What Did You Expect……..

When my daughter got wind of yesterday’s topic- there was a bit of eye rolling.  “Really?  You don’t think you have expectations of me?”  Yes- she’s right, I’m wrong.  I said it.  While I don’t expect her to stay in New York, get married or have children, I do expect the following.

  1. Self-confidence.  Don’t confuse this with cockiness.  I mean, when she wakes up in the morning she knows she has value and worth as a person.  She has to own who she is- quirks and all
  2. Empathy.  I want her to understand that some people have not been as fortunate as others.  And everyone has some sort of cross to bare
  3. Self- respect.  To not let others treat her with disrespect
  4. Respect- to always treat others with respect, not to degrade another person, or animal, or belief system
  5. Take care of health and body- sleep, eat properly and drink water.  Exercise.  Listen to the cues your body is sending.
  6. Take care of your emotional health.  Understand your emotions and deal with them in a healthy manner
  7. Lead a balanced life- I know I’m skating on thin ice with this one.  My daughter likes to study.  She also has a bunch of extracurricular clubs, and community service and a tutoring job.  She can sometimes forget about socializing.  I make her see her friends in a social setting for at least a few hours a week.  I ask her if two hours at brunch or shopping at Urban Outfitters will seriously screw up the space time continuum.  I do not do this at the end of a marking period though.  I respect that she has 72 hours worth of work to fit into a 24 hour time span.
  8. Think about the consequences of an action before she carries it out, and take responsibility of that action if it goes awry.  I may or may not bail her out
  9. Don’t cheat.
  10. Don’t take things that are not hers
  11. Take responsibility for her bedroom.  Help with household chores.  Help take care of the pets
  12. If their is a problem with a teacher, coach, boss, whatever, she handle the situation herself.  I’ll always be there to back her up, but if she thinks something isn’t fair or right, it’s her battle to fight.
  13. Be a Met fan.  There is no rooting for another baseball team if you live under this roof.

The following are more hopes than expectations:

  1. Try not to hurt other people.  I realize that sometimes you can’t help this.  But don’t hurt others intentionally.
  2. Surround herself with positive people that encourage and motivate, and don’t take advantage of her
  3. Try her best at everything she does.  That does not mean being the best, or winning or getting A’s.

And there you have it……

What to Expect When You Have Expectations 

A few weeks ago I had coffee with some friends.  As often happens with people in their fifties who have children fast approaching college age, the talk turned to retirement.  Where do we want to retire.  I stated that I loved NYC, but was growing tired of the cold  winters and humid summers.  I was considering alternate locations to spend out the remainder of my life.  One friend said “But what about your daughter?  Don’t you want to be near her and your grandkids?”

Now lets think about a slightly different scenario.  I was watching a home show the other day.  Couple enters a house, and the first thing the wife says is “Can’t you imagine the girls walking down this staircase for prom?  And their weddings?”

What do these two situations have in common, other than I witnessed both?

They both include scenarios that show how people unknowingly put expectations on children.  Now, these might seem harmless, children, proms, weddings…..But are they really harmless?

Let’s say, I plan my retirement around my daughter living in New York City.  I tell her that I am going to stay here because she is here.  I tell her that I am going to stay here because of my grandchildren.  Now- what if my daughter doesn’t want to stay in NYC?  What if she wants to move to Chicago.  Does she feel guilt about moving to Chicago because I told her I’m making life plans to live in New York?  Does she end up living in a place she doesn’t want to, because I have the expectation of her living near me?

And Grandchildren.  What if my daughter doesn’t want children?  Is it fair to assume that I will be a Grandmother?  Where does my expectation fit in her reality?

How often do we unknowingly push our expectations of what a child’s life should look like?  How often do we expect them to fit in a “traditional” life plan?  Do Mom’s assume that their daughters will go to prom?  What if your child doesn’t get asked, or gets rejected?  What if proms are just not their thing?  As a parent, how disappointed are you going to be?  Have you purchased a house with a grand staircase just for the photo op?  Now weddings- who has dreamt about walking a child down the aisle of a church?  Well- what if your child doesn’t want to get married in a church?  What if they choose to follow a different religious path?  Your expectations.  Their reality.

You are now going to get another peak in what I like to call my mind.  Be warned- my thought process is not for the faint hearted.  On Monday I spoke of rote behavior.  On Tuesday I spoke of giving options, but letting kids choose what path to take.  Throw these ideas in a blender-( like that game “Can these things be blended?”)  The result is this- Set aside your rote expectations of what your children are “supposed” to be.  Let them choose their journey.

There is nothing wrong with taking your child to the park to toss a baseball (except in NYC where you need a ball throwing permit).  The activity it great- bonding time, lots of fun, fresh air, etc.  But when you take your 3 year old out to the field, are you thinking “This is going to be fun, sharing something I love with my kid” or is it, “If I start early enough, my kid could be the next Derrick Jeter.”  ?

I have a friend who is a huge sports nut.  His son likes art.  This Father made his kid play sports, because the Father wanted it.  This ended in what I will call stalemate.  Father makes son play.  Kid is in game but doesn’t try, makes errors.  Father yells at kid for not giving his best effort.  Kid says why should I give my best effort, I hate baseball.  I don’t want to be here.  Parental expectation.  Child reality.

There is no singular correct path to choose in life.  I repeat- there is no singular correct path to choose in life.  You weigh the options- list the pros and cons- choose what path fits.  When children are young, allow them the opportunity to make certain choices about their life.  Let them choose an activity that they love and look forward to- not one that you love, or think will make them famous, or look good on a resume.  When your children become adults, don’t pressure them to do things because they are “supposed” to.  (One word of clarification- all children should have the ability to support themselves.  You supporting them is not the option I’m talking about.  I realize that sometimes adults must live with parents due to health issues, but extreme situations aside, your kid needs to have a job and a dwelling)  Don’t pressure them about relationships, marriage, children, houses versus condos careers.  Don’t expect that their life trajectory is going to be exactly what yours was/is.

I’m going to close with an anecdote from my childhood.  When I was young, schools routinely administered IQ tests.  My IQ was on the higher side.  Because of this, my Mother had certain expectations of my abilities.  In third grade, I came home with a test.  I showed my Mom- “Look Mom.  I got a 98.”  Her answer…”If you tried harder you would have had 100″.  Repeat this scenario about a million times.  What kind of high school student do you think I was? Now, I ended up with a B average, which is OK, but I never studied.  I never tried at all.  I grew up thinking that nothing I did was good enough, so why bother trying.  This led me to about a billion lousy decisions in my life.  Up until I was 35 I was still trying to get my Mother’s approval- live up to her unrealistic expectations.  It wasn’t only in academics that she had unrealistic expectations.  It was in everything.

Think about the messages that you are sending your children.  You don’t have to agree with me- but just think about what expectations you are putting on your children.  And if those expectations are crushing your kids.


What’s the Lesson

Blogging is a funny thing. I usually write about anecdotes in my life, and the lessons I’ve learned from them.  Sometimes I’m funny, sometimes I’m serious, but at the end of the day, I hope I’ve told some sort of story.  On any given Sunday, I jot down possible blog posts for the week, and then I start thinking about them, listing ideas, whatever.  I had a particular blog scheduled in my head for today, but I realize that I need to do a prequel in order for you to better understand my position.  This is a hard post for me, because it is about a time in my life when I really and truly believed I’d failed as a parent.  So here goes…..

In New York City, especially Manhattan, children apply to public middle schools and high schools.  And yes, this mean at 10 years old what you do in school matters.  Every grade, every standardized test counts- these things will literally decide your future.  When  a child is in 5th grade they are taught the basics of a resume and what to do on an interview.  They spend two months touring schools figuring out which school is the right fit for them.  Then, In December, you rank the schools that you want to apply to.  After a school has received notification that you wish to go there, the fun really begins.  There are additional placement tests, there are portfolios, there are interviews.  Sound horrific?  Well- it is.

My daughter worked really hard in elementary school.  Her grades were consistently “exceeds grade standard”.  Her test scores were consistently “exceeds grade standard”.  She loved school- she loved learning. When she chose to apply to one of the most difficult middle schools, not one person batted an eye.  She was clearly a top student in the city.

The school she chose had both an additional placement test and a group interview.  The group interview would be about 5 kids in a room being asked questions.  Sounds harmless.  Except, my daughter was/is a more shy child.  She will never be the loudest voice in the room.

So you know where this is going.  My daughter did not get accepted into the school. She got accepted into a school that she did not want to go to- she only put it on the list because it is close to our house.   She hated the thought of the Middle School she was being “forced ” to attend.  She was sullen and morose.

We knew she did not get into the school because of the interview.  I knew the kids that were in the room with her, and I knew one of the children was always the center of attention.  My daughter did not know how to compete with someone who was stealing the show.  Why should she?  She’s 10.  So, a child with a lesser work ethic and lower grades received a spot in this school.  She didn’t understand how life could be this unfair.  This child never did their homework, was a troublemaker, and didn’t care about school- yet this child had received the golden ticket.

What do you think my summer was like?  Husband blamed me- because someone has to be blamed.  He said I indulged my daughter and I allowed her to be shy.  She was never going to get anywhere by being shy.  I won’t bore you with what I said back to him……

And the daughter.  She was devastated.  She kept talking about how unfair it was- how she deserved the spot based on past results.  She voiced why should she work hard if it’s all fate in the end.  She begged me to homeschool her.  She told me that only dumb people and convicts went to the middle school she was assigned.  (which wasn’t true- it’s actually an excellent school, just large)

I did not know what to do.  I was at a loss.  How do I help my daughter thru this?

As the first day of school closed in on us, I figured I’d try the proverbial “Hail Mary”.  I sat her down, and I said the following…”Life is unfair.  Get used to it.  More often than not- things will not go your way.  This is just the first example of how crappy life can be.  Should you have gotten that spot in the school?  Of course I think so….but I always think you should get everything you want.  I’m your Mom.  I think you’re the greatest force in the universe- and you will be that no matter what school you attend.  I know you feel like crap right now.  I know you feel like what’s the point in doing homework and studying and paying attention if it really doesn’t matter in the end.  So here’s the deal- you have two choices- 1) you can be sad sack.  You can enter the building but not be present.  You don’t have to do homework.  You don’t have to study.  You don’t have to pay attention.  At 2:40 you can leave the building, not take part in any activities, not make any friends.  You can literally do nothing the next three years.  Then there’s option 2)- you can do what you’ve always done- study hard, pay attention, get involved.  Make the most of the opportunities that are in front of you.  At the end of the day- it’s your ride.  You choose what to make of your life.  Which option you choose doesn’t affect me at all- my life does not change based on your life path.  My life is the same no matter what you do.  I don’t care what grade you get, or what you do.  In fact, it would be better for me if you are a slacker, because then I don’t feel compelled to pay for college.  That’s a whole lot of money that I can do other things with.  But which path will give you more options?  Which path will give you the opportunity to try different things, to figure out who you are, and what you want to be?  Here’s the fork in the road- you can choose to care about school, or you can choose not to.  The choice is yours.  But rest assured- you will enter that Middle School building on Thursday and I will not be home schooling you.”

My daughter chose to work hard.  She chose to get involved and make the most of the opportunities in front of her.  But it was her choice.  I just gave her the tools to think about how to make that choice.  I  was honest and open, and I didn’t try to sugar coat anything.

Tomorrow, we will continue the essence of this anecdote, but take it in a slightly different direction.



I Did it Without Thinking

I was running errands the other day, walking down Park Avenue South when  I stopped at a corner.  No big deal- that’s what you do when walking the city streets- you stop at the corner.  The only difference was, I could see the westbound street was closed to traffic- there would be no car intersecting my path.  Yet I stopped anyway.  Why?  Because I did it by rote- 30 years of crossing streets in New York – I stop at the corners.

I think certain aspects of repetitive behavior are fine- brushing teeth, washing hands…..I even believe that school kids should be taught to memorize the times tables (in my mind 5×5=25- I know there is a reason for that, but at the end of the day, 5×5=25 is 5×5=25, because it is.  I don’t want to hear they need to show work, or draw 5 groups of 5 sticks, or be told it’s OK if they got the wrong answer as long as the work is right- tell that to a boss when the till is constantly off- “I know I gave out the wrong change- but my process was right)  Oh wait- I digress- where was I?

Rote. Unconscious behavior.  Doing an action without even thinking about it.  When I wake up in the morning I look at my phone- reflexively.  I check the time, I check the message bar for texts, emails or missed calls.  I check the weather.  I just do it without thinking.

How often to you unconsciously pick up your phone to check, let’s just say, the time?  There are times we legitimately need to know the time- but most of the time, do you just reflexively do it?

This past weekend, Husband and Daughter spent some time at a relatives rented beach house.  This family consists of 3 kids, 12 and under and Mom and Dad.  The beach house had a pool complete with floats and pool toys,  a tennis court and a foosball table- I think there was even a basketball hoop.  There was a 1000 piece jigsaw puzzle open on the table, a bunch of board games on a shelf.  There were plenty of things to do.

My family went out to play tennis.  When they got to the court they realized there was a wasp infestation on the court.  Even though the host family had been there a week, no one had gone out to the tennis courts- they had no idea there were so many bugs you couldn’t play.

Daughter wrote up a foosball round robin tournament schedule.  There would be no prizes- just everyone playing the same game at the same time.  This was met by a chorus of “Oh- I don’t know” and “Maybe later”.  Eventually, she got the young boys to play.  But not the girl or the parents.

When they went out to dinner, the host family just pulled out their cell phones the moment they sat at the table.  My Husband tried to talk to the other Guy- but other guy was staring at his screen.  There was no actual conversation.  The only utterances were the Mom telling the kids what they could, and more often, could not eat.  “Stop eating bread.  No- you can’t get the ribeye- it has too much fat.”

Now- I wasn’t there for this meal- I was happily cleaning my apartment, watching our pets…..so how can I recreate this scene?  Because this family is on autopilot- they do the same thing every time they are anywhere.  They might all be in the same room, but they are acting as individuals, not a family unit.  They sit down, they pick up their electronic device.  They don’t talk.  It is habit.

What a habit.  Sit down with your family and pick up your phone.  I think that will be my New Years resolution.  I mean really, what’s the point of vacation if you need to talk to the other members of your family.  jigsaw puzzles?  Who does those anymore? (you  can’t see me, but I’m raising my hand- but our tradition is a winter holiday jigsaw puzzle- but I’m digressing again…)

Does a family need to play games together to be happy?  Do a Mom and Dad need to go into the pool with the kids?  Does a family need to talk to one another?  Or should we all just be on autopilot, looking at one another, but not seeing.  Hearing one another, but not listening.  Sharing space with people, but not sharing lives.  Picking up our phones because they are there, that flashing screen is infinitely more interesting…..

And I love my smart phone.  I love my ipad. I often look at them because they are there, because it is learned behavior. But maybe picking them up should be done consciously, when I have a legitimate reason- like reading all your blogs……



Sunday Wrap Up

The weather has been hot- I am actually looking forward to cooler temperatures.  Cooler, meaning 60’s- lets not get crazy.  This was a fairly quiet week- but here’s what went on.  I have received no compensation for anything discussed here.  All things are located in NYC unless otherwise specified.  Ratings are 0-5.


“Everything I Never Told You” Celeste Ng  Ummm- where do I start?  Not a great book for the Mother of a teenage girl to read.  But it was well written.  Story somewhat interesting.  4


“The Next Food Network Star”- I picked Jason.  Jason won.  I think he’s fun.  Looking forward to his show.  4

“Broadchurch”  Series finale.  I will miss David Tenant screaming “Millerrrrr”. but I will not miss much else.  I didn’t love the 3rd and final season.  3.5

“Garage Sale Mysteries- Hallmark Mystery Channel”  I love a cozy mystery- even though these are a bit silly and predictable.  3.5


Nathan’s Hot Dogs- Coney Island Brooklyn.  There might not be anything better than thick crinkle fries and a hot dog near the beach.  And an orangeade to complete the picture.  4.8

The Smith- Midtown- This NYC based chain (I don’t know if it is a chain, but it has multiple locations, so I’ll call it a chain) is one of my go to’s if I need a place for a group, or I have friends in from out of town.  The menu is just varied enough to please most diners, and the prices aren’t ridiculous.  Good drink menu (3 champagne cocktails!) and fun vibe.  But….this comes with a caveat.  Why I was waiting for my friend, a group of people came out- a young woman in her early 20’s and what I can assume were her parents- if I had to guess, I think they were slightly older than me.  They did not eat here- they left complaining to their daughter that it was much too loud and too “not them” (I don’t know exactly what this means though- I can only eavesdrop so much)  So while I think it is a fun, cool atmosphere, others may not.  I still like splitting their homemade chips with blue cheese fondue and burgers. 4

Bar Primi- I love pasta.  This place has good pasta.  No- make that great pasta.  All pasta is homemade and my friend from Illinois said it has spoiled her from ever eating pasta at home.  I had a dish with fresh corn, mushrooms and scallions in a light cream sauce- it was so good.  So good that I wish it was socially acceptable to lick a plate clean.  And they have a slushy rose cocktail….4.6

Daily Provisions- This is a take out place, with a couple of counters to stand at.  I had what is known as OG- it’s like a cheesy croissant like pastry filled with scrambled eggs.  It was delicious.  It’ sinful that eggs can taste this good-  4.6


New York Aquarium- Coney Island Brooklyn.  This is a very average aquarium, and they are presently undergoing renovations.  But it’s fish and otters and sea lions.  On the boardwalk at Coney Island.  And it has memories for me- I went here as a kid.  I took my daughter here when she was little.  When she was 5, her dream job was to be the person who worked at the touch tank. 3.5

Stop the Zombies- Deno’s Wonderwheel Amusement Park- Coney Island.  This is a 4D virtual experience where you and 15 other people try to save NYC from Zombies.  This was so much fun!  And I came in last at shooting zombies, and I still loved it (Yes- at the end they rank the zombie hunters) Tip- sit in the front row. 4.5


I solved 3 pesky organizational problems (thank you Container Store for helping with the drawer compartmentalizing).  I have gotten rid of a large bag of clothing.  Yay me.  I jammed the shredder and it took me 45 minutes to unjam it.

I intended to finish another book this week, but it is a book for book club.  It is a long book for book club- about a convent in 16th century Italy.  I may never finish it…….

I have ideas floating around in my head about family and parenting.  Expect a blog on these topics in the coming weeks.

I reached a personal high score on Ballz, but the family is still ahead of me!  I did manage to beat the husband at words with friends!

I had some issues with the wordpress update….I needed to uninstall and reinstall and I’m still trying to make sure it’s all working correctly.  Also, anyone who emails me blogs or anything….I am way behind on emails!  I’ll get there!  Thanks!

Thank you to all who commented this week.  You guys inspire me with your ideas and thoughts.  Also- I welcome those who have a different opinion than I do.  Don’t be afraid to disagree- I am always looking to improve my mind- though we all know- I am always right…….


The Versatile Blogger Award

I would like to thank https://caterpillars2butterfliesblog.wordpress.com/ for nominating me for this award.  This blog is honest and heartfelt and real-everything I look for in a blog!  Please check out her blog!!

1.) Thank the bloggers who nominated you and share their links.
2.) Nominate at least 10 bloggers for the award and provide links to their blogs.
3.) Also inform them about their nomination.
4.) Reveal 7 facts about yourself that your readers may not know.

Ok- I’m going to try to think of things I have not revealed:

  1. I hate stirring my hot tea with a wooden stirrer- I use a straw instead
  2. I have hazel eyes
  3. my favorite color is hot pink
  4. My left pinky toe curves over the toe next to it- it is not pretty
  5. I took a ride in a hot air balloon in New Mexico- I am afraid of heights, but for some reason I had no problem with this.  It was awesome.
  6. Catfish is my favorite guilty pleasure TV show
  7. I passed the test to be a contestant on Who Wants to be a Millionaire, but I have never been selected to appear on the show

I would like to nominate the following blogs:





I’m only nominating a few people, as I have a few more blogger awards to go!  As always, no harm, no foul if you don’t want to participate.  This is supposed to be fun, not torture!

Who’s in Charge Here…..

I love my Mom.  I know she has made mistakes about things, but I also know she has always had the best of intentions.  That took me about 50 years to figure out.  But….my Mom can also drive me crazy.  Because even though she has known me my entire life, she still does not understand me.  Or chooses not to understand me- I’m really not sure which……

She pet sat for us last month when we were on vacation.  She loves to go to the theater, we live in the city.  We needed someone to take care of the girls.  This was a win/win situation. And I really do appreciate the help.  Truly.


My Mom’s hobby is shopping.  Seriously.  Shopping.  She DVR’s shows on the shopping channels.  Mom only uses the internet is to look for things to buy.  The only reason she wishes she didn’t sell her big suburban house is because it had lots of rooms to store the things she purchases.  She literally has gadgets for everything.  And multiples of everything.  When I go to her condo, I want to bang my head against the kitchen cabinets- because she has so much stuff, it is impossible to find what you actually need.  (This problem also causes her to rebuy things that are already in the house….it’s a vicious cycle)

Now, if you read yesterday- you know I am a serious purger of goods- I hate clutter.  I hate things that take up space.  I am clearly function over form.

So what happens when a person who values objects stays at the home of her daughter who hates things?  Well- Mom buys things that she thinks will be helpful.  And daughter doesn’t want them, but feels a little bad, because she knows her Mom is trying to be helpful.  But maybe no one actually needs to be helped……

Case in point- the laundry basket.  I have a rattan hamper- it is just attractive enough to sit in my bedroom and not make my eyes sore, it is just large enough to hold clothes for a few days, small enough to fit in my bedroom, and light enough to carry down to laundry room.  My Mother bought me a different laundry bag- because mine didn’t make sense to her.  Hers was “better”.  For ten minutes she extolled the virtues of her laundry system over mine.  She exclaimed “Isn’t this great?”  to which I answered, “Not really.  If I wanted that I would have bought that.”  She made a hmpf sound.  I felt a little guilty- after all, she just pet sat for me- she didn’t have to do that.  But I’m 53 years old- I can figure out my own laundry solutions.

I also know, that in the end, it is about control.  My Mom still wants to control everything I do.  I get that- to a point.  I am a control freak (I know- you guys are shocked to hear this)  I like things to be my way- because I know everything, and I’m always right…… (My Husband has actually said to my Daughter- just listen to Mom- she’s always right)


No one can control everything.  There is a point when you have to let your kids make their own decisions- you can guide them- but the final choice is theirs.  Kids have to learn how to make choices- list out pros and cons, figure out the worst case scenario…..They also need to learn to adapt if something isn’t working, know when something is seriously wrong and needs to be scrapped- learn how to take control of their own lives.  This only comes by trial and error.  A parents job is to help them pick up the pieces if something fails- to support them emotionally if the choice they made was wrong.  If my laundry storage system goes awry, I should be able to call my Mom and cry, without her saying “I told you so”.

So what’s the point?

  1. Don’t buy your kids things just because you think they need it or will make their lives better- ask them first,  They’re allowed an opinion.
  2. Don’t feel guilty about saying “No” to a parent- it’s not healthy to say “Yes” to anything you don’t want to do
  3. Let your kids lead their own lives.  They’ll probably be fine.

Countdown to September

Since my daughter entered school, I’ve always thought of September as the beginning of the year.  So in August I do a lot of organizing/housekeeping things.  This is a glimpse into the crazy that is my brain:  my August to do list.

  1. Use all food that is in my pantry and freezer.  I like to know that there is no food product in my house that is over a year old.  I will use every can, box, grain or frozen thing before the month is up.  I don’t have a large pantry- but I end up with an odd assortment of grains- half container of quinoa, half container of barley.  There are also cans of soup that we pick up “just in case”- this never happens- my family hates canned soup.  And there is always an errant chicken breast or half bag of shrimp loitering in my freezer- I want them gone!  On the Tuesday after Labor Day, I will begin buying things again.
  2. Buy printer supplies and paper.  I know- this is a logical back to school step.  And I once had to run out to the 24 hour staples to pick up ink- I will never do that again.
  3. Buy new towels and pillows.  I know there are January white sales- but really- with online shopping, there is always a sale somewhere.
  4. Empty every drawer, shelf and closet in our house.  I take a long hard look at what we have.  I think about what we use, and if we haven’t used something, I consider how much it will cost to replace if we ever need it again.  I have yet to donate something that I ended up rebuying.  (my Achilles heel are charging cords.  I can’t throw them away- I always wonder if I’ll need them and be unable to replace them. I actually have a box of them in our storage locker)
  5. I reorganize where our possessions are stored.  I try to keep like objects together.  This makes it logical to try and find something.  I also try to keep most used objects in an easily accessed spot.  Simplify.
  6. I set aside one or two things my daughter did in school.  (I have saved more like 8 things a year from when she was younger- sue me) I either frame the work and hang on my wall, display on a shelf, or place it in a portfolio book.
  7. I make my family donate 10-20 pieces of spring/summer clothing that they did not wear.  I look over summer clothing to see what basics will need to be replaced next year, and I make a note in my electronic date book for March 1- reminding me that some basics are needed so I can begin to look.  I do not buy clothes at end of season sales.  I have found that we never really love these pieces, but are swayed more by the inexpensive price.  if you don’t love something, you are not going to wear it.  if you don’t wear it, you’ve wasted money.
  8. I review our medical history for the first 8 months of the year.  I see how much of our FSA has been used.  We need to make allocations for the following year in October- August is the time to review this information.
  9. I update my calendar with the school calendar- to see when there are vacations and scheduled half days.  I also mark down high school specific meetings and events.
  10. I reevaluate how my paper organizing system is working.  Even though I feel like I am receiving all things electronically, I still end up with a mountain of paper.  Every year I refine my system for dealing with the paper monster.
  11. I reevaluate how I deal with my personal to do list and date book.  Again- this is always a work in progress- I always think I can make things more streamlined.

Wish me luck- this weekend will be the big shelf/drawer reorg.  You can find me at the donation center.  pulling my hair out.


It’s odd how some things come together.  One blogger friend writes about a word every day, and how it impacts his life.  Another blogger friend wrote about characters in TV shows.  And yet another wrote about the theme music on Good Times.  My friends father died last week.  This past weekend was the birthday of a dear friend of mine who passed away 7 years ago.  A fourth blogger has been posting about the end of his life, as cancer has taken over his body.  Today’s blog is inspired by all these things- it’s an ensemble.

When my daughter was in Pre-k, I met 4 parents.  Our children were all in the same class.  This was our first experience with the New York City public school system- these were our first (and for most) only children.  We had a lot to learn.  Parenting is so hard- we were afraid that we were screwing up at every turn. We needed support, so our little band of five was formed.  Our own personal ensemble cast- there wasn’t really a star (OK it was me….) but a group of great supporting actors.  We began meeting for coffee every morning after drop off.

These friends literally got me through early elementary school.  If I had an issue, a problem, an idea about child rearing- I threw it out to the group.  This was my safe space- where I could ask questions, give advice, laugh and cry.  These were my people.  We were what the best ensembles were- a collaboration of people, who alone were okay, but together could change the world.  Or run a school event.  Same thing.

But we were geeks- specifically about pop culture.  We read, we watched movies, we watched TV.  We all loved sit coms.  We would quote from sit coms as a part of our daily lives.  We would have debates over shows, and characters, and favorite episodes.  We could relate almost any situation on our lives directly to a TV show- this is like the Chinese restaurant in Seinfeld, this is like the Smelly Cat episode on Friends.

Then, when our kids were in third grade- G wasn’t feeling so well.  He went to doctor after doctor- but no one could see anything wrong.  Until they did.  He got the prognosis on the morning of the spring parent teacher conferences.  As we sat in the pizza place with the kids, eating our now traditional half day of school lunch- we could not look at one another.  While the kids still retained their innocence- the adults did not.  Nothing would ever be the same again.  Six weeks later he was gone.

His memorial service- hundreds of people- including his Grandmother- stood around eating mini hot dogs, drinking Dirty Martini’s (his drink)- wondering how this could happen to a 45 year old man, wo had three little kids.  We held each other, cried and laughed, and cried some more.  When I spoke to the crowd, I held back the tears- G would not want be to cry during the eulogy.  He would want me to remember him the way he lived his life- and I did my best.  I told stories about our little band of 5- how we would spend hours talking about nothing- which was really everything.  And I ended my speech with a quote from Frasier, our favorite show.  On the series finale, Niles says to his brother, “I’ll miss the coffees.”  And that was the bet way to sum up an amazing friendship and amazing person.

Last weekend would have been his 53rd birthday- the same age I turned this year.  And I still miss his laugh, his wit, his biting satire, his humanity, and his take on pop culture.  His presence in my life changed me- for the better.  I’m a better person for having known him.

And remember way back in the first paragraph?  All those things?  Our lives, our stories, are made of little bits and pieces of everything around us.  Anything can trigger a memory, or an idea.  And all those things made me think of G, on his birthday.  And made me cry a little, and made me laugh a little.

And thanks to the following, who unknowingly inspired me:




http://www.spearfruit.com/-  Courage and honor.




My closest friend was born in Korea.  I belong to a tea society that is 99% African American.  My Husband is a different religion than I am.  My daughter attended a middle school that was 73% minority.  I have almost as many gay friends as I have straight friends.  My daughter attended kindergarten with a child that knew they were trans even then.  She knows children who practice many different religions and are of varied  nationalities  I’m not bragging- I’m just giving you some facts about me.  I don’t hate anyone based on how they are different from me.  I choose to live in a city not just for the cultural opportunities that it affords- I choose it for the diversity.  I choose to live in a large multi cultural city so that my daughter grows up knowing that people are different and that’s Ok.

My bucket list item is to visit every state.  The end goal is not to have a 50 piece shot glass collection- the goal is to learn as much about people as possible.  I like to learn about how people spend their time, the types of jobs that are available, the regional foods.  Though I choose to live in NYC, I have visited many places that I thought were amazing.  If you follow my blog, you know I fell in love with Maine, Boston and Cape Cod this year.  I have met people that are vastly different from me, and some that are eerily alike. We have met people that had never met someone that lived in Manhattan.  We have met people that have never met someone who is Jewish.

I read all sorts of blogs- I appreciate writing style more than actual content.  I love to read when people answer “Share your World” or award questions.  This is a great snippet into how other people live and think.  I get more important information about life from these posts than I get from formal essays.  This is when people are real- because they are just telling you about themselves- almost unguarded.

So what’s the point of all these words?

If you want to get rid of hate, I suggest the following for every single person.  Every single one.  No exceptions.^

  1. Read a blog of someone that is different from you in some way.  Learn one new thing about this person every day, or whatever.
  2. Randomly pick a book out of the library.  I don’t advocate reading something you hate- but give it a try.  Try to understand something that is foreign to you
  3. Try food from a place you can’t even locate on a map.  And don’t order the closest thing that resembles something you like.  A chicken satay is not really venturing out of your comfort zone if you eat chicken all the time.
  4. Visit a place you have never been- whether it’s a city, a state or a country.
  5. Visit an environment that is different from yours.  This is one thing I hate about some New Yorkers- they have such tunnel vision they can’t fathom there is life outside of the Hudson/East Rivers.  When we went to Tennessee on vacation a few years ago, people kept asking if we were visiting family- they couldn’t fathom why we would go there.  FYI- loved Tennessee- great state- amazing memories.

6. Read a newspaper that has opinions different from your own.  Try to understand                why someone has a different opinion that yours.  I read something recently that                  most people only read things that further the beliefs they already have.  This is not            good- you have to understand both sides of a story.  My daughter was a debater in              middle school- she had to study both sides of a question.   This experience was                     invaluable- she always thinks out both sides of an argument before coming to a                  conclusion.  We all should be thinking both sides of an argument before coming to            a conclusion.

7.  Visit a house of worship different than your own.  Learn about someone’s else’s faith.

What is my grand plan?

Every elementary school classroom in the US should have a partner class in another part of the country.  They should exchange letters, recipes, life stories, life styles…everything.  Classes can skype one another- give kids a peak into the lives of others.  That’s what core curriculum should include- learning, from an early age, how people are different, yet the same- and that it’s all good.

Ending hate will require every person to make a commitment to learning about others.

I do not want this to become political.  I specifically do not write about political issues, so please don’t comment about politics, no matter what your opinion is.  I want to stop dividing ourselves into two factions-I want us all to  embrace the differences, but find the similarities.