Tuesday, September 28, 2010


Did you know that you can go to My Kleenex Tissue and design your own tissue box?

For the low, low price of $4.99 each plus shipping.

Yes, I checked out their designs (you could make a "Happy Birthday" tissue box for someone!  What kind of message does that send?), and you can even upload your own pictures and art work (I blow my nose on you?).

But considering I buy my Kleenex in bulk, on sale, ideally with a coupon as well, I don't think this is coming to my house any time soon.

(OK, in their defense, you could cut out the bottom of the box and make it refillable.  But it seems like it should come that way for that price.)

Friday, September 24, 2010

Bad Sign

I think it's a bad sign that we've only had two weeks of school so far - and I'm already sick to death of getting up before the sun.

My oh so helpful husband pointed out that it's just equinox - so I have about 6 more months of darkness to look forward to.

Thanks, dear.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Parenting, For The Win?

Let me start with a disclaimer - the following post is not a whine, nor is it a "look at me, I'm such an awesome parent!"  I'm fully aware that there are many parents facing much more daunting issues, and I'm truly grateful that the problems I encounter with my children tend to be those of privileged suburbia.

That said, last night was one for the small moral victory column.

The scenario - Monday night.  As of this week, Monday includes a tuba lesson (5:25 to 6:10), and two one hour soccer practices at 6:30 and 7:00pm.  Quite doable, on an average Monday, albeit with a fair amount of driving and back and forth.  Dinner will not be a family affair, unless everybody wants to eat at 4:30 pm.  But it's only one night a week.  (There are other activities on other nights, but Monday is the big pile-up.)

This Monday, however, was not only the first soccer practice for the season for Rachel and William, but happened to be back-to-school night at the middle school.  I'm a big believer in back-to-school night.  Since I don't get to drop my children at the door of the classroom and get a little face time with the teacher anymore, this is my one big chance to meet their teachers.  Especially at the middle school and high school.  So...at least one parent will be going, at 7pm.

Enter the wrinkle - only one parent is home.  John had to fly out for business yesterday afternoon.  Now, as much as I've been telling the kids that I'd like my superpower to be the power to be in two places at once (with car, of course), it has yet to happen.

So, do you blow off the first practice of the season?  It's only in-town soccer, the kids probably wouldn't care much either way, it wouldn't be a big deal.  Except that we encourage our kids to participate in group sports to teach them responsibility to a team.

So I made the phone calls and emails and found the rides for the children, planned the low-cook dinner at home for everyone in stages (frozen pizza, but, hey, beats fast food!), got the equipment together and issued detailed instructions for who was going where and when.

And it worked.  I got to the middle school early enough to park decently close (as opposed to the off-site parking and shuttle bus!), all three kids were on time to all three activities, and everyone got fed an adequate dinner.  And they all got home and were safe and headed for bed by the time I came home (having a built in baby-sitter has been AWESOME).  And the homework even got done and instruments practiced.

I'd call that a win.  Sometimes it's the small victories that are sweet.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010


We have a large oak tree in our front yard.  It provides wonderful shade in the summer that makes a noticeable difference in the temperature inside the house, and I think it looks nice, too.


Autumn brings a challenge.  Autumn brings...acorns.  Lots of acorns.  Lots and LOTS of acorns (it's really quite amazing how many).  So many acorns that the yard and driveway under the tree go "crunch" with every step.  And if you are standing under the tree?

Watch out.

We have all been clonked by acorns, and my day is punctuated by the "thwack" of acorns hitting the car in the driveway (or the trailer, at the moment).  This year has been particularly dangerous, and there are times it almost sounds like rain, there are so many falling (a hard rain, get it?).

It doesn't quite reach the level of aggression of the Whomping Willow from Harry Potter, but it does sometimes feel as though the tree is deliberately pelting us.  It's a good thing it doesn't have better aim, but it's best not to linger underneath.

Or wear a helmet.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Not Like Any Other Day

September 11th has become an interesting day in our country.

It's not a holiday - while there are remembrances and ceremonies (much as Memorial Day has), there are no celebrations.  No cookouts and picnics and fireworks.

And yet it's not a regular day, either.  For my family, it usually coincides with the beginning of school, and all the resultant chaos that entails.  It usually seems that I spend the day alternating between thinking about the history of the day, and just doing the normal stuff.  And yet, when I do stop and think, it feels a little strange just being normal on this day.

I want to respect the memories of those who died.  Living so near to New York City, many of those people were my neighbors - I am lucky and perhaps unusual here that I didn't personally know anyone who was killed, but I have friends who lost loved ones.  Our small downtown has a memorial, and I know some of those names etched there.

I don't think I want September 11th to be a day off, a day of only remembrance.  We run the risk then of it gradually morphing into a holiday, and forgetting, as with Memorial Day, just why we have the day off and the mall is having a sale.  While I suppose that would mean that the terrorists haven't won (what could be more American than shopping?), it feels disrespectful.  People died that day, people who were innocent victims, people who were in the wrong place at the wrong time, and also people who knowingly ran into the burning building, or stormed the cockpit to crash the plane.  Is there any difference between them and the soldier that runs out into the line of fire to pull his buddy back?  They were all faiths and many nationalities, rich and poor, men and women. 

As a nation, we owe them a day not like any other day.  Their tragedy should remind us of what the United States is really about.  We may not agree with all the different ways people remember this day, but they died because we have the freedom to choose those different ways. 

And however you may choose to go about your business today, take a moment and remember that it is not just a regular day.  September 11th will never again be like any other day.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

New Adventures

A few weeks ago, in our end-of-summer countdown, we went with our church to a local amusement park.  By "local", I mean not 6 Flags, not an hour away, and not $60 each to get in.  By "with our church", I mean about 6 families from the church who met at the park and hung out with each other while the children rode and ate and otherwise competed to see who could reach nausea first.  (Actually, to the best of my knowledge, no one threw up or came very close.)

This is one of those smaller, older, slightly seedy looking places that probably did a good business before the larger parks went REALLY large-scale, and now eke out a living catering mostly to birthday parties and school groups.  (This one seems popular with Hasidic schools, last time we were there it was a boys school, this time, a girls school.  Makes for interesting people watching.)  Weeknights are usually pretty uncrowded so the kids can ride the same ride over and over if they want.

JC declined to go, as I recall, he was hanging out with a friend.  John was working late.  So it was Rachel, William and I.  Rachel's plan was to "be the big kid" and help ride with younger kids so parents didn't have to (yay Rachel!).  William's plan was to slide down the big slide (on the burlap bags).  And that was it.  "I don't like rides, they make my tummy feel funny."  This has been the case for a couple of years now, so I didn't really expect much.


One of the little girls, when we got there, was riding the "Drop Zone" over and over (and over) again. She's about 3.  William watched her for a bit, and then I think he decided that if this little peanut of a girl could do it, maybe he could to.
He's in the center seat.

It was like the floodgates opened.  He rode more than half the rides, including most of the ones that make me sick, and especially the roller coaster.

This one was mellow.  Peanut is in front of him.

You can just see the top of her head.  William was the Big Kid on this one, she was too short to drive.

This one makes ME feel really sick.  He rode it about 5 times in a row.  Or more.  Rachel's on the left side of the back row, William is on the far right of the same row.

Don't ask me what changed, but he was a maniac.  It was like he finally conquered the fear and all that was left was fun.  I was happy for him, and also glad he's grown up some.

Best part?  He was tall enough to go on every single ride by himself.  I didn't have to go on any.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

The Storm Before the Calm

Yes, I'm still here, still blogging.  The last few weeks of summer ended up being a little crazy, with camping and day trips and band camp and the unexpected death of a friend (that one was hard).  A little break was in order.

So it has felt somewhat stormy here, with bursts of activity and long lulls and some wild gusts too.  But tomorrow is the first day of school, and while the kids' activities will start up again in earnest, and there will much juggling to get it all done, it will be organized juggling.

Tomorrow is only a half day, but there will be more than 3 hours where no one else is home, and no one else needs me for anything.  I can't wait.  I have a coffee date with a friend I haven't seen in ages, and not too much that HAS to be done while they're at school.  After all these years of having kids in school, I'm finally learning not to overschedule the first week!  I need a little time to relax too, you know.

And to impose a little routine on our days?  That's a fine thing.  In three months, when I'm sick of getting up before the sun, you can remind me I said that, but right now it sounds great.