Thursday, December 12, 2019

Year End Update

I think this has been the slowest writing year yet since I started this blog. It's not even for all the reasons I've stated before, but I'll tell ya, it's old age. Not old-old, but I swear, when I'm in the shower, I think of things I want to write about when I get to work. Then I get to work and totally forget what I wanted to write. So, you missed some really good thoughts, but they just flew right out of my head.

Today I decided to write because I've had a doozy of a past few months, I've gotten some new gadgets, we've had some life experiences, and I'm sure some people also think that I've been a little missing in action.

School started in September and it's been a whirlwind. I feel like it just started and we're closing in on winter vacation. Or Staycation as we like to call  it. Yesterday I was at work and a client asked if something could be ready for Christmas. B said probably not because that's only like two weeks away. TWO WEEKS?? I don't really care because holidays aren't stressful or any more action packed than any other time for us, but I just wasn't thinking, "two weeks". We never even decorated our house with any holiday cheer, which we usually do. Glad E didn't notice because it's less for B to do- the putting up and taking down of it all. Maybe it also feels faster because Thanksgiving was late this year, thus giving us less time for the whole Christmas-frenzy.

I don't know if I wrote about it but in June, our water heater broke and left us with inches of water in the basement. We had full carpet down there. It took forever for the insurance to go through because right after that happened to us, there was a hurricane or some other extreme weather down the shore and the insurance company was swamped. Sometime around the end of September, the insurance went through and we were able to have work on the basement started. The guy doing the work is amazing at his job, but he's one guy. Also, it's not like I had somewhere to put stuff, so he had to work around it, putting down a floor. One guy having to move all that stuff around adds time. You also don't realize how much stuff you had or have until you have a floor and/or have to clear out a whole room. It became the dumping ground for all E's toys, games, game pieces, BALLS, more balls, Lincoln Logs, you name it.

So it's December, and I can say the main part of the basement, where people would hang out, is now fully usable and almost finished. It's just bits of decor that need to be completed. The bathroom down there has a new tile floor, which is SPECTACULAR, and now he's working on the actual scene of the crime- the laundry room.

Speaking of the bathroom floor, I finally got to do me. When we moved in, we didn't do anything except add our own furniture and art. It was already almost newly painted. It was NOT my style at all. It was fine. Just not my kind of colors. We weren't painting over new paint, so I learned just to decorate around it and make it work. Starting from scratch in the basement though, I got to do it the way *I* wanted to do it. And I like iridescent.

If you want tile, there are a million tile places to choose from. If you want something out of the ordinary, non-neutral, FUN, and kind of funky, it's A LOT harder to find what you're looking for. Luckily this is a small bathroom and after much Googling, I found MY tile. I found Mosaic Tile Supplies somehow and of course the first one I wanted, there wasn't enough tile. It would be a whole thing where they could make something similar but not quite. I have never purchased tile before and hadn't seen this in person. I was wary of having something custom done when I'd never seen it. I chose Broadway Blue instead. Even the names of the tile were right up my alley. Below is before and after.


We decided to do a backsplash in our kitchen too because we don't have one. It's a very small area so the one I originally wanted for the bathroom floor is going to be the backsplash because they had just enough sheets of tile for that. But that's a project for down the road. I have the tile because I ordered it together, but let's just get the basement done.

So we've had to move stuff out, change what we had, fix this and that, etc. I've been pretty much consumed with this whole thing because now that it's getting done my way, I've had a lot of decisions to make. Both B and I are quick decision makers, but it's the research of finding what I want that's been the challenge. It's always a needle in a haystack kind of thing, especially when you have a tight budget!

We didn't change the sink vanity because it wasn't in the budget, but for eighty dollars, I was able to buy that Homecom space-saver cabinet tower and put it together myself. It only took like two hours and only one shelf is upside down!


During all this renovation, E was waiting to hear if he won the Westfield's Got Talent contest (he didn't), and gearing up to try out for America's Got Talent. Extra guitar and singing lessons, swim practice in a very inconvenient location with no one this swim season to carpool with, and acting classes in NYC with Actors Technique NY, he and I were both running around in complete chaos. Thanksgiving came, fulfilling our yearly dinner tradition of family friends in our town, with E coming down with pneumonia, then promptly giving it to me. Womp Womp.

I also want to give a heads up about some cool stuff we got for this renovation. We haven't done ANYTHING to our house, as far as decor, since we moved in fourteen years ago. It was funny, one of E's friends came over and was wowed by our new Alexa enabled voice controlled Smart TV. Yeah kid, when you still have tube TV sets and finally get a new one, it has all the bells and whistles for super cheap now. It's amazing how you can time warp from 2000 to 2019 in one Amazon click for under two hundred bucks.

We got an Insignia Fire TV or something. I have a Toshiba Fire TV I got on Prime Day for like ninety-nine dollars upstairs. I like them because who doesn't love a Smart TV? I had a Roku plug in thing for awhile on the TV in the basement, but it was a pain. It's just more convenient to have it IN the TV. However, I will tell you the one really annoying thing. The only thing, but it irks the living crap out of me. If B or E was watching something on Amazon or Netflix in the sun room, when I turn one of those Amazon Fire TVs on somewhere else, it doesn't go to live TV. It is on the Home screen ready to go back to watching something on Amazon Prime. I have to use the actual TV branded remote to switch back to HDMI 1. It just takes extra time when I would prefer the live TV just to turn on. There is no way to do that, at least not on the Toshiba. I haven't really investigated the Insignia, but it's probably the same deal.

I'll tell you this too- it's probably better to stick with the lower priced TVs versus springing for a certain "brand name" TV. We have a Samsung smart TV in the bedroom that is a few years old. I turned it on the other night and everything - people, inanimate objects, etc- were ALL OUTLINED IN GREEN. I don't know what happened, and it's fixed now, but I'm sure from the little sleuthing I did online, that means it's on it's way out. They don't make stuff like they used to! Evidenced by the still working ginormous HEAVY tube TV we just ditched.

We also made our thermostat Smart this past weekend. Well, WE didn't make it Smart. It came that way. I got an Ecobee4 Alexa enabled/controlled Smart thermostat with a separate sensor on Prime Day. It sat in a box since July, along with The Ring that isn't installed yet. B watched some YouTube videos and felt he could put it in himself. Until, of course, he was done installing and it didn't work. Then it became all about how I push him into doing things way above his ability. However, another of course, he managed to get it to work. It's super cool. If I want to have it play music in the dining room where it's on the wall, I can have guests serenaded through dinner. Because guests would be the only reason we'd be eating in the dining room. We don't really have guests, ever, but now that the basement will be completed AND you can be serenaded through a meal, maybe we will!

The best part of this thing is that when I'm having hot flashes and I've taken the AC down to like sixty-four degrees, and I've inevitably left the house without turning it back up, I can change the temp right from my phone. Awesome for forgetful people like me.



I also got a cool light that can play music through Bluetooth and and changes colors. Because I want to live my life in rainbow, even when I'm peeing. And you can find it HERE if you want one of your very own.

So, that's what's been going on, where I've been, what I've been doing, and obviously what I've been buying and putting together. E has had a decent amount of auditions, so in between having and spreading pneumonia, we've been on the go to this or that audition in NYC. He just had something yesterday, then on the way home I got an email that I had to record him before bed for something else. It's always something! We even managed to squeeze in going to a Camp Wekeela ice cream social/reunion.

Next entry or maybe one after, I'll show you the whole basement.

Wednesday, December 4, 2019

I Want A Peloton

I've totally been coveting a Peloton. I don't even know if I'd like it but everyone I know who has one seems to love it. Howard Stern has one and his admittedly ginormous (body weight) male staff have them too. Stern was talking about Peloton almost daily for awhile, even having one set up in his hotel when he recently went to Los Angeles to promote his book, Howard Stern Comes Again.

I just saw all the controversy about the new Peloton holiday commercial today and I can't believe all the outrage and overreaction. The commercial shows a "rail thin woman" (as called by news outlets and haters on Twitter) receiving one for Christmas from her husband. People went bananas. They said the commercial is sexist. It's anti-woman. Women interviewed on the street said they wouldn't be happy if their husband bought them a piece of exercise equipment. I think I saw something about the commercial being bad for women's body image.

Commercial here:


THIS IS CRAZY. Nowhere in the ad did anyone say anything about losing weight. I know people who run or lift weights just because it's a stress release. My husband, B, just started exercising again after like ten years of not doing it, because he just turned fifty and wants to be HEALTHY. I don't think he even has any weight to lose. If he loses any pounds, that will be a byproduct, but he isn't working out for that purpose.

I'm not skinny. I'm curvy. I hate exercise. Yet, I hate walk/jog on my treadmill just about six to seven days a week for around sixty to ninety minutes every time. I literally hate every minute. I fantasize about some form of exercise that would "change me" as the girl in the commercial said the Peloton did. I WANT TO LIKE EXERCISE.

The only sexist thing about the commercial is that I have to assume that they had the man give it to the woman because it's expensive. And men tend to have different mirrors than women, as the late, great Richard Jeni once said. No matter what he really looks like, he tends to think he looks much BETTER, whereas women are much harder on themselves.

If a guy is getting his wife a Peloton, chances are she ASKED for it. Or showed her longing as they passed by it in the mall. Our big mall has a Peloton store. I've walked by and looked at it longingly. But the bike is around twenty-two hundred dollars! I know I can't afford it. So if someone were to purchase one for me- my husband, Santa, whomever, I'd gladly take it.

I think people need to REEL IT IN. This isn't any old exercise bike. This is a pretty big investment. It's not the kind of thing you put together and it ends up used to hang clothes on. You buy the bike but you're also buying like a gym membership. There's a monthly fee for the classes or whatever. Don't quote me, but I'm pretty sure, unless you purchase the bike secondhand, you have to buy the membership. So again, this isn't my mom's stationary bike that collected dust in our basement.

Not to mention, SOME PEOPLE LIKE EXERCISE! Some of those people happen to be women, and some of them happen to be wives. People know if their husband is a dick, buying them a piece of exercise equipment to make some kind of dick statement on their weight. If B was somehow able to afford a Peloton, I would certainly not think he was being a dick.

People who are bothered are projecting their own issues on to this ad. Period. People just took it as the husband thinking his wife needs to lose weight. That wasn't even implied. It's not like she was fat when she started and by the years end it showed her as skinny from all her Peloton-ing. I saw a kid in that commercial. Maybe he thought she needed a stress release that wasn't "mommy wine culture". If it was a wine commercial and he'd bought her a case of wine, people would probably think that was funny.

We don't have to be offended by everything. Exercise isn't just about losing weight either. It's annoying that people immediately jumped to the notion that someone giving the gift of movement is doing so to send a message about weight. Exercise is also just about general health. Considering we have an obesity problem in this country, I don't think that giving a gift that someone will actually use to get healthier is automatically a bad thing.

This is a hate bandwagon. People seem to be easily brainwashed these days to jump on a hate train and be outraged about anything. It's like just wanting to fight for fight's sake. To have an issue just because. It's stupid. Personally, I'd rather see a wife get a Peloton in a commercial than a car. It's more realistic to me for someone to get a 3k Peloton versus a brand new Lexus. If you have a husband that gifting a Peloton from is a dick move, then just YOUR husband is a dick. Maybe you should kick him to the curb and keep the Peloton.


Monday, November 25, 2019

Just A Day


 Repeat this to yourself over and over for the next six weeks or so. Why? Because...holidays.

I've probably written something like this before. It's probably been a long time ago though because I barely write anymore. So, read this years version and apply it!

I don't begrudge anyone loving holidays. It's nice if you like them. It's nice if you don't have issues, complaints and grumbles surrounding the holidays. Most people can't say they don't have some kind of drama though. I'm in so many Facebook groups and message boards where people are spilling their holiday tea, I think we all need the reminder that it's JUST A DAY. Or just a couple of days.

My parents weren't much for holidays. We didn't have a big extended family we spent holidays with. I think we probably went to my grandparents nearby for Thanksgiving when I was kid. Funny enough, I don't even really remember. We weren't close to my grandparents, even with them living like fifteen minutes away. I only wanted to be going there if my cousin's were going to be there. Unfortunately, in that side of the family, there were always people not speaking, so the cousins I wanted to see weren't even there for a lot of years. Rita made a killer turkey though so that was something to be excited about.

Later, I guess when I was in college, Rita worked at the Super Video store, and she'd work on holidays for time and a half pay. So I don't think I had Thanksgiving with my mom most years. My boyfriend in college had large extended family and I remember spending most holidays with his family. I didn't come from the kind of house where there was any entertaining going on. So when someone else's family called dibs on a holiday dinner, that's where I went. Besides, I had the Jewish holidays and my boyfriends never did. I really enjoyed the Italian boys so they certainly weren't having Rosh Hashana. If we saw my family it was for Rosh Hashana in September or October and then it would be the guy's turn for Thansgiving and Christmas.

Holidays were just never really stressed as "important" to my family. It was fine when we had a dinner but it wasn't the biggest thing to miss either. I could see my mom any time, my cousins were most likely not going to be involved, and I didn't feel the need to see anyone else. I didn't feel like I was missing anything. I liked going to other people's homes and I didn't really think much about it. I was with my college boyfriend for almost six years and got used to going to his family. I felt like I was getting the "big family dinner" thing. But it was JUST A DAY.

B's mother would call Thanksgiving in June, Mother's Day in November, etc. My in-laws got every holiday and my mother couldn't care less. Not because she wasn't into seeing me/us, but just because it was A DAY.

Same with Christmas. My family is Jewish but always celebrated Christmas growing up. I don't know why. Rita liked Christmas lights and a tree. My parents weren't religious. We had a tree, we got presents, but that was the end of it. We didn't have family celebrating Christmas. Back then, in the 80s, everything was closed except the movies. We didn't go to the movies though either. I think, once I was a preteen, I'd go to my friends houses when they were done with whatever they were doing for the holiday. With my ex, I think we went to his mom's on Christmas Eve (because I remember that seven fishes thing). Then, maybe we went to his father's on Christmas Day, and because his dad lived by my parents, we probably stopped at my parents, or my mom's store. But it was JUST A DAY (or two).

Even New Years Eve was never a thing. My parents stayed home. Some years they had friends over, but eventually, the friends got divorced and all the kids grew up. I still am not a fan of New Years Eve. There's a lot of pressure there- like it's going to set the tone for the year. Which, I do not believe it does, by the way. In high school it was always about how we were going to party somehow. Like how were we going to get alcohol? Even though I didn't really drink. We didn't really have anywhere to go. Then in college, I can't even remember any NYE events. I remember the last one before my ex and I broke up. It wasn't great because there was the pressure of- Are we getting engaged or not after almost six years? Then when I was single and dating, it was all about- is this going to be the year I meet someone?

Then I met B, after being single for five years. Over the years we've had times of parties, times of staying home, times of friends, times of none. We had family, then we didn't. We always had each other though, then E. Whatever we do, we do, and we find a way to make it interesting, or relaxing, or exciting- whatever we want it to be. Our gang of three is the core and anything or anyone else is just a treat.

When you put so much pressure on A DAY, it really sucks the joy out of it. When you have a "tradition", when you have a "tradition with friends", it's great in the beginning, but people grow, change, move, grow apart, etc and then there's eventually a problem or some kind of drama. I LOVE where our life is now, the traditions we've made, and the friends we currently have. I just still think of holidays as JUST A DAY because that's how I keep perspective. If things have to change and evolve, I'm cool with that. A day on the calendar is not and should not the be-all best or worst of times.

I think the best way to look at the holidays is you're lucky if you get to spend some extra time with a person or a few people you really enjoy. Life is short. Be flexible but don't be a doormat. Don't let others dictate how you want to spend your time.

Of course, you and your spouse, if you have one, need to be on the same page, which is probably the hardest part about holidays. But it sucks if you're both so rigid that you spend most of your DAY traveling between both families. One might say it isn't fair to just see one, but it is. Ultimately, it's a DAY. Make another day to see the other family. Make the rule that if one family gets you on Thanksgiving, you have another Thanksgiving that Friday or Saturday after. Ask yourself, what is so important about the day on the calendar? The whole idea is just to get together with your loved ones. Talk about "reason for the season..."

No one is happy, NO ONE, is happy spending the day in the car, feeling rushed, and filled with anxiety over splitting time. Then you're arguing over how much time, where, and it never feels even.

And for you that are parents of grown children, grandparents, and/or in-laws: Stop guilting your kids into splitting their time! You don't want them coming to you out of guilt and under duress! You want them coming because they want to see you. You also don't want to be the cause of inevitable domestic fighting about having to split their time. I'm sure your kid wants to come to you and their spouse wants to go to their family. They already have internal struggle without your added passive-aggressive comments and attitude!

Hey parents (grandparents)- if you can figure out a way to blend the whole damn thing, do that. If there are just too many extended family members to make that happen, then let them figure out how they can manage by still keeping the peace in their own home. I see endless blow-ups online about this and it sucks. All because the parents are giving grown kids guilt. IT'S JUST A DAY! Be the bigger people and concede the holiday for them! Tell them your Thanksgiving is going to be x date and to be ready with pumpkin pie or whatever on that day. They'll love you even more for not contributing to their holiday stress.

Say it with me: It's just a day...it's just a day...it's just a day....

Try to enjoy Thanksgiving, Black Friday, Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, New Years Eve, and all the days in between with as minimal stress as possible. Spend the days with whom you look forward to seeing, don't talk politics or religion, and tell everyone you're not driving around for hours. You're planning on being in a food coma and enjoying yourselves. It's a novel idea but it CAN be done!

Give YOURSELVES the gift of a stress-free holiday season!

Sunday, November 24, 2019

America’s Got Talent E-style


E tried out for America’s Got Talent at the Jacob Javits Center in NYC on Saturday November 23rd. This is his dream- he’s been talking about it for two years now. He wanted to be on when Howard Stern was a judge - and it definitely would’ve been more convenient. However, he was not ready then but he was determined to audition for this season.

Frankly, B and I didn’t know what to expect. Obviously, there are thousands who try out and nothing comes of it. As a parent, you want to support your kids dreams but you don’t want to be delusional about their talent either. We think he’s talented but I’m sure every parent thinks their kid is talented. So we took this with a grain of salt and figured he has balls just to put himself out there. That, in itself is a talent. To also seem to have this unique ability, that he does, to not be hard on himself. He gets psyched up to do something - be it compete on his swim team, audition for tv and movies and THIS, but not get bummed out if it doesn’t pan out. He doesn’t see it as loss or rejection- he sees it as an opportunity and just plans to keep on going until he does eventually “win”.

Even if this time, it doesn’t pan out, we’re super proud of him for all his hard work and determination. His only concern at the moment is knowing he has to get on a plane to go to Hollywood. He’s wondering if he can take a train. 😄

The following is from his Facebook music page - which, if you haven’t “liked” it yet- Please do! Ethan Kule Music

And on Instagram:
https://www.instagram.com/ethankulemusic/

From Ethan:
Update on my AGT audition:  I was called back to sing 2 more songs yesterday!

For anyone who wants to follow along with my journey, or anyone curious about one day auditioning yourself, here’s a summary of how it went.

I live in NJ, and depending on traffic, about 30-45 min away from the Jacob Javits Center in NYC where the auditions were held.  We arrived around 7:45 a.m. and I was done with the auditioning process I think around 10:30 a.m.  

The line to check in at that hour was not too bad. They had a lot of people doing the check-in. Then we went into/sat in the holding room.  The holding room looked exactly like it does on the TV show which was pretty cool.  We sat around following out a questionnaire until they called your group of numbers.  You were given a sticker with a number when we checked in.  Once they called your number, they split us into smaller groups of about 15 people in your category.  I was with all singers.  

If you were under the age of 18 you had to have only one parent or guardian with you so my mom went in with me.  There was one producer/judge sitting in the front of the room with a green x on the floor in the middle of the room. The X was for us to stand on when we performed.  My favorite color has always been green so I thought that was a good sign 😉. 

We all performed in front of each other and I was called first.  I was glad to be called first to get it over with, as I was just starting to feel a little nervous.  Up until that point I was not too nervous.  I felt pretty confident going in. I didn’t practice too much because I have already been performing the songs I planned to have ready for a few years already.  Some people we say with in holding had lost their voice from practicing too much. I know I’m only 10 but I have been singing live in front of people for quite a while now by busking in my hometown, at town fairs, farmers markets, and in organized settings through where I take music lessons.  

My dad looked up auditioning info a few days before and saw online that the auditions were only 90 seconds so we figured out what part of the song I would sing.  I was going to sing my original song “Lonely Boy”.  I also had prepared 90 seconds of three other songs just in case.  One was another original called “Used to Be” and then two covers, “Riptide” by Vance Joy and “ Spirits” by The Strumbellas.  

When we got into the room they told because so many people came to audition that we would only get 60 seconds to perform.  While waiting, one of the parents of another kid singer told my mom that they were from Virginia and that her daughter also tried out last year.  She said that the judge would sometimes call people back but nobody in her daughter’s group got called back the last year.  When the producer spoke to us she didn’t mention anything about callbacks so we didn’t know if that was true. Then, when everyone was finished, they said we are done but just wait outside the door until she comes back in case they need anything else. 

She came back out & called 2 numbers. One was me & the other was a teen girl. She said that we missed filling out something on our paperwork.  My mom was confused because she was pretty sure she did it all.  It was an awesome surprise to know that was their way of calling me back!  I thought it was really nice on how they did that, not to make anyone who was not called back to feel bad.  It takes a lot of courage to audition so why ruin anyone’s spirits right there on the spot.  

This time I was just in the room by myself with my mom and the judge.  She asked me questions about my song “Lonely Boy” and complimented me on it.  She asked if I had any other songs so I told her I would sing a cover, “Riptide”.  This time she let me sing longer than the 60 seconds.  When I was done she asked if I had any other originals.  I told her I had many and I was choosing, “Used to Be”.  I told the backstory of the “Used to Be” and again, I got to sing it for more than the 60 seconds.  She told me again that she liked my music and thanked us for coming in.  

I won’t find out until January or February if I get the next call back but so far it seemed pretty promising. Yesterday still doesn’t feel real, like a dream. That’s basically how I feel besides feeling pretty good too!  Thank you all for all the encouragement and good wishes online yesterday and thanks for taking this journey with me!! I hope it continues as my wish is to keep making music that keeps you company along your own journey though life.
-Ethan
Instagram: @ethankulemusic


#AGT #americasgottalent #nyc #auditions #liveauditions #kidmusician #kidsinger #holdingroom #calledback #originalsongs #coversongs #riptide #vancejoy #spirits #thestrumbellas #lonleyboy #usedtobe #singersongwriter #myshot






Monday, November 4, 2019

Love Everyone on a t-shirt




E is very attached to his old clothes. His attachment is to the point where I have like one or two small bags of stuff I'm saving "for his son". I'm fine with it because it's cute stuff. I have his first little pair of Nike's. His two baby Ed Hardy t-shirts - before Ed Hardy was douchey. A sweatshirt he got his only time in the Hamptons. His favorite hat from his preschool days. There are other random things I can't think of off the top of my head.

At this point, his favorite t-shirt that he likes to wear to his music gigs is on it's way to becoming a belly shirt. It's REALLY soft which is why I think he's so attached to it. It's like that burnout material or something. I found it at a boutique in Asbury Park, on the boardwark, and I'm pretty sure the store itself doesn't exist anymore. I found the brand online but they don't have that particular shirt anymore. More importantly, E likes the message on it- "Love Everyone". I found variations of the shirt, but not THE shirt, with the saying the way he likes it.

He was performing at Garden State Plaza last month as a Finalist in the "Westfield's Got Talent" competition- something the mall was doing partnered with Bergen PAC. He wanted to wear his Love Everyone shirt and was pretty adamant about it. I thought it looked silly but what was I going to do??

I'll tell you what. I just happened to go to T-Mobile in Paramus Park to switch from years of getting ripped off by Verizon Wireless to T-Mobile. My friend Maria said she'd just gone to the T-Mobile there and had a good experience so that's what I did. Lo and behold, as I'm switching, I see a place called "Custom T's" across the way.

I left the mall because I had to be somewhere, but I got E's belly shirt and came back the next day. I figured they wouldn't be able to copy it, but I had to see.

The owner was working that day, and by golly, he DID IT. In mere minutes. He has some program where he can easily find fonts, download them for free, and then just do whatever you want! He copied it perfectly and I had the shirt that day, in minutes!

Now, you might say- yeah, but how often are you going to need that service?? Ok, well, if you have a kid with any kind of OCD or even a husband who doesn't want to give up his Golden Boy (Seinfeld reference), this is a great way to be able to recreate a second item. Or just for a militant toddler (five and under) who only wants to wear the same thing every day, but you don't have access to five more identical shirts!

1st Rockstar Revolution shirt
I've bought E shirts that I wished I bought them in bigger sizes for later- speaking of which.... E had a shirt when he was two years old that I love- it's made by a guy I see at NYC street fairs. The booth is called "Rockstar Revolution". I guess he grew out of it and I was able to buy him a 5-6Y later. He hasn't had that shirt in years. This past Saturday I was in NYC for his acting class and I saw the Rockstar Revolution booth as I was walking around. He had a youth large, which is E's size now, and I bought it. But the guy at the booth said he JUST started making it in the larger sizes, so I wouldn't have even been able to get it from him prior to now. E was very happy to see his old shirt.


My point is that there are definitely times you find yourself wanting your same old shirt but newer. That's the whole reason I even found Poshmark. I was looking for my old favorite pants, just newer than mine. What if you have a cute t-shirt your older kid grew out of and handed it down to their sibling. But you want a photo with the older one and younger one together wearing the same thing? Or you want recreate an old moment or photo with an adult sized version of a kid sized shirt? Think of all the possibilities.

I know this probably isn't what most people are doing with their Custom T's, and definitely not the majority of their business. Being able to just walk in somewhere and do this is just an added bonus. E was very happy with his new version of the Love Everyone t-shirt, because it was green, his favorite color since birth. However, it isn't as soft as E's original shirt because it's just a regular t-shirt. I wasn't prepared. I didn't think of bringing one of his or another soft t-shirt so I just bought one from the store that was there. But you can totally bring your own and have them put something on it.

 

All I know is that Custom T's in Paramus Park saved the day. I don't see an official website, but they do have a Facebook page and are on Yelp.
https://www.facebook.com/customtsparamus/


Thursday, October 17, 2019

Astrology & Numerolgy BYOB

Here's a fun local event to check out! I've known Don for over twenty years and I know this is going to be a great time.

Trynergy Salon
Trynergy Salon on Facebook

*He will not be doing private readings at that event but he is available to book for a later date*


Sunday, October 6, 2019

Westfield’s Got Talent

E made it to the finals of Westfield’s Got Talent! That would be the mall- Westfield Garden State Plaza, not the town of Westfield NJ. The competition is a co-sponsored event for Bergen PAC & the mall. I think there were like 75 acts who tried out- all genres, ages, etc. They said they were picking five finalists and then one person wins the grand prize of opening for a well known act playing at Bergen PAC. Come check E and the rest of the talent out next Saturday evening! (See photos below)

Go to his page on Facebook- https://www.facebook.com/ethankulemusic/ I’m or his Instagram - @ethankulemusic for updates and info. You can also check out his web page at www.ethankule.com



Thursday, October 3, 2019

Gizmos and Tick Talks



Our parents in the 70's and 80's didn't seem to have an issue letting us just roam around incommunicado. They didn't really have any choice, unless they wanted to get on a bike and hang out with us and our friends. It also probably seemed very Jetsons to have cell phones and smartwatches or not even a thought at all since those things didn't exist. They just let us out, told us to come home when it was dark, and hoped for the best. Now, we have the technology to keep tabs on our kids so we do.

It makes life a lot easier for me, especially because E took up acting years ago. Sometimes I have to grab him early from school on short notice for auditions. I text him for that and just on a daily basis to tell him whether he needs to come right home from school, if he has time to play, or if I'm coming to get him. The school car line is hectic enough without my kid being confused as to whether I'm getting him in a drizzle or he should just suck it up and walk.

I wrote about the Gizmo Gadget (only through Verizon Wireless) when E got it at the end of first grade. For those of you unaware, it's a smartwatch for kids. It can make and receive calls, count steps, GPS, has a to-do list, and is totally parent controlled. Blog entry from when we got the Gizmo: Gizmos and Gadgets

I still think the Gizmo Gadget (not the Gizmo Pal) is the best phone/GPS watch for a kid from kindergarten (if need be) up to around the age of nine or ten years old. It's fine until like 4th/5th grade. You can have it on silent for whatever time/day periods you choose, like during school. However, they can still read texts or call you and you can call them. It just doesn't make any noise. The battery life is also pretty great. Without constant use, it definitely can last a days without charging. Not the seven days of standby time the specs say, but definitely a few days. The GPS is also pretty accurate so even with the ability to have constant GPS updates, the battery still goes strong. E would charge it every night before bed so it was always at a hundred percent in the morning before school, but if he didn't remember to charge it for a night, it still definitely had enough juice for the next day.

The big con, for an older kid, is that since only ten numbers can call in or out, at 4th/5th grade they want to start calling friends and making their own plans. I'm not making plans or "playdates" for my ten or eleven year old. I get annoyed when parents ask me for that. No, let your kid call my kid and ask him. Then he can ask me if he's allowed. Except, many households don't have a landline. We do, but it's getting less and less common, unfortunately, because listening to my kid talk to his friends on his Gizmo, they need the practice. So, it's not like you can just say- "call their house". They'd most likely be calling a parent's cell phone. That doesn't help your kid if they want to know if Johnny can play and the parents isn't home or with Johnny. Not to mention, not everyone wants to be answering calls on their cell from their own kids when they're out, nevermind someone else's kid.

The Gizmo Gadget is like that episode of Seinfeld with the speed dial - there are precious few spots and you have to be really selective on who you fit in there. There just aren't enough contacts allowed. It's also only operable on Verizon. They can call or receive calls not on Verizon but you need a Verizon account to hook it up. If you don't have that you have three options. Switch to Verizon, find someone who will put it on their account for you, or pay extra for it to be it's own Verizon line alone.

I had researched other phone watches for E because he is NOT ready for a "real" phone. That would just be setting him for failure. Not even what he'd DO with it, like looking up stuff on the internet that he isn't supposed to, but just that he'd lose it. I just don't think he's ready for that responsibility nor is it a necessity. The biggest issue I'd have is the lack of ability to get to him when I need him to see a message. If he had a phone, it would be in his backpack all day. If I need to text him what the deal is for after school, I need him to see that BEFORE the bell rings for the day. I can't have him checking AFTER the bell rings because there are times I need him to HURRY and get out there first so we can just get going.

I found the Tick Talk 3, which had just come out this past spring, I think. It costs around $179. If you get it directly through them, there's a $10 off coupon and it's free shipping. If you get it through Amazon, it's $189. It seems like the perfect bridge between a Gizmo and a smartphone. It doesn't work with Verizon though, and that's what I had. You can use this service called Red Pocket for $10/mo or you can put it on your T-Mobile or AT&T Account. Tick Talk says that would cost $25-$30/mo on T-Mobile with a "ONE" plan. I don't know anything about that plan.

I was looking to possibly leave Verizon anyway because my bills were astronomical. I'd crowd sourced on Facebook who everyone was switching to and they said T-Mobile. The Tick Talk 3 working with that seemed like the push I needed.

I got fed up with Verizon finally, after being a customer since Verizon Wireless came into existence. My phones were all paid off so I just walked into T-Mobile last week and opted to switch. They had a promotion going where I got a third line for free, so instead of the $25-$30 for that line, it was free. SCORE!

As an aside, I got B an iPhone 8 for free, trading in his 6S. I got an iPhone 11 for $14.59/mo trading in my 8, and added two cellular iPads. All of that was way less money a month than Verizon. My service in Bergen County and NYC has been totally fine. In some places, like the downtown of my current town, it's been better than with Verizon. If you use me as a referral, that would be great. I think we both get something. Willie is a manager there and he and Amber were great-
T-Mobile Paramus Park

I got the Tick Talk 3 directly from their site and it came in just a few days. I ordered it on a Friday morning and received it by Monday whenever my mail was delivered. It was easy to install the SIM card T-Mobile gave me. It needed to be charged for 2-3 hours so E wasn't thrilled but it is what it is.

The Pros:
-Fifty-three contacts. I put all his friends, and literally, their mothers in there.
-The display is large and set in, so you don't have to worry as much about banging the screen on something. It basically has a bumper to keep it safe.
-It can call 911 if you put that in the SOS contact section
-No internet or games
-Takes photos and video. Those people labeled mom or dad can text and Face Time
-Calculator
-Ability to put turn the sound off but have it vibrate instead. That was a big annoyance with the Gizmo, having no vibrating option. He often didn't hear it ringing in a loud place so vibrating would've been key.
-Texting is more than thirty characters allowed. I can text him a whole monologue if I want and don't have to break up what I'm saying because of a character limit.

The Cons:
There are really only a few cons I've come across. And only one is REALLY BIG DEAL.
-The battery life SUCKS. It really sucks. At the moment it's 8-10 hours. Well, turning it on even thirty minutes before school, and having him come home not long after school ends eats up about seven or eight of those hours.

When I freaked out about this to customer service, their reply was that they were moving to a server which should give it about another hour or two. But that still isn't acceptable to me. I'm not worried about abduction, but if I was, what kind of time frame is that to be able to ping your kid's location?? Further, for a working parent, I'm sure there are days parents are away from their kid for longer than the typical school day. The whole point of having the watch is to be able to get in touch with your kid or at least GPS them.

They also said that it's the GPS that uses the battery. The Gizmo had just as good or better GPS and it didn't eat the Gizmo battery so there has to be a better explanation or better technology there.

**As I wrote this, it was 2:03pm EST. He left for school at 8:12a. He turned it on probably around 8:00am. He hasn't texted, taken pics/videos, and hasn't made any calls. I had just looked on the app, and his battery was at 31%. By 6:00pm, it was at 10%. That's pitiful and just ridiculous. It does charge pretty quickly though. I plugged it into the charger at around 6:30p and at 7pm was back up to 80%**

**UPDATE 10/5** I don't know if they changed over servers or whatever they said would extend the battery life. But I updated the OS on the watch too and today was definitely a longer battery life. E turned it on about 8:30a and by 5:00pm today it was at 65% battery. That's a HUGE difference from the first few days of being on 10% by around 6pm. I'm still recharging it before leaving the house in about twenty minutes but I'll also say I plugged it in twenty minutes ago and it's at 91% already. 

We're going to have to modify our schedule of charging until the battery life is extended. He's going to have to remember to charge it again as soon as he walks in the door and take it from the charger if he wants to leave the house again. That totally defeats the purpose of him having his freedom after school but we'll do what we have to do. I told their customer service that I want another charger if the battery life is going to be this horrendous. I will keep it in the car so when we go to NYC for his class, I can charge it on the way there or home. I don't know what their response to that is yet.

The battery is my only major issue. I would totally be fine giving up the camera and/or video if that was what was giving it a shorter battery life. Tweens don't need to be able to take selfies or videos. That's solely a WANT. I NEED to be able to track my kid or get in touch with him.

E didn't like that when it was on Tick Talk's version of quiet time, the whole watch was on lock down. He couldn't even read texts or anything until the minute after the quiet time was released. I didn't know that. Now that I know he can just put it on vibrate, we'll do that instead. I'm not sure what the purpose of the parent controlled quiet time would be then. I liked it on the Gizmo because if he forgot to silence it in school, I could do it from the app myself.

He's also missing the step counter. Definitely not a huge issue. Just something to think about if you're looking to have a dual fitness tracker/phone situation.

Aesthetically, it looks more like a toy than the Gizmo. Maybe that design was necessary because of the added camera/video capability. I'm not sure. I liked the look of the Gizmo better because it was flatter, more like an Apple Watch. An older kid might find the look of the Tick Talk more babyish. E doesn't care though. Whatever watch gives him freedom, he'll wear without issue.

The manual that comes with the watch isn't super detailed or clear, so you're left to figure stuff out on your own. I am decently techie with stuff like this, so I'm fine, but it is a little frustrating. I will say, that I think it is a small company though. I originally contacted through their chat on their website. "Tiffiny" was my contact on the chat. When I wasn't satisfied with my answer there, I wrote a more detailed email. Tiffiny was also who responded there. *awkward* But, it may be a plus because you're getting more personal attention?

More of the settings are set via the watch vs the app. Meaning, the child determines the volume, whether it vibrates or not, ringtone, etc. I guess we're supposed to give them more control at SOME point in their existence. 

The only other complaint I have is just from a progressive thinking standpoint. There is no option for mom and mom. Or dad and dad. It's just mom and dad. And that the activities you can pick from for reminders are preloaded. There's one for church. But just church. Not temple, not mosque, not religious studies. Why just "church"? That annoys me. Not from a religious standpoint but from the lack of thoughtfulness. Those are easy fixes. Unless this is some kind of Christian based company and I'm unaware.

**Update: they made it possible to add your own activities. So if I want to put Hebrew school tutor, I CAN. 

All in all, if it wasn't for the battery, this would be perfect for us. I like that he still can't text with his friends. If he wants to call, there are enough contact spots for everyone, but they have to learn how to speak to each other. I love the vibrate option so he can't miss a call or text from B and I.  Since E never knows what day it is, I'm happy that that there's a calendar and reminders for activities. *If they'll just send me an extra charger and work on the standby battery life, it will be a winner.

Update: They sent me an extra charging wire for free.

Why do you need either watch? You may not think it's necessary, but having a GPS phone watch does a few things for you and your child. It allows you to give them freedom and teach responsibility on a smaller scale as they're ready. Maybe they are ready to walk to or from school but YOU aren't. Here is your peace of mind and gives you a chance to stop helicoptering. I'm able to tell E that he had to be home at a certain time and it's on him to look at his watch, know how much time to allow himself for travel, and to make sure he's home when he's supposed to be. It's also something he has to take care of and remember to charge. No charge, no freedom. That happened ONCE. It wasn't charged ONCE. He learned his lesson.

Lastly- they're great for those time you don't mean to lose your kid, but you do. Not that it ever happened to me.... *Block party* *Halloween* *Town carnival* E went to an event at Giants stadium with his friend, friend's parents, and another friend. He said at one point, one kid got lost and it was nerve wracking. Both the kid of the parents in charge and the other kid have the watch but weren't wearing it. E did have his on, loaded with both kids numbers, but it didn't help because they didn't have theirs on. It could've saved time and fear of losing other people's kids if they all had their watches on. It just helps give them a little rope for critical thinking skills but still gives parents peace of mind. Without the pitfalls of having to be responsible for a $600-$1000 piece of equipment (iPhone) and unrestricted access to the internet or gaming.


Gizmo Gadget





Thursday, September 5, 2019

Old Schooling Kicking the Guilt



Anyone not feel the pressure to be "perfect"?

I'm asking because I just saw a friend post about the pressures of feeling like they have to appear to be the perfect mom. She was saying that seeing all the back to school, 1st day photos, on social media, she wondered how many didn't post pics because of a myriad of reasons. Reasons like no time, intimidation over seeing all the perfect chalkboard signs, all the way to having lost a child.

I saw this post after I'd already seen/heard a similar clip on Hoda & Jenna, since my typical Wendy watching has not commenced in a new season yet. They had some lady on who has ten kids and wrote a book about parenting or something, saying you have to take time for yourself. Natalie Morales or someone else co-hosting today asked - "What about the mom guilt you get for taking time for yourself?" I turned it off. I wasn't triggered by this segment. I didn't feel commiseration. I was just bored. I didn't feel like listening to a whole segment about mom guilt that I don't have.

I just don't get it. I guess if you had perfect parents and you don't feel like you're measuring up to the parenting you received? Even then, do you feel like you have no issues? Can you honestly say your upbringing was so awesomely perfect that you have no issues? No. Everyone has issues. And some HAVE to be directly or indirectly related to how you were parented. Even if it's just that their perfection made you less confident in your own abilities.

Part of this conversation is that social media must be making moms feel like they need to be perfect. Make signs, put first day of school glitter around the house (Thanks M for putting that on my radar), make braids, crowns, etc. If social media is making you feel less than, I think it's time to call a therapist. Or get off social media. It's been said that people feel bad about themselves because no one is posting their "bad days" or their non perfect moments.

WHO IS BELIEVING THAT ANYONE'S LIFE IS AS PERFECT AS WHAT IS SHOWN ON SOCIAL MEDIA?? Do people really believe that anyone's life is perfect all the time? Or that their posts are representative of their daily life? I didn't even know this train of thought was a thing. Someone else's "perfect" isn't even my definition of perfect. I see people's vacations and I'm more apt to think- "I'd rather poke my eyes out with cocktail forks than go there/do that".

I've never looked at someone's perfect anything and felt like I should be doing that or I'm somehow a "bad mom" for not doing the same. The only perfection going on in my house, that *I* care about, is my perfect peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. I showcase my frozen treasure chest of pb&j every year for the start of school. Really, that is just a life hack I'm sharing that seems to be enjoyed by all. If you feel bad about my freezer stash though, by all means, hide me or unfriend me.

I don't know if confidence is nature or nurture, or both. My parents barely parented and I seem to have been born then with immense confidence. Or I got it from being barely parented and having to fend for myself. Someone else with that kind of benign neglect could or would be all kinds of messed up or maybe just would have a lack of confidence.

All I know is that when I hear about the mom guilt thing, I just don't get it. We're all doing what we have to do. Or want to do. Most of the kids I know are living in middle to upper middle class existences. They have food, shelter, clean water. Not only do they have clean clothes, they have name brand clothes. New backpacks. All their school supplies. They are in one to many extracurricular activities. Their families have a vehicle or two. They go on vacations. A parent walks or drives their kids to school. Some even take their kids out for lunch. They go to restaurants. They go to the park, the town pool, the library, the movies, and amusement parks. I'm not IN their homes, but I'm pretty sure they hug, kiss, and tell their kids they love them.

WHAT ELSE IS THERE??? WHAT AM I MISSING??? Why do we need some lady's book to tell us to take time for ourselves?? I KNOW for a fact that Rita felt no guilt about laying in the pool, naked, with a Tab and cigarette. Or watching Ryan's Hope, then Days of Our Lives and Another World, then maybe doing an errand, only to pretend to look busy when my father eventually walked through the door.

We were all whole people before we had kids. We all had interests, dreams, wants, needs, etc. You don't lose all that just because you became a parent. It's not selfish to continue being a whole person. Kids grow up and leave. If you become half a person for all the years they're in the house, it's going to be really hard to find the other half once they're gone!

You go to the gym. You tell your kids to get off electronics. You hand them an iPad to get them to shut the everloving fcuk up so you can just think for a damned minute. You hide in the bathroom for thirty minutes to read US Weekly. You can't be the class mom. Like me, YOU DON'T WANT TO BE THE CLASS MOM. You can't make a school concert here and there because it's during work. You work. You tell them they can't have candy for breakfast. You give them Pop Tarts for breakfast. You forget to pack a lunch :::raises hand for 3x being called from school for that::: You're late to drop off or pick up. You forget a birthday party. You make a sign for the 1st day and annoy them with photos. You forget to make one. You don't have time for a sign or pictures.

There's always going to be a reason your kids are pissed at you. Or think you're the best. There are going to be periods of time- most likely the teen years- that they hate you no matter what you do. You could be perfect, and it wouldn't matter! I've always said that it will the the things you think you did correctly that they'll be in therapy over later.

Mom guilt is useless because you can't control what your kids are going to take away from your parenting. It's often the things you feel guilty about that they perceive in a positive way later on. You feel guilt about having to work- they tell you as an adult they got their work ethic from you. On and on. Then you can feel guilt about all the time you wasted feeling guilty.

Your kids only knows what "normal" is in YOUR house. If they ask you why you're not volunteering in the library, there's nothing wrong with telling them that you don't want to, you work, that school is their domain and you want to keep your worlds separate like church and state. Whatever your reason is- IT'S GOOD ENOUGH. If your kid doesn't like a rule or the way things are- there's nothing wrong with telling them to get new parents. Old school. And there's nothing wrong with not feeling bad about it.

Perfect Sandwiches

Tuesday, July 23, 2019

Another Maine Event

I didn't realize I hadn't written since May. Well, I knew it had been a long time, but I didn't really know how long. I wouldn't say I'm over it, but I just don't have the time or urge to do a lot of things I used to do. I used to love magazines. Now I have a stack sitting, at least a year's worth, that I think I'll get to, but know I really won't. I don't know what's going on in most pop culture, true crime, etc. I'm thinking I'm better off for not knowing a lot of what's going on in the world these days anyway.

However, I do know what's going on in my real life. One of those things, the biggest thing actually, is that E went to sleepaway camp, Camp Wekeela, in Maine for seven weeks. He left June twenty-second.

I'll tell you this first- as a parent of kid leaving for camp, for that long, you make all these grand plans in your head of menial, boring household tasks you're going to get done. Yeah, that doesn't happen. Maybe it happens for some people, but it certainly has NOT happened over at the D-K house. Granted, we had a water heater explode a mere week prior to E's departure, so our household tasks are to be more involved than the average person with no ripped apart basement. I thought I'd organize a lot of stuff and B probably thought he'd do stuff on the outside. Nope. I've done a lot of meeting my friend A at the town pool and walking with B. B joined a gym that he's actually been in attendance.

Back to camp. E was a mature and confident kid to begin with. After seeing him this past weekend at visiting day, I can tell he's gained even more maturity, confidence, and independence. Apparently, he's like a rockstar there. Not just with his music- although he did get up in front of like 500 people or more there his second night and play his guitar and sang original songs. But everyone knows him. People that don't even have direct daily contact with him. Now, that's a testament to the camp, that they really make sure to get to know each and every kid, but also that's E's personality. To make himself known. 

B didn't think he was going to write. He has written a decent amount. I have the ability to write to him via email. The email goes to the office. They print it out, put it with the bunk mail with a blank piece of paper to write back. If he writes back, they scan it and email it to me (only one email address allowed because I imagine this is an arduous task with much paper and scanning). This is how I've kept in touch with him. He likes me to write daily and he answers about 50% of the time. His letters have been pretty comprehensive and thoughtful. I've really been enjoying this exercise in letter exchange with him. I'm fairly certain most people don't send much in the way of snail mail letters so this is a lost art he's learning to use. Like talking on the telephone versus texting.

E is big on rituals, which camp has plenty of, on a daily basis. Things they do, chants, songs, gatherings. I will bet that he will say those rituals were some of his favorite things he'll remember from his first year at sleepaway camp. We got to see some of those rituals in action while we were there, which was pretty cool.

I also want to talk a little about the people we came in contact with. When you're sending a kid to sleepaway camp these days, you know you're dealing with a hefty bill. There's a real worry about the caliber of people you're sending your kid with.  I have always had certain preconceived notions about the kind of kids he'd be with if he went to sleepaway camp- extreme wealth and spoiled kids. I knew after visiting last year, it didn't see like kids were wearing wealth on their literal sleeves, but that was a weekend and you never know.

Sending him to Maine instead of just outside the NYC metro area, I knew I was taking some of that out of the equation. But I didn't know how much. I knew there would be no bunk gifts, tipping of staff, or food allowed, so I was confident it wouldn't be like some of horror stories I'd heard previously, but I have never experienced a visiting day at sleepaway as a kid, counselor, or parent, so I really had no idea what I was in for in any capacity.

This was exactly as I was told it would be. No flaunting of wealth. No gifting. I actually didn't even notice any fancy cars. I'm sure there were some "higher end", but certainly no Rolls Royce or Bentley. None of the parents even looked affected, as I've seen even at the local day camp E attended prior to coming to Wekeela. Everyone looked down to earth and dressed camp appropriate.

The camp is rustic. It looks exactly what camp should look like. Feel like. It looks like kids have fun and get dirty. Where campfires are made and s'mores eaten. The counselors are warm and you could tell they have made strong bonds with their campers. I have a photo (included below) of two of E's counselors consoling him on visiting day. He was fine, he saw us, then lost it. I'm sure no one expected that from him since I doubt he'd shown any homesickness prior, but visiting day is emotional- especially when you haven't seen your parents in three and half weeks.

E was made for camp, but he's barely been away from us overnight in his ten years. Parents don't seem to do sleepovers like they did when I was a kid. Truthfully, during the school year, E is way too busy for them. He usually has acting class in NYC on Saturdays that we leave home for early in the morning. Sundays he has swim practice or a swim meet. It just isn't ideal for him to sleep out or to have kids sleep over because you know they aren't sleeping. He needs his sleep for his activities.

Sleepaway camp is really his first opportunity to be away from us on a consistent basis. Thrown right in, seven weeks to start. That's a lot for even a confident, outgoing kid who has never really been away from his parents. His counselors and bunkmates were right there for him in that moment to make that moment easier. That moment of emotion was a blip on the radar though. You can tell he's having an awesome time from the pictures I see, the letters I get, and the stories he told us when we saw him. He certainly hasn't changed his chatty demeanor.

What I love about Wekeela is that it isn't gender specific when it comes to activities. The girls and boys interact for many of the activities and the kids can choose what they want to do. I didn't realize that at day camp, they seemed to have very specific activities that were just boy or just girl. I'd ask E if he did art or dance and he said he wasn't allowed because those were for the girls.

At Wekeela, he got to be in the play and if he wants to do art or dance or anything else, he has the opportunity to do that. He's athletic, but not so into organized sports. If he had to just play sports, he'd be bored and miserable. He likes to play, but more casually, less organized. Meaning, he's not that interested in learning the rules of a game. He just wants to play around. He said he is learning to "knee board" which is something I wouldn't have known about outside of getting this opportunity at camp. I've seen photos of archery, cooking, dancing, dressing up, and more. I love that there seems to be a lot of variety.

I was lucky to have known Lori and Ephram prior to choosing a camp, so I already felt comfortable sending him there. However, I know, this was the best place for him and the best gift we could give him as parents. There are so few and rare opportunities these days where kids can and have to be completely unplugged from personal technology, video games, and social media. Also, where they gain total independence from parents and family. They get to learn how to live with different personalities, people of different backgrounds, different cultures, and from all over the US and outside of this country. Many of the campers and staff are from all over the globe. There is only so much you can teach your kid about other people without them getting to live it in person. Even if E never goes away to college, because who knows what the future holds for him, he will have had a mini college experience of living away that he will help shape him as an adult. There will be memories and bonds he'll hold on to forever.

Then there are just the typical teaching/learning moments they get for day to day living without a nagging parent. Like, but not limited to, figuring out how to match your clothes, remember to put on deodorant, and that when mom sends many shirts and shorts, you're supposed to wear something different and clean on the daily. 

That's why when people who don't understand the whole concept of sleepaway camp, and say, "I can't believe you send your kid away for seven weeks...*I* could never...", my standard answer is- "It's not about ME. It's about HIM". This has been ALL about him. His opportunities, his development as a human, his connections, his bonding, his activities, his maturing, his growing up and his new experiences. He will come back a more well rounded kid with A LOT of new things and people to talk about.

I just really wanted him to see and experience that there is a world out there outside of his parents, friends, and Glen Rock. While I feel B and I are awesome, as are his friends, and our town, it's a bubble. Now that he's had this freedom, and has had to make his own decisions for minutiae, hopefully that will translate at home.

He has about three weeks left and and I feel like this has been a fully positive experience that I wish I had done myself. I was stupid- I thought I'd miss stuff with my friends at home. Little did I know what I was missing at camp. I can't thank Lori, Ephram, and all their staff enough for taking care of our kid so well, loving him, and giving him the best summer of his life.

He's also read like seven books apparently on the Kindle my friend Julie sent him. That's seven more books than last summer, so I'm thrilled! It seems like if other kids are reading, I guess he'll read! Good to know. Hopefully that's the case with eating as well....

**First time campers of any age are allowed to do a Rookie session, which is two weeks. Or they can opt for just one session- 1st or 2nd. We're just "go big or go home" kind of people. We knew he'd love it and want to stay and we were correct!**

For more info on Wekeela:
www.campwekeela.com


About to perform during lunch on Visiting Day

Pinocchio in Shrek


Being consoled by counselors & friends after seeing his parents roll in for visiting day!