Friday, January 30, 2009



"I like it when you two talk nicely to each other"

"Why can't you stop argueing?"


"If you can't say something nice, don't say anything at all."

"You are getting along for a change!"


Things my children say to my husband and I at night when we are getting ready for dinner.

I'll take "From the Mouths of Babes" for $500, Alex

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Rules of Engagement

According to Bill Gates:

Rule 1: Life is not fair - get used to it.

Rule 2: The world won't care about your self-esteem. The world will expect you to accomplish something BEFORE you feel good about yourself.

Rule 3: You will NOT make $60,000 a year right out of high school. You won't be a vice-president with a car phone until you earn both.

Rule 4: If you think your teacher is tough, wait till you get a boss.

Rule 5: Flipping burgers is not beneath your dignity. Your Grandparents had a different word for burger flipping: they called it opportunity.

Rule 6: If you mess up,it's not your parents' fault, so don't whine about your mistakes, learn from them.

Rule 7:
Before you were born, your parents weren't as boring as they are now. They got that way from paying your bills, cleaning your clothes and listening to you talk about how cool you thought you were. So before you save the rain forest from the parasites of your parent's generation, try delousing the closet in your own room.

Rule 8: Your school may have done away with winners and losers, but life HAS NOT. In some schools, they have abolished failing grades and they'll give you as MANY TIMES as you want to get the right answer. This doesn't bear the slightest resemblance to ANYTHING in real life.

Rule 9: Life is not divided into semesters. You don't get summers off and very few employers are interested in helping you FIND YOURSELF. Do that on your own time. (I need to interject here... This rule is not entirely true. If you become a teacher, you still get those vacations and summers, thank you very much!)

Rule 10:
Television is NOT real life. In real life people actually have to leave the coffee shop and go to jobs.

Rule 11: Be nice to nerds. Chances are you'll end up working for one.

I have posted this in my classroom. It is about time someone told these kids the way things really are. I am sick of them thinking they deserve life handed to them on a platter.

Life is hard, you wanna win, play harder.
Seriously, I say this at least 14 times a day. It is a chair. A standard issue el-cheapo office chair. I have it in my classroom. Why is it that kids (read 7th and 8th graders, otherwise known as 2-legged hormones) just like to sit on this chair and SPIN? ...over and over. Why is it that when I ask them to stop, they can't for more than like 12 seconds? I mean, these kids have all been to amusement parks. The school I teach in is not that far from Great Adventure (Six Flags)? They go on all these super flipping roller coaster rides. They have been to Dorney Park, Hershey Park, Disney, all kinds of places. What is so frigging fascinating about a spinning office chair?

Don't even get me started on the hydraulics! OMG, the fact that there is a lever that can make the chair height lower.... they are all like, "Pimp my chair, baby!" Yeah, the newest MTV show, let's pimp out a standard issue office chair? Pre-teens are amazing. Their poor parents must spend a fortune on all the appropriate video games and ipods and cell phones.

Here is a tip, moms and dads.... go to Office Depot and get them the $79 special in mustard yellow. It will keep them amused foreva!

I hope I remember this when my girls turn 12?

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Sneaky Joy

I got a SNOW DAY! I got a SNOW DAY! (Yes, I am singing)

Littlest munchkin went to daycare with daddy at 9:00 and I played good mommy and drove the big one to school after her 2 hour delay. Now I have a day to myself, just me, the snuggle dogs quietly (or not) snoring and farting at my feet, and a big ass cup of coffee. Here I sit, still in my pajamas. (Thank goodness drop off at school did not require me to get out of the car, although I would have just put shoes on with my pajamas, who am I kidding?)playing on the computer.

Today is one of those days I so LOVE MY JOB!

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Now back to our regularly scheduled programing....

Yes, my friends, the slacker mom returns.

I cam home from school yesterday, put on pajamas, and got in bed to spend some quality time with the DVR and my dogs. Both girls, after a busy weekend and not feeling so well, were content to play in their rooms. We had frozen chicken nuggets & macaroni & cheese for dinner. I had a donut in lieu of said dinner, and then.. nothing. Played on the computer a bit, Erin did homework, Haley not so sure where she was? Bedtime came and went and I accomplished gloriously NADA last night.

Yes, life is good.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Going to Hell in a (Designer) Handbag... I hope it's Gucci?

It is the Apocalypse. Or Armageddon. Or perhaps hell is freezing over? (It is pretty damn cold out there today.) Things have just been, well, WRONG lately. On so may different fronts.

Let's start in the kitchen.

Last week I cooked dinner.

4 times.

I shit you not.

I know, I know, I checked, I did not have a fever nor was my body invaded by aliens or something. I don't know what came over me? I went to the grocery store on Sunday (best time to go is during the middle of the Eagles game when you live in South Jersey. VACANT!) and got fixings for several real meals. I roasted a chicken. I made a roast beef. Mashed potatoes. No frozen ready mades AT ALL! I didn't serve leftovers ONCE! Strange....hmmmm, well at least it was then Friday.

It didn't stop there. Next, I baked cookies. Ok, ok, they were the Pillsbury break apart ones you just put on a sheet and pop in the oven, but still.. I had to preheat, and watch the timer and cool and everything. And I made 4 different kinds and didn't burn any. The fact that I even had them in the house is a frigging miracle. Oh, and I added cinnamon sprinkles to the plain sugar cookies. Who doesn't love a snickerdoodle, after all? Then I baked brownies. Two batches. Ira was going away with the guys for the weekend, so I thought it would be nice to give them a big container of baked goods. Hello, who am I?

See, I told you it was weird?

Now, the oddities continue. While said husband was away, I was alone with the children for 3 days. And I didn't really mind it. I even enjoyed it. I arranged play dates. I picked up from birthday parties. We went to the movies. I know, I had a little help.. but she did put a hole in the wall... so that has to balance out a little. And I never once lost my cool. I even ACCOMPLISHED THINGS while my husband was away. That has never happened before. The house stayed neat and orderly (except for that hole I mentioned earlier and that one spot that I think was dog vomit that no one is owning up to.) Laundry, dishes, all done, dogs, fish and guinea pig all fed on a regular basis. My children both lived through the weekend. I didn't yell at them. Much. and I cooked again on Monday. It was even a holiday (Love that MLK) and I could have gotten away with take out.

The pattern of domestic tranquility continues. And no, I am not competing for Mother of the Year. I lost out on that last week when Haley fell out of my bed and hit her eye on my nightstand and got a HUGE BRUISE and proceeded to tell her teacher I hit her.

But I digress.

So, we are on to week two. I cooked again. Twice. In 3 days. One night we had cereal and leftovers from the 1st night. Girls' choice. Last night I didn't yell at the kids even once, and I gave them ice cream for dessert. They didn't ask or beg or need to be bribed to eat a good dinner or leave me alone. (Although they did all that and it was rather pleasant) We were just 3 happy girls home alone together. Daddy didn't get home until well after they were both in bed, and when he arrived, there I was, dishes done, house cleaned up, watching TV and working at my desk. The picture of Domestic Bliss.


Dishes were done? Laundry was done? Kids were in bed? I was pleasant after all that? There was a Plate of Dinner for him in the fridge. Chicken. Rice (2 kinds, because the girls each wanted something else. I am so kind) and Broccoli. Yeah, I am that good. I was not medicated. or drinking.

Something is happening to me.

Something is very wrong.

I think I am growing up. or nesting. or something.

WTF? How did that happen?

Now, as if all this isn't enough to prove that Doomsday is near...

Look at this.

I am going away this weekend with my girlfriends. We are going to Ocean City for this Scrapbook Dork Retreat (I prefer to view it as a spiritual retreat. If L. Ron Hubbard could start Scientology, then I am starting Scrapentology) Of all my girlfriends, I am always the last one to pack. We leave Friday morning at 9:00 a.m. so I am expected to start packing around 10:00 Thursday night. or later.

Well, folks, I am JUST ABOUT PACKED! My pictures were printed and organized on Monday night. Tuesday I gathered sketches, layout ideas and papers. Wednesday night I put papers and pictures together, added some other things to each pack, gathered tools and such. Tonight, I just have to put it all in a bag. My clothes and stuff are already in the suitcase, sitting on my bathtub just waiting for my toothbrush after I get dressed tomorrow. I am so READY!

Domestic AND organized. I don't get it. People LIVE like this?

Something is seriously WRONG here?

I even have written a note for my husband of things that he needs to do over the weekend. Hebrew school, birthday parties, things for the dogs...

Why am I so prepared? Organized? Domestic? It is as if Betty Crocker and Martha Stewart have taken over my body. Together. I even tried to go home and immediately put on my pajamas to see if it would help cease this nonsense yesterday. Nope, turns out I was equally as productive in flannel pants as I am fully dressed. Even more so because I was able to put the clothes I wore in the wash. Seems I thwarted my plan simply by trying to thwart my productivity. How's that for cutting off your nose to spite your face?

Next week I am turning over a new leaf. I will not cook. Not one night all week. I will not plan ahead. I will return to my unorganized ways.

I think I can, I think I can, I think I can...

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Me and Barrack

We have a new president in our country. It is a remarkable day. Regardless of who I cast my vote for this past November, I will respect President Obama; it is demanded by the position he now holds.

Today, reading through the assorted blogs I follow, I came across a letter written by Barrack Obama to his children. I have never been in the position of being served by a president that holds office while having young children. The Obama children are 10 and 7 while my girls are 8 and 5; our families, while so very different, have this in common. You can probably hear the same sisterly fights, the same music, the same cries of "Mom! where are my shoes!" in each of our houses. Ok... maybe not exactly the same, but you get the idea.

Then I read his letter to his two girls.

Dear Malia and Sasha,

I know that you've both had a lot of fun these last two years on the campaign trail, going to picnics and parades and state fairs, eating all sorts of junk food your mother and I probably shouldn't have let you have.
But I also know that it hasn't always been easy for you and Mom, and that as excited as you both are about that new puppy, it doesn't make up for all the time we've been apart. I know how much I've missed these past two years, and today I want to tell you a little more about why I decided to take our family on this journey.

When I was a young man, I thought life was all about me-about how I'd make my way in the world, become successful, and get the things I want.

But then the two of you came into my world with all your curiosity and mischief and those smiles that never fail to fill my heart and light up my day. And suddenly, all my big plans for myself didn't seem so important anymore.

I soon found that the greatest joy in my life was the joy I saw in yours.
And I realized that my own life wouldn't count for much unless I was able to ensure that you had every opportunity for happiness and fulfillment in yours. In the end, girls, that's why I ran for President: because of what I want for you and for every child in this nation.

I want all our children to go to schools worthy of their potential--schools that challenge them, inspire them, and instill in them a sense of wonder about the world around them.

I want them to have the chance to go to college--even if their parents aren't rich.

And I want them to get good jobs: jobs that pay well and give them benefits like health care, jobs that let them spend time with their own kids and retire with dignity.

I want us to push the boundaries of discovery so that you'll live to see new technologies and inventions that improve our lives and make our planet cleaner and safer. And I want us to push our own human boundaries to reach beyond the divides of race and region, gender and religion that keep us from seeing the best in each other.

Sometimes we have to send our young men and women into war and other dangerous situations to protect our country-but when we do, I want to make sure that it is only for a very good reason, that we try our best to settle our differences with others peacefully, and that we do everything possible to keep our servicemen and women safe. And I want every child to understand that the blessings these brave Americans fight for are not free-that with the great privilege of being a citizen of this nation comes great responsibility.

That was the lesson your grandmother tried to teach me when I was your age, reading me the opening lines of the Declaration of Independence and telling me about the men and women who marched for equality because they believed those words put to paper two centuries ago should mean something.

She helped me understand that America is great not because it is perfect but because it can always be made better--and that the unfinished work of perfecting our union falls to each of us. It's a charge we pass on to our children, coming closer with each new generation to what we know America should be.

I hope both of you will take up that work, righting the wrongs that you see and working to give others the chances you've had. Not just because you have an obligation to give something back to this country that has given our family so much-although you do have that obligation.
But because you have an obligation to yourself.
Because it is only when you hitch your wagon to something larger than yourself that you will realize your true potential.

These are the things I want for you--to grow up in a world with no limits on your dreams and no achievements beyond your reach, and to grow into compassionate, committed women who will help build that world. And I want every child to have the same chances to learn and dream and grow and thrive that you girls have. That's why I've taken our family on this great adventure.

I am so proud of both of you. I love you more than you can ever know. And I am grateful every day for your patience, poise, grace, and humor as we prepare to start our new life together in the White House.

Love, Dad

I am not naive enough to believe everything I hear. I know that there are several things people in high places put out there to gain our trust, our valued opinions; our votes. But as a parent, as a parent of two little girls just like me... I don't know, I may kind of like this guy. I hope that this letter to his girls came from his heart, and not his publicist. If it did, I think I could really like him.

May the next four years be all he promises us it could be.

Good luck, Mr. President.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Why I don't pay my Nanny

See, hubs went away for the weekend. Of course, it is a 3 day weekend, kids being out of school Monday, and I am certain that I will most definitely strangle my eldest child and her sassy fresh mouth if left alone unsupervised with her for 3 days. So I do what any sane, self-surviving mommy would do. I call for reinforcement. My almost (2 months and like 7 days, we calculated) 15 year old niece to the rescue.... Dun-dun-da-da! Super-Sammy!
She is my rock. Old enough that she can stay up late and watch lousy movies with me, young enough that she has unending patience. She and I have always had that special Aunt-niece relationship. Don't know why, just have. She is happy to get away from her own brother and sister, I am so appreciative of the basically grown up company. Win-Win, ya know?

So, Saturday comes, Sam arrives, the world is good. The kids both have friends over to play, so Sam gets some time to just chill. When the friends go home, Me, Samantha, Erin and Haley go out for dinner and a movie and ice cream. Great night. Everyone goes to bed, not problem.

The morning comes, and Sammy, being the true gem that she is, gets up and makes my kids breakfast. Not the cold cereal and frozen waffle that they are used to either, mind you. I am talking a nice, hot cheesy omelet, toast, the whole nine yards. The kid practically set the table with fine china and a rose, I am telling you. Not only that, but she DID THE DISHES!!!! I mean, hello, can I bottle her? My husband doesn't even do that?

Yeah, all good so far, I am snoozing in bed, keeping my lazy self warm, listening to the antics as big cousin plays with the little ones. The sound of laughing and chasing in the air. Life is good.

Then there is the sound.

You know the sound.

It is The Sound of Something Very Bad Happening.

It is not a good sound.

The sound is followed by Erin and Haley running up the stairs at full force yelling "Mommy, mommy, come quick, Sammy fell and put a Hole in the wall!"

Um, is she ok?
Yeah, we think so.
Oh. Ok. I will be down in a minute.

Now Samantha, you see, is a bit clumsy. Ok, a lot clumsy. We are all used to this. You will notice after "The Very Bad Sound" I didn't go rushing. I was not doing the mother-run to see what was wrong. It wouldn't be the first time this kid has fallen and hurt herself. or something.

About a minute later when the girls came back upstairs, running. out of breath. smiling. like their father would have been. They said, "We have to call the ambulance, Sammy can't walk!" Ok, now I was at least curious. I got up, brushed my teeth and came down to this.

Don't move Sam! I say. Aunt Michelle is here to help! Poor kid thinks I am going to get her ice or something. Maybe some ace bandage to wrap it in, at least some Tylenol for the pain, right? Nope. No such luck. No Florence Nightengale am I. I come back with my camera and say "Everyone look at me!"

This is so totally a blogable moment. and maybe a scrapbook page too?

The best part is this. I text Ira a picture of the hole and label it "Sam's handy work". He spent the rest of the afternoon skiing wondering how the hell she could have put her knee through a 4 inch section of wall between two rooms going down a step. Only Sam could have managed that. I don't think she is even certain how it happened.

Yeah. This is so why I don't pay the hired help.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Childhood Memory Broken to Smithereens....A.K.A Conversation with my Mother.

Growing up, my grandparents taught me all about the birds and the trees. I said trees, get your head out of the gutter, you pervert. They loved nature. As we would drive down the road, or sit at the table and look out the window, they taught me the name of different trees we saw, the kinds of birds in our region as well as their habits. I don't remember much of it now, but one thing I do remember fondly is the Robins.

Each spring, it was a family tradition, a race, a competition if you will.

Who will see the FIRST ROBIN in the spring. Which one of us would have the joy, no, the HONOR of reporting to the others, "I saw a ROBIN today!" This sighting was truly the miracle of spring. Groundhog-Schmoundhog. It was all about the Robin.

This is one of those memories of childhood that is true and strong. It is something I know I remember, not a story that I have heard so often I think I remember. I recall being out playing, with friends, riding a bike, walking home from school... searching the trees and skies....looking...hoping...would I be the one to spot it.

Spotting the first Robin of the spring to return from it's southern winter vacation is something I hold dear to my heart as a childhood tradition.

I have taught my children how important this is and we search each spring for this fabled bird together. Carrying on the custom my grandfather and grandmother taught me. Linking the generations.

Conversation with my mother. This morning. In January. When there is snow on the ground.

Nancy: You know how we always looked for the First Robin of Spring?
Me: Yeah?
Nancy: Well, I just found out Robins DON'T GO SOUTH! They go to the forest! And they are all eating the stuff in my bird feeder!
Me: Oh.
Nancy: Those DAMN Robins are not in the South, they are all in my backyard!

So, yeah, all the Robins have not flown south. The Robins are hanging out in South Jersey in an over 55 community. In a couple of trees. In my mom's backyard. Eating her birdseed.

Now I know how to win the contest this spring. Apparently, I just need to stalk her house.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Stink Bugs, Well... Stink!

So, about 2 years ago, we started getting all these little brown bugs. They kind of looked liked seeds or something. There were a lot of them. I brought one of them to school and asked the secretary (who is an entomologist by trade, but that is another story) what it was. Yeah, it was a STINK BUG. She, of course, being an entomologist, had a big fancy Latin name for it. Something like Bugitius-Stinkitium I seem to think....

Anyhoo, she assured me that the strange warm autumn that turned cold suddenly was to blame on the sudden influx of these guys into our home and that they would vanish with true winter never to be seen again. Did you catch the first sentence "ABOUT 2 YEARS AGO?" Make the connection that I am writing this now? Yeah, they are still here. And I am getting rather tired of them. The damn little stink bugs, they are everywhere! They are not very smart either. They just sit. and watch. and wait. for you to find them. Then they make their stink. So I crush them. And then I stink. Little buggers have the last laugh, don't they?

They never try to escape like most bugs do. No-sir-ee. They just sit there. As if I am going to mistake their brown bugginess for something else. Even Haley will kill them all by herself. The cry of STINKBUG! can be heard at any time of day or night in our house... followed by a deep sigh and "I'll get a tissue". You can't let them touch you. Not even your shoe. They squirt their noxious smell and then you must go through a detox chamber to remove the odor.

One day this fall, Ira was cleaning up the back porch. He hit Stinkbug Jackpot. He picked up the cooler we had left outside, and lo and behold... buggy NIRVANA living in the wheels of the cooler! I look out the window, and there is my husband doing this Irish Stepdance interpretation as he clopped all over the things on our back porch. As he continued to pick up the seasonal things to put away, each item uncovered a new colony. Seems they found our stuff was the perfect cover in the turning weather. HA! He showed them, now, didn't he? There had to be close to 200 little brown corpses scattered all over the deck. Which he insisted on leaving there. As a message to the others. "Stink Bugs Be Wary Of This Porch" Yeah, the things are sooo smart, that they would see their fallen comrades and fly someplace else to infest. Did I not mention that they fly? Yes. They do. So, now our deck reeks of stink bugs, as did my husbands sneakers. It was worth the price to watch the suckers die. But that was not the last time he defeated his arch-nemesis. No indeed.

Then, last winter there was the first fire of the season in our fire place. Did you know that if you don't clean out the fireplace at the end of winter, and you leave like alllll the ashes in there, it is a wonderful place for stink bugs to hide? And that when you finally open up the fireplace, and start to rip up paper, lay down kindling and stack up logs, they don't scurry like smart little bugs? And when you toss in the first lit match, those little stinkers just sit... and fry... and sizzle...and make a wonderful popping sound? And in the fire, they don't smell that completely awful. So last fall, we had another small victory over one particular colony. If only that was the end.

But alas, that was the 2nd season of the stinkbug.

They were back this fall. Third time.

Last weekend, Ira went out back and realized somehow he had left the cover off the grill (Ok, Rufus probably pulled it off, but let's not go there). He opened the lid, and it was a little rusty, so he lit it up to burn off the rusty spots.

See where I am headed?

Fry, buggies! Fry!

Nothing like crunchy stinkbugs to warm a gal's heart. I mean, how stupid can you be to live in a grill, for God's Sake? I love the way they crackle in the crisp winter night. I wish I could say revenge was sweet, but it was a little stinky. Still worth it. I just don't understand. They have chosen to live in places that we completely destroy them, yet they keep showing up. What is with these guys?

So our battle with the stinkbugs continues. If you know of any other methods to get rid of them, besides grilling, toasting, sending your kids and dogs after them or just doing the Stink-Bug-Irish-Step-Dance, please, share.

I am beginning to consider naming them and inviting them to family dinners. They show up anyway. Maybe they will help deter those family members you prefer to not have show up in the first place?

Friday, January 9, 2009

When Harry met Sally

I was in one of my 8th grade classes today watching my kids during their earned "fun Friday" period. They work for a few weeks, then they get a period to play Math games, listen to ipods and hang out. It is one if my favorite times with them. I get to see them more relaxed, more real, and observe the real them.

Today, for some reason, they were more at home and comfortable, and they seemed to forget I was there. There was this one boy, I will call him Harry, and he is a cutie. He knows it. Then there is a girl, we will call her Sally.

Today in class, the kids are hanging out, doing their own thing. Harry walks past Sally and she puts her hand out. He puts his out, as if to high 5 each other, you know. But they clasp hands for a few seconds. it was sweet. He sat at a desk behind her, talking to someone else. She turned around and ran her hand over his hair. He has this really soft looking buzz cut. it, too, was sweet.

These kids are so loud, and rude, and sometimes disturbing. They can be mean and push limits. Even the big tough ones, like Harry.

Then I see him sit and look at Sally. He doesn't hold her hand in a girlfriend-I-Like-you-sort-of-way but it was a definite something. It isn't a pushy, dominating, show-off thing. Just...well... {sigh} the kind of thing that I know, as a former 13 year old girl, was melting her heart, sending butterflies through her stomach, and going to result in an immediate round of text messages as soon as the last bell rang today.

I, my friends, was the witness of that rare and beautiful thing. Young romance. Blossoming Love. What fairy tales are made of.

It just made me think of how truly lucky I am. to watch them at this stage in their lives when things are so tumultuous. new experiences. things they don't always understand. sometimes it makes them hard to deal with. sometimes it makes them impossible. sometimes it makes them incredible to know. and I get to be there. to share the lives of these kids. every. day.

Like Peanut Butter and Jelly

>He weighs as much as almost 3 of her.

>She jumps on him knees first.

>He steals her food.

>She pulls his ears.

>He snuggles her on cold nights to keep her warm.

>She sneaks extra cookies and snacks to him when she thinks we aren't looking.

>He is always available to play when big sister is too "busy" (or mean).

>She doesn't get (too) mad when he destroys a toy, stuffed animal or stray sock.

You can't ask for more than that in your best friend.

Haley and Rufus. They just go together.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Where does she get this stuff?

Erin: Mommy, I am a really good writer.

Me: Yes, you are.

Erin: I think a lot of people would like to read what I write. You know, like our family, and other people, and kids and stuff.

Me: I bet they would.

Erin: I think I should have my own blog.

Me: Uh... no. Um, Uh, Uhhhhh... just. no.

Sunday, January 4, 2009

Hanukkah Madness

We had our annual Family Hanukkah party and I got a little mini-video camera that night. I had only posted a video clip, but i finally got around to putting the still-pictures of the night here.

Christmas at Grammy's

I know it is a bit late, but that just seems to be how I do things, so deal with it :o) Actually, I seemed to get sucked into Facebook everytime I turned the computer on and if that didn't get me, I have become addicted to about 20 or so fabulously hysterical blogs that I read religiously. My personal blogging and computing has taken a back burner to my addiction.

Anyway, here are the pictures my dad and I took Christmas morning. I am certain that the girls will hate me when they are older, but I have seen pictures of myself on many Christmas mornings that are not flattering. At least I had the consideration to give them adorable matching pajamas for Hanukkah the night before. (Ok, so I have scrapbook paper that matches the color of the pajamas... so sue me, but I have some great layouts coming as well now!) It isn't my fault Erin didn't like the shirt and wore something else.