Friday, December 28, 2018

Christmakuh 2018

You know what I don't care about? Fluoride. That's the issue du jour I saw today on social media. The dangers of Fluoride. Not that this is a new assertion. I remember it coming up when it was time to give my son vitamins. To Fluoride vitamin or not. I think I first opted to not. Then I opted in. I've had fluoride and I'm fine. This isn't like- well, we lived without seat belts and we're fine. No, I just think there are bigger things to worry about. Just felt like telling you all my feelings on this today.

I realized writing this blog, whether zero or thousands read it, is my therapy. I need to get the stuff out of my brain or it all bubbles up inside until I'm uncomfortable. Like gas. I don't get gas from it, but I get angry. I'm still angry but maybe just not "as" angry.

So, the gift giving holidays are over- Hanukkah and Christmas of course. We attended two Menorah lightings, had friends over for Christmas Eve. Ethan got some stuff. I'm not into spoiling him with "stuff". I'd rather he have camp and whatever creative outlets he's into like guitar, voice, etc. And we NEED swim or the kid doesn't sleep. But we do have a little gift giving.

We got him a Chromebook for "the holidays". I told him that would be pretty much his only gift because it was two hundred dollars. He was fine with it. Why did we get him this when he is barely allowed to use an iPad, he has virtually no access to the internet on purpose and no video games? Because SCHOOL. I don't know what makes the school or teachers, or whomever is responsible for these decisions, think every kid has a computer or internet access, but they keep sending home "links" for the kids to go to study this or that. Extra math, or Word-something (literally Word something- I have no idea what it's really called) - I get links to this. Then I'm like, in my head, "what pray tell is he supposed to do this on?".

I'm not giving him my laptop. And he needs to learn to type, so I'm not giving him the iPad. I know they use Google Chrome, which I don't really get, but I know it's Windows and on Chromebooks. He can get to whatever he's doing in school on there so that's what it's for. However, I do still think it's pretty presumptuous for teachers to assume kids all just have access.

I found a good Black Friday deal at Target for an HP so I bought it. I think I gave it to him right away- not waiting for Hanukkah, because the holiday was coming in days anyway, and he already knew what he was getting.

The jig is up. He asked if Santa was real in the summer, B gleefully told him the truth, and that was that. I didn't feel any need to make any holiday magic then. He's almost ten. It was a good run, but really, call me Scrooge, but isn't it magical to have all an only child in a nice town, with good schools, and parents who love him already has? I mean, he got a computer. He certainly isn't underprivileged in any way.

I did also get him headphones, because he listens to music in his room at night like he's DJ Pauly D. It's so loud, you'd think he had a full D'Jais happy hour going on in there. I thought maybe he could use the headphones so I don't have to hear Marshmallow/Bastille one more time on a loop.

Since Hanukkah and Christmas had a long break in between each other, I did have time to grab him something small for Christmas if I felt like it. I'd bought my friend's daughter Gymnastics Coach Barbie and he saw it before I wrapped it. He said that it was cool and he likes playing Barbie and Ken with her when he goes to their house. He said- "It's kind of fun". He's an only child with a close girl friend. He's going to play whatever she wants to play and he's a roll with it kind of kid that way. He just wants to play and doesn't care what. He'll find a way to make it fun for him.

He never really liked action figures or superhero figures. They don't have clothes, cars, houses, bikes, and other accoutrements though. Barbie and Ken have a whole world of crap that they can do and use.

When I was in Target, I saw they now have "Fashionista Ken". This isn't the the blonde eunuch Kens of yesteryear. These are hot, buff, fashionable Kens of today. Ken has cool-ass clothes too. It's a whole new world.

So I picked up a Fashionista Ken, in a camo shorts, a jersey type shirt, and sunglasses. Oh, and dyed tips. It's still plastic hair, but it's cut, styled, and colored like any proud Jersey shore fist pumping summer resident. And Ken himself is only just under ten dollars.

The clothes are expensive though! No way I was buying Ken an outfit for ten dollars a piece. I went on eBay and bought a decent used lot for ten dollars instead. B just shook his head and said E would never play with any of this.

You know what WAS magical? On Christmas morning when I sent E downstairs for something, he saw gifts, and asked who they're for, since he didn't think he was getting anything. I said they are for him and he was surprised and happy with his two gifts. 

HA! Au contraire, husband. All was quiet for forty-five minutes Christmas Day evening, with not even the tv on. I didn't even know where in the house E was, when B called me into the sunroom. E had taken all the Ken clothes and organized them into color and activity coordinated outfits. BINGO. THIS, is how I'm going to teach him to match and pick things weather and activity appropriate. I hadn't had much success with this prior with his own clothes, but this, for some reason, putting clothes together for someone else, he found fun. He had- High School Ken, Surfer Ken, Date Ken, Work Ken, etc. And everything matched!

I love that my kid is so versatile. He was putting clothes on Ken in between watching Cobra Kai on tv with us, and doing his own versions of wax on, wax off, and the crane. I'd also much prefer he play with a hundred Kens to one game of Fortnight (which he doesn't have and probably would be playing on if he did).

Ken was hit. What was not a hit was what he was going to store these Ken clothes in. I'm gearing up to write one of my famous angry letters to Mattel. Old school Ken had a brown armoir back in the day. There was also a vinyl ken carrying case back then too. Today? They make a Barbie Ultimate closet a Barbie and all her clothes and accessories can fit it, but no Ken closet! Ken has to keep his clothes in a baggie like he's perpetually doing the Walk of Shame, but Barbie gets a whole closet? I know in the doll world, women rule, but come on. If you're going to give us Fashionista Ken with ten bucks an outfit clothing, then Ken deserves an Ultimate closet to hang up his designer duds too.

I hunted too- I Googled. I looked on regular toy store sites. I scoured eBay, Mercari, and anywhere else that came up. I found collector cases that ranged from tattered to usable in all sorts of price ranges for used items. So I know a current new closet doesn't exist. Is there a call for it? Well, I don't know if there are a lot of boys playing with Kens, but GIRLS do. Maybe Mattel's marketing department is looking at it incorrectly. As in, thinking, there probably isn't a call for it because there aren't many boys playing with them. Not taking into account that girls might want a closet for their Barbie male friends and/or boyfriends/husbands.

I wasn't buying the Ultimate Barbie Closet for Ken because it's thirty dollars and already filled with Barbie clothes and shoes. That would be a complete waste. So what's a mom to do? Write a letter. Hey- if it got the EZ Bake Oven gender neutralized from pink to silver, then maybe I can get a Ken closet to store his wide aray of cool kicks and club clothes.

A male friend from school came over the other day with his mom. The first question they asked is what he got for Christmas. I didn't know if he was going to tell or not, because you know, boys + dolls = stigma. I think he was a little nervous to tell but he also has me in him so I think he partly wanted to be like- "a doll, AND??". But this is a close friend of his and a REALLY nice kid. I guess he showed his friend because the friend's mom texted me later that now her son wants Fashionista Ken too. I'm more than happy to start a Fashionista Ken movement for the boys. It's safer than what I hear is being looked at on the internet by boys only two school grades ahead of them!

Thursday, December 20, 2018

Month O'Festivus

I realize I should be all puppies and rainbows or gumdrops and candy canes in December, know, the HOLIDAYS!! But that's just never going to happen. Not in December, not in January, and not in any month following those. B likes to call me the angriest person alive, and I might be. So I'm just going to keep compiling all my anger and putting it down here. I'll just call these December posts my "Month O'Festivus" where I air my grievances as they come up.

Let me explain how I start my day once I leave my house to come to work. And that's assuming nothing happened at home to grievance about. For example, but not limited to- not being able to find something I have to ship to someone, finding something E left home that should be at school, cat barf, out of something I need, etc. Let's assume I got through my morning at home without too much issue. Then, I get to work and where do I have to park? IF there's even parking?


Ok, so that's my car. You see the proximity to that flag. And you can't tell, luckily today, what that flag says is, but it's the epitome of assholery wrapped in douchebaggery. It's a "TRUMP 2020- NO MORE BULLSHIT" flag. Yes siree. Granted, the local townsfolk wrote letters to this Bag of Dicks to please take it down because of the profanity. It's like fifty feet where like half the elementary school crosses the street to go to school. You know, so if you're walking your first grader to school, they can say, "Mommy, what's bull..shit?"

Sure, sure, that's assuming you're not me and your kid never heard the word bullshit. Whatever. Point is, it's on a main road, THE main road, and this is just not that kind of town. It's not Deal or Toms River. We don't have Trump flags flying all over the place like he's our dictator. We have a decent amount of PRIDE flags and some Irish flags, but not THIS mess. Thankfully, any Trumpism here is kept pretty much on the DL. Nope- not this fool. Right in my face. I start off every work day pissed off and going off on him (and/or her) in my head.

As an aside, could you imagine having flags all over saying, "CLINTON" or better, "CLINTON: NO MORE BULLSHIT". Or best- "OBAMA: NO MORE BULLSHIT". No, BECAUSE IT'S RIDICULOUS and INSANE. These Trump flags are the equivalent of idol worship.

Yes, he took it down, covered the "SHIT" part with tape or something, THEN PUT IT BACK UP. You need a Trump flag, as a relatively new renter, THAT bad, that you'd go to all that trouble? It's fascinating and rage inducing all in one.

Before the tape over the "SHIT"

Alrighty...Now that I got that out....

As a follow up to the other day's entry, we decided to watch The Path on Hulu. We just got Hulu with that Black Friday deal of ninety-nine cents a month for a year. Why not?? I'm trying to figure out how to cut our extra exorbitant cable bill so we're trying out all the streaming. I have Netflix and Amazon Prime. I still need network TV. Hello, Sunday night Castle re-runs. But I'm going to look at seeing how far I can cut down the cable. I just have to figure out how I'll be able to watch Bill Maher.

I'll just add into my grievances that I don't understand how every month my cable AND my cellular service bill just climb higher and higher with no rhyme or reason. No overages or anything. Just..."fees". It's all a crock and you can't do anything about it. They just tack on whatever and you have no choice but to pay. It's highway robbery.

Anyway, We're on episode four or five of The Path and it's really good so far. Of course, I get crazy at how easily people can be brainwashed, but it's definitely an interesting eye into how that all goes down. Certain people are just easy marks to believe anything. It's sad, scary and fascinating. I picked it also because E did background work in the third season, I think, so I figured we'd check it out and see if we can spot him.

Well, it's Thursday and I'm now on the couch watching General Hospital. So I'm going to end here and hope I'm out of grievances for the next few days. Feel free to add your own though. I won't even challenge you to the Feats of Strength!


Tuesday, December 18, 2018

Immersed in Fantasy

I got a notification from my Know It All Facebook page that I hadn't updated in too long or something, so here I am. Instead of doing the laundry list of other things I should be doing, like fighting with the f*cking douchebags at Affinity Credit Union for being like the mafia, I'd rather write. However, Affinity can suck it. They just keep sending me bills for random amounts of "late fee" money for my old car, then when I call to fight them on it, they just transfer me from moron to shining moron. It's a good time, especially when I DON'T HAVE THAT KIND OF TIME TO DICK AROUND. Add them to my hate cape

Anyhow, I could sit and debate Baby It's Cold Outside, however, IDGAF about that. My take on that is- STOP DEBATING IT. It bothers some people. That's valid. Some people think it's crazy to analyze to this extent. That's valid. It's all valid. But stop trying to invalidate each other on it. I'm seeing diatribes on this topic on social media. I want to poke my eyes out.

If it sounds rapey to some, then it's rapey to some and they don't have to like it. I don't like it because it's ultimately shitty old timey music to me. I like my sayings to be old timey but not most of my music. Not that old timey. I'll go with the 70's being the earliest I want to hear music from. And if you think my musical taste sucks, that's okay too. I just played Bitchin' Camaro for E the other night. So you might as well judge my parenting too.

I actually don't want to talk about any current events because at this point, I'm just sitting back and waiting for stuff to happen, good and bad, while immersing myself fully in Vanderpump Rules. I have to say, we really need Vanderpump Rules right now. When real life, your life, political happenings, etc, gets you down, makes you want to walk into traffic, we have the kids at SUR as a shiny bright light. I can't imagine any better Chicken Soup For The Soul than Stassi, Ariana, Sandoval, Jax & Brittany, James, Doute, Lala & her man, Katie & Schwartz, and Scheana & her iPhone. This is the only reality show ever that I watch the episodes over and over.

Speaking of TV, I'm amazed and delighted with the success of The Marvelous Mrs Maisel. This show is everything. Not that I thought Amy Sherman Palladino could ever make a bomb. Even Bunheads, while not widely received, I believe got a raw deal being on some obscure channel. She managed to make a deliciously palatable to the masses, scripted show, about Jews. I didn't think I'd ever see it. I've written about this before- we get the standard sitcom with the nebbishy Jewish husband and blond Shiksa wife (Mad About You) or Friends with characters that are supposed to be Jewish but couldn't be less (Courtney Cox as Monica Gellar, never spoken about on the show, even when they did the Hanukkah armadillo episode with Ross). But a whole show with endless Jewish references? Unheard of and I'm loving it! Of course I know what a valuable commodity a fabulous brisket could be to trade for favors!

I know it's been getting some backlash for the way Midge is as a mother, how you never see her with the kids. Please. That's not the point of the show. Every great show gets backlash anyway. Look at This Is Us. Everyone LOVED it, so people found ways to pick it apart. Including me- Alpine to Philly in a hop skip and a jump? Just. No. But that's just how the cookie crumbles (see- old timey sayings). Everyone loves you, applauds you, then tries to knock you down a peg.

We burned through the first season of Maisel's eight episodes last year and then in three days when season two came out a week or two ago. If you haven't seen it, I haven't done a great job explaining it. I don't know how palatable a show about Jews sounds to the average non-Jew, but trust me, it's worth the watch. I posted the countdown to the season two release on my Facebook page and the people proclaiming their love for it the most were my non-Jewish friends.

I'm actually looking for another show for us to watch. We're abandoning Blindspot. It really jumped the shark after the first season. I rarely abandon and I LOVE that actors that were in LA Complex keep popping up in it. Ennis Esmer is a treasure. But it takes hella concentration to watch that show and I just can't devote the brain power to it. And I don't care. Jane's bad now. Great. Not interested.

I did find a show that could make me pee my pants. We just got Hulu and I had wanted to check out Difficult People, because I love Billy On The Street. It does not disappoint. IF you REALLY know pop culture. B and I are pop culture aficionados. We have been binging this show since all our other shows are on holiday/winter hiatus. This Is Us, A Million Little Things, The Good Doctor, The Resident, The Connors, Will & Grace, Murphy Brown are all on our TV watching schedule and we're all caught up. We LOVE 9-1-1 but I'm not sure if the season is over or if it's just on winter hiatus. Currently we're also watching Ray Donovan too. This week's looked like it would/could be the finale, but surprisingly it wasn't.

Nothing is really jumping out at me to try though. I know, I know, the Handmaid's Tale. But it sounds so depressing. Feel free to give me some suggestions though, based on what I've said we watch. We also watch The Blacklist. And I watch all the ABC Thursday line-up - Grey's Anatomy, How to Get Away With Murder, and I hate-watch Station 19. I just don't like any of the characters on Station 19. I also watch the Chicago Trilogy (PD, Fire, Med) on the treadmill. SMILF comes back on Jan 20th and we'll be watching that. I'm not watching Dirty John. I don't know the whole story, but I do know it's a lot of Three's Company nonsense where we all know the truth and Connie Britton has to play the moron. I don't like Connie and her gorgeous mane playing the fool.

So help me out. What to watch?

Friday, November 30, 2018

Life in Chaos

All I've been thinking on constant loop for like two months is, "Serenity NOW, Serenity NOW!" The photo above is what I imagine I look like. I wouldn't know because I can't even say I've really looked in the mirror. That's the last thing on my priority list. One of these days, I'll get around to shaving my legs too. Or really, what I'm hoping is that, like an old tanning salon boss I had, my leg hair just ends up rubbing off from being encased in leggings for so many days in a row.

I'm BACK. This time I wasn't on hiatus because of politics getting to me or whatever. Politics is going to get to me until the White House changes hands, and I've resigned myself to the wait. However, I was on hiatus because I HAD NO LAPTOP. "What?!", you say? That is like you not having an arm! I KNOW.

September rolled around and school started. About two or three weeks into September, swim team was starting for E, at a new pool, in a substantially bigger pain the behind location for me. It was going to be fine though, in my head. I took him to his first practice, on a Friday at around four o'clock. I got there in FOURTEEN MINUTES. I thought - wow, this is going to be a breeze. Oh, no no. I quickly found out, it COULD be fourteen minutes, or it could be FORTY. I forgot what it was like to drive this route, as I did daily, for work, before we moved our business to the town we live in. If you get caught at either or both commuter trains, and/or the freight train, you're screwed. I realized I was going to have to sit there the whole two hours. At three or four practices a week, those are two hours at a clip I need to be doing other things. Laundry, doing work, EATING.

Along with a venue change, the time for practice changed to earlier, which just makes my life more hectic. Then, the sitting for two hours, and the rushing to get homework done, get food for E and me for some cobbled together dinner, it was making me so unorganized, like I've never been in my life. I was missing doctors (and other) appointments. I missed dinner plans with a friend. I sent a BLANK CHECK to someone. Totally, completely, BLANK. Luckily it was someone I know well. She sent me a text, "Hey, thanks for the blank check. I bought a YSL bag with it. Hope you don't mind. Haha". Also luckily, I know I'd never have enough money for a YSL bag in the checking account anyway, but I was mortified. Apparently I hadn't filled out the paperwork that went along with the check either.

I was turning into a flake, the quality I can't deal with in others. I'm pretty sure one day I just sat in my car and cried from not sleeping, being unorganized, and having no time to get anything done.

There were also really messed up things going on, which I'll just give to you briefly:
-Our health insurance was erroneously saying we were canceled for like a week. A week I'd just happened to have three appointments. Two for me, one for E. Appointments that couldn't easily be rescheduled.
-The credit union who held the lease for my previous car was telling me I owed them money I didn't. Which still isn't fully resolved. #AffinityCreditUnionCanSuckIt

Then, as luck would have it, I notice something wasn't right with my laptop. The AC adapter thingy on the end wasn't staying in and my laptop wasn't charging. A piece fell out where the adapter plug goes into the laptop and it's not something easily replaceable. The laptop would seem to be fine, I'd be typing, then it would just shut off. It wasn't bad enough that for some reason at work, I'd get bounced off the internet, just on this particular laptop, sometimes ten times an hour, sometimes ten times in four hours. But now, I had to start rigging the wire by stuffing business cards and Post It blocks underneath it to secure it into place. For awhile that worked. Until it didn't.

Let me backtrack and explain a little. In the early 2000's I'd had a laptop given to me from work. I used that and it was fine. Until it wasn't. The screen went but I just hooked it up to a desktop monitor and made it work. When I met B, I don't remember exactly how it happened, but I sort of remember Sony having a store and for some reason we both got Sony Vaio laptops. We bought those in 2005 or 2006. They were great and I was used to that.

I use the LIVING SH*T out of my laptops. I'm old school. I'm online all the time, and I'm on social media like Facebook, Blogger, and a little Instagram, but even my social media is old school. I don't use Snapchat- I don't know how, and I'm not really technologically savvy. I know my way around Windows, Microsoft Office, etc. But when the technology goes awry higher than my pay grade, I don't know what to do.

Apparently appliances, laptops, and pretty much everything, is supposed to have a short shelf life these days. Laptops aren't supposed to last ten years or whatever. I get that. So, in September of 2009, when my 2005/2006 Sony Vaio was starting to slow down, get viruses, and just not work, I went to the Sony store in Garden State Plaza and got a new Vaio. I'm loyal to a fault. I've been going to the same hairdresser for over twenty years. I got my nails done at the same place for seventeen years. And I WANTED MY VAIO. I got their credit card with free financing for like a year and probably spent like six or seven hundred dollars for what was then, a teenager kind of model. That is a lot of money, but I knew I'd use it, so I closed my eyes, bit the bullet, and signed the credit card slip.

Well, that 2009 Sony Vaio lasted until around January 2017. That's when I found out Sony cut laptops and Vaio loose. No more Sony Vaio laptops. NOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!! I'm not good with change!!

What do you mean I can't get a new Vaio. Well, I could, but not by Sony, and for a ridiculous expensive sum of money. Nope. What could I do?

I went to eBay. I ended up purchasing a refurbished Vaio, on eBay, in a newer model than the one I had, but very similar. I bought it, for three hundred dollars, from some guy in a rural part of Texas, who wasn't the easiest to deal with, but it seemed to work fine. I was happy. It was still the size and weight of a giant Porterhouse steak but I didn't care. I wasn't used to a light, on the go, laptop anyway. I'm no MAC person with their thin light Whatever-Books.

I got about a year and a half out of the refurbished laptop, when the adapter area fell apart & crapped out. But it was the end of September, beginning of October. I thought I could rig the adapter enough and wait until Black Friday to get something. It's not like I had or have the budget for a laptop. So I was going to wait for a deal and just try to do something with no interest payments again. But then the screen just died or the whole thing just wouldn't power on, and our computer guy told B it was a goner. I had no choice. It wasn't just about jimmying the adapter, I couldn't SEE anything.

We'd joined Costco through some Groupon deal so I get their flyers in the mail. It looked like they were starting their Black Friday deals early. They had an HP Envy x360 for a really good deal. I took it. I couldn't wait any longer. My calendars weren't syncing, I had no way to check certain credit card payments because I had no usernames and passwords. I just can't even explain how much I rely on my laptop. Right or wrong, old school or not, I don't care. I need it.

Of course, I had to order it online. The deal wasn't in-store, it was only online. I got it. OF COURSE IT WAS DEFECTIVE. The short version is that it wouldn't connect to the internet. I looked it up and this was a common problem for this version of the laptop I guess. I try to return it in-store. More problems. Yadda Yadda, they figured out how to give me back my money in some unorthodox way.

I went to Microcenter (a discount computer store with only 3.5% tax) on someones recommendation. That didn't work out. I wasn't in the head space to be there after the debacle at Costco and I didn't feel the guy knew what he was talking about. I ended up just going on Ebates, then to HP through there, ponied up & ordered their flash deal for a better version of the defective one. That was November 13th. Guess when I got my laptop?

YESTERDAY. They never said it was coming FROM CHINA. Directly from China. I don't know why. So, from Costco, I could order on a Friday, and get one, albeit defective, by Monday. I order it directly from the manufacturer, and it took over two weeks. I also forgot to have it shipped to work instead of home. I used PayPal Credit to get the six months free financing deal and it defaults to my home shipping address. FedEx, unfortunately, is no Amazon. Amazon texts you that your stuff is x amount of stops away. FedEx is like the cable company. They give you a window of- Anytime from eight in the morning to eight in the evening.

I did get a text saying they thought it might come between 12:35p and 4:35p so I had a better window by the time I got to work. I told B that at twelve-thirty I was going to get in my car and stalk FedEx trucks around town. I walked out the door of work at twelve-thirty, drove to my street and the streets around it and didn't see ONE Fed Ex truck. But, then, on my way back towards work, I saw one come out of the strip mall where we have our store, turn up the main street, and park in front of the pharmacy. I waited from the Fed Ex guy to come out of the pharmacy and asked if he had my package.

HE DID. He let me sign for it right there and take it. I FINALLY GOT MY LAPTOP.

And I LOVE IT. I made what I think is a smart choice, so far. I got the HP Spectre x360 i5 13.3" something. I can't give you all the specs. The defective one was a 15.6". I didn't know what that was going to look like, then I opened it, and it seemed HUGE. I think my Sony was considered a 14" but it had a thick rim around the screen so it seemed smaller. My Spectre is not the newest or fastest model because I got it for WAY less money than I see them priced at normally at retail stores. Maybe it was also a good deal since I was going to be waiting till some new gray hairs come in for it to arrive. I don't really understand or need to know/understand all the specs. I need to be able to go on the internet, social media, and use Word, Photo Manager, and Excel. I don't know how much space it has, or anything.

What I DO know, is that it's super thin and light- it has no dvd thing. It doesn't have some loud hot fan like my Vaio, and it CONNECTS TO THE INTERNET LIKE I NEED IT TO DO. I've been on it typing this for the past forty-five minutes and I haven't once been disconnected from the wi-fi at work.

Now I just have to figure out how to get all my angry letters, finial orders, and brisket/kugel recipes from my old hard drive into this laptop, but there's time for that. Right now, I just want to get my calendars back in order, order E's lunches for school for the month, and make sure I have websites, usernames, and passwords saved somewhere else. And for the record, I worked the swim team thing out too. One word, carpool. I never had a reason or events to carpool anywhere really prior, but now I surely know the value of that. So, I'm back. And I have plenty to say. Stay tuned!

Wednesday, November 14, 2018

Who Doesn't Love Cake?

I don't know if I love anything as much as I love cake. Jellybeans are my favorite candy treat, but I've stayed at weddings and Bar Mitzvah's to the bitter end because I wasn't leaving without having the cake. Horrible when the cake wasn't even worth it, but I had to HAVE it. I even took home the remainder of my friend Julie's ginormous fortieth birthday cake because they let me. So I walked through the streets of the West Village in NYC with a GIANT box of cake because I knew it would go in the garbage otherwise. I couldn't let that happen.

I have two new finds for you. Get ready.

Whenever E has an audition in the city, we look for a bakery close by after if we have time. We've tried quite a few in the last year but I really couldn't write about any. Two were cookie places. While they were okay, they were JUST okay. Okay doesn't inspire a blog entry. I wouldn't call them a waste of calories, but I think of it more like a local cupcake place- I could walk by a hundred times and not go in. I'd rather drive to NYC, JUST for certain cake over going to a neighboring town to get these. Or, better, I'd rather eat Yodels than those cupcakes.

While E is in class in NYC on Saturdays, I walk around all over. If I spot a bakery, I usually get something. For awhile I was going to Macaron Cafe, which has the best French Macarons I've had since Pam at A La Cupcakes in Glen Rock (RIP, A La Cupcakes, not Pam). But they're fifteen dollars for six, which is normal, but a little rich for my blood. And I was bored of them eventually.

I was walking down 7th Ave about a month ago and noticed a little pop up shop with a banner that says "Caked Up Cafe". I looked in and saw what looked like fabulous looking cupcakes. I went in. I was correct. They LOOKED fabulous. But how do they TASTE? Magnolia looks good too. Until you eat them. 

I got four. One chocolate raspberry - chocolate cake filled with vanilla buttercream, topped with raspberry buttercream and chocolate shavings on the frosting. One vanilla raspberry - vanilla cake with raspberry buttercream. One cookie dough- not sure what the specifics are because I HAD to give ONE to E once he saw them. And one strawberry shortcake. I don't remember what the specifics were of that one either.

Ok. Everyone knows I generally don't like chocolate cake. It's usually dry and I'm just more of a vanilla person. But the chocolate raspberry is the WINNER. Put it this way- I bought four, just for me, last Saturday, and enjoyed each one like it was Last Supper material.

On top of them being awesome already, Denise, the owner was there this past Saturday. She was out of the chocolate raspberry and I was literally crestfallen. She said she'd whip me up four, no problem. She asked me if I wanted the raspberry buttercream as the filling too- I SURE DID. And she put EXTRA on top. She also told me that they can always be whipped up there if I want, so to just ask. Hi, I'm going to be your best customer. I don't know what I'm going to do when E's class is over for the session. They were perfection. And I don't share.

Just FYI- their main store is in Rockland County, NY. So if you're closer to there, have at it. Otherwise they're on 7th around 29th St in a tiny storefront. They make wedding and other occasion cakes too. They do everything. I'm having my birthday cake made from them, I decided now, for August. I ate my cupcakes before thinking to take a pic, so I stole some pics from their Instagram.

My other find was about three weeks ago. Lady M Cake Boutique. After an audition, I quickly looked up "bakery" to see if there was one nearby. Around the corner? SCORE. It's a small place. We go to walk in and I can see from the large window they're cutting cake by the slice. PERFECT. I didn't see the menu and pricing on a podium outside. I should've looked. 

I got four slices, of course. One for B, one for E, and two for me. Of course. I get up to the register, which is no longer a thing- it's just like, a tablet. The girl working says, "That will be $31.50". Come again? So, I paid $31.50 for four pieces of cake. Fabulous looking cake, but $31.50?

Obviously, I take it, because they already cut it. But I'm having a silent heart attack. E asks, "Mom, can I eat mine in the car?" And I'm all- "NO YOU CANNOT. This isn't #CARCAKE! This is cake you eat, at home, on a place, with a utensil, all fancy-like, watching a favorite tv show. SAVORED, for EIGHT DOLLARS A SLICE!". And you best savor it because it's the last time you'll be eating it. YOU, my little chickadee can go back to #carcake next time. 

Lady M
We ate it that night. I have to say, it WAS totally worth the cost. That's just not a sustainable cost for cake, for the D-K family, as a whole, anyway. I can't say I didn't go back a week later, just for me, but I had to go back to be able to sample another flavor. I mean, if I'm going to write about something I need to be fully knowledgeable.

The place is called Lady M. When I wrote about it on Facebook, so many people already seemed to know about it. They were like- "Did you have the crepe cake???" I guess that's what they're known for. I did actually get that one. It was really good- sort of like a really good whipped cream Napoleon. I had their strawberry shortcake too that first time and it was amazing. I had another two after and they were both just as good. I was thinking B and I should pretend to be getting married again and see if we could go for a tasting. But this is luxury cake. You aren't taking your kids here when you can get them Dunkin' Munchkins and call it a day. This is #bathcake. As in I picture a commercial with a lady in a huge tub, with candles, classical music, and a silver plate with a dome on it, housing this cake.

I'll be going back to Denise though, at Caked Up, this Saturday. Instead of four, I'll be getting seven or eight, to last me to the next week. I'm out of cupcakes for tonight and may have to run out for some Yodels. And I won't be happy about it. Those cupcakes are what dreams are made of and four, for four days only cost me fifteen dollars.

Thursday, October 25, 2018

Broken Record

Ever have someone say something so baffling, or so stupid, you're still thinking about it days later? Not thinking about it because the actual words were bothersome, because we all know how much I care about other people's opinions of me. More just completely being stymied by the thought process behind the words.

The other day certainly wasn't the first time, won't be the last time, and it wasn't even the worst. The other day, I posted this article on Facebook, in anger, about the information leaked by the New York Times, that the Trump administration wants to define gender as biological, immutable, determined by genitalia at birth, which would roll back all kinds of protections for transgender community. I did call Trump an orange douchebag. I used choice words for the old white politicians who do his dirty work.

Then I was called a hypocrite and a bigot. How can I preach all this love everyone then have all this hate "for our nation's president". And I think toward those who support him too. I'm not sure since the ranting in question left a lot to be desired in terms of spelling, grammar, sentence and paragraph structure, etc. I may write with slang, or write how I speak, but coherence has never been an issue.

I was dumbstruck. Not just because I don't even know how that's the conclusion that comes from my posting, but that after talking to B, he feels that could be the thought process of many on the "other side".

I just don't know how there's ever going to be any healing of the divide when there's no understanding. I don't know how it's possible not to see these things as clear as day. I'm not talking about fiscal issues, even though those are tied to social issues as well. But I have acquaintances in finance who only seem to see things in terms of the stock market. If the stock market is okay and their lives are status quo, they're happy. They don't much care about the social issues. They don't think any of it affects them (even though they have children it will affect) so they're all MAGA for now. While selfish and short sighted, it's not quite the same as the people who only vote on social issues, AGAINST other people's rights.

PEOPLE'S RIGHTS. EQUALITY. Ideals we're supposed to have founded this country on. These are actual people we're talking about. Not just nameless, faceless people. Friends, family, friends of friends and family of family. I personally know two transgender kids and one transgender adult. Then there are the ones I don't know personally but know about. And I don't know anyone who DOESN'T know someone or have someone close to them that considers themselves gay. So when you're voting, you're literally deciding whether these people you know get to have basic rights or not. Their right to be who they were born to be. To dress how they see fit. Call themselves what name they feel comfortable with. Be able to safely use the bathroom, get married, get a job, healthcare, and anything else the rest of us enjoy just by virtue of being born with the right parts. 

That's where I'm talking about clarity. One side wants to live and let live and the other side is actively voting against people's equality. It's not different than voting for segregation. They just refuse to see it because it's cloaked in religion. Religion somehow makes it acceptable. I'm waiting for one legitimate answer as to why it's okay to strip people of their rights. I still haven't heard how it adversely affects anyone else if the LGBTQ community keeps any rights they currently have or are fighting to have. Except, I guess, that in a broad brush stroke, if we allow them rights, we're all just going to hell in a hand basket. #FineByMe

I'm also waiting for that answer to the age old question of, if everyone BIRTHS all the fetuses, are you willing to PAY to help those born babies? #waitingforever #ifiheldmybreathidbedead

As much as some like to believe it's a one religion country, which people have said in my own backyard when they think no one is listening, we do not have a national religion. We're not supposed to be making laws based in religion. I don't know why we have to keep saying this. This is the problem with proselytizing religions. It's this mentality drummed in that you're supposed to push your religion on to others and make them live how you live. That's not the way we're supposed to be governed here.

How is it not clear that if you don't want to have an abortion, don't have one. If you aren't gay then don't have a gay marriage. If you're not transgender, then what rights or protections they have shouldn't be an issue for you. One side is trying to make sure everyone is equal in the eyes of the law, and the other side wants any marginalized people to be stripped of their rights and protections under the law because it doesn't gel with their interpretation of religion. The ones on the anti-progressive side can't even come to these feelings of their own voluntary thinking of right and wrong, but through someone's interpretation of something they follow.

I don't know it isn't common sense to see how crazy and wrong it would be to legislate that everyone must have abortions or be gay. How it is not common sense to see it from the other side??

Written above is just me being a broken record, but what's worse was what came next, after I was called a hypocrite and a bigot. It was something like "SMH, it's never going to happen. Stop believing everything you read!".

People, respected political pundits, said Trump would never be elected President. He was elected. We've already seen White Nationalists & Nazi's marching in the streets of a city in the USA after it was said that some were being overly dramatic by comparing Trump to Hitler. Trump stole a Supreme Court nominee and then got another one. He helped make a mockery of the Supreme Court with the Kavanaugh circus and could populate the whole Supreme Court with ultra socially conservative judges. That could affect protections for millions of people. Yet, men and women alike support taking rights away from people because it doesn't seemingly affect them and much of it in the name of religion.

When someone says "it's not going to happen" in terms of reversing Roe vs Wade, defining gender in a way that strips people of their rights, or any other quality of life issue, I just think about how privileged view of the world that must be. To be so much a part of the majority that they can discount how scary it is to be any minority just waiting for your existence to be erased, jailed, deported, separated from family or forced to have a baby you can't take care of or don't want. Sorry if I can't just take the average person's word for what will and won't be legislated while just laying down and taking it. Russia elected our President. Clearly, anything can happen.

We already had a time without legal abortion. Remember Penny from Dirty Dancing, the dirty table and rusty knife situation?  Revolutionary Road? Coat hangers? While the movies themselves may be fictional, those situations aren't disputed as being fictional. Yet, we have people so stubborn in their feeling that abortion shouldn't be legal that they're willing to cling to Trump as their Christian Family Values poster child. The man married three times. Having five kids with three different women. Known to have paid thousands of dollars to pay off a porn star that he cheated on his wife with. THIS, is the person being held up as the moral vote just because he's willing to say he'll abolish abortion and take away rights from the LGBTQ community.

I was called a hypocrite and a bigot but to me, the clarity should be that it's hypocritical and bigoted to decide that other people should be abiding by law based on the rules of your religion. I've been told the message Christianity is supposed to give is of love. That the only one who can judge is God. As far as I see it then, He or She gets to make the laws up there, and we make the laws down here. For everyone. Equally.

We can't heal any divide when we have people expecting everyone to stand for a flag and a national anthem, pledging- "And liberty and justice for all", when really they mean- "And liberty and justice for those who believe the same way I do". We can't heal a divide when we have people yelling "Fake News" about the truth. We can't heal a divide when we're okay with some people having all the rights and some having none. We can't heal a divide when there is no empathy or regard for people who are different, don't have as much, and/or who don't want to live within the confines of someone else's religious beliefs. People have been fleeing religious persecution since the beginning of time. The reason being that no one wants to be forced to believe anything.

We can't heal a divide when people are yelling "If you don't like it, if you don't stand, if you don't whatever- then get out!" People shouldn't be expected to conform to just live. You don't have to agree with my positions. You don't have to agree with or like abortion. You don't have to agree with  or even be okay with any LGBTQ lifestyle. You don't have agree with, like, or participate in any activity or lifestyle that conflicts with your religion or belief system. However, you shouldn't be able to legislate that other people can't, and that, is where there is a problem. I don't know how many ways it can be said. You don't lose anything by living and let live. But others DO lose when you try to put your beliefs into law.

Look how crazy people get when even the thought of taking any gun rights away comes up. The NRA supporters, who tend to also be on the side of revoking other people's freedoms, think it's preposterous to even consider tightening gun laws, because they believe something is being taken away from them. Yet....

I feel like I just said the same thing over and over and over again. Like a broken record. I guess I'm just going to have to keep saying it until it sinks in.

Am I angry? Yes. Do I disparage the current President? Hell yes. You know how the Holocaust happened? It happened by people just sitting around doing and saying nothing when they came for other people. Until they came for them too. Don't tell me it can't happen because I can find you people who lived it. It's very easy to mobilize sheep- just look up a hate group or two on Facebook and see how many members are in any given one. If that doesn't scare you into standing up for people who need it now, then all I can say is #baaaaaaaaaaa

**By the way- I'm sitting here at work with the tv on. I just heard a political attack ad from Hugin (R) about Menendez (D) in NJ. It's from the perspective of a mom with a newborn daughter, claiming in this attack ad that Menendez allegedly went to prostitutes who were as young as sixteen. That she could never explain a vote for him (Menendez) to HER (the innocent newborn daughter). Now, I don't know anything about Menendez and teen prostitutes, however, our Lecherous Leader In Chief has many sexual allegations against him, told someone how you should grab women by the pussy, and worse. This, THIS is the subject matter this republican is using againt his democratic opponent?? I think my head just exploded. How is Hugin then going to explain his support of anything Trump, ever? I hope he plans on speaking out on what an utter scumbag Trump has been to and about women if he's trying to run on the Family Values, wholesome family man platform. Again, hypocritical and baffling to where my head just exploded.

Talk about clarity- anyone can say anything now, nothing means anything, and we're all living in some kind of alternate universe. The universe where the President is publicly calling a woman he slept with "Horse Face" and we're all talking about the size (or lack) of his penis.

#AbrahamLincolnisrollinginhisgrave #Vote2018

Friday, October 12, 2018

Sing Me A Song

I'd totally be lying if I said I was definitely going to get back to writing on the regular. I just know I'm not. It isn't because I have nothing to say. I have plenty to say. I just have to risk sounding like a broken record. Or a lunatic. Depends on the day. Yesterday, I'm pretty sure I could've been considered Kanye level batshit crazy. People are asking me a simple "how are you?" and I'm full on TELLING them. Not just a "fine, how are you?", but full on Chicken Little and "The sky is falling!". It's how I feel since November 9, 2016 and only getting worse. Not to mention, when I haven't washed my hair in like five days or looked in a mirror, I already look halfway to crazy without opening my mouth. My schedule is brutal and I'm sure that's contributing to my insanity.

Yesterday was the pinnacle of it all. The Florida Panhandle was decimated, Kanye went on a rant in the Oval (In. The. Oval.) making Trump look like the sane one, it was pouring here, I had to drive all over goddamned North Jersey for E's activities, and I can't tell you the last time I was able to go to the supermarket for a proper shop. Meaning, not just grabbing stuff piecemeal at the place closest to wherever I happen to be at the time. Oh, actually I can tell you when I last went. It was on Yom Kippur when I ran into an old friend who also happened to ask me how I am and I went off there too.

So, like I said, I'm not going to lie and say I'm going to get back to writing all the time. I don't know how to ignore what's going on in the world and write about As Seen On TV products and whatnot when I feel like I'm crawling out of my skin. I cried like three times yesterday and I was all, "What is this salty discharge?" because usually, I'm only crying at commercials, shows like This Is Us and the contestants on America's Got Talent and The Voice (THE STORIES!).

But speaking of crying, I watched Jimmy Kimmel last night and saw this singer Lynzy Lab. I've been pretty off social media for the past year. Here and there I check out Facebook but hadn't been watching the news much, reading magazines, or REALLY reading Facebook closely. Well, until last week with all the Kavanaugh assholery. I needed to see who I needed to set on fire. In my mind. IN MY MIND. My social media reading has still been intermittent. I go on, then have to go off, before I really go off. Jimmy introduced this girl and said her song about parents saying they're worried about their boys went viral. Of course my interest was piqued. By the end of the song, I was #uglycrying in my bed. Thus, being the third cry of the day.

I'm sure Lynzy doesn't need me to promote her, but I am, because I feel she has it correct and deserves to be shared. I have a boy. The last thing I'm worried about is that he could be falsely accused of any sexual assault. You know, because I'M TEACHING HIM NOT TO BE A RAPIST.

Here's Lynzy. Listen carefully. She deserves your full attention.

Thursday, September 27, 2018

Today, in my Calendar

Yeah, I was going to post what I'd written about my experience ringing the bell at the NYSE, a few weeks ago, but I can't. Instead, I'm paralyzed in front of the tv, watching Dr Christine Blasey Ford tell her story and get grilled over it, needing some outlet to get my feelings out about what I'm hearing and seeing.

I actually didn't know who Senator Chuck Grassley was before this morning. I usually listen to the tv, not watch it, but I picked my head up to see who this angry, rude man was from what he was saying. Just the way he was speaking before actually talking TO anyone, just about what was about to go on, to how he spoke to Senator Feinstein, was abhorrent. It was totally degrading and dismissive.

Before Dr Blasey Ford even spoke, I was already emotional. I'm stuck on the whole "why didn't she report" nonsense. For me, that's really personal. I wrote about my #metoo story when another high profile sexual assault story came out in the media and people started sharing their stories. I said that my moment, my violator, I found out only a few years ago, is a family judge.

I didn't get "rape-raped" as I've described in an earlier entry. I managed to get out of that room relatively physically unscathed. But I identify with any person who left a room or scenario of that nature, physically assaulted or physically unscathed, who still felt guilt, shame, and a whole host of other things. I remember thinking, well, I probably shouldn't have gone there. Maybe I did know what I was going there for? I didn't feel like I knew I was supposed to be going there for sex, but maybe it was implied, and being seventeen, I just didn't know?

So, I didn't get raped. It didn't even occur to me that what happened to me could be reportable. I didn't tell my mom because I wasn't supposed to go anywhere after my community service shift. I didn't want to get grounded. I didn't tell my boyfriend at the time because he was SUPER jealous and I felt like I'd "get in trouble" with him too. I don't think I told any of my friends because the guy said "You know what you're here for", "You better not tell anyone, because you're not going to ruin my life". He made it sound like it was my fault, so part of it felt like it might be. I was also confused because I had thought we were "friends". Of course not realizing that twenty-three year old men are rarely looking for friendship from a seventeen year old girl.

It's not something to report to any authority, now, over twenty-five years later. I got away. But, like Dr Blasey Ford, the person who attempted to assault me is a judge. Bet your ASS, if he got put on a short list for the SUPREME COURT, the highest court of the land, I would come forward with my story. 

Someone I'm shocked by, said to a friend this morning, "If we were all judged by stuff we did in high school, it would be a disaster!". Well, if you don't attempt to sexually assault someone in high school, you'd have nothing to worry about. Someone else I know has said, "I'm worried about my son. Any girl can just say anything about him, that she was assaulted, and he'll be screwed". No, teach your son not to be a rapist, he'll have a spotless reputation, and he, and you won't have to worry about it. I have a son, and that's the last thing I'm worried about- BECAUSE I'VE BEEN TEACHING HIM ALL ALONG NOT TO BE A RAPIST.

He's not being judged on what he did in high school to get a job at a fast food restaurant. He's going for a LIFETIME APPOINTMENT TO THE HIGHEST COURT. There's a HUGE difference. Anyone that doesn't understand that is just digging their heels in for partisan politics. This shouldn't be a partisan issue.

No, I don't want a conservative Supreme Court judge. It looks like we're going to get one no matter what. You're going to tell me we have NO viable conservative with no sexual assault allegations pending?? #wecandobetter

Further, I'm baffled at the WOMEN still supporting Trump when his excuse for support of Kavanaugh is that he knows from personal experience how women have lied about sexual assault perpetrated by him. How do you support this person when he is willing to just dismiss sexual assault just to "win"??? I saw in the news this morning, that a woman, a Trump supporter, said TO HER TEEN DAUGHTERS, that groping is no big deal. Then I read further, and her hill to die on is abortion. Figures. Make sure you HAVE the fetuses, if she gets groped later, it's no big thing. It's boys being boys. #turninyourVcard

Say what you want about Obama, but his respect of women, HALF THE POPULATION, never once, came into question.

To discredit Dr Blasey Ford, someone in my husband's Facebook feed stated as evidence that she "had no tears". That's what we should go on? A lack of tears means she's a liar? I'm curious how he'd be thinking if she was his daughter. I would love to ask his daughter to tell any #whyididntreport she has, because we all do, to her dad and see if he changes his tune. Sure, false allegations happen. But when they happen, they're proven to be false pretty quickly.

I'm just so disheartened, disgusted, and angry at the lens that some people are seeing this through and the words that are coming out of their mouths, pens and fingers about it. Words and thoughts made "okay" by a cancerous head. 

Just as I had started watching this at ten o'clock this morning when I came to work, a woman came in, sort of to say hello, sort of to solicit, which we all know how I feel about solicitation. It didn't matter though, I couldn't even concentrate on what she was saying because of the disgusting disrespect I was hearing on TV via Senator Grassley. Luckily she and I are of the same side of thinking, I found out quickly, from the word vomit that just came out to her when I opened my mouth.

She was the first human I'd had contact with today, during this emotional moment, so it all just came tumbling out. By the time she left at eleven thirty, almost two hours later, and only because a customer came in, I felt like we'd bonded on shared PTSD from the sheer disgust of victim shaming, and partisan power struggle, trying to push this candidate through at any cost. When she left, we hugged, knowing what a pivotal moment in history this is, for the future sanctity of the Supreme Court, and for humankind. I really felt like we shared a moment like I can't articulate properly. So, thank you Michele. Whether you feel the same or not, from this atheist Jew, you were there this morning for some kind of reason, and I appreciate it greatly.

Then I saw another friend outside my store, having taken her daughter out for lunch, who I know is just as devastated by all this as I am. I'm not even a hugger, but we hugged, also like two people with PTSD from this administration and all the garbage it's ushered in with it.

If this guy gets pushed through to the Supreme Court, I don't even know what to say. It will be a terrifying day for this country. That's all I have. What else is there.

Let us just remember that THIS IS NOT A CRIMINAL INVESTIGATION. This is JOB INTERVIEW. People have been turned down for jobs at Burger King for less! GET ANOTHER GUY.

I know today's entry is mostly a stream of consciousness. I'm not even going back to clean it up - as I normally do. I just want to have this moment down, today down, for some reason. You know, since keeping calendars is so important and telling. And you all get to be the recipient.

Tuesday, July 31, 2018

Our Maine Event

View from Lori's office

We went to Maine. I didn't post from there, because I've read and watched the news. You don't post while you're away from home. No one needs to be burgled because you HAD to post on social media when you weren't home. #ThanksKyleRichards

We went to visit Camp Wekeela, a sleepaway camp in Hartford, Maine. I didn't go to sleepaway camp. My only idea of sleepaway is Meatballs, which is one of my Top 10 favorite movies. I guess a current camp owner wouldn't want their camp compared to Meatballs, but we can all recognize that it was the the early 80's and that's probably what sleepaway WAS really like then. I know when I went to day camp in the early 80's there was A LOT less supervision than there is at the same kind of camp E goes to now! But when I think of Meatballs in regards to sleepaway camp, I think of the sense of family, tradition, being unspoiled, utilizing the outdoors, summer.

It just happened to be coincidence & luck that I know the owners of Wekeela, Lori & Ephram Caflun. I worked for Lori when I was twenty till about twenty-two at a day camp, when I was home for the summer for college. Then I did winter camp for her somewhere else, and hostessed kids birthday parties on weekends at the Bergen YMHA. When they had their first son, I went to Boston with them to watch the baby while they were doing wedding stuff for her sister's wedding.

I'm going to give you an account of Wekeela from my perspective, not from brochure-speak. I didn't ask a ton of questions- I just sort of went in winging it, so I don't know all the facts & figures. This is more about the feeling I had from being there.

So, first, would I have thought of Maine to send my only child to sleepaway? No. That ride from Bergen County is no joke, and I didn't even drive. B drove there AND back. I also have an only child. The idea of sending my only child that far away should give me hives. However, really KNOWING the owners is a huge game changer. These are exactly the people I'd want to know I was entrusting my kid to for the summer.

I am fully aware that there are tons of sleepaway camps in the immediate area of NY/NJ/CT/PA. Originally, when I thought about sleepaway, I assumed I'd send him to somewhere in the Catskills. I don't know why- that's just what was in my head. Probably because I also figured I'd be sending him to some kind of (relaxed, practically secular) Jewish camp, because I could apply for some kind of financial aid. (The Jewish affiliated camps do that).

It definitely didn't occur to me that if I send E to camp so close, he's most likely going to be with all people from our area. Sending him to day camp twenty-five minutes away from home, I thought he'd get to make friends from other towns. Turns out, many other parents aren't like me, wanting their kid to have to figure out how to meet new people. They WANT their kids to be with friends from their own town.

The groups in his day camp are pretty much grouped by town. Different elementary schools in town, but still all people they know. It's nice because he gets to see his town friends that he doesn't really see during the school year, but for the first three years I made it so he WASN'T with his town friends. I wanted him to have to branch out and get to know other people. He did, but he was also confused why everyone he knew were in another group. "Why can't I be with x, y and z? Why are they all together?". I just played dumb. At a certain point I had to give in and let him be with the town friends. It didn't make any sense, and I had no good excuse as to why he was the only odd man out, in a group with all kids from somewhere else.

If I was going to seriously consider sleepaway camp, I really value the Caflun's opinion on the subject, so I knew I had to ask them. One of the first things, I've never forgotten, that Lori had told me about Ephram, back like twenty-five years ago when I met them, was that his dream was to own a camp. To have had that dream and make it happen is not something everyone actually does. If that was your dream all that time ago and you made it happen, you must REALLY love camp. When I think of them, I think of people who REALLY. LOVE. CAMP.

I emailed Ephram last fall or winter to ask his thoughts on the more local Jewish camps. He told me it was a much longer conversation than an email and to come over to their home in Ridgewood (how convenient for me!). They weren't trying to sell me- they just wanted to make sure I was fully informed and to give me some food for thought. One of the points they made to me about Wekeela is that they have kids from many different countries, nevermind all over the US too. If I really wanted E to experience some diversity, sending him to Wekeela in Maine would guarantee that he'd really meet people from all over the world.

*It just so happened that the first, friendliest, most outgoing kid E met this weekend was from Brussels, Belgium! This kid is nine, was recruited for camp IN Brussels, basically signed himself up and with no trepidation came across the world to go to camp for a half session (3.5 weeks). He told us that he's coming for the whole summer next year. Color me impressed.

Over the course of the weekend, I met campers and counselors from all over the world- Alabama, Belgium, Iowa, Maryland, Scotland, England, Massachusetts- and those are just the places I remember.

Obviously I have no other sleepaway camp to compare it to, but what I was struck by was that all the kids and the counselors, looked happy and relaxed the whole time we were there. There is a structure to every day, they're all on a schedule, and they were participating in their activities, but they all just seemed like they were on vacation, if that makes sense.

Ephram was driving us around on a golf cart to show us around when we first got there. He took us to different kids doing different activities, and it just seemed...slower paced. Slower than the pace of life I'm used to with E. There were what looked looked like tween girls playing volleyball, no one just sitting, but it wasn't an intense seeming game. Teen boys were playing some game on the waterfront by the lake but it was more like Hacky Sack vs something competitive. We went by arts & crafts where the oldest kids, BOTH boys and girls, were all engaged, making scrunchies and dream catchers. No one stood out as over dressed or overly made-up. They just looked like normal kids.

Why would I point out that they seemed like "normal" kids, or even think about that? When I say "normal", I mean, you can't tell by what they're wearing, what kind of money they come from. Sleepaway camp isn't inexpensive. For that reason, some sleepaway camps can get a bad rap for having spoiled and entitled kids (and parents!).

Who could forget the post that went viral - The Running Of The Jews - about visiting day? In a nutshell, it's commentary on the ridiculousness that goes on where parents are bringing mountains of candy, baked goods, and gifting expensive gifts to the rest of the kids in the bunk on visiting day. Being there hours early to scout out the best spot on the camp lawn with tents and generators to spoil their kids. The same way I didn't want to move to certain towns, I don't need or am I interested in a place where parental wealth (or our lack there of) is a "thing".

Knowing Lori and Ephram personally, I couldn't see them humoring this kind of behavior, but who knows? Maybe it's just a thing every camp does. Luckily, I remembered to ask Ephram about it and he just looked at me like I had nine heads and said- "No, we don't do that. A mom once asked me what she can bring- like towers from Dylan's Candy Bar and Baked By Melissa cupcakes. I told her nothing. She said, "What do you mean? I've heard people bring all this stuff". I told her that you need to bring nothing and asked if this is why you chose this camp. That kind of thing is not why you chose us". That made me feel better. I'm not bringing any iPads as a bunk gift (I feel like I've heard of that happening in other places), nor would I want E in the position of being given extravagant items that we don't/wouldn't even give him.

We came up on a Saturday, mid-day, and I asked if they do anything special on the weekend. I was told there is no "weekend". There is a four day schedule - A, B, C, D. Those are structured days and they just go in order. Then they have the a fifth day which is or could be a trip. I'm not totally sure how that works. I think they go to local water parks, attractions, and such. Then every night there's an activity after dinner that the whole camp participates in. The first night was a staff soccer game that the kids were all watching and cheering for. The kids were all into it- some even performing a half time show.

The second night was Casino Night with a Great Gatsby theme. Most of the kids got dressed up. Including my own kid, who I spied in the dining hall, wearing his friend from Brussels button down shirt. And, for some unknown reason, the same shorts he'd been wearing for two days. We were leaving before "Dancing With The Staff" night, which I would've LOVED to see. I'm bummed I missed that.

After Ephram had showed the three of us around, Lori had put E into a group/bunk of kids his age. That was pretty much the last time we saw him until mid-Casino Night the next evening. He just joined right in and became part of their group. The kids were the nicest, most welcoming bunch of nine year old boys I've even encountered. I mean, REALLY nice. Surprisingly nice. They took E in, and literally gave him the shirts off their backs. I was afraid they'd be so bonded, they wouldn't be into having an "outsider".

E had the option of staying in Ephram and Lori's house (on the camp campus) with us, but Lori gave him the option of staying in the bunk. He jumped on it. Before the words even fully came out, he said- "I'm going to stay in the bunk. I don't care if I have to sleep on the floor". They pulled a mattress into the bunk and he did, in fact, sleep on the floor. I'd brought a sheet, a pillow and a blanket and he was set.

Every counselor or boys side administrator that we encountered throughout the evening, that had seen E with "his group", said that he fit right in and that we were going to have trouble getting him to leave Wekeela to come home. That made me feel warm and fuzzy inside. Like I knew my intuition was correct- that he was born for camp. 

**As an aside- The ONLY reason we even saw him mid-Casino night was because he went balls to the wall, didn't really eat well, didn't really sleep, and gave himself a migraine. He was supposed to sleep in the bunk again- we'd even bought him a sleeping bag while in town. He ended up, crying, in pain, and sleeping with us. 

I actually didn't mind that this happened though. While I don't ever want him with a migraine and nauseous, it was a great lesson. If and when he goes away to camp next year, he needs to pace himself and make sure he makes good choices. He needs to make sure  that he eats right, drinks enough water, and sleeps. Just like other kids don't learn until college. I guarantee that there are less kids who've gone to sleepaway than those who haven't, who go buckwild when they get to college. They've already had a taste of that kind of freedom and having to make decisions.

We all ate in the dining hall both days and I have to say, the food was pretty darn good. It was like being at my college and eating at Daly's. The first night, it could've been because I was starving, but I was a bottomless pit. It was spaghetti and meatballs with garlic bread. It was comfort food and I loved it. B said he'd never seen me eat like that. One morning there were scrambled eggs, some kind of sausage, and potatoes. The next morning was pancakes and some other kind of sausage. There is always toast, cereal, yogurt, granola, etc. Just like college, you have to learn how to make good food choices.

They ARE nut-free. I didn't see that in my quick look-see of their website. I just remembered seeing that they work with all kinds of allergies. Lori just happened to mention that they're nut-free in conversation.

Speaking of "nut-free", they're VERY on top of their supervision. Since we were staying with Lori and just shooting the breeze at the end of the night in the house, somehow it came up that they have people patrolling the grounds after 12:45am, making sure no kids or campers have snuck out of their bunks to fool around. Being that this is a co-ed camp, not separating the sexes by a lake or anything, I'm sure this is more of a concern than for camps that are single sex or co-ed with some kind of proximity separation. So if sexual hi-jinks are concern for you with a co-ed camp, rest assured, Wekeela is ON that. This is where Wekeela and Meatballs definitely differ.

I love that it's co-ed with no separation. Sleepaway camp is like college, in the way that it's a microcosm of real life where we all live and work together- men and women. In their most awkward years, they're getting to learn how to live and work with the opposite sex.  They're learning how to find their confidence and relate to each other on a daily basis without having parents helicoptering all over them.

Also on the co-ed train of thought- at Wekeela, both boys and girls do all the activities. Believe it or not, five or six years into E's experience at his current day camp, I JUST found out that the boys do not get the opportunity to do dance, or other "typically girly" activities. Lori and I both found that to be bizarre. My kid likes sports well enough, but he doesn't LOVE sports. He certainly wouldn't choose sports all the time if he had options of other things to do. He is also a creative type that loves to dance. At his day camp, it's not expressed, at all, to the parents that the boys have limits on what they can choose for their optional activity. Like, if E wanted to do dance, he couldn't. That's just not offered to him.

At Wekeela, he could do dance, performing arts, art, whatever he's into. E got to do all kinds of cool stuff in the short time he was there. He said he even tried to water ski. His words were, "I didn't do very well, but it was still cool!". It was also the female grade level leader who came up to B and I in the dining hall, to tell us how it was a pleasure getting to know E. In many camps the sexes are so separated, she wouldn't have had any interaction with him.

I think it might be relatively smaller camp, in comparison with others that B knew about. I have no idea what the average is for this kind of camp. There were three hundred and seven kids there. I think that's a good number. Not too big, not too small. No big fish in a small pond or small fish in too big of a pond. I've heard with some smaller camps than this, it could be hard for new people to jump in who aren't from a long legacy line. Then, with some bigger ones, a kid might find lost in the crowd. I am comfortable with this kind of number.

MANY of the staff are former campers, which to me, says a lot. They obviously liked it so much they decided to work there. I met a husband and wife who work there- The husband was a camper. He is school psychologist during the year, which is awesome asset to have at camp. His wife is one of the nurses on staff. Their retention for their staff is high too. That's really hard when you have a lot of kids working for you. I just thought it was really nice that they have so many former campers who opt to still spend their summers there. I even met some kids who are children of former campers. Not to mention all three of their sons work there too.

It's also pretty comforting to know that Lori was a teacher and guidance counselor in the Bronx. That prepared her for just about any kind of personality. For example, she deals with kids that come there with anxiety. B asked her if there are a lot of kids there with anxiety. She said something very interesting- "They all do. Everyone has anxiety over something". It was just very telling that she's in tune with how the kids are feeling and able to handle any kid's stresses they bring to her attention. She's not going to just blow it off or push it on to someone else to deal with. As a camp owner, you really wear every hat. It's nice to know that she's also there to deal with the kids on such a one on one level that she's doing journaling and other exercises with the kids that need it, to alleviate their anxiety.

I've written about camp before and everyone knows my feelings. Not going to sleepaway camp is a huge regret of mine. Especially these days, when else does your kid get to just be a kid? Unplugged from electronics for three and a half or seven whole weeks? Away from all the stresses of regular life. I'm a firm believer that kids need to get out of their town, away from the kids they go to school with every day, away from their parents, and the only way to do that is camp. Day camp is great- E's gone since he's two years old. But sleepaway camp is the ultimate in a gift you can give to a kid. There is simply no other way to gain that kind of independence.

In my own town, I've seen tween turned teen girls beyond devastated as drama inevitably unfolded between them and their friends from school. They have no outlet- no other place to go, no other friends to turn to, so every argument between them seems like the worst thing that's ever happened to them. They feel like their life is over because they're fighting with their friends. I can't help but believe that if they'd had camp or camp friends to turn to, they wouldn't have been AS upset.

I also always think of Howard Stern when I think of sleepaway camp. He always talks about how much he hated school. He was bullied and didn't fit in at school, but he was the King of Camp. He counted down the days every year until he could get back to camp and reinvent himself. I want my son to have a place that's such a safe haven for him if that turns out to be what he needs. Kids have so much more pressure on them for everything now, including to fit in, so if there's another place besides home that can be a source of joy and empowerment, let that be camp.

B said it just before- he really looked at the kids at Wekeela and they just looked like "normal" kids. He's glad there's still a place where that exists, where kids just there, just enjoying the land they're on.

I've had a lot of parents, who don't "get" camp, say to me- "I could never send my kid away for x amount of time" - or at all. My answer always is- "BUT IT'S NOT ABOUT YOU". They say- "I'd miss my kid(s) too much". Well, we all are parents and I know we all do or would miss our kids when they're away. Parenting is more than just doing what WE want and how WE feel. Although, I guess you could say it IS about you in the way that you get to reconnect with the person you married, if you're married, in a way you haven't in years. Or, if you're not married, you could use that time to work on you, or date.

It's really about what's best for our kids. If you're only sending an oldest, you get to have one on one (or one on more) time with younger kids that you and they wouldn't ordinarily get. If it's your only, I know, there are just things I don't even realize I do for him that he could be doing for himself. I just can't see how giving a child the opportunity of independence, in the world we live in today, could be a negative thing. I know kids who are nine and ten who aren't allowed to cross the street without a parent. Or ride their bike alone. Or walk to school. I need to know that when I do send my kid off to be a functioning member of society when he's eighteen, that I've given him the tools to navigate the adult world to the best of his ability. To me, having sleepaway camp exist is the no-brainer tool to help that become a reality.

I really hope that E gets to have this experience and I'm so excited for him. This is a kid made for camp and while I know it will be a little nerve wracking for him to just jump into leaving us for that long, what he'll gain will be invaluable. I feel strongly about a lot of things, but the gift and experience of camp is in my Top 3.

If you have any questions about Wekeela, I can try to answer or at least point you in the right direction. But if you're thinking about sleepaway camp for your kid(s), I urge you to check them out. 
If you send away for a brochure & information, make sure you let them know I sent you! I need credit for that. ;-P

***I barely have any pictures of E at Wekeela because he just took off with his new friends and we barely saw him there. I looked in his bag and saw he had a paper with all their names on it, presumably to get their phone numbers. B said when he went to say goodbye to them, he got all teary.

Thank you Lori, Ephram, and all the staff for an amazing eye into your Wekeela world! 

E eating veggies the kids cooked over campfire

E at "Cooking"

Dining Hall- E's over there somewhere

Dining Hall (Panoramic)

Tuesday, July 17, 2018

Life Hack Review

Every half a year or yearly I end up doing a post or two about what I call my life hack products. One I wrote in May: Somehow Summer. I've said before that I love As Seen On Tv products and any kind of gadget. Doesn't have to be technology. Truth be told, I do love the idea of technology but I don't want to take the time to learn it. Thus why I need all the bells and whistles in my car, but by the time the three years of the lease is up, I've never used any of it because I don't know how and don't have the attention span to learn.

As an aside, my new Jeep Renegade has all the technological advances and they freak me the F out. I never had the bluetooth set up before or it didn't work the same in the old car, but now, I'm driving and the car starts reading my texts to me. "Briana said- "what a dumb bitch". Do you want to respond?" Meanwhile, E or someone else is in the car and I'm practically throwing myself at the dash board to turn it off. Not all technological advances are necessary or desired.

I wrote about the Better Brella last month. I got it but hadn't used it. I've used it. It's worth it. It's not any bigger or heavier than any other Totes automatic umbrella. The upside down and being able to turn inside out is key. We all know that once a regular umbrella turns inside out, it's done. Even if it doesn't LOOK done, it's done. I bought mine, the regular size (as opposed to a large), at Harmon for $19.99 then used a Bed Bath & Beyond $5 off coupon. Good deal and it's made well.

I said I'd be back with my review of the Cool Cabana. It ROCKS. By the amount of people who've asked me about mine, I'll bet that next year, the beach we go to will be chock full of cool cabanas. It's easier to put up than a regular umbrella & it doesn't blow away or inside out. It is also open so it doesn't obstruct anyone else's view. It's not like one of those giant tents that house a picnic full of people and is inconsiderate of others around you. I'd say that it takes up the same amount of room as the diameter of a large umbrella, just in a different configuration. My friend and I sit under the shade of one comfortably. But it's not for a bunch of people at once. I have us and my cooler.

Speaking of coolers, my friend Alex wants a Yeti cooler (which I had to look up) and while they had a great deal on them on Amazon Prime Day, it's not for me. I like a PackIt that freezes the whole bag, I don't want to have to get ice or use ice in a cooler. That's the whole point of why I use a PackIt. However, in the hot sun on the beach, even my PackIt loses it's ability to keep things cold, on the faster side. I saw in CVS the "Chill Chest". B pointed it out because he knows I love this stuff. I wasn't going to get it because it cost $29.99 there. Lo and behold, I got a CVS 30% off coupon like two days later and I bought it.

*I* definitely think it works. It looks like it would be cumbersome, but it's not. It's Styrofoam or something. It folds down flat too, which is key. As long as you keep it somewhat cool before putting stuff in, it keeps things cold. I put my whole PackIt Picnic Cooler Bag in the Chill Chest. I'd frozen two waters before coming to the beach and they were still almost totally frozen by the end of the day. It also doubles as a table next to your chair. I don't know *how* it works and don't care- I just know it was a good buy for me.

The only thing I wrote about that I can say I'd skip is the Alert Drops. They're the ones that Potsie from Happy Days is a spokesperson or something for. You spray it on your tongue when you're falling asleep while driving. It does shock you for a second because it's SO SOUR. But it's kind of gross, and it doesn't really work. B said it made him MORE tired, which is hard to believe. It didn't do much of anything for me. I'd say the $9.99+ and just take a nap before driving.

I bought into the whole microfiber towel thing now and bought three towels from Dock & Bay and one from Sand Cloud. Supposed to be fast drying and sand repelling. B doesn't like the Dock & Bay ones- he says it's like using a Shammy and he wants to go back to plush beach towels. I thought I'd like the Dock & Bay ones more because the Sand Cloud is more like a blanket or sarong look and feel. But I actually ended up liking the Sand Cloud more because it's softer. They both don't seem to dry any faster than other towels, that I'm seeing but they are thinner, so maybe they do absorb less? I don't know.

On the positive side, they are thinner than regular towels so they do take up a lot less room. It makes the beach bag less heavy and bulky overall. I don't mind not having a plush towel, but it takes a little getting used to. If you're not keen on bringing sand home, then that's another major plus. 

I did just get an Echo Show on Prime Day and received it already. It seems pretty cool so far and B said the speaker is really good. They had it for $129.99 so I took a shot. I wouldn't pay more for it though so if you were thinking of picking one up and didn't, wait until Black Friday. I really want The Ring- the doorbell camera thing, but I don't really need it. I can wait.

Ok, that's all I've got for you right now. Hope you're enjoying your summer! It's going WAY too fast. I suspect that's how it goes the older and more self sufficient your kid gets. It's not like when you have a toddler and you're counting the hours until your husband comes home so you can hand him a baby and run.