Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Suddenly Summer

I'm still here; but the summer schedule change has me running hither and yon keeping children busy. We handed Brian a rented trumpet and plunked him in band camp; Rachel hangs out at her art teacher's house 6 hours a day, painting and cooking and doing embroidery - all the things I would be doing with her if I were not totally burned out on the creativity-with-kids scene.

And Susie? Well, we're referring to this season as Susie's Car Summer. She rides around with me, dropping siblings off at various locations, going to Weight Watchers weigh-ins, visiting Target. It's like camp, only less fun.

David has returned from Civil Air Patrol camp, taller (I swear!), thinner, and still happy about the ride he took in a Blackhawk helicopter. Considering that he refuses to get on the Tilt-a-Whirl at our local fair, Larry and I find this scenario hard to believe.

And now that we showed the older kids Batman last night (as part of our educational Jack Nicholson summerfest), David is lusting after a batplane, for sure...

[photo credit: Old Grey Cat]

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Pass The Popcorn

Last night I discovered that Larry and I had neglected an important part of our oldest child's education.

"Look what I got from the library," I said, waving a DVD at Theo and Larry. "A Few Good Men - it has Jack Nicholson in it!"

"Who's Jack Nicholson?" asked my firstborn.

Look, I never claimed homeschooling is perfect, all right?

In an effort to fill in the gaps for Theo, we are embarking on a Jack Nicholson retrospective this summer. First on my list is Batman (and yes, I did see that one - it came out before I started having kids). Does anyone have any more suggestions? Remember, it has to be something I wouldn't be embarrassed watching with my 18-year-old son - I don't mind profanity; but scenes of graphic, uh, romance are out.


Still enjoying my IPod Touch and adding apps daily - who knew a grocery list could be such fun?

[photo credit: pjlighthouse.com]

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Hello, 21st Century!

Yes, I did have a great birthday - thank you for asking. I'm sure that the folks working in the T-Mobile store and at the Apple emporium didn't have too good a time, though, what with Miss Neanderthal here spending a few hours pestering them with questions about smart phones and contract costs and "how do you work this thing anyway?"-type inquiries.

That's what I did with my glorious free time - I researched how best to catch up with the rest of the world, technologically speaking. I learned enough to realize that Larry and I can't afford smartphones or even an IPad. So I moved right on to IPods, admiring all the fun colors of the Nano and marveling at the Internet connectivity of the IPod Touch. In fact, I was fondling the cheapest IPod Touch (the 8-GB model) and reminding myself that, no, I didn't need it and that I could be perfectly happy with a purple Nano when a gentleman and his preteen son walked up to the display table.

"This is what I want," said the lad, picking up the 16-GB IPod Touch.

"Oh, no, you don't," said his father.

Good man, I thought approvingly. What does a young kid need with an expensive device like this?

And then he told the boy, "You'll have to settle for the 8-GB one."


Something inside my 47-year-old self snapped. My father had told me to pick out something nice for my birthday. Would he wish to be bested by some dope who was willing to spend 200 bucks on a toy for a prepubescent boy? I think not.

Reader, I bought it. And then I went home and spent 4 hours attempting to sync it up to ITunes on my computer. I gave up twice, but - somewhere past midnight - this 47-year-old dinosaur emerged victorious. I had Apps; I had music (okay, one song, but it's a start); I had, in a word, success.

It was a good day.

[Nano photo credit: cheapipodnano]
[Touch photo credit: upenn.edu]

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Mulch Ado About Nothing

LET ME EXPLAIN: I am not giving Larry mulch for Father's Day so that he will spread it in the yard and make me happy. That would be a nasty trick, akin to his giving me lingerie fit for a trollop because....well, I don't have to explain that one, do I? No, I bought the mulch as part of a bigger plan: we all worked on the yard while Larry wasn't here - weeding, raking, and mulching - so he won't have to.

Needless to say, the children weren't thrilled with this idea. They would have much preferred to present Larry with our usual Father's Day gift - a bag of cherry-cordial-filled Hershey's kisses that he then shares with them. (Every family has its traditions. Ours are just more boring than most.) But I've decided that, starting with Father's Day, this will be the year of giving selflessly. I do hope the children catch on to this concept quickly, seeing as how my birthday is on Monday.

And how much do I hate sharing my birthday weekend with Father's Day? I've been feeling resentful all week, actually. There's your damn mulch, all right? Now leave me alone while I psyche myself up for my big day. I've got plans to make. Currently they involve getting up early enough to sneak out of the house so that I do not have to tell one single person what to do all day.

Yes, that's my dream - I want 24 hours where I issue no orders, make no requests, threaten no small children. I want a full day where I can simply exist. Oooh, I get the shivers just thinking about it. All I asked for from Larry was that he take the day off on my birthday so that I could try to implement this crazy scheme.

Tilting at windmills, I know...

Friday, June 18, 2010

7 Quick Takes: The Abridged Edition

I got up early, cooked a healthy breakfast, and sewed a patch on David's Civil Air Patrol uniform. All before 8 AM!

This behavior is a little worrisome. Next thing you know, I'll be happily washing windows.


Rachel has recovered alarmingly quickly from her adenoidectomy. Ice cream must have amazing curative powers.


David leaves tomorrow for Encampment - 10 days of being yelled at and bossed around, in 95-degree heat (and high humidity), along with his Civil Air Patrol buddies. He can't wait. Which only goes to show y'all how teen boys belong to a different species than we grown-ups.


Theo is raking in a small fortune this summer (ooh - I didn't even see that pun coming!), mulching people's yards and trimming their shrubbery. Which makes me feel less bad about all the free babysitting he's providing...


Susie (aka She Who Is Hopelessly Spoiled But Not In A Cute Way) informed me yesterday that she is not going to learn to read. Never! She doesn't want to!


We watched Episode 12 of the original Star Trek series last night: Miri - the one with the bratty kids who are mocking Captain Kirk. The lead kid looked like the homeless guy in Scrooged. To settle the burning question of whether or not it was indeed the same actor, I had to look up his name and then check the Scrooged cast list. Turns out, we were right!

For some reason I clicked on over to Wikipedia (all roads lead to Wikipedia, actually), where I noticed that Michael J. Pollard's bio (that's his name - Michael J. Pollard) didn't list the homeless guy role. So I registered as an editor and fixed that glaring omission. Then I had to figure out how to hyperlink the source for the footnote - I did that, too.

And now? I'm blogging about it.

All of which is a good example of how the Internet wastes our time. Or, to be more accurate, how I waste my time on the Internet.


That's only 6, but I have to go buy some mulch for Father's Day (I know - what a great gift idea - lucky Larry!). Go check out Conversion Diary's 7 Quick Takes - she never shortchanges her readers.

[MichaelPollard Photo: Star Trek Guest Star Database]

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

The Ice Cream Cure

As related here before, Susie received a Razor scooter from Grandpa for her birthday. I just noticed the caution label on the handle:

This product moves when being used.

What has this country come to, eh?


Rachel had her adenoids removed this morning. Wimp that I am, I made sure Larry took the morning off in order to escort her to her outpatient surgery. And being squeamish, I didn't go into a lot of details with Rachel ahead of time about what would happen. Her takeaway being that she was going to get a LOT of ice cream after the "procedure," she was excited about getting in the car with Daddy early this morning. She reminded me of my childhood dog jumping happily into the car for a "ride," only to be driven to the much-hated veterinarian for shots or whatever.

Things went fine, however. She's back home and snoozing on the couch, her tummy full of frozen confections. She's refusing to take the pain meds, though. As luck would have it, I'll be out this evening at Knit Night. How smart of me to schedule the surgery for a Wednesday, I must say...

[Scooter Photo Credit: wiki-land]
[Ice Cream Photo Credit: whoateallthepies.tv]

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Sweet Sorrow? I Think Not.

The blogosphere is a diminished version of its former self today.

No blog is an island, entire of itself; every blog is a piece of the Internet, a part of the main; if a clod be washed away by the sea, Europe is the less...any blog's death diminishes me, because I am (way too much) involved in the blogosphere...

RIP, Women's Colony. Alas, we hardly knew ye! You were a place for authentic women's voices to be heard, a site where sensitive issues were discussed, a well of collective feminine wisdom and support that is hard to come by in these days of scattered families and busy lives.

And, of course, there was the mancake in that lovely Cabana of yours...

Fare thee well, beloved Mrs G - I am forever indebted to you for the laughs and the thoughtful prose. The thought of blogging without you is almost too much to bear.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Welcome Home

Where have I been? Oh, getting a decent night's sleep, reading an honest-to-goodness book with paragraphs consisting of more than 3 sentences apiece, cleaning up our back deck which was about to be featured on the cover of White Trash Home and Garden, just to name a few things....

Larry came home from a week-long business trip today bearing gifts. Not having recovered from the sardine incident in April, I was a tad leery of what he would bring me. True to form, he pulled out of his suitcase a box of chocolates shaped and wrapped to look like 6 Swiss Army knives. (Undoubtedly an improvement over dead fish, but still...) Apparently, my giving away the chocolate sardines to the loser at Bunko last month had not sent him the right message.

"Ha, ha!" I said, trying to be a good sport. "Funny! So, uh, did you get anything else?" Larry handed me a square, thin black envelope that contained a thin slab of chocolate. Really, it looked like chocolate rations you'd hand out in a POW camp. Something in me snapped.

"Look," I said. "I'm a girl. You're supposed to bring me things that are pretty."

"I thought you liked chocolate," he said.

"Yes! But pretty chocolates. Men are supposed to bring girls pretty things. After 20 years, you don't get that?"

Larry, flustered and confused, rummaged in his suitcase some more and pulled out a plastic container filled with a variety of little chocolates in different colored wrappers.

"Okay!" I said. "You're getting the idea!"

Just then Susie came upstairs. "Daddy!" she said. "You're home!"

"Hi, honey! Look what Daddy brought you!" said Larry, holding up the T-shirt he'd picked out for her. Susie burst into tears (I know that is a cliche, but really - that's what she does).

"I don't like that! It's ugly!" she cried.

That apple didn't fall far from the tree, now did it?

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Early To Bed...

I've got nothing. Sorry. Not even something funny to link to! Anyone seen anything funny lately?

But for now I must get to bed - David's birthday is tomorrow (and, yes, I will have yet another teenager less than 24 hours from now) and something tells me he expects a cake. At least he isn't asking for any space-travel-themed concoction this year...

Tuesday, June 08, 2010

Self-Hating, Interfering, And Unrealistic

[Check out the first comment below. Michaela has generously offered the use of her continent to ease Israeli-Palestinian tensions. Those Australians are so friendly!]

Sorry, folks - but there are a few issues to clear up. I received a number of comments on the Israel post the other day (some of which were too rude to publish in the comments section) - the gist of them being that

  • I'm a self-hating Jew (predicted that one!)
  • As an American Jew, what Israel does is none of my business.
  • I'm an unrealistic peacenik who essentially wants to stick daisies in gun barrels and scrawl peace signs on Katyusha rockets.

I would like to agree that Israel's actions are none of my business, but it isn't true. When American Jews see our gov't making poor policy decisions based on its friendship with Israel, decisions that jeopardize our relations with other important allies, we need to speak up. When we see Israel committing (or, at best, allowing) humanitarian crimes in the name of Jewish security, we have a responsibility to say something. Also, Israel's actions are only serving to increase anti-Semitism around the world.

(and, yes, I am aware that there are people who would be anti-Semitic anyway - I'm not dumb, I don't need to see the vile videos that extremists post on YouTube, thanks very much)

Finally, as I stated in my previous post, the memories of my ancestors who died in the Holocaust are being desecrated when Israeli Jews, using the Holocaust as an excuse, treat Palestinians as less than human.

There is a lot of dissent within Israel itself on Israeli government policy towards the Palestinians in the West Bank and in Gaza. So we American Jews aren't just being naive about the situation "on the ground" when we voice our disapproval over blockades, or invasions, or whatever. We are not alone in observing that Israel is in a reactive mode as far as its foreign policy is concerned. [Essentially, if HAMAS does this, then Israel does that. Oh, and Israel builds a wall to keep people out. If that isn't an admission of failure, I don't know what is.] I would go so far as to say that Israel's only long-term policy is to keep building in the West Bank and finally push the Palestinians out. I think Israelis deserve leaders that can come up with something better than that. Many Israelis feel that way, also.

I am not saying that if Israel changes its behavior, the terrorists will stop attacking (as one commenter implied). I am saying that Israel's current approach is not working and is even counter-productive. Keeping Palestinian populations impoverished and ripe for terrorist recruitment; building new settlements in disputed areas while negotiations on the fate of those areas are ongoing; attacking (not just boarding, but attacking) ships that belong to an ally of yours - these sort of actions are NOT HELPING end the cycle of violence. As one of my commenters pointed out, "Doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results is the definition of insanity." The Israeli/Palestinian situation has become officially insane.

If you think about it, both the Israeli gov't and HAMAS benefit from having a downtrodden, impoverished Gazan population. HAMAS can point to it and say, "Look how awful Israel is!" And Israel can point to it and say, "Look at how HAMAS convinces these people to be terrorists! We can't possibly make a deal with them." Until someone in power is willing to stop this game, it will continue. And people on both sides will suffer.

Israel's actions over the past 40 years have helped the extremists to win, both in its own gov't and in the Palestinian one(s). Israelis need to elect people who can act with an eye to the future, not to the past; people who accept that the Palestinians are not going to go away; people who understand that the fates of these 2 peoples are irrevocably intertwined. A wall is not the answer. Military force is not policy. And have no doubt, the problem here is policy.

Israelis need a leader with a real vision for the future. I sure hope you get one. We finally did.

[That last link up there is a good one, by Queen Rania of Jordan, a long-time ally of Israel.]

Sunday, June 06, 2010

Israel: WTF?

I know I come across as only being interested in the inconsequential, but I've actually been spending all my spare time following the flotilla crisis. No kids, no vomit, no mice - just 40 years of poor domestic policy on the part of the Israelis and at least a decade of lousy foreign policy on our part, all coming home to roost in a situation where a good ally of ours (Turkey) is rightly furious, another ally of ours (Israel) is manipulating evidence, and the White House is dithering. Oh, and nine people are dead. And journalists' photos and tapes are confiscated.

[That link up there, and the articles and blogs it links to, are really informative. Much better than this stuff I'm spouting here...]

My generation of American Jews was brainwashed to believe that criticism of Israeli policies is de facto anti-Semitic. Any Jew who dared question Israeli conduct in the West Bank, or Gaza, or anywhere else in the world was labeled "self-hating." It was an effective way to silence dissent.

But what we need to realize is that any actions that desecrate the sacred memory of our slaughtered Jewish ancestors are what is really anti-Semitic. And the Israeli actions against oppressed populations? Definitely fall into that category.

The reflexive defense of Israel by American Jews (on the Right and the Left) is examined by Glenn Greenwald here, who is right on the mark. The Jews of my generation were inculcated from a young age with warnings of Israel's vulnerability. I remember my 5th-grade teacher saying, "The Palestinians? They are terrorists. All of them. The women, the children - they are all terrorists."

It's hard to blame her - she and the other teachers were traumatized survivors of the Holocaust, witnesses to the War for Independence (1948) and the 6-Day War (1967).... in their minds, Israel was still the threatened new nation in which so many Holocaust survivors had found refuge. But our parents' reality is not ours. For most of our lifetimes, Israel has been an occupying force in the Palestinian territories (its presence in the West Bank I have already discussed here); it fields a formidable, well-equipped army and even has nuclear weapons (shh, it's a secret). To continue to claim that it is vulnerable to a few Katyusha rockets is ridiculous. To believe that they must invade a neighboring country with overwhelming force in order to secure its borders is absurd. Does Turkey invade Kurdish Iraq, slaughtering over a thousand people and destroying a large portion of the civil infrastructure, when terrorists sneak over its borders?

Really, what do such actions do but produce even more instability in an already unstable situation? Israel says it is fighting terrorism - but it is actually producing more terrorists.

It behooves American Jews to speak up on this topic. Israel is not always right. Israel is faced with a marginalized, oppressed Palestinian population that is the result of 40 years of poor policy choices on the part of the Israeli government. No amount of military might will make that go away. It's time for Israel to admit its mistakes and find a new way forward, a way of cooperation and peace. It is a strong enough nation to do so now. It just doesn't seem to realize that.

[Addendum: Check out these eyewitness accounts, if you are still buying the sanitized video put out by the Israeli government. I really think that official video is what bothers me the most. It is a deliberately constructed lie.]

Friday, June 04, 2010

Art Linkletter Was Right

Today? Was the moment of truth.

90 degrees


Nothing to do

"Let's go to the pool!" the bored children cried. And, realizing that delaying yet another week would not make me any thinner or the varicose veins on my legs any less prominent, I said, "Okay! Let's go!" with an enthusiasm that I believe bordered on the heroic.

I proceeded to pack up towels, locate the sunscreen, order the children into swimsuits, and accomplish all the other myriad tasks required for an aquatic pilgrimage with kids. At one point during this flurry of activity, Susie walked into my room. "Are we going yet?" she asked.

"Pretty soon, sweetie - I just have to get changed myself," I told her.

"Yes," Susie said, in a sage tone not usually employed by a 5-year-old, a tone replete with an appreciation of the challenges of middle age. "You have to try and squeeze into your swimsuit."

Well...um...yes, that's one way to put it. I just didn't think the effort was that noticeable. I mean, the squeezing part....

I guess kids do say the darndest things.

[Fat Lady image credit: Lost in Suburbia]

Wednesday, June 02, 2010

Stuff To Worry About

I wish I knew why I read all the health articles available on line. It's almost obsessive. But, hey - sometimes I learn something important. Take this article, for example - now I know that 3 burgers a week ups kids' asthma risk.

Burgers, huh? I guess we should switch to hotdogs, then?

Oh, and here's something a little mind-blowing:
Nearly 64 percent of teen boys said it's OK for an unmarried female to have a child, up from 50 percent in 2002. More than 70 percent of teen girls agreed, up from 65 percent, though the female increase was not statistically significant.
Tell me - why are they asking teens this question? Are teens the new experts on what it takes to raise a kid? This is just weird. And 70 percent of teen girls think its okay to be a single mom? I knew teen girls tend to be brain dead, but I didn't really want statistical proof.

Ah, finally - a little something to feed my hypochondria habit. Who knew that my tendency toward migraines doubles my chances of suffering a blood-clot induced stroke? Just think - this fun fact dovetails quite nicely with my long-held belief that I am going to die of deep-vein thrombosis. Cool!

I tried to find a good picture for deep-vein thrombosis. I'm sort of sorry I did that.

[Hotdog sign: art.com]
[Juno photo: Wild Sound blog]

Tuesday, June 01, 2010

What's Forever For?

Al and Tipper....really?

This news article about Al and Tipper's separation states that "...the Gores, over time, had carved out separate lives, with the former vice president on the road frequently" campaigning worldwide to draw attention to climate change. Does that mean that we can blame global warming for this, too?