Tuesday, March 29, 2011

My One & Only
(aka Arming the Drama Llama With Lightsabers)

Dear Blogosphere,

Let's think twice before using the word, "Only."  That word can be a vicious word.  It can cut things and people down.  It can be an attempt at minimizing.  

When you say, "It's only X," what you're saying (or at least what others are hearing) is, "X doesn't really matter."  

Military wives understand "Only," in a way no one else does.  They also actively campaign against it.  

When my husband was deployed for the first time, I mentioned to a civilian friend that he was scheduled to be gone six months (it was later extended).  She said, "Oh, that's not bad.  It's only six months.  My friend's brother was gone for a year."  I cringed and thought to myself, "Yes, it IS bad.  It sucks that her brother was gone for that long, but that suckage doesn't outweigh mine."  

During that deployment, at the base playgroup with my twin toddlers, another mom's husband was away for a month.  She started to vent to me and then stopped herself saying, "I shouldn't complain.  He's only gone for a month.  Yours has been gone for a long time."  

Military wives don't let military wives say, "Only."  I stopped her and told her a month sucked too.  Six months sucks.  Twelve months sucks.  This isn't a suckage contest.  We can all appreciate that they suck and bitch accordingly.  This isn't a contest.  There is no scale.  No one is weighing your suckage against mine.  

Luckily, early in that deployment, at the same playgroup, I had tried the exact same thing myself and learned my lesson.  Another woman's husband had been gone for a while and I started to complain.  I then apologized and said, "Your husband's been gone X months (I've long since forgotten).  Mine only left a month ago.  I shouldn't complain.  You have it much worse."  She stopped me and told me, "No.  Don't do that.  Deployments suck.  They all do no matter what."  

If something is difficult, it's difficult.  Don't "Only," it for someone else.  

Yes, yes, I hear your objection.  True, some folks are drama llama jockeys.  Everything is hugely dramatic to them even when it doesn't seem that way to others.  You get the urge to "Only," their constant drama.  "It's only a paper cut.  An ER visit really is unwarranted."  You know what?  Let them charge on ahead in their drive-by drama llamaing.  Your "Only," isn't a lasso.   Your "Only," isn't going to reign in their charging drama llama and calm it the hell down.  If anything, it'll give their drama llama a lightsaber with which to fight you (and I hear llamas are awesome with lightsabers).  It'll also give the dramatic one more fodder for the drama and everyone knows the drama llama does so love fodder (it's delicious with a nice white wine sauce).  

So, before you tell someone, "It's only..." think twice.  Picture a dramatic llama wielding a lightsaber and hopefully, you'll be laughing too hard to continue on with that thought.  

Remember, every time you use, "Only," a drama llama gets a lightsaber.  


Sunday, March 27, 2011

Translation For Kindergarteners

Often, there are subtleties in the language of adults which are lost on younger children.  Compiling a collection of these and providing translations for children would prove endlessly useful.

Here is my submission for today:

If, in the middle of the very long story you were just telling your mother, she says, "Hang on, hun, I need to run to the bathroom,"  what she means is, "Wait there and hold that thought until I return."  

It does NOT mean:

"Keep talking.  Follow right behind me.  Stand outside the bathroom door and continue your story, only do so in a screaming voice to be absolutely certain she heard you."  

Now you know and knowing is half the battle.


Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Wordless Wednesday: Hogwarts Hebrew School

Purim was this past weekend (long story, but it's another one of those Jewish "They tried to kill us.  We won.  Let's eat," holidays only add costumes, noisemakers, yummy cookies and drinks for the adults).

Our synagogue did a fantastic Harry Potter themed Purim celebration.  The kids received letters inviting them to attend Hogwarts Hebrew School.  At one point, our rabbi referred to it as, "Hogwarts School of Witchcraft, Wizardry and Talmudic Studies."  Ha!  The kids came dressed as their favorite HP character.  They were sorted into houses.  They took classes and had Quidditch practice.

I arrived at Hogwarts complete with Harry, Luna Lovegood, Hermione and an angry pink owl.  The three biggest ran around the entire time shouting spells at their friends.  The youngest just shouted at me on occasion because she didn't get nearly enough sleep the night before.  

You see that one dressed as the always bizarre Luna in the middle?  That's my E and she's ALL about Harry Potter.  All the kids love it, but E lives and breathes those books.  She remembers the smallest details too.  She got the highest score possible in her "History of Magic" class at the Purim celebration because she remembered things word-for-word from the books.  I was super impressed.


My Favorite Color Is Dirt

My youngest has been sick which has sucked for all of us.  I had to rely on the kindness of friends to get my kids to Hebrew school and to feed us all yesterday. Today, she was feeling well enough for us to run to the store to grab a few things.  It was supposed to be a trip just to buy supplies to unstuck the drain.  Instead, it turned into a whole gardening extravaganza.

I noticed the small garden that borders the walkway had invited a whole host of weeds in to stay a while.  Oh no!  We needed to put an end to that quickly, before more potential buyers stop by for tea.

So, after we found the drain snake and the liquid drain degunker, we wandered into the garden section.  I had a $50 gift card that I won, so we grabbed a few plants.  Then we found others on sale, so we grabbed some more.  My gift card plus $30 later, we had enough to start on the garden...at 7 pm at night.

So, we threw common sense (and bedtime) to the wind, turned on the hose, and played in the dirt.

I realized the two bushes closest to the house were a lost cause and dug them up.  I'm quite proud of myself over that.  It wasn't a small feat.

Speaking of "feat," after I dug up the first one, there was a gigantic hole which filled with water.  I dug up the other one and my mind wandered far away from the hole.  My feet, however, not so much.  I wound up slipping and my foot fell into the hole.  I was in muddy water up to my knee.

We got most of the weeds pulled and all the plants planted.  We also got all the feet, hands, and everything in between completely covered in mud.

I am not anything remotely resembling a gardener.  We've been able to grow a minuscule amount of our own veggies on occasion (until the summer rains come and wash them away) and if a plant requires little to no attention, it can sometimes escape my brown thumb.  Still, I do so enjoy playing in the mud and watching things grow.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Wordless Day Other Than Wednesday

I have the most awesome friends who have the most amazing talents. These are owl cupcakes made by a friend for my daughter's second birthday. Aren't they fantastic? They were delicious too. My friends rock!

Click to see the photo larger because these are even MORE adorable in larger format.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Day of Silence for Japan.

March 18 is Bloggers Day of Silence for Japan.  I've donated and I'm taking part.  Will you?


Relocating the Goat Rodeo and Telling Toy Stories: Snuggles

Well, it seems I've begun down the path of a new series.  Yesterday, I told you my middle daughter's toy story.  Today, I'll tell you mine.

When I think of toys from my childhood, I see visions of my huge collection of Cabbage Patch Dolls.  I think of the G.I. Joes my nephew and I threw out the window with coffee filters attached as parachutes.  I remember the Strawberry Shortcake kitchen set my parents surprised me with when I was 3 (and which was well-loved for many many years). Yet the one toy my mind constantly returns to is Snuggles.

Snuggles was a doll where you pulled a tab on her back and her head rotated around--think snuggling, not the 360 degree Exorcist head turning.  She had a purple outfit and with lace cuffs.  Unlike my children's toys which fall to pieces in a matter of hours, Snuggles' tab still works and the doll still cuddles with you when you pull the well-worn tab on her back.

Snuggles was one of the last things my aunt gave me.  When I was born, she was diagnosed with Ovarian cancer.  She would survive only 2 years after that diagnosis.

I was only 2 and half when she passed away, but I have vivid memories of her and most of those memories revolve around toys.  My mother once told me that, on some level, everyone knew we were going to lose my aunt, so she made a particular point of being a presence in my life.  I vividly remember playing with her and my uncle with a Disney car set that they bought me.  I don't remember many specifics, but I remember playing, being happy and I remember her smiling.  I don't ever remember her being in pain.  In all my memories of her, she's there with me smiling and playing.

I don't remember when she gave me Snuggles, but I've always known she did.  I don't ever specifically remember being told that, but it must have been emphasized enough because I never think of that doll without thinking of Aunt Roe.  I remember, as a child, my parents had prepared me as best they could for her death, but I was still baffled, confused and devastated.  I remember hugging Snuggles tight and rocking her while hiding in the basement yelling at G-d.

Snuggles still lives in the toy box in my parents' basement.  Life has gone on for the rest of us.  My uncle remarried.  My cousins grew up and had kids of their own.  Some of their kids have kids now.  My focus shifted from my dolls to writing and eventually computers.  Snuggles and her lot were packed away and moved to the basement.  That basement went from, "Mine," to "My parents'."  I moved away, got married, had kids, and left Snuggles behind.  She's still there, today, buried in my parents' basement.  Nearly every time we're there, I sneak down to visit her.  I've shown her to my oldest daughters, who were not impressed.  Snuggles is a mess, but unlike Aunt Roe or my childhood, Snuggles is still there and every time I visit her, she's exactly as I remember.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

The Many Adventures Of A Stuffed Camel Named Bob
(and the little girl who loves him)

Through Project Nursery, I found the most amazing website which inspired me to write this blog post.  Through their Custom Toy Portrait giveaway, I found First Friend Portraits.  First Friend Portraits makes custom portraits of kids' toys.

I cannot tell you how very much I love this idea.  I absolutely, positively, without a doubt, must have a portrait of Bob the camel.

We have oh so many toy stories of our own that we could share.  This has inspired me to share a few.

Let's start with Bobby.

Bobby is a stuffed camel.  His full name is Bob Notacat.  He, along with his sister Leafa Borrower, a giraffe, was a gift from daddy.

Here's a little back story:

While daddy was deployed, every night, we said the Mitzpah and the Sh'ma.  In between those, one night, our then 4-year-old said this prayer.  She had been more than a wee bit obsessed with camels since daddy was in the desert.

When the prayer started, I  thought it was so profound.  When a camel stormed into the prayer, it was all I could do to keep from cracking up.

Although it was my husband's second deployment to the Middle East, it was far more difficult for the twins than the first one (when they were only toddlers) had been.  They missed their daddy horribly.  When I relayed that to him, he decided to send them stuffed toys to comfort them in his absence.  Inspired by my long-term love affair with an aging orange wonder (which is another post for another day), he decided to send them stuffed animals in the hopes that those toys would become for them the comfort that Mustardseed had always been for me.

Giraffe overload w/daddy.  2 yrs old 

For L, the obvious choice was a stuffed giraffe.  She loves giraffes.  Our zoo visits absolutely always take us to the giraffes, many of whom, L knows by name.  So daddy sent her a stuffed giraffe that she named Leafa because giraffes eat leaves.  Her middle name is Borrowa because she doesn't ever take anything, since stealing is wrong.  She just borrows things.  So says my eldest.

It was a bit trickier to decide what to get her sister, though.  Inspired by the child's latest prayer, he opted for a camel and our lives have never been the same.

E. named her new fuzzy Bactrian wonder Bob.  Why?  We may never know, but he has been Bob and Bobby ever since.  His middle name is Notacat because the child kept arguing with me that she was going to name him Cat.  "He's not a cat," I told her.  So she proved me right.

Bobby isn't just any ordinary camel.  He's famous.  When they were in kindergarten, the girls each wrote stories for a contest.  She wrote and illustrated a story about how Bobby comforted her when her daddy was deployed.  She didn't win, but I was so impressed with her her tale.

I scanned the illustrations and copied the text to create a few 5x7 photo books for her of Bobby's deployment adventures.  It was one of the first stories she could read on her own and she's read it to everyone who would hold still long enough to listen.  She even dropped off a copy of her book at our local library.  

She'll be 9 soon.  I know puberty isn't far away.  She's not far from those terrifying teenage years and leaving "baby" things behind.  Yet again, she's separated from her daddy.  Bob has been a part of our family for five years now.  He has watched E cry for her daddy more often in those 5 years than most children are ever separated from their parents their entire lives.  Bobby is worn and faded and has lost most of his filling, yet, every night, you can find him in E's bed, often clutched in her arms.  

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Wordless Wednesday: we're ready for our closeup.

This is not by far the best photo ever taken, but it's one we took of ourselves when we were goofing around over the weekend.  I like it a lot.

My life, this sums it up nicely.

And, hey, imaginary friends who live in my computer, tell me, what color are my eyes?  People often can't tell what color my eyes are.  I think you can actually see the true color here, but I just don't know.  Maybe that's wishful thinking.

What color do you see?

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Am I a genius for this solution or an idiot for thinking everyone else doesn't already know this?

Little Genius

I think I'm a genius.  Well, I KNOW I'm a genius in general, but I think my response to this situation is particularly brilliant.  When I stop to think about it, though, I have to wonder, "Wait, maybe I'm just an idiot and everyone else is already doing this."

You be the judge.

We have a batch of tea where the bags are particularly weak.  They keep breaking while the tea is brewing.  Today, the entire bag tore to shreds leaving my cup of tea full of floating leaf bits and completely inedible.  

I brainstormed and decided to clear out the coffee pot.  I put in about a cup's worth of water into the machine.  I put the pot in its place (very important or I would have had tea all over the place with the next step).  Then I dumped the cup of tea (leaves and broken bag and all) into the paper filter in the machine.  I then turned the coffee pot on to brew what little water was left.  Now I have tea hot, fresh, completely floating particle-free tea.  

Is that a ground-breaking brilliant solution or is that something everyone else has been doing for years?  

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

"I got my feet on the ground and I don't go to sleep to dream."

We had some potentially good news.   I'm trying to be calm and logical about it all, but apparently, my brain has shared this news with my subconscious which took that news, put logic through the shredder only to then spit on the scraps.

In all 6 months we've been apart, I don't think I've a single dream about my husband.  This is odd for me.  During his deployments, he visited my dreams, not on a very regular basis, but on several occasions.  Overall, those visits were welcomed, but, every once in a while, I'd wake from one of those dreams & it would take me a moment to realize our reunion only existed in my mind.  Go ahead and give me a bit of comfort and happiness and snatch it away quickly in the sunlight.  Stomp on my heart, why don't ya?

Apparently, my subconscious has taken this vague possibility and decided that the next step must be reunion.  

I didn't even dream about anything terribly obscene (:::waving meekly at my big brother and sisters who I know don't want to hear anything TMI about their baby sister:::).    I can't really remember much about the actual events of the dream.  I just remember him.  I remember purposely touching his skin and I remember his arms around me.  

And the next thing I remember was completely unrelated.  I was in an SUV driving off a cliff with a whole host of people, (none of them my husband).  When I woke up, I was shaken by the car off the cliff to the point that it took me a while to even remember I had even dreamt about my husband.  

Ever since then, though, I can't shake it.  I can't shake that longing for him (and, for once, my mind's not even in the gutter when I say that).  I can't reason with myself.  "Yes, yes, that's all well and good and will happen in time, but there's a chance it won't happen NOW."  In response, my heart shoves its fingers in ears and chants, "La la la la.  Can't hear you."  

I've actually found my conscious mind feeling more and more pessimistic about this prospect.  Maybe it's to try to counteract this hopefulness that has taken flight (prematurely) in my dreams.  I don't want to be disappointed.  I don't want to be the only one in our big bed at night.  I don't want to dream.  I don't want to be alone.   I don't want this chance to pass us by.  

"Where you used to be, there is a hole in the world, which I find myself constantly walking around in the daytime, and falling into at night. I miss you like hell." -Edna St. Vincent Millay

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Your Life Story In Six Words

I know about this six word memoir concept: you summarize your life in six words.  Today, I saw one where the authors summarized their love lives.

I love that idea (and some of those answers).

I want to try my hand at it, but not only for love lives, but for childhood, friendship, parenting and all sorts of things of the sort.

The problem is, I have no freaking clue where to even begin.  I do my best thinking when allowed to just ramble to myself, so I'll do exactly that now.  Come along for this schlep through the joy and wonder that is my mind.

I can take a stab at the parenting one using my favorite piece of advice to give new parents.  If I was to follow Amy Chuah's lead, I wouldn't title my parenting memoir, Battle Hymn Of The Tiger Mother (which actually works for this as it IS six words).  Mine would be something more along the lines of;

Research Research Research Then Follow Heart

With Each Child, World Begins Anew 

They Need More Than Mere Survival 
I've often had that thought when people say, "I XYZed and my kids survived."

Nothing You Can't Do Without Help

and for humorous books on the topic:

Our Mom Doesn't Need Your Advice

These Boobs Are Made For Squirting

Here's what I have for the six-word summary of my religious views:

I'm G-d's Wrestling Partner Not Cheerleader.  

Justice Justice Shall You Pursue Always
Forgive me for putting words in G-d's mouth.  I had to add a word there to get it up to 6.

Act Justly, Love Mercy, Wrestle G-d 
This is a mix of two religious texts.

Yes, I do so love the idea of wrestling with G-d.  

Again, as for the humor book, maybe something along the lines of:

Never Met Italian Jews?  We exist.
I could trade out Italian with Dutch or Irish as well.  Most people seem to know that French Jews exist, so I could leave that one out.  

As far as my childhood, the first one that pops into my head is related to my teenage years,

Cut It Out! Not that Bad.

Oh yeah, I was a little emo one (before "Emo" was a word).

As far as love life...hmmm...

I find myself scouring song lyrics for this one.

So, I'm opting with

Two of Us Can Do Anything

Hurts Not Much When You're Around

This one right here I think probably sums it up best:

Sacred Simplicity You At My Side

Then there's this:

Sailed Seas.  Met Storm.  Found Harbor

Okay, now enough of the cop outs with song lyrics.  I should think of something completely original.  Shouldn't I?  

Well, you know what?  I've got nothing.  I got up, made myself a snack, refilled my water bottle and brainstormed; but I'm at a complete loss.  I can't blame the kids for this either because they're in bed.  So there's no nagging or whining or banter to distract me.  There, is, however, a complete and utter lack of ideas.

I'm loving that last one.  I think I'd just go with that without the hassle of creating something completely original.

Hmmm...when thinking about my memoir, though, I'm at more than a bit of a loss.  I know, once upon a time, I came up with a few ideas, but, as I've already ranted, life has a way of stomping the hell out of creativity before it has a chance to be preserved.

One thing that popped into my head was this secret which was once featured on Post Secret.  I loved it.  I saved it.  I posted it in my house.  I admit that I've always hoped it was written about me.  I don't actually believe that, but a girl can dream.

So, using that as a jumping off point, I might go with

She's Trying To Save the World

Another one just popped into my head inspired by recent rants.

So Many Ideas Not Enough Time

And here are a few random ones:

I Freaking Love Sleep.  Unrequited Love.

Don't Die Before Seeing the World!

You Forget That I'll Kick You

Like My Dreams Better Than Reality 

There's So Much More To Learn

Chasing the Sparks In the Ocean

I Need Stories More Than Food

I Am The Legacy Of Many 

Short Weird Chick Never Shuts Up.

I'll Make My Own Damn Cape.

Hmmmm....and, perhaps, one inspired by Hemmingway,the man who, arguably, started this all.

For Sale.  Baby Shoes.  Well Worn.  

What say you?  Anyone else care to get in on this?  If you had to write your memoir in six words, what would it be?  If you had to describe your childhood, religious views, parenting, love life, etc. in six words, what would you write?

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Join me in the confessional

Yeah, I'm Jewish, so I guess the title doesn't work well.  But hey, go ahead and try to make me care.  I wish a priest would join me in the confessional.  That would be freaking fun for the Jew, don't you think?  "A priest and a Jew walk into a confessional..."

I have a confession.

Do you ever watch Jeopardy and answer their questions with, "Who is someone with whom I've never shared coffee," or "Who is someone of which, I have never heard?"  Not only have I wanted to use those answers, I HAVE used those answers, and you know what, Alex?  In damn near every situation, I was FREAKING RIGHT!

Tonight's randomness brought to you by Chocovine which is asstastic, but is both chocolate and wine at the same time.  

Oh and FTR, I no longer have a t.v. on which to watch Jeopardy, but when I did, I kicked ass on that show.  So don't think I'm an idiot.  Go ahead and think I'm buzzed, though.

Asstastic chocolate wine  Wheeeee!

Best Final Jeopardy Category Ever

Friday, March 4, 2011

If drama is a llama than everyday life is a narcoleptic sloth with insomnia.

Picture stress as a person.  Better yet, picture it as a gigantic monster of some sort.  I'm not talking about Godzilla.  That's too clean and dry.  Picture something slimier.  It oozes.  It drips.  It stomps all over the place and not only can you not run away fast enough (I keep picturing Indie and the giant rolling boulder), but you then have to clean up the mucous left in its wake.

If stress is a looming dripping monster, what then is the incessant banter of little people? I see it as teeny tiny horse-riding knights wielding sharp weapons.  There are gangs of them rampaging through my head.  They bombard normal thought and slice them in half.  These vicious loud banter knights hide in the pathway from my head to my fingers and jump out and pierce creativity before it has a chance to be born into the world.  

Then what is everyday routine?  In my mind, it's a narcoleptic sloth.  It's insane amounts of dragging and exhaustion.  Can one have insomnia AND be narcoleptic?  If so, then the everyday monotony is an insomniac narcoleptic sloth.  It's constantly exhausted, doesn't get very far because it keeps conking out, yet can't ever get enough sleep when necessary.

Maybe everyday routine is a vacuum; sucking away time, creativity, youth, gentleness, and the ability to create a list of words which accurately describe just WHAT it removes.

As if you haven't been able to guess, the malaise has set in.  Let me say, I've actually been in remarkably good spirits lately.  Sure, there are small things I wish were different, but I'm very happy with my life.  I find myself having a number of, "This is awesome," moments lately.  Yet, the daily routine leaves little to no time for creativity.  You can't sit down and read or write (for your own enjoyment, not the kids') when you have two or three meetings scheduled with the real estate agent this week or when there are crepes to be cooked (or at least supervised--and eaten, of course) with the kids for a homeschool event, or a toddler to catch as she tries to perfect her dives off the top bunk.

When I do try to channel my creativity, little people constantly pop in and talk at me or they fight with each other or someone stomps off in someone else's giraffe rain boots and screaming ensues.  It is not physically possible to create when there is screaming over giraffe boots.

Do you have any idea how many times I have started and stopped this blog entry?  Do you have any idea how many times I've caught little people reading over my shoulder?  These kids are destroying my ever loving mind  patience.

And right on freaking cue: 
Pardon me for just one moment.  We will return to your regularly scheduled blog post when my son stops telling (complete with wild hand gestures and sound effects) about the video game he will create when he's older and owns his own flying car company and...(sorry my brain is overloaded.  I have abso-freaking-lutely no idea what else he said, only that it was very very loud and insistent). 

Wait, wait, wait, can't get back to the blog entry just yet.  Oldest asked me what to do with something with which she already knew exactly what to do.  

Pardon me one more moment.  Must remove head from desk (and insert plugs in ears).  

Oh hell!  Just freaking forget it.  THIS IS EXACTLY WHAT I'M COMPLAINING ABOUT.  I had a thought.  I started this (12 freaking hours ago) with a point, but all the mundane everyday crap ran that thought and inspiration off.

There was more I wanted to write, but I'll be damned if I can remember it now.