The Great Race


We are on the slippery slope towards the end of summer vacation. I know, I know, technically it is still July, but here in Florida school starts the third week of August, which means teachers (that’s me) go back the second week (or the 12th, if you must know) and so I am feeling that horrible rushed feeling you feel when your long-awaited summer break has gone by in a flash and you haven’t gotten to all the relaxing, book-reading, getting-in-shape, healthy eating, home organizing projects that you laid out in June. Bummer.

I have, however started a great many projects. The now-famous (at least at my house) cleaning of the attic and garage of 2013 is in mid stride. This is a nice way of saying that the garage is in even worse shape now that it holds have the contents of the attic that my husband insists on trying to sell on Ebay and Craigslist (doggie car seat anyone? how about some used fencing equipment?). Luckily we can just close the door on that fiasco and hope that some of it sells. I have informed him that the garage WILL be empty by next Saturday, Ebay be damned, and the contents are going to Goodwill whether he approves or not. I have my limits.

My book writing/reading project…well… I have an outline for my book, so that’s a start. I need to read log in to the online writing a book course I purchased through Living Social. I’m sure it is full of handy information, if I can remember my password. I also vowed to get through the pile of books next to my bed. I have read a couple….and as soon as I delete Candy Crush (level 56, I’m quitting, really I am)….I know I’ll make better progress. I did start Bossy Pants by Tina Fey today at my brief stint at Jury Duty (yay…we got sent home because not enough people showed up!) and that book is downright hilarious. I will finish that in a flash..but it wasn’t on my list, it just happened to be in the car and I grabbed it. It still counts though, right?

The password project, that of getting all of my husband’s vital information/passwords, codes and other keys to our lives out of his head/phone/computer (which is also password protected) so that if he dies during his stress test tomorrow I will somehow be able to put food on the table. That one has not gotten past me nagging him. It should probably move up on the list.

The organize my closet, desk, house, life project. Ongoing as usual. People keep messing up this project. And then there’s Candy Crush. I swear it calls your name when you face a daunting task. Deleting it. Today

The healthy eating project. Ugh. Failing miserably at this. Going to the grocery store today to buy health foods that will rot in the fridge as we all scavenge through the ever dwindling supply of junk food. Why isn’t Kale as appealing as cheese-its? I can’t tell you, but it is. I am still dedicated to this project…I just need to focus. Clearly focus has been an issue this summer.

Gardening. Remember how I hate gardening but want to be good at it? Well now I saw these cool water gardens in containers on Pinterest, and you can have FISH in them, which makes them more like animal husbandry, which I LOVE. So I want to make a water garden. I am going to go look in my plant graveyard outside and see if I have a container that will work….which will distract me from the more mundane garage/healthy eating projects….all good.

The “get all the medical crap taken care of” project. I have been to the dentist, gynecologist, eye doctor. Check. Yay. Completed one project, except that I still need to get kids to orthodontist because one never wore his retainer and his teeth look like a hillbilly and I hope we don’t have to re-do the whole thing…and the other broke her “permanent” retainer (which is clearly what the other one needed!) so we have to get that fixed and I hope that’s free. And both girls need eye dr. appts….so that’s kind of an ongoing project.

The “relax and meditate” project. How am I supposed to relax with all that’s going on? Save time at end of day. Could do it instead of bedtime Candy Crush session. Good idea.

I’m off to the nursery to find water plants.

What are your summer projects? How are they going?


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Pushing the Classics


Ahhhh…there’s no place like home.  I must congratulate the two teenagers I left in charge of the place while the rest of the family was out of town. The house was clean, laundry done, all animals alive and kicking. They handled the out-of-commission hot water heater and I haven’t seen evidence of any shenanigans aside from some all night movie marathons. Granted, these two particular children would probably be voted “least likely to throw a party when their parents are out of town,”…but still. Nice job kids.

Speaking of movie marathons, however, I have to say that I think we are doing our kids a disservice when we don’t force them to watch all of those GREAT movies (like Great Books, right?) that we all cut our teeth on growing up. True, they did watch all the Back to the Future sagas, but what happened to North By Northwest, or Gigi, or The French Connection? I don’t know if I could stay up all night just to see Mulan and Little Mermaid for the hundredth time; let’s lose sleep over something important!

Granted, this sometimes backfires. My husband loved to talk about what a great movie Being There was. He built it up in their heads and when we finally all gathered on the couch to watch, it turned out to be what I always remembered it being….super boring. I don’t think we held their attention for more than the opening credits. Remember Arthur? Watch it again..not quite as funny; and forget anything with special effects, they can’t hold up to today’s technology and just look hokey (those original Star Wars and ET come to mind). But Omar Sharif? Louis Jordan? Sidney Poitier? C’mon…who can’t watch them and not love them? What about Wait Until Dark or The Bad Seed? Even some of those French movies, what was the one…. A Little Romance, I loved that movie! I see it as my personal duty to educate my children in these fine classics. I can feel a marathon coming on..but it might be during a tropical storm or something, I can’t stay up all night any more.

What classics would YOU want to see again?


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My Quiet Mid-Life Crisis, Continued….

Welcome back! And welcome back to WordPress…I hope this will be an easier format for all of us…now you can subscribe if you like!
Anyway, whenever I want to feel better about something, or at least a little more in control, I make a list. It can be pro’s and con’s, a to-do list, what have you. A list helps give you a handle o the situation, and this situation could use a handle. How to go about finding my passion? What is the meaning of life? Why am I on this planet? I have no idea, but a list can’t hurt. Here goes:
Here is the list of the things I like to do:
make lists
hang out with my family (if they’re not fighting)
go to the beach
go to the movies
go to plays
fix things (not mechanical things, but people things)
play/take care of animals
sing (but since I don’t do much of that, my voice has really gone downhill!!)
control things
Here’s the list of things I don’t really like to do, but I like the result that doing them gives me:
work out
plan (although I have to admit this could also go in the first category)
Here’s the list of things I wish I liked to do, but have to admit I just don’t (and I am bad at the first 3!)
go to classical concerts (unless my kids are playing, then I love them!)
bike ride (unless it is just around the neighborhood, that’s fine)
eat salmon
Here’s the list of things I used to like to do, but they just aren’t that fun any more:
Shop (thank goodness)
watch TV (double thank goodness)
Spend time with people that I think I should like, but I just don’t
Keep trying to like all the things in the list just above this one 
Here’s the list of things I would like to do better:
Play the harp
Sing (but neither one of those things in front of people!)
Yoga (not sure if my back will ever cooperate, or if I can get over the fact that I will NEVER have a yoga body)
Be more upbeat, happy, less sarcastic
Here’s the list of things I really hate to do, even though I have to do some of them every day because I’m a grown up and that’s what grown ups do.
Call people on the phone (especially if I don’t know them)
Public speaking/performing
Be consistent (because I’m a people pleaser…I just want to make people happy, and sometimes that’s not good in terms of discipline)
Hear any kind of bad news about my kids or spouse…especially if I have no control over it.
Art ( as in draw, paint, create…..yuck… I am SO BAD at all of it)
Have any type of confrontation with anyone….especially if I screwed up and have to own up to it.
Asking for money, even if I worked for it; which isn’t good if you own your own business
Selling myself (ditto the last thing…another reason I am not retired already) I clearly do not have my husband’s “buy low, sell high” mentality. I am more of the “give away the farm” mentality.
Bargain (see above)
Here is my list of phobias
driving over bridges (car going over, drowning in the car because I can’t get out..)
most snakes
drowning (thus the bridge phobia…and despite the fact that I swam competitively in college and was a lifeguard for 10 years)…although most of my drowning fears relate to surf” type drowning in rough surf
and here is my “bucket list” of sorts
write a book
get a PhD/law degree
take care of animals
live abroad (France? England?)
play an instrument well
go back to Llewellyn Beach in Ontario Canada (where I spent summers as a kid)
go to Nova Scotia (I have no idea why, I just want to go) 
learn to surf (might be tough with my ocean phobia!) I might stick to “buy a paddleboard”
OK, now that I’ve made my lists…this is what I can glean from it:
I like making lists! (duh)
There are some things that I have no talent for that I should just give up on. It’s OK to give up on things that you’ve tried for 40 years and still hate.
There are some things that I may have not talent for that I still want to try; I’m not dead yet.
If I want to grow my business, I should get someone else (like my husband) to handle the marketing end (buy low, sell high)
Possible Passions
I like to write and I like animals (although not necessarily writing about animals)
At some point I want to travel…but not these darned one week things that kill you….I like to be settled!
So when I think about it, I guess you could say that I am “passionate” about animals. I was a zoo keeper (more like an intern) at the LA Zoo in 1979, and I loved every minute of it. I always have pets around, and I can’t imagine not having a dog. Can’t even imagine it. So that’s one thing. Yay. There are all kinds of things I can do, now and years from now, that would fit into this category. We have all kinds of animal sanctuaries down here… and tortoise rescues, and who knows what else? Maybe backyard chickens? I have a Pinterest board with all kinds of chicken coops on it…some are practically works of art. Maybe I can get passionate about a backyard chicken coop that I sneak into my development that doesn’t allow livestock!
And my bucket list doesn’t seem completely unreal. I’m not dead yet after all. There’s still hope for many of the items on that list, and I wouldn’t be crushed if I didn’t cross off every one, It’s just a list after all. 
Mostly, I realize that I really am doing what I generally like to do. My job fits with many of my strengths and only a few of my weaknesses (public speaking, phone calls) but hey, few people truly enjoy that stuff. I’m feeling better already. I don’t have a plan, but I have a list…and that’s always a start for a plan. Perhaps a quiet crisis isn’t so bad after all. Its much easier to explain words on the page than a new Porsche in the driveway.
Anyone else out there pondering the second half of their life? Or even what to do with the first half? Do you all have passions? Or wish you did? Let me know!

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My Quiet Mid-Life Crisis

I am having a very quiet mid-life crisis. I don’t think women who are also wives and mothers and employed really have any other option, so I am having my crisis while life goes on about me. True, I got an ear piercing; but honestly, compared to the “body art” we see on a daily basis in this day and age, one little hole in my ear is hardly earth shattering news and isn't even on the same level as, say, buying aPorsche or a Harley or some other typically male mid-life crisis thing.

The crux of my crisis (don’t you just love alliteration? Mostly I just like the word alliteration and like to be able to use it in a sentence.)….Anyhow, the crux is that I am more than halfway through my life (hard to believe, I know) and I don't know what I want to be when I grow up. I don't have a passion. I don't have a “calling”. I am not any better, or any worse, at any one given thing (in general) than anybody else. I do some things well, and other things not so well, and all of those things I have known for a very long time. None of that knowledge is helping me find out what I am destined to “be”. 


Many members of my family do not have this problem. My eldest has been writing books and songs and producing plays since she was three. We even have a video of her at something like 18 months marching on our bed spinning a tale about the dogs and how they were lost and we went searching and then they came home…..she acts it all out complete with hand motions. There has never been a doubt that she would be a writer. None. 


My husband has been buying low and selling high since grade school when he sold penny candy on the schoolbus. He would stock up at the corner store, get on the bus, and have a profit in his pocket by 8:00 am. His entire family has the same gene. There is not doubt about what they do and what they are about. None. His mid-life crisis (which he had 10 years ago) involved buying tractors on Ebay..which he had fun with around our farm and then later sold at a profit. Naturally.


One of my sisters stayed up watching Johnny Carson from the time she was something crazy like 8 years old. She has seen every movie ever made and can tell you who was in it and what they are doing now. The entertainment industry is in her blood so it's no surprise she worked at places like Time Magazine and Entertainment Weekly. My other sister knew she was going to be a doctor in high school and a doctor she is.  They never questioned their passion. It was always there.


Then we have me. A double major (what a surprise, couldn't make up my mind) and then grad school (because I couldn't decide what I wanted to do) and then sort of fell into a couple of careers. I liked all of that but wasn't passionate about any of it. Then I raised a family. I LOVED that (and still do), but I was not the mom who sat on the floor all day every day thinking up amazing creative projects to do with her kids. I was the mom who bought the amazing toys so that her kids would stay occupied and she could get the laundry done. I was the mom who fell into bed exhausted at night and looked forward to the stage of parenting that wouldn't be so much work (what stage is that again?) instead of savoring each moment. I did truly love each stage of my kids' growth…..but I can't say I was passionate. I was definitely called to be a mom, but I wouldn't say it was my life's calling. Which is good, because then what do you do when your kids are grown?


So I find myself in a life I love, with a family I love and a job I love. I am luckier than 99.9% of the world, but that doesn’t stop me from wanting to, I guess, leave my mark, or feel that I had a purpose on this planet. If I am fortunate enough to have all these opportunities it seems wasteful to squander them. I don’t want people to remember me as (only) as the one who got her kids there clean and on time. 


I am going to do what I always do when I face a question. I am going to make a list. I am a control freak, so making a list helps me put the situation into a controllable framework. Check back tomorrow to see how it all works out.




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Things that Meow in the Night

We have an ancient cat. Elizabeth got her from the SPCA back in 2000 and they estimated her age at that time to be “about 2″ which is pretty much the age of every cat ever adopted from any SPCA (as far as I can tell). She was our barn cat, but when we no longer used the barn she figured out our dog door and became a house cat. I am allergic to cats, and I don’t really understand them, but this cat knew how to use a dog door instead of a litter box so I let her stay.

Fast forward to 2011. We have moved more than a thousand miles from the little farm with the barn and dog door. We now live where having a dog door serves as an open invitation to the wild kingdom to come and hang out in your house. Since my husband doesn’t want to have to call Billy the Exterminator to get rid of an opossum (yuck) from our bedroom, we decided to simply have the cat let us know when she needed to go in and out.

We started with a little bell on the door. That worked great, until she decided to play with that bell in the wee hours of the morning. Then we decided to just let her yowl. She is VERY loud. Years go by. Then, this past winter, our kitty had a run-in with a feral cat. The feral cat won, and dear Lacey injured her rear leg and can no longer jump onto the laundry room sink to get at her cat chow. (If we leave her food on the floor then the dog eats it, so don’t suggest that). So she yowls in the laundry room when she’s hungry and we pick her up. (and then I scrub my hands, ’cause I’m allergic, remember?)

So now she’s yowling to go out, yowling to come in, and yowling to eat. She also yowls just for grins. Here’s where it gets interesting. My husband can sleep through a nuclear holocaust. He did it when the kids were babies, he did it when they had the croup and when they did that “mom, I think I threw up” thing, and he does it now. Even though his side is closer to the door, he somehow NEVER hears the cat yowling after 9pm. Hmmmmm.

On the plus side, he is an extremely early riser. When the cat yowls at 5am she doesn’t have to wake him up because he’s already reading the paper, and he can usually hear her pleas for attention. One would think this would solve most of my troubles. No such luck.  This morning, early, the cat starts yowling to come in after her night out prowling or doing whatever she does all night long. He lets her in, and goes back into his cave to read. “feed her!” I yell from bed; because I KNOW that if he doesn’t go and lift her majesty the ancient cat up to her bowl that I’ll have to listen to yowling for the next 30 minutes. He disagrees. “How do you know she’s hungry?” he queries.  “Because she’s ALWAYS hungry when she comes in” I answer, not so happy to be having this conversation more than an hour before dawn.  “Are you sure?” he says.

You can see how this went down. I am now awake. I get up. I take that darn cat to the laundry room and hoist her up. I wash my hands. Now I have to pee, and wash my hands again, and brush my teeth while I’m at it, and then TRY to go back to bed.  

 I had almost forgotten this whole exchange (because it happens almost daily) until just now.  It’s 8 o’clock in the evening and the cat just came in, and he reminded me that he was unconvinced about the relationship between entry and eating as it pertained to the cat. Rather than take the bait, I started typing.  I feel much better now, but I fear that nothing but time and the passage of about 4 more  kitty cat lives will do much to free us from the yowler at the door.

Sleep well.

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Dinner Conversations

There’s nothing like an old-fashioned family meal to stimulate interesting conversation. At least that’s what you hear. I thought so too, until last night. We don’t sit down together often enough, and since everyone is finally home from all their travels, I thought last night would be a great opportunity for a nice dinner together. The conversation went as follows:

Oliver: Mom, could I please have more of that yummy steak juice for my rice?

Anna: Oliver, do you mean more BLOOD?

Oliver: What are you talking about?

Anna: You know that the “juice” is really BLOOD from a COW.

Oliver: MOM!


Anna: Yes mom? Oh, and Adam, that steak was a cow not too long ago.

Adam, placing a strip of steak on top of his arm: Oh, you mean like this?

Oliver: I am going to be sick.

Elizabeth: That’s why I’m a vegetarian.

The meal went pretty much downhill from there. Including complaints about chores, dish-doing,  the uselessness of summer homework, and various arguments for single child families.

This is why I send my children to sleep-away camp each summer. But then again, where would I get my material?


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the beauty of technology

My husband was very unhappy with my last blog post. “So don’t read them” I said to him. “I can’t help it,” he replied, “I subscribe.” He is uncertain why I would want to post such mean things about our family on the internet for all to see. I explained that “all” is a very relative term, and that I was only venting, I don’t really hate my husband OR my children, and that writing keeps me from shooting people or doing drugs. He was not sympathetic. He told me to stop.

So I did. Then today I wondered if I could actually control my subscribers. What a great notion! (True, if he had me on an RSS feed I was screwed I think) but guess what? I CAN control my subscribers, all 3 of them…well now there are 2. See how easy that was? Now he won’t be bothered, and I don’t have to think up another catch phrase for my blog! I feel so savvy.

Since my last post I HAVE indeed become somewhat of a crock-pot mom. Meaning that I haul the thing out once or twice a week now; but at least I’m making the effort to put a meal on the table..and someone it seems so politically correct in these tough times to be making a crock-pot stew (or in tonight’s case, a pot-roast) what’s more all American than pot roast?

I hope everyone’s kids are settling into the school routine. I am proud to say that mine are managing to drag their little behinds out of bed pretty well lately and my yelling has been minimized. I think that’s also because it’s before 7am and my lungs aren’t at full capacity then. It is dark in Florida before 7…it seems a little sacrilegious to be yelling before dawn unless you’re a drill sergeant, and I am definitely NOT in good enough shape to call my self by that name.

That’s really all for now. I’ll try to think of some great topics now that big-brother isn’t watching me. Happy New Year for those of you in the tribe…I made my first batch of Matzoh Ball Soup (only because the school where I’m working had the day off and I felt I should at least COOK something Jewish) and it was YUMMY. I love soup. Isn’t fall a great time for soup? Oh, and it works in the crock pot!  Will coincidences never cease?



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