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Friday, January 5, 2018


Today, Hannah Ruth, you are turning fourteen.

This post is harder to write, knowing how many of your friends now read my blog, but you still wanted it written. I appreciate that you know we both get something out of this exercise. After all, you're grown up enough to see this from my point of view, which is crazy enough on its own. Grown up in so many ways, and yet so far still to go, and high school looming.

So, thirteen. I will never stop saying it: your bat mitzvah was one of the best days of my life, and I think it was for you too. Our day in New York City seeing "Waitress" with Sara Bareilles, eating cheesecake at Junior's and somewhat-enjoying a Starbuck's "Unicorn Frappuccino" is hopefully going to become an annual tradition (without the gross drink - iced coffee instead). You were Ginger in "Zombie Prom" and a conspirator in "The Tragicomedy of Julia Casear," and loved singing with the Troubadours, HaZaPrep and at Junior Districts. You won a poetry slam at school, and went to your first protest. Camp is life, and you live 10 for 2, but still manage to cram so much into the 10.

You have moved on from Converse to Adidas, and wear string bracelets until they break. Your eyeliner game is strong. You are telling me in March that you would go on to win Zimriyah in July, as if there were any question (and you did). You are mostly straight A's but accelerated math sometimes kicks both of our butts. You are too many friends to count, but your Bowen #squad remains true, even with one of you now in Spain. You are always there for your brother, and he is always there for you.

My wish for you as you grow another year older is that you believe in the worth of your own voice. Not just its capacity to hit certain notes with true clarity, but that you believe your words and opinions are always worth being heard, no matter who the audience may be. Speak, sing, chant, belt, cheer, scream, and when needed, wail. And know that I always want to listen. I love you so much, Hanniebelle. Happy 14.

(You can also see letters for ages seven, eight, nine, ten, eleven, twelve and thirteen.)

Monday, January 1, 2018


Today, Max Benjamin, you are turning ten.

Ten feels completely and utterly ridiculous and totally appropriate at the same time. You are not the little boy that Facebook's "On This Day" feature slays me with on a regular basis, with memories of your adorable *and* not-so adorable behavior from years ago. But 10? Dude, that sounds just so very old for my little buddy to be.

Nine was the year where you and I finally seemed to figure each other out, and where the sarcastic edge to your humor got a chance to blossom. You chanted Ashrei at Hannah's bat mitzvah beautifully, and started both guitar and flute lessons. We saw "Wicked" and watched the witch fly during "Defying Gravity," and you were a zebra and a hyena in "The Lion King" this summer. You received your siddur, loved camp, participated in a magician's act and won over 500 tickets in a claw machine.  You love singing, with a solo at Zimriyah, Guys in Ties, and especially anything by Imagine Dragons while doing Karaoke during school choir. I really hope you write that song you'll sing your whole life long #thegreatestshowman.

You're so proud of the fact that you've watched all of "Stranger Things" and it wasn't even that scary. Your biggest goal right now is to become a gaming YouTuber, and you watch several of your favorite channels every day (look for Max's channel in 2018!). You love to discuss Minecraft and Roblox and Harry Potter in excruciating detail - honestly, you love to discuss EVERYTHING in excruciating detail. Your hugs are still epic and you've developed a reputation for them. You have more friends than ever, but your sister is still one of your best ones.

And now you're 10. You're ready for it, and so am I. I can't wait to see you fly as John in "Peter Pan," and I hope you know that however high you want to fly, I'll always be here to help you soar. I'm so glad you're you. Happy birthday, buddy. I love you.

(You can also see letters for ages three, four, five, six, seven, eight and nine.)

Sunday, December 31, 2017

Wrapping Up 2017 and "Celebrate"

Friends, it's been a long year. We all know this. But I'd entered 2017 optimistically, choosing my word of the year as "celebrate." I knew I had many big, noteworthy occasions coming up for the year, and I did well celebrating some of them. But my real goal was to celebrate some of the smaller moments in life, and I often forgot about that. I've spent a lot of this year stressed, overwhelmed and tired. I definitely lost sight of my aspirations. More to improve upon in 2018, I suppose.

But the good moments were very, very good, and so that's how I'm choosing to end the year here.

I still can't believe Hannah's bat mitzvah was as truly amazing as it was.

Max had a lovely ceremony to receive his prayer book at temple.

My team won an award at work, and I traveled to Asia, treating myself to a fancy celebratory dinner there.

We saw the eclipse from a boat...

And Marc and the kids went back to school.

I turned 40 and we celebrated 15 years together.

We made time to hang out, have a little fun, and remember to be fearless.

I haven't found a word for 2018 yet, but hope that inspiration will strike. In the end though, it wouldn't be such a bad year if I just continue to make time to hang out, have a little fun, and be fearless.

Wishing you all the best in 2018.

Friday, October 20, 2017

Finally Forty

Today is my fortieth birthday, and as a blogger with 10 years of history to look back on, I actually remember writing the post I wrote on my thirtieth birthday, and many others since then. My 32nd birthday seems to have been my first documented case of always feeling like the youngest person in the room, something I still struggle with now (see the title of this post for more evidence of that!). My 34th birthday had me writing about some new health challenges, after I'd already been struggling with other health issues. Both 36 and 38 caught me referencing my few strands of grey hair. But I hadn't gone back to that 30th post until recently, because I knew I had some wishes that I'd wanted to fulfill back then, and I couldn't remember what they actually were.

Back then I wrote:
This will be decade, G-d willing, in which my second child is born, and when the BusyBee will go to kindergarten. Hopefully, we'll be able to do further renovations on our home to create our version of a dream house. There will be weddings and bar mitzvahs to attend, and I hope to finally see Europe. There won't likely be any more formal education, so I'm interested to see how I'll keep learning.
Well, it's turned out a lot like I did imagine it to be. Max is almost 10, and BusyBee, known to all of you now as Hannah, is in eighth grade. We finished renovating the house two years ago and haven't grown tired of our new space at all. There were lots of weddings and Hannah's bat mitzvah, and trips to Paris, Israel, Disney World and a totally unanticipated in any way work trip to Hong Kong and Singapore. And while the formal learning has indeed stopped for me, I never imagined blogging conferences, The Having It All Project, producing two shows and having a blog post published by The New York Times. I couldn't have seen 10 years ago that "writer" would become such a part of my identity, even if it's a too often neglected part of who I am these days. And I definitely couldn't have predicted being with the same company for 12 years now, in a role like the one I have - I didn't really know roles like mine existed then.

It's much harder to see what life might look like for me a decade from now. It's likely that both kids will be out of the house by then, but so much will have to have happened to make that possible. I'd still like to travel more, and I hope my health remains close to as good as it is today. And if we're asking for things, I'd really like my Jetsons flying car that turns into a brief case in the next decade, please.

But mostly, I feel really lucky to have lived the 40 years I've had so far. There isn't much that I'd change if I could, and I think that's a good way to feel at this point.

Monday, September 4, 2017

August and Everything After
This week begins a new phase of my life, yet almost nothing has changed for me. Marc is going back to graduate school, full-time, to work towards becoming a cantor. He will still have some part-time paying work on the side, but basically, I am now the sole breadwinner for our family, for the next three years. I guess you could say I'm bringing home the Kosher turkey bacon.

I have to admit that during the time leading up to this change, I've felt scared and stressed. That has dissipated some over the past few weeks, as schedules have gotten clearer, and as Marc has already begun working in the Jewish community. But I feel the weight of so much responsibility on my shoulders, and my need for stability and security is feeling tested. I'm a little too good at "worst case scenario" thinking, often at 2 am when I should be sleeping, and this change opens up a whole new realm of possibilities for me to ponder.

I try to remind myself that I was good at all of that worrying before Marc quit his job too. I know there are firings and lay offs and health issues and natural disasters that can upend life in a much more devastating way than choosing to go back to graduate school in a careful, calculated way. Remembering that doesn't stop my worrying (like I said, I'm good at this!), but it does contain it a bit.

I lost a lot of time this summer to these worries. This countdown clock was constantly in my ears. The weeks passed by until Marc stopped working and then in a blink started a new life. August, and everything after (yes, a Counting Crows reference).

I know that things will be okay, because they always are. I know that some day I will blink and all of the scariness of this period will be behind me. I don't want to spend the next three years worrying. Now that I've finally written about it, maybe it will help me to move on, or at least forward. On to the everything after.

Friday, August 4, 2017


At close to the last minute, I decided to attend BlogHer17 in Orlando at the end of June. It frankly took a lot of justification to get me there. I wasn't excited about the location. I didn't know many people attending. The timing meant not being at home for my 15th wedding anniversary and the kids' last day of school.

And, let's face it, I'm barely blogging these days.

But after witnessing so many joyful posts from another blogging conference, and feeling a hefty dose of FOMO, Marc encouraged me to go. I needed a break, something just for me, and I wasn't likely to find that in any other avenue (side note: why don't I seem to have the kind of friends that go away for a "girls weekend"? Who are those people?). I'd make my own fun, somehow. And the hotel had a lazy river ride too.

As the conference drew closer, the two members of my tribe, my hook, could no longer attend. The big announcements from the conference organizers, that come at the last minute for amazing speakers and hosts and parties, weren't as big as they had been in past years. I definitely had the vibe that this might be the last BlogHer, and attending further confirmed that for me. There were lots of newbies, and maybe the conference will continue in some other form, but I don't think the BlogHer of yore will be back.

There were still some amazing speakers - the panel with Chelsea Clinton and Cecile Richards was so good, and I will never forget Margaret Cho's definition of a hate crime - but I had no interest in hearing from the many sports legends (sorry, Serena Williams) that were involved in several of the panels. I only made it to one breakout session, and one of the authors saw my tweeting about her book and sent me a copy afterward, but I heard other sessions, especially on SEO, were great. But after 10 years of blogging, I've still never bothered to look into that, and I doubt that I will now. There was too much of a push to go to Disney, which wasn't my point in being there, and too many vagina-centered sponsorships. Which, don't get me wrong, many attendees bonded over the humor inherent in that, but also left us questioning things many previously hadn't pondered. Even the annual highlight, Voices of the Year, left me less inspired than usual, and LISTEN TO YOUR MOTHER'S open mic got a bit derailed. (Please, please, my friends who run these events, do not see this as criticism, I know how hard you worked to make these a success!!)

Despite all of this, I had a really great time with many conference attendees. It was hard to put myself out there, feeling like this was the last time I might see some of these people, and questioning the value of having more Internet-only friendships in my life. But in the end, I don't think I held myself back. Prior to the conference, Danielle introduced me to Stacy, and I enjoyed a lovely lunch with her and her wife. I walked the Expo floor with Ashley, and we had deep discussions together over dinner and in the pool. I got to watch Melisa and Momo race in the lazy river, and Tracey and Erin discussed politics and saw me develop a sunburn in the pool the next afternoon. I hugged Jen and Lea, and got to know Kate. I met Wendi and Anna and Aliza, all writers I've read for years. I got a bit of closure to the LISTEN TO YOUR MOTHER experience over lunch with Ann, Deb, Taya, Melisa, Tracey, Kristin and Jill.

I didn't quite get the name of the woman who shared the story of being propositioned for a threesome at the hotel bar, but maybe that's best for everyone involved. ;)

My biggest takeaway from the weekend, other than memories made with these wonderful women, is that if you are still reading someone's blog? Let them know. Leave a comment. Share a post. I still love reading blogs, and it means so much when we get a chance to actually connect with others through what we write. And if it is the last BlogHer, I'm glad I was there. But I hope I can still see all of these great people again some day.

Friday, June 9, 2017

I'm On My Way

I knew enough to know that I should have had a silk scarf to tie my hair back. But when you’re living out a moment you’ve only seen in movies, you don’t always have the proper accessories on hand.

I’m getting ahead of myself.

Ed Sheeran’s latest hit single “Castle on the Hill” has captivated me and brought me back to the summer of 1997, exactly twenty years ago. He sings,

“I’m on my way,
Driving at 19, down those
country lanes...

I still remember,
these old country lanes,
When we did not know the answers.
And I miss the way, you make, me feel,
It’s real.”

I was 19 myself all those years ago, and yet I don’t feel old enough for twenty years to have passed, to be thinking back fondly on these moments. I feel the same - just a little more tired. But I remember sitting in that car that drove too fast up and down the hills in the dark, the convertible roof down, the stars shining brightly when the street lights couldn’t compete.

I liked him more than he liked me, but that experience was typical for me at that point in my life. And it’s funny how he almost doesn’t exist in my memory of those moments. It’s more about the music, the same driving bass line that emitted from the club music he preferred.

I rarely wore my hair up - I still rarely wear my hair up - so when he called to take me out for a drive on a beautiful summer night, I left my hair down. Maybe it would matter to him, I thought then (it didn’t). I couldn’t contain my hair as it whipped around me while we drove, and eventually, I gave up and let it go. And in letting it go, I had one of those perfect moments, when you know you’re making a memory while it happens.

This past year of parenting has changed me. Watching Hannah become a bat mitzvah, alongside so many I’ve had the privilege to watch grow over the past years (or decade), I now see we are on the other side of something. Assuming a stereotypical path, Hannah has just five more years at home. They will be unlike any other five year period we’ve had with her. If this past year is any indication, they will be a period of less and less time together, of making time where we can, quality versus quantity. There will be challenging conversations, and times when I can’t do much more than listen. Her world is expanding so quickly. She is looking to me for more and more answers, and yet I don’t feel like I have many more than I did twenty years ago.

I don’t think it’s about having all the answers. Or maybe you find answers in experiencing those rare moments, the edge of danger and the comfort of safety, foot tapping, singing, hair whipping around you.


(I just watched the video for the first time when I went to add it here - I had no idea it showed them going around in a convertible too. :) )