November 29, 2012

My Life Lately

Picture and video spam!!!

RH- absurd and happy

SI- helping feed her baby sister

DD- helping feed her baby sister (DD's new favorite activity)
RH makes this face whenever I pull out the camera.

DD and SI, sweet as ever.


November 28, 2012

I've Been Busy, But Thinking of You

Happy Holidays!
I'm way behind on my novel, but still less than 10K words from the close.

My kids are Insaneasaurus Rexes, but they're great.

The Thanksgiving insanity has ended, but Channukah is only a week and a half away.

I have *all* my holiday shopping done.  Yeah, be jealous.

I have taken the easy way out when it comes to holiday cards this year, and am having them printed (yay coupons!), so those are done.  I'm just waiting for them to come in the mail.

All that's left is putting our electric menorah in the window, trimming our tree, planning for the Christmas wedding we'll be attending this year, some light baking, and wrapping a small mountain of presents.

...and writing another ten thousand words in the next two and a half days.  I'm optimistic.

To show you how much I care, here's a few pictures from our holiday card shoot.  It's not even the theme we used for our actual picture, but I love them.  (I'd like to blame M for not choosing this picture, but really, I feel naked without my glasses.  And I'd feel weird about sending our family and friends naked pictures of me.)

I'll be back in a week with all sorts of posts, once NaNoWriMo has ended.  And maybe I'll tell you about my novel if you're super nice.

In the meantime, Happy Holidays!

November 27, 2012

Giving Tuesday

Today is Giving Tuesday.

You're probably not familiar with Giving Tuesday.  That's okay.

You see, we live in a confusing culture.  Always people talk about the "holiday spirit," as something about giving and gratitude and family.  We have a holiday dedicated to gratitude... and the moment we finish the meal, we rush off in a mad dash to buy more things.

Thanksgiving now begins a whole week of conspicuous consumption- from the meal, to Black Friday, to Cyber Monday.  And now, Giving Tuesday.
"The value of a man resides in what he gives and not what he is capable of receiving." - Albert Einstein

The idea behind Giving Tuesday is that in our rush to spend all sorts of money, we should take just as much care to spend it on causes, to give it away to people in need or organizations that help people, as we do to making sure we get the best deal on our new LED TV.

Today, pick a person from your gift list, and give a charitable donation in their name.  Donate to a cancer foundation on behalf of a survivor, or to a veterans' aid organization on behalf of a serviceman in your life.

Even just having a conversation with your kids about giving can get the ball rolling for Giving Tuesday.

You can talk to your kids about the people in need, about issues in their own community.  And you can let them choose an organization or cause to donate their own $10 to.  They can learn from an early age the importance of charity.

"We make a living by what we get.  We make a life by what we give." - Winston Churchill

November 18, 2012

Sunday Blogaround - 11.18.12

Hello, and welcome to another edition of the Blogaround!!

This week, there was a lot of fun stuff out there.  I managed to keep up with a lot of my favorite people and blogs, despite being waist deep in NaNoWriMo.  And they ROCKED the blogosphere this week.  Seriously, if I'm behind in my word count, it's the fault of these blogger.  Enjoy- I know I did!

"Don't Tell Me What to Feed My Baby!" - Crazed in the Kitchen
This week's Blogger Idol prompt was to get up on your soapbox and talk about something that matters to you.  Crazed in the Kitchen was great, she wrote about feeding her babies, and the guilt associated with formula feeding, even when that is a totally acceptable, healthy, and sensical option.  Go vote for her!

"The 'N' Word" - Martinis and Minivans
This is another Blogger Idol contestant.  It's an issue that I think is very thought provoking, although I would say that M&M doesn't really seem to understand what it can be like to be part of a minority group.  Obviously, as she's a white Christian in America.  I believe that there is something essential in being able to use certain language within your own minority group, I think self-deprecating humor is essential to most people, let alone cultural groups, but I do wonder how to explain these differences to children, and what to tell them regarding the meaning and context of these words.

"I've Started Telling My daughters I'm Beautiful" - Offbeat Mama
This really moved me.  I do find myself, occasionally, telling my kids how awful I look.  But each time I do, I feel horrible about it.  I'm not sure I have it in me to tell my kids that my belly and flabby arms are beautiful, but I'd like to try.

"My Stolen Birthday" - Dude of the House
A short post that sums up how suddenly and completely your priorities have to change as a parent.

The Crafting Hobbit"Further Than I've Come Before" - The Crafting Hobbit
Irene has a genetic mutation that makes it VERY likely that she will develop breast cancer, and she has decided to have a prophylactic bilateral mastectomy   She has finally scheduled the surgery, and as I'm sure you can imagine, this is bringing up a lot of emotions she didn't really expect.  Please send her your love and support, and visit her blog to learn about the BRCA2 mutation.

"Breakup" - Antarctica. Srsly.
No, this has nothing to do with romantic entanglements.  It has everything to do with why somebody (particularly a photographer) would want to live at the bottom of the planet.  Breathtaking.

"Cheering Up" - Happy Hippie Homemaker
I find myself agreeing with Rachel nearly every time she writes anything at all.  So when her daughter decided to start cheerleading, I was cringing right along with her.  But the results?  Really wonderful.

"Cray Cray" - Finally Mom
I laughed so hard!  DD and SI are about the same age as Lovey, so there are a lot of milestones they're sort of meeting together.  Like picking up random phrases and repeating them, to the intense jubilation of the adults in their lives.

The Family Pants"A Nest for Birds, There Ain't No Words" - The Family Pants
I know all about this.  I put off cutting DD and SI's hair too long, and I never even properly blogged about it.  And since then, SI has had one minor bangs trimming, and they're both ready for haircut #2.  How does that happen?  And how is it possible that these children emerge when you cut off your babies' hair?

"The Billboard Jungle" - Short Fat Dictator
I thought that this was hilarious.  And awfully familiar.  I can't tell you how many commercials have left my children giggling about ladies in their "unnerpants."

"Arbity" - The Hossman Chronicles
Another funny one from Hossdad.  M and I had plenty of fights over names during our pregnancies.  It's harder every time- like you've used up all the names you ever agreed on.  One day, this planet IS going to actually run out of baby names.

"A Girl Needs to Feel: Purposeful, Accomplished and Special" - Stripping Down
I thought this was incredibly poignant.  I haven't read the book by Melissa Francis, and truth be told I never watched Little House on the Prairie.  But I've often wondered about the reason so many little girls get into acting/modeling/pageantry, and this is a very apt explanation.

November 11, 2012

Sunday Blogaround - 11.11.12

Hello!  And welcome to another blogaround!

It's been another interesting week in the world and in the blogosphere.  I hope you've enjoyed it as much as I did!

"We Survive and Rebuild Because We're #JerseyStrong" - Daddy Knows Less
Confession: I hated living in New Jersey.  I hated my life in New Jersey.  I hated almost everything about New Jersey.  And sometimes, I was so miserable that I hated New Jersey itself.  But that's the angst of a kid, the reality is that there are real people who have died, real people who are homeless, real people who are now struggling without power and covered in snow.  And right now, all of my feelings towards New Jersey and the victims of the hurricane and noreaster are sympathy, sadness, and love.

"Thanksgiving: Wherefore Art Thou?" - Mary Tyler Mom
Being Jewish, I've been accused of being a "Scrooge" for having no real love for Christmas in November.  It has very little to do with not celebrating the holiday- it has more to do with the idea that I live in a culture where Christmas isn't a holiday, it's an entire season.  And I don't object to Christmas.  What I object to is being utterly saturated in so-called "Holiday Cheer" from the moment I start sewing Halloween costumes until March.  Anyway, Mary Tyler Mom put it better than me.

...but just to give you an idea of what if can be like to be Jewish in America in November and early December...

A(n) (un)Common Family
"Tinker Bell and Darth Vader on Halloween" - A(n) (Un)Common Family
So. stinkin'. cute.

"Carry That Weight" - 649.113
I am also of the school of parenting that appreciates my children growing up.  I love my baby, I loved when my big girls were babies, but truth be told... I prefer children to toddlers.  But still, there's something that you lose.  Something really precious and wonderful.  and so it does hurt when they grow, no matter how much you enjoy the change.

"Comic: When a Baby is Screaming, Every Conversation is a Fight..." - Ask Your Dad
I laughed so hard.  Because just the title is so true.  But the comic is hilarious.

BWS tips button"The Talk" - The Writer Revived
I've had to have a few very difficult conversations with my kids, SI in particular.  Taking them places like the Slutwalk, I really open up those opportunities.  But they're hard.  How do you explain what you mean by "bad things" when you're talking about the possibility of TRULY bad things, molestation and rape, murder, kidnapping?  How do you explain that?  Simply put, I'm not sure you can.  But you have to try.  And it is hard.

"Reminders" - Conception Deception
I remember vividly what we went through when we decided we were done storing our embryos from IVF.  It's hard.  Being done is hard.  And the thought of it is somehow terrifying.  I wasn't really ready. I don't think I'll ever be ready.

November 10, 2012

Bully Shaming

This is not a funny post.  In fact, this may be a deeply unsettling post.  So, be forewarned before you decide to read on.  It is written as part of Toulouse and Tonic's Bully Shaming Project.  I'm also linking up with Pour Your Heart Out.


I was bullied horribly when I was a kid, starting in first grade.

See, I was a nose picker.  Not that kids really need an excuse to bully somebody, but the moment they have one... all bets are off.  During preschool and kindergarten I had been well liked, social, happy to make friends.  And then one day, the whole world changed.

Kids laughed at me and pointed and said all sorts of things I can hardly remember now.

Suddenly, other children on the playground were offering to pay me to touch other kids.  It was the meanest thing they could think of to do... to each other.

I wasn't even a person to them, I was an object of ridicule, at the very best.

And so I retreated into myself.  By the time I was in third grade, I was writing horror stories that featured the meanest kids in my school being found dead in a closet, Murder She Wrote style.  In all of those stories, they were my friends, and I solved the mystery and received the love and adoration of all my classmates as a reward.

The summer after fourth grade, I decided to make a change.  I cut my hair, I started wearing things I though Claudia from the Babysitter's Club books would like.  I decided I just didn't care about what people thought of me anymore.  I was lying to myself, but it helped me cope.

In fifth grade, the bullying peaked.  My fifth grade teacher was practically a non-entity.  Her class went wild around her.  So wild in fact, that one girl, Veronica, would halt the class, march the front of the room, and to the raucous applause of her friends, point out each unworthy person in the room, mocking them publicly.  Our teacher, Mrs. Burton, would sit on the sidelines with her head in her hands.  She didn't even try to stop it.  She wasn't the first teacher I had felt ought to do something, who ought to at least try to help.

Veronica went down the line, accusing people of smelling bad, of being stupid, whatever.  When she got to me, she burst out laughing.

"You're just a alien.  You're not even like a person.  You're so weird."

When the class had started laughing, she got started on a "You're SO weird" routine.  "You're so weird,  your hair has hair.  You're so weird, you're from another planet.  You're so weird, your whole family lives is a science experiment...." and so on.

I just sat there, eyes down.  I didn't cry, I didn't do anything.  That was always the advice when you said somebody picked on you- if you don't react, they'll stop.

They never stopped.  But after that day, it just got worse.  All the kids in the class who had been deemed "good enough" by Veronica felt free to just... let me have it.

I did ridiculous, juvenile things to avoid being bullied.  When one girl was made fun of for sweating, I began covering my whole body in antiperspirant.  I quietly catalogued all the "wrong" things I could do, and tried to avoid them.  It was utterly pointless.

One day, a girl named Kim smashed a wooden wreath across my head.  I didn't move.  I stayed in my desk. and broke all of my pencils.  My teacher, who I still believe was totally complicit in my bullying, sent me to the school councilor's office for my "troubling" behavior.

I began begging my parents to take me out of school.  They didn't.  Instead, they did something I thought would be even better.  They moved to a different state.

I was thrilled to be moving.  I was going to start all over.  I changed my hair again, I changed my clothes, I changed my name.  I was going to be a different person.  Somebody who wasn't an object of ridicule.  Somebody who wasn't universally loathed.  Somebody who's mere presence wasn't a punishment to other people.

And so, on the first day of middle school, knowing nobody, I walked into what I imagined was my new life.

As I walked up to the doors of the school, the students all milling around, waiting for them to open and for the day to begin, people froze and stared at me.

They all looked so... normal.

And here, my parents had promised me that we'd moved to the land of the weirdos, and I was wearing a gold, floor length silk skirt, and a blue faux turtleneck cropped t-shirt.

Having just moved to Ann Arbor, I had no idea I'd walked in as a Maize n' Blue billboard.

During attendance in my homeroom, my teacher said I wasn't on her list.  I went to the principal's office to clear it up.  He sent me to another classroom.  That teacher claimed I didn't belong either.  And so on.

By the end of the day, I had spent fifteen minutes being gawked at in every single classroom for sixth grade.

By the end of the week, it became perfectly clear that my life wasn't going to be different at all.  People knocked me into my locker, asked me if I was wearing strange clothes because I was a lesbian (it took me a while to figure out that was an insult), called me names.

True story- my dog ate this project before we could turn it in.  It was a disaster.
I was mocked for my glasses, my hair, for always knowing the answer, for not having any friends.  One of the ring leaders was a girl named Narissah.  During art class one day, she dumped a tub of glue into my hair.  She and her friends laughed and laughed as I tried to wipe it off my glasses and out of my eyes, and the principal ended up letting me walk home to get clean clothes and take a shower.  I told my mom I was sick, and I didn't go back.

There were a few people who took the time to get to know me.  They are all in the picture above.

But something else happened during that first week.  I genuinely stopped giving a crap about those people who made fun of me.

I cultivated an interior life.  I read constantly, I wrote constantly, my poetry improved dramatically and then become incredibly dark and self involved.  I began to paint.  And most importantly of all, I decided that I did. not. need. anyone.

The next year, I began to make friends with the other outcasts.  The other people who were beat up or made fun of for being in any way different.  In sixth grade, I was a strange kid with a 50's style bob and a notebook full of poetry about imaginary places, and by the end of seventh grade....

That was me, the goth kid with the necklaces.

I home schooled for eighth grade, but by then I had some friends.

I was determined to just do whatever the hell I wanted, because who gave a crap about what other people thought?  It made me selfish, but it kept me from being hurt.  But strangers, kids in school, kids from other schools, friends of friends, and worst of all my so-called "best friend"... they still made fun of me.  The "best friend" worse than anybody.

She made fun of me for growing body hair.  For the clothes I wore.  For the people I knew.  For the music I listened to.  She did so in the guise of "teaching" me to be a good person.  A better person.  A popular person.  And in the few instances I managed to excel at her lessons, to collect friends or even boyfriends, she would come swooping in and shatter my confidence.  Annihilate my self esteem.

I had a boyfriend, and after advising me to cut it off, she took the incredibly drastic step (at 14) of going down on him at a party, so he would start dating her.  When I finally confessed to her how incredibly hurt I had been, she started having sex with him- again, a very big deal when you're talking about fourteen year olds..  As she confessed to me later, this was to keep him from being interested in me again.  This was my best friend.  That boy, he and I would silently commiserate with each other from across the room, the trapped victims of her intense bullying.

I started cutting myself.  My left arm is still covered in the scars.

When I tried to kill myself as a teenager, it wasn't just the sexual assault that had done it.  It was years of planning, years of waiting for that final straw to break the camel's back.

The thing is, I did care.  I always cared.  I just also believed that never, never for the rest of my life, would people accept or love me.  That they wouldn't view me as an object of ridicule, as something to be despised.  Growing breasts and hips didn't help- strangers would catcall at me.  To me, it was more of the same.  More anonymous hate and rage headed towards me because I just simply did not belong.  Not in New Jersey, not in Ann Arbor, not anywhere.

I was always sure that as nice as my friends, it was despite my inherent unloveableness.  My de-facto strangeness.  The fact that I was just plain unworthy, and that I always would be.

I embraced my strangeness so fully, because it was a sign of my survival, despite being taught so thoroughly in middle school how truly pointless my existence in the world of "normal" people was.

Part of me really believed that until I met M, and he managed to convince me that he actually thought I was wonderful.  Part of me still believes that now.

So whenever I hear about teenagers killing themselves because of bullies, my heart breaks.  I can feel an emptiness in my chest made of the pain that I know.  I feel the raised lines on my arm, my own battle with surviving the incredible cruelty of adolescents, and I just wish I could go back in time a few days, or weeks, and let those kids know that their value isn't determined by the "normal" kids.  That no kid is "normal."  That those people don't know them, let alone have any basis of comparison to judge their value.

But that's the thing about bullies.  You assume that if they're bullying you, they do know.  They know how worthless you are.  That it's what gives them the freedom to point it out.

So, I'm an adult now, and I'm mostly over it.  But I'm never going to be totally over it.  I still assume that "normal" looking adults will shun me, will talk about me behind my back, will mock me.  I still assume that I am not inherently "normal," that I am somehow flawed.  It is a huge impediment to making and building friendships with other adults, out here in the real world.

And I will never, not for an instant, encourage or accept bullying behavior from my kids.  I would rather comfort them through their tears and their fears and their pain a million times over than to have the blood on my hands of my children becoming the bullies that I knew, the kids who make a child miserable enough to take their own life.

So, shame on you, bullies of Tappan Middle School and Thomas Jefferson Elementary School.  Shame on you.

I hope you're as disgusted with yourselves as I am.

November 8, 2012

Shut Up and Dance Party

Well, RH wasn't having any of that "let mommy write" thing while the girls were at school, but she LOVES Aerosmith...

So that meant that you got a super easy, one handed dance video.  Enjoy!

November 6, 2012


The best way to teach is through example.

Today, I told my kids the story of their great grandmothers, and their great great grandmothers, and how many women fought and fought and fought so that today, Mommy could march her children down the stairs and into the world to cast a ballot.

They helped me feed my ballot into the machine, and the election judges gave them each a fistful of candy.

I think they're going to remember today.  And not just because there's going to be a party with cake and friends and little edible penguins.  They'll remember helping me vote.  They'll remember all the talk about presidents, and the senate, and they'll remember helping color in the country blue and red as the results come in.
In my free-handed US map, Kansas is actually larger than California.  Hopefully they won't take that away from this experience.

...and the senate might actually have had 106 seats.  You know.  Because SuperMommy might rock at free-handing gigantic great plains states, but she sucks at counting to 100.

This is teaching by doing.  This is the real meat and potatoes of parenting.

BEING what you want your children to become.

Go out there and vote.  Vote like you mean it.

I sure as hell do.

November 5, 2012

Images of Morristown, post Sandy

I learned a long time ago that if you search for something online, you are the only one to blame for what you find.

But I couldn't help myself.  After my friends in New Jersey started getting their power back, I started wondering... what did my old home look like?

How bad were things in Morristown?

And so, I googled it.  These are all images I found via Google of my old hometown.

This is near my old house.  I used to go trick or treating here.

This is just down the street from my old elementary school.

This is the entrance to Jockey Hollow, where I spent countless weekends with my girl scout troop. 

This house looks terrifyingly like it could be one of my best friends' parents' house.  That part of the roof utterly smashed in?  That's where Jenny's bed was, in her home.  Which means that's a bedroom.  Which means there might have been another little girl, sleeping right there, where that tree completely smashed the house to pieces.

This is what it's like to try to get around Morristown right now.

I know, of the scale of natural disasters, this is actually not bad.  This isn't Joplin, leveled by tornadoes. This isn't Manhattan, with subways full of seawater.  This isn't hundreds of houses burned to the ground in the southwest.

This isn't Katrina, with people being shot as they flee the rising water.

But this was my home.  And it pains me to see it this way.

Please consider donating to the American Red Cross, who are still helping people out in New Jersey.

And please remember, this is a changing world.  This is a changing landscape.  We, human beings, we've only been here a short while.  The earth is so much older than us.  And we hardly know anything about it.  We can't predict it, we don't understand it.

It's one of the things that makes life so precious.

So take disaster warnings seriously.  If someone in the know tells you to flee for higher ground, do.  If they tell you a tornado, or a volcano, or a hurricane is coming... it's better to have your family safe and away from home than to have stayed and been wrong.

Don't play chicken with nature.

You'll pretty much always lose.

Stay safe, lovely readers.  Stay safe.

November 4, 2012

Sunday Blogaround - 11.4.2012

Hello, and welcome the Blogaround!

"That's a Good Question..." - Caffeinated Chronicles of a Supermom
It is a good question.  I for one have never been a fan of "sexy ____" as Halloween costumes.  Yes, I like to look sexy.  And yeah, Halloween is good for that. But I've been perfectly happy as NOT sexy things as well.  One of my favorite costumes was when I went as a dancing pack of cigarettes.  See, I had sexy legs, but it was a silly costume.  I've also been a cow, and more recently, the internet.  So... not all us ladies- even when we have the bodies to rock them- want to go as just plain slutty for Halloween.  Costume companies, take notice.  (To get the idea of what we're up against in the slutty costume department, check this out.)

"'Pick a bucket and go trick or treating' I said." - Kristin and Kayla
Seriously, ever time this dad stages a photo with his kids, it is BRILLIANT.

"Roxy the... what?" - Riding the Crazy Train
I laughed so hard I might have peed a little bit.  I couldn't stop thinking about a "pet snake" that was really a piece of rubber hose that my sister and I fought over for over a decade.  So, I guess that this mom might have it a little easy.  Not that dealing with found object attachment is EVERY easy.

"November is National Adoption Awareness Month" - Shopaholic Mommy
You are probably aware of my own feelings on adoption.  If not, read here.  Regardless, I think that this  is a wonderful set of suggestions for talking about adoption with your children, and a wonderful reminder that there are children who need homes, and there are many of us who are able (if not this minute) to open their hearts and homes and lives to those children but are afraid to start.

"They're back..." - Antarctica. Srsly.
I am so. jealous.

"My son painting his... A blue ball reality" - Sorry kid, your mom doesn't play well with others
So nice when it's somebody else having a bad day thanks to nail polish.  And so nice that none of my kids have testicles.

"Politics as Usual" - Mobyjoe Cafe
She put it perfectly.  Go out and vote.

November 1, 2012

This is Halloween...

So this year our family costume was.... The Wizard of Oz!!!

Chistory, Elphaba, Dorothy, Fiyero, Glinda (the "Gah" is silent)

That's right, we all got in on it.


SI was Dorothy- I am so proud of that dress!  I mocked that thing up in about twenty minutes.  Felt pretty awesome.

She was very upset at first that we didn't have a dedicated Toto.  But then I explained to her that she was really SI, and she was pretending to be Dorothy.  So the Pokey Little Puppy was going to pretend to be Toto for Halloween.  She was thrilled with this explanation.

DD was Glinda.  Well, she wanted to be a "pink princess with pink all over and a pink dress and a pink shirt and a pink crown and pink EVERYTHING!"  I wasn't having it.  I convinced her to be Glinda instead.  Basically the same thing anyway.  Her first dress WOULD have been better, but idiot that I am I cut her fabric for the top sideways.  Which means- no stretch.  Which means- no way it's getting on that kid.  So I had to do an emergency second dress.  And this is it.  Still turned out pretty good.  :)

The magic wand was icing on the cake, as far as she was concerned.

RH was... Chistory!  Okay, so if you're not familiar with Wicked, RH was a flying monkey.

I know, she kind of looks like a dragon.  And her ears are sort of sideways.  Give me a break, I made the costume in the five minutes I could count on the kids to entertain her once she woke up.  It was a slap-dash Halloween this year.

I was the Wicked Witch of the West!  (Or, you know, Elphaba.)

Yes, I *do* have the green facepaint, but I knew that if I painted myself green, something bad would happen.  I just couldn't bring myself to participate in that kind of mess.  So, sorry about that.

And M was the Scarecrow!  Or, for you Wicked fans, Fiyero!  Which is perfect, because... you know... Fiyero and Elphaba and whatnot...

...yeah, M kind of looks like Kung Fu Panda.  He needed a few patches on the shirt.  I forgot.

The girls had a blast.  We carved a pumpkin, and left it in our window for when we came home...

And of course, there was trick or treating.

I tried very hard to keep them warm without detracting from the costumes.  I think I did okay.

RH couldn't handle the excitement.

Sleepy flying (er, strolling) monkey.

And I know- you've been waiting for this week's dance party.  Fear no more!  Remember how I said I used to be in the Rocky Horror Picture Show cast?  Well, most years we did Thriller as a pre-show performance.  So, now you know what's coming.

I may not have time to do a weekly dance party anymore.  Now I have to dedicate my child-free moments to writing- not video editing.  Because... today is the start of NaNoWriMo!  So we'll see if I can do both.  If not, I promise you an AMAZING video to celebrate the end of the month.



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