Wednesday, December 31, 2014

At the Very End of the Year

"The days are long, but the years are short." Now, at the very end of the year, Gretchen Rubin's famous quote glows in uppercase in my mind. It's hard for me to grasp that all of those forever-ish afternoons of the past year have tumbled together to make another year that feels as if it has whizzed by.

There were milestones. I somehow turned fifty years-old.  My small boy impossibly entered the oh-so-grown-up second grade. Mr. Rosenberg and I marked ten years since our first date. We lost people and found others. We packed up our things and moved five blocks to the new house. We celebrated and mourned and made music.  We watched caterpillar turn chrysalis turn butterfly. We sang and blew out the candles.

I am left with pictures of us on front steps and on beaches. There are memories of baseball games and basketball games, soccer goals and foot races and trophies on the shelf to show for them. There are parts of busted water balloons left in the lawn from the hot summer.  There are haircuts and scars and marks on the wall to show how tall.

Rocky Voltolato sings,
Please slow it down
Theres a secret magic past world
That you only notice when youre looking back at it
And all I wanna do is turn around...

I have turned around. Now I will look forward to more long nights and long afternoons and hold out my open hands for this new year to land on. 

See you there. 

Tuesday, December 30, 2014


"Hey, Mom? Can I put some of my clothes in your suitcase? Mine's all full already with the important stuff."

Monday, December 29, 2014

My Wish For Us, This New Year

I love a new year. I love fresh starts, clean calendars, and a new list of goals to help guide the way. I like the feeling of endless possibility. Yes, this year I would like to read more, write more, and learn to play the piano. I would like to spend more time holding my family and less time worrying about them. I'd like all of these things, but they are not my goals. This year I have one goal, just one resolution.

Recently, my dear friend lost her older brother to a long illness. A family man of faith and a Sergeant Major in the Marine Corp, he liked to use the expression, "Just sit in the truck and don't play with the radio."

We've all heard, "Don't worry be happy" and "Let go and let God," but I like his take best. I understand it to mean, don't try to control everything. Don't get in the middle of it all and muck up the works. There is a plan for me in this universe so trust the journey. Relax.

Sit in the truck and don't play with the radio.

These words are my map for 2015. I aim to internalize the idea that there is a lesson for me in every person, every thing that comes across my path. Each situation will afford me a new opportunity to align myself with God's will, knowing that whatever I might try to push, pull, and orchestrate, God's will is what's going to happen anyway.

Sit in the truck and don't play with the radio.

It's a call to faith. It's the call to action that is about inaction. It's the knowledge that I can stop carrying the weight of the world, it's okay - God and the universe have got this one. Its about trust.

Sit in the truck and don't play with the radio.

This is my wish for you too, my friends. Enjoy this life. Let the water of busyness move around you as it would a rock in a stream. Unclench. It's not all up to you. You are a big deal, but not The Big Deal. In this new year, close your eyes and hear the music.

Sit in the truck and don't play with the radio.

Friday, December 26, 2014

What I Love About Mom by Bob

I received a tiny purple book from my son for Christmas called What I love About Mom. It's fill-in-the-blank style. Here are some highlights.

I love your hair.
I love hearing stories about your childhood.
You inspire me to be crazy.
I'm thankful I got your eyes.
I love that you still wait for me.
I hope to be as awesome as you one day.
I am so thankful that your are my mother.
I love how you never smell up the bathroom like Dad does.
I love how you always be nice.
I'd love it if we could go to the beach together soon.
I never get tired of your hugs.
If you were a scent you'd be green apples.
I love how you encourage me to play soccer.
You are the best mom ever.
When we are apart it make me happy to think about you.
I wish I had known you when you were 8.
I love going to the movies with you.
I love your taste in dresses.
If you wanted to, you could easily write the best book ever.
I have to admit you're always right about everything.
I love the sound of your voice when you laugh.
I love it when you dance like Michael Jackson.
Thank you for being awesome.

Thursday, December 25, 2014

Hi Santa

"Mom? I put almond milk out for Santa so that he could maybe be a little bit healthier. Can you put some carrots out for his reindeer? I'm going to run to the bed real fast and get inside my imagination."

Merry Christmas.

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

The Realness of Santa

As timing would have it, the topic of the "realness" of Santa came up in my friend's family last night. This link below contains a beautiful letter that was written a few years back by a mom answering that same question for her daughter. This is a lovely expression of the season whether your family has arrived at that rite of passage or not: The Sweetest Way to Tell Your Kids About Santa.

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

What to Do With the Children's Menu

 1. Order the chicken tenders just like your friend Felix.
 2. Open the little crayon box that the hostess gave you.
 3. Draw a picture on the paper menu with the blue crayon (with Felix) of you and him and his little     brother and your other friend Alessandro and his little sister saying "Hi" to each other.
 4. Draw cool 3-D boxes and tubes.
 5. Cover the entire page with so much red crayon all over it until the paper is real thick and you and     him are going all crazy.
 6. Use your fork and knife to scrape off the crayon wax until the picture is really faded out and cool     looking.
 7. Use your knife to make long cuts in the paper and then wrinkle them up.
 8. Make eye and mouth holes an put the menu on your face.
 9. You are now a Squid-Person known as The Squerson.
10. Freak out your parents and the waiter with your The Squerson face.

Friday, December 19, 2014

5th Annual 99 Cent Store Holiday Shopping Trip *Spoiler alert for immediate family

Once again, we made Bob's annual holiday shopping pilgrimage to The 99 Cent Store. Following is a list of the presents that were purchased along with their lucky recipients.

Mee Mee (My Mom) - Polka-dot Polo brand men's dress socks. "Because socks are nice."

Jeff - A holiday ornament in the shape of an ice skate. "Because it's sparkly and he grew up in that Michigan where there's snow."

Bajan (Jeff's Mom) - Small planter in the shape of a somewhat melancholy frog. "Because frogs are good."

Aunt Jen - Bright green dragonfly ornaments. "Because Aunt Jen likes dragonflies like her ankle tattoo and she really likes green."

Aunt Jill - Pink and purple mechanical pencils. "Because she probably writes things down at her job."

Me - Large, green sparkly Christmas ornament. This was to be a surprise but then I was asked to help wrap it. I will be surprised... enough. 

Pops - Blue striped beanie hat. "Because it probably gets cold up there where there's no hair anymore."

Aunt Dawn - Christmas mug. "Because I'm pretty sure she's Christian, not Jewish, and she probably drinks things."

And to all a good night.

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Costume Designing

"Mom, I am absolutely not wearing a button shirt."

"You absolutely are wearing a button shirt. It's the Holiday Program and Miss Humphrey said you had to dress up."

"It didn't say the actual words, button shirt."

"Dressing up implies button shirt. It's going to look great with your sweater."

"It's super dumb."

"And you can wear sweat pants instead of regular pants."

"Sweat pants! You mean I can't even wear shorts?!"

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Good Tidings to You

In order to have a more organized and manageable holiday season this year, I started shopping early. One of the shopping items on my list was our Christmas/Hanukkah card order. I gave myself a deadline. I took the photo, designed the cards, and even put a rush order on them to make sure I could get them out in a timely fashion. I bought the holiday stamps. I updated my address book. The cards arrived quickly. I unpacked them from the shipping box and set them on the dining room table. That was two weeks ago. I have not addressed a single one. I think those piles I'm looking at have now become our New Year's cards. (Hopefully for New Year's 2015.)

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Monday, December 15, 2014

Monday Morning

"Bob? What are all of those sounds coming from under the blanket?"

"My bottom."




"It's a little spicy under here."

Friday, December 12, 2014

Some Kind of Logic

"It's pouring out, Bob. You need to wear pants, not shorts."

"No. I hate pants. They itch me."

"How about sweatpants? It's the biggest storm in five years."

"Sweatpants will get soggy."

"Fine. But you have to wear your raincoat."

"Why? It's just going to get all wet."

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Harbinger of the Season

I've written about my favorite Christmas album before. A couple of days ago I heard one of the songs from this album - my favorite version of my favorite Christmas song - while Bob and I were having lunch at the coffee shop and I knew the Christmas season had really begun. It is not possible for me to not be happy while listening to Let it Snow by Steve Lawrence and Eydie Gorme circa 1966. So throw on a holiday caftan and grab a cup of eggnog. Let's do this.

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Best Sweetest

Bob had a case of the sads this afternoon. When I heard him crying, I went to his room and found him laying on the bed. Teddy followed close behind me. I sat on the edge of the bed and Teddy stood up with his front paws resting on the pillow. I talked to Bob while rubbing his back. Teddy reached out and put one of his paws on the top of my hand and rested it there while I continued to rub Bob's back.

Yes he did.

Monday, December 8, 2014

Holiday Supplies

"Mom? Do we have smuzzletuff at our house?"

"I don't know what smuzzlettuff is."

"Are you kidding? You don't know what it is? Mom!"

"Bud, I really don't know what you're talking about."

"I'm talking about smuzzletuff!"

"I don't know that word. Really."

"You know? It's the Christmas thing that looks like leaves and you hold it up high and kiss people?"

"You mean, mistletoe?"

"Oh. Is that it? The kissy stuff?"


"We totally need some of that."

Saturday, December 6, 2014

Smacksy Sunday Links

In this season of spending, how to take control of your money and stuff.

Ruth is a role model of kindness.

And a Great Dane puppy that won't get out of bed.

Happy Sunday.

Smacksy Saturday Photo: The Playoffs

He stuck with it and now soccer is his favorite thing of all the things. Yes, even more than Minecraft. I know.

Thursday, December 4, 2014

Dave Update: Day I Don't Even Know What Day

"Dave! Dave is almost ready to pop out of his Dave chrysalis! You can see his Dave wings and everything! Dad, you should totally call New York and tell Uncle Dave about Dave."

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Rainy Day

"Bob, I brought these marshmallows from home so we can have them with our hot chocolate."

"Good idea, Felix. We can melt them in there."

"Marshmallows don't melt, Bob."

"Yeah, they actually do."

"Let's watch."

"Okay, that was sort of boring."

"But sort of cool too."

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

It's Giving Tuesday

Today is Giving Tuesday, a movement started in 2012 by the 92nd Street Y and the United Nations Foundation as a response to commercialization and consumerism in the post Thanksgiving season. Celebrated on the first Tuesday after American Thanksgiving (and Black Friday, and Cyber Monday), it's an opportunity to channel the generosity of the holiday season to inspire action around charitable giving. If you are fortunate enough to be able to share financially this December, today is a good day.

Where will we give? The options are endless. Here are some ideas below:

Bob's school adopts a number of local families each December to sponsor for the season. Our LA department of Social Services also has an Adopt a Family program. Your community may have something similar.

Food pantries and homeless shelters can always use a boost, especially at this time of year. In Los Angeles, there is the Downtown Women's Center, The LA Mission, and Covenant House for homeless children and teens. LA's SOVA Pantry is the local food pantry from Jewish Family Services.

Make a donation, or join, renew or give a membership to a favorite place. Descanso Gardens in nearby La Canada/Flintridge is one of my favorite places on the planet. Our local children's museum Kidspace in Pasadena is terrific. Our local library can always use a boost. Think of a local spot you love that could use your money to spread the goodness.

The nearby Clare Foundation offers free alcohol and drug rehab services. Friendly House, the oldest women's recovery house in the US is a terrific place. MusiCares supports musicians with financial, medical, and personal emergencies.

Maybe animals are your thing? Or the environment? Or a Children's Hospital? Whatever is close to your heart, you can find a charitable organization to reflect it. Today is the day. Go give.

Monday, December 1, 2014

10 Things I Did Instead of The Stuff I Needed To Do

10 Things I did on Monday morning instead of the stuff I needed to do on Monday morning:

Drank coffee.
Watched this Decemberists video.
Tried (unsuccessfully) to find the pee smell.
Drove the long way home from school drop-off.
Drank more coffee.
Bought an X-Zylo Ultra Gyro Toss on Wendi Aarons' recommendation.
Listened to side 1 of Fleetwood Mac's Rumors.
Looked on-line to try to help Mr. Rosenberg in his pursuit of vegan shoes in a size 15.
Thought about who could have anonymously FedExed us 20 packs of dehydrated food last Friday.
Got the Santa cookie jar out of the garage.

That is all done. Okay, Monday - it's on.

Saturday, November 29, 2014

Thursday, November 27, 2014

Today's Gratitude List

  1. Thick blankets
  2. Converse All Stars
  3. Our dog and his exceptionally expressive eyebrows
  4. When the coffee’s still really hot
  5. Mike, the crossing guard by the park
  6. My mom
  7. One dollar coins
  8. Every 864 square foot of our house
  9. Satsuma mandarin oranges
  10. Those clouds that look like they’re in a painting with angels in it
  11. The nicest neighbors
  12. When my kid gets the giggles
  13. Jerry the handyman
  14. Crickets
  15. Playing my favorite song on repeat, over and over
  16. Our favorite waiter at the coffee shop
  17. My swell assortment of amazing friends
  18. The walk to school
  19. Used bookstores
  20. The cousins, the aunts, the uncles
  21. The wind chime way up on a high branch in the tree in our front yard
  22. When Mr. Rosenberg sits on the couch and plays guitar in the afternoons
  23. The DVR
  24. My book club ladies, my blogging ladies, my girl’s night ladies, my soccer mom ladies, my PTA ladies, my sober ladies
  25. Crushed ice
  26. The park by our house
  27. Baby animal videos
  28. My in-laws
  29. A good sneeze
  30. Vegetarian Pad See Ew
  31. Foggy beaches
  32. Cardigans
  33. The smell of a rainy day
  34. Comedy
  35. Right before the movie starts
  36. The red station wagon
  37. The sour part near the skin of the plum
  38. My wedding ring
  39. New school supplies
  40. When I see my suitcase come around on the luggage carousel
  41. You guys
Happy Thanksgiving, my American friends. 
Happy Thursday my friends from other countries.

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

The Day Before Thanksgiving and A Bonus Link

Traditionally, we celebrate Thanksgiving at our place. I love the holiday, but I also love the day before the holiday. Getting the house clean and put together, prepping all of the food, and polishing up the red glass gravy boat turkey are all on the list. There is the last minute rush to the market for whatever has been forgotten and a few panic buys. I am filled with gratitude for the people who will be around our table, crammed into our tiny kitchen and the food we will share. 

Anne Lamott wrote a lovely essay about counting our blessings and saying grace. I'm sharing it with you here and hoping that you will enjoy the slower day before the holiday as well as the holiday itself. 

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

What We Talk About When We Talk About Race

My son and I have an ongoing conversation about racism. We have discussed the horrors of slavery, war, and the holocaust. He knows that he has been born an American white boy, with an accompanying privilege that, as he has pointed out, “isn’t fair.” Why will he be treated differently, better, than many of his friends? I can’t pretend to understand the types of fear, hatred, and ignorance that make this true, but I explain it the best I can. It’s incomprehensible to an eight-year-old and incomprehensible to his mother. 

We have talked about the current reality that our friends and family who look differently or worship differently or love differently are systematically devalued and marginalized. As always, he points out that this “isn’t fair.” We are angry together. 

Because of his Jewish last name and heritage, he hears that there will be times when he is singled out, treated differently, and judged. But still he is a white boy and will not be considered suspicious by simply walking down the street. And that’s “not fair.”

We will continue our dialogue. He will know that with privilege comes power and with power, responsibility. I will lead by example. My prayer for him is that he will give voice to the voiceless and speak up in the face of discrimination. I pray for him to be an agent of change in a world that “isn’t fair.”

Monday, November 24, 2014


"Tell me about the game, Bob. Was it exciting?"

"Yeah. The LA Galaxy won, one to nothing. This one main guy from the Galaxy did this awesome goal where he faked the goalie out and then kicked it to the opposite side and it went in. And you know what else?"

"Tell me."

"It turns out I'm really good at making fart noises with my mouth."

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Thankful Tree

I am thankful for...
my house
my derpy stuff

"This a great list, Bob. What's that last one mean? 'Derpy stuff'?'

"It means cruddy stuff."

"What cruddy stuff are we talking about?"

"I don't know. I heard someone say it at school."

Friday, November 21, 2014

In With The New

Bob said he was ready for a more "grown up" set of sheets and a blanket. The Star Wars ones are now living in the linen closet. Sigh. Mr. Rosenberg is certain that they will be requested again after the release of the next Star Wars movie. I'm not so sure. If it's ridiculous to let new sheets make you sort of sad then, I am ridiculous. 

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Dave The Chrysalis: Day 10

"Bob, have you checked on Dave today?"

"Yeah. He's still green and hanging there. He seems okay."


"Plus I think Teddy likes kicking back with him."

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Jingle All The Way

"Mom? Did you notice the Christmas song playing in Rite Aid?"

"I did."

"What's your favorite Christmas song?"

"Let It Snow, the Steve Lawrence and Eydie Gorme version. What's yours?"

"I don't know. Jingle Bells?"

"Good one."

"Mom? Can we put the car radio on that station that only plays Christmas music? I find it really relaxing."

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Monday Night Footballing

"Mom? Who's playing this game?"

"Pittsburg Steelers versus Tennessee Titans."

"Did you see that one guy? It looks like he pushed that other guy right in the face-helmet!"

"It can get pretty rough out there."

"Oh, man. Look at them all dog-piling up on each other!"


"That just seems so immature."

Monday, November 17, 2014

Oh Dear, Santa

"Mom? I'm putting those new Minecraft Legos on my Christmas list."

"But, remember? Those new ones don't come out until next year."

"I'm not worried. I'm sure Santa has connections."

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Smacksy Sunday Links

A simple thought about how we speak to each other.

This cake art, you guys. Seriously.

And Dog Beach and a Cat. Maybe I should be tired of this song, but I'm not. And I'll never be tired of dogs. Or a cat.

Happy Sunday.

Friday, November 14, 2014

It's Beginning to Look A lot Like Outlets

This Sunday is the annual holiday outlet mall shopping trip I take with a group of my girlfriends. For eighteen years, armed with coupons and cash, we have made the trek together. The number of us in the caravan fluctuates from year to year. There is some shopping en masse, some solo, and a lunch meet-up. The end of the day always ends at Marie's for pie.

I have been going since since I was digging through the car seats for change to bring on those spare seasons in my early thirties, to now where I qualify for a senior discount. A SENIOR DISCOUNT. There was a time when we shopped for maternity clothes with our friend Karen who was pregnant with twins. This year one of her babies will be coming with us to do her own shopping. That baby has a driver's permit.

I am not much of a shopper, I don't love malls, but I love this tradition. For me it is the real start of the holidays. I may or may not come back with many shopping bags, but I will always return with memories of a day spent with friends. And pie.

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Three Wishes for a Thursday

Through the kitchen window, I saw little girl pass in front the house this morning. She had her father's hand in one hand and a sparkly magic wand in the other.  The wand was the kind with glitter and streamers, the kind that make wishes come true. As I keep one hand in my father's and one for offering up prayers, I have three wishes for today.

I have an elderly friend who has a host of medical conditions and has hit an especially rough patch. She is physically unable to get out of bed. She has twenty-four hour care, but her husband has passed on. She has no other family. She has no appetite and is having a hard time eating. Whether she decides to fight for this life or release it all and go home, my wish is that whatever is next in her journey that it be painless and graceful.

Today I have friends and family in the throes of chronic diseases like addiction and depression and the places where it seems that there is no way out. I wish for a reprieve for today from the despair and loneliness that come from the long hike through these territories, and the care that they need and the hope and help that is available.

As the holidays are speeding towards us, many are feeling a sense of loss, financial stress, and unmet expectations. For them, I wish a looser grip on the coming days and a deep breath for every twinkly light and every lit candle and peace for all of us.

What's your wish?

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Dave the Caterpillar: Day 3

"Mom? Dave the caterpillar still looks the same - green and hang-y."

"It says here that this is called the 'pupa' stage of the chrysalis."

"POOPA? That's super hilarious, Mom."

"But we'll have to keep an eye on him. Many don't make it past this stage."

"You know what we'll have to do if that happens to Dave?"

"Tell me."

"We'll have to call him Dead Dave."