’s a Gmail account, so all e-mail is forwarded to me as well as appears in his account. I have the right, on demand, to see any outgoing e-mail I would like. So far things have been going well, and he’s proven to be responsible with his e-mail account.

Recently he’s decided he wants to build a web site with a friend. Adam set up a domain for him. The boy was testing out the e-mail (an info@ address that is forwarded to his Gmail account), but they weren’t getting through to him. They were coming to me, though. In one of them he wrote, “YOLO.” He was at the computer in the front room and I was on my laptop in the kitchen, so I yelled to him, “Do you even know what YOLO means?”

If eye rolling had a sound, he made it. “No, Mom! No one knows what YOLO means.”

“Huh, that’s funny,” I said. “Because I do.” I educated my son on YOLO [you only live once]. Do I get thanks? No. What I get is:

Boy: I can’t figure out how to make the e-mail work.
Me: Well, what seems to be the problem?
Boy: I’ll just wait for Dad.
Me: Why don’t you explain to me what the problem is?
Boy: Mom, it’s okay. We can wait for Dad.
Me: I had a computer before your father was born! [Perhaps a slight exaggeration?] What the freak is wrong?
Boy: I think we should wait for Dad.
Me: AAAAARRRRRRGGGGG! I can fix this too, you disrespectful dolt! [Or something to that effect.]
Boy: Okay, okay! I’m sending e-mails but they’re not going through.
I fuddle a moment with his computer.
Me: Do you think it’s because you’re sending and receiving at the same account?
Boy: I’m not! It’s the Web site and Gmail.
Me: Yes, but they both end up in Gmail.
Boy: Huh, maybe.

And that’s when my boy screwed himself.

Boy: Yeah, Mom, you were right! That was the problem.

I looked in my e-mail. And there is was. An e-mail forwarded to my boy. From my boy. FROM A SECRET E-MAIL ACCOUNT! I checked with Adam. It was unauthorized. And now I am ALL OVER that boy’s computer. Secret e-mail accounts MY ASS! He just guaranteed I monitor his every computer move from now until he’s fifty.

And to end this all, my dear friend Lady Chardonnay directed me to this fabulous site of Classic Children’s Books Retold for Adults. And so I leave you with a heartfelt tale from Frog and Toad.
frog

Ta ta.

It Was 50 Years Ago Today…

No, Sergeant Pepper didn’t teach the band to play. That was twenty years ago. Fifty years ago, another act made its debut. You don’t know which one? Don’t worry, neither did my kids, and it’s a heck of a lot more relevant to their lives. When asked what happened fifty years ago today, Doodles said, “World War II? Your birthday?” Pie didn’t do much better with “Um, it’s probably not Earth Day. Was it the Boston Tea Party?” Thank you, public school system.

But back to fifty years ago. Fifty years ago today, my mother went to her class at Tulane with her hair in curlers, which was strictly against the rules. She got sent to the dean’s office. The dean told her curlers in class were not allowed. “Yes,” she said, “but I’m getting married tonight.” The dean let her get away with it but warned her not to do it again.

The wedding, originally planned for June, was put together in a week when they realized they could take advantage of Tulane’s spring break for a honeymoon (and don’t think that the June planning was all that long–they had only met the previous December). The wedding happened so fast, my father’s father couldn’t get off of work to attend. My mom’s mom bought the only white dress she could find, a size 12 cocktail dress, which she altered down to my mom’s size.

And against all the odds, they are still together. Not WWII (although a few moments could possibly be described that way–hey, Tweeds, remember 4th of July fireworks on the Beach? Yeah, me neither.). Not the Tea Party. Definitely not Earth Day. It’s the day that made all this (hands spread wide toward my own family) possible.

A very public happy 50th anniversary to my parents. Let’s celebrate this summer in Europe somewhere.
peter and carol wedding

Little Einsteins

The holiday of Purim just passed and one of the traditions is the giving of mishloach manot, which are baskets of food, traditionally hamantaschen cookies and other yummy things. I’d like to tell you I’m not sitting here working my way through the cookies and candy, but you wouldn’t believe me anyway, so what’s the point.

Last night we had a “Wine and Smell” party at the house. Pie and a buddy (I’m going to call her Monet) are doing a project for the school science fair. They recruited six friends and gave each of them a T-shirt. The kids (including Monet and Pie) slept in the T-shirt for five days and then they all came to our house so that each mom could sniff the shirts and see if she could tell which one belonged to her daughter. So they all came over last night. Juice boxes for the kids. Wine for the moms. Hamantschen for everyone.

And the little scientists went to work. Sort of. Three moms sniffed shirts. And then I heard Pie say to Monet, “Let’s go par-tay with the other kids downstairs!” as they clomped down to the playroom.

“Um, excuse me?” I yelled. “Don’t you need to finish your experiment?”

Deep sigh. “Oh, okay.”

Back to work. “We’re interviewing people after they smell,” Monet said. Sounds good. I heard Pie interview one mom: “So are you confident in your choice?” When my turn came, Monet asked, “Do you think that you were involved influenced your ability to pick the right shirt?” Why, no, I said. And I waited for the next question. “No, that’s it,” Monet said. To both of them, I asked, “But aren’t you going to ask everyone the same questions? How are you going to get statistically significant results if we all have different questions?” To which they looked at me and said, “Huh?”

It was all very scientific. And while I don’t want to give away any results before the science fair, I will say that, no, I could not pick out my own child. But that’s only because we were smelling shirts. Had it been socks, I could have picked Pie out at 10 paces. Stinnnnkkkky!

The Joys of Children

Pie is having a problem with her butt. Excuse, not her butt. Your butt. Your anus, to be precise.

“It’s pronounced Yur-uh-ness!” she screeches from across the house.

Whatever. Planets were chosen while we were on vacation, so Pie was assigned hers. Yur-uh-ness. Models must be made. The ring of Yur-uh-ness isn’t staying up well (in deference to the abilities of the sculptor and the limitations of Model Magic, Yur-uh-ness‘s eleven rings got mushed into one), and we apparently are a house full of ten year olds.

Uranus. Hee hee.

The girl deserves it, though. She’s become a mouthy little thing. In the car, I said to Pie and Doodles, “No bickering, you guys! This is a bicker-free zone,” to which she instantly shot back, “I don’t see a sign.” We’re entering the tween years folks. For the teen years, I’ll be renting her out as birth control.

And the boy? He thinks if he steals cookies but leaves one in the package, no one will notice. Hey, Butch Cassidy. We’re on to your tricks.

The boy just had his first experience of school sex-ed. What’d he learn? “Oh, hormones and crap. Oh and we’re supposed shower. And use deodorant. Every day!” Gasp! The expectations! Not that he’s following orders.

Mouthy and smelly. Five more and I’ll have a full set of dwarves.

Coming Home

We arrived at Newark at 4:20 a.m., after I sat in a middle-middle seat, between my two children for twelve hours. Pie had her head on one leg, the Boy has his on the other, and my butt was numb for about a good four hours while they snoozed. The rest of the time they watched TV and kept me running to the back of the plane for snacks for them. It worked out, though. One snack for them, two for me.

We arrived home at 8:30 this morning. Adam showered and went to work. Pie decided to go to school. Doodles wanted to stay home so he finished up his homework and practiced his viola.

And me? I accidentally opened the emergency gummy bears.

Note to Adam: We need more emergency gummy bears.

Re-entry is hard.

You Reap What You Sow

Our schedule has been whirlwind, and I’ve barely been able to keep up with my journal, never mind the blog. We went from Tel Aviv to the Dead Sea and Masada, headed to the north, visited Sfat and the Golan Heights, and today we drove to Jerusalem via Haifa and the West Bank.

I will post pictures when we return, but today was quite a long travel. While the grown ups visited the planned Palestinian town of Riwadi, the kids went goat herding. Pie has had a bit of trouble with car sickness, and I’ve tried to help, offering Cokes, sea sickness bands, and suggesting that she move to the front of the bus and not look at devices (this was nixed as the kids all sat in the back, peering over the shoulder of the one kid who brought an iPad). Goat herding was apparently fun–”The goats escaped and we had to go catch them all!”–and I found our tour of Riwadi to be fascinating.

However: The drive was long and the roads were quite windy. It didn’t help that I tried keeping my eyes peeled to get a decent photo of this sign when it appeared:

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“This road leads to Area A under the Palestinian Authority. The entrance for Israeli citizens is forbidden, dangerous to your lives, and against Israeli law.”

I got car sick. Majorly car sick. But do I get sympathy? When we finally made it to our hotel, I laid down and closed my eyes for a moment. When I woke, I found this note next to me:

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For those who can’t make it out:

Dear Mom,
We all are getting sick on this trip but you just have to “suck it up.” You shouldn’t of made it our family modo [sic] if you couldn’t handle it. I hope you feel better soon.
Love your very caring daughter, Pie Pie

So this is me. Sucking it up. And, luckily, we’re done with long bus rides.

Ess, Bubelah, Ess!

 

The way I see it, as a tourist, the biggest problem with Israel is that there are only three meals in a day. I know when most people think of food, they think Italy or France. But out of all the countries to which we’ve been, hands down Israel is my favorite eating, and it has the food I most often try to replicate at home. The fruits and veggies are so fresh (and they are only available in season here); the breads are scrumptious; the sauces are tantalizing.

On our first night here, we met up with cousins. The kids, despite the language barrier, hit it off immediately. Ignoring age, the kids paired up by gender: 8-year-old Pie with her 11-year-old cousin and 10-year-old Doodles with his 8-year-old cousin. Apparently there is one thing that can cross all age and language barriers and Pie and Girl Cousin found it: Rainbow Loom (although in all fairness, Girl Cousin’s English is quite good). Doodles and Boy Cousin played chess and ran and discovered they both know all the words to “What Does the Fox Say?” (joy for the rest of us). Fast bonding for the two of them, and both kids are eager to see their newfound Israeli cousins tomorrow.

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Giggling cousins

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Rainbow loom: maker of friends

That first night with the cousins, we went for pizza in their neighborhood. Pizza, right? It was amazing. The mom was disappointed that Boy Cousin wanted such a boring pizza, but we were fascinated. We’d never eaten pizza with corn on it, but it was delicious. Turns out it’s a super common topping here, probably like mushrooms for us. They also put sauces on their pizza when they get them, either a hot sauce of a tomato sauce.

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Pizza with corn

At almost every hotel in Israel, breakfast is included. The spread of Israeli breakfasts are fabulous, and I have to remind myself that there will be two other meals in the day. Israeli salad, vegetables, fruit, fish, bread, eggs, cheese, so much food (but never, mind you, meats, because all the hotels are kosher and you cannot mix milk and meat at a meal). Even my food adverse son is able to eat, as yogurt and, yes, puddings, are always available for breakfast.

What I eat:

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Bread, fruit, Greek salad, fish, avocado egg salad

What the boy eats:

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Egg, bread, chocolate and vanilla pudding

And then just on the streets and in the markets, where the piles of fresh food and pastries tempt you at every stall.

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Spices in the Carmel Shuk

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Pastries in the Carmel Shuk

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A bread and egg concoction that both children ate while seeing Old Jaffa

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Pomegranates in the Port Shuk

On about every third corner is a fresh juice stand, where they have just about every kind of fruit and veggie possible. I swear, before I leave, I’m going to have a kohlrabi juice. The woman at the stand said it’s quite good.

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A just-moment’s-ago squeezed grapefruit juice

And finally, tonight, the kids weren’t hungry for dinner, so I took the opportunity to indulge in my beloved eggplant, which no one else likes. I had heard of a dish called Sabich, and I was determined to try it. The stall was about a mile from the hotel (ha, Duchess! Even in my quest for food, I’m wracking up the steps!), and it was worth every step. I. Love. This. Food. The pita is incredibly soft. And inside it is fried eggplant, potato, hardboiled egg, hummus, tahini, veggies, and spicy mango sauce. The guy who made it was super friendly, and made sure to make it spicy for me.

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Sabich

I’m already plotting how to ditch the family again and go back for another sabich before we leave Tel Aviv. Now I’m full and exhausted. I’m going to go to bed and dream of sabich.

Shalom!

Okay, so this picture doesn’t really tell you where we are.

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But this sign should give you a hint:

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Because in a country of Jews, you have a country of Jewish mothers. Although, as Doodles said, if it really wanted to be a Jewish mother, it’d tell us to put on some sunscreen.

להתךאות

Where in the World Are Doodles and Pie?

Okay, I won’t keep you in suspense. They’re in Newark airport, where they spent five minutes doing homework before switching to iPods to watch movies.

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We are waiting for our “secure gate” to open. That should give you a hint. And, no, we’re not headed to Sochi.

I have been walking the terminal from end to end in order to bank steps, as I’ve had a nice FitBit lead on the Duchess all week and I want to end on a high note, as I’ll have a very low step count tomorrow. We get on the plane in about an hour and land at 4:20 pm tomorrow, so unless I pace the plane all night, she’s going to take the lead. (And I’m not above pacing the plane all night.)

By the way, what is up with Newark trying to mislead guests into thinking this is New York? Big “Welcome to New York” signs. Lots of “I Heart NY” gear in the stores. If I were traveling from abroad, expecting to step out into New York, I’d be pretty pissed.

And we’ve now hit the point where the kids are about to fall asleep in the airport, meaning they’ll be up all night on the plane. Good times!

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Okay, see you guys on the other side.