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Thursday, December 29, 2016

Ending Thoughts of 2016

As I predicted with my last daily post in November, it's been weeks before I wanted to write here again. Well, that's not quite true, as I'm always thinking about writing here, but finding time to coincide with my thoughts is harder. It's better for me to take time to edit those thoughts too, to not just share every impulse. Especially this past month.

I have to admit that I've been drowning a bit in planning Hannah's bat mitzvah, which is now about two weeks away. I am not a last minute person, and an awful lot of this has been or felt last minute to me. There are still things to be done in these last two weeks, and I am confident it will all come together, but there were a few weeks where I was incredibly anxious about all of it (I think I'm doing a little better now). Of course, those weeks were the same weeks where I was wrapping up the year at work, doing my self-evaluation and crafting new goals, cramming in last minute client meetings and a day trip to New York. The kids (and Marc) had concerts and school deadlines and math homework continues to be difficult and there were presents to buy (this is least inspired Hanukkah our family has ever had). Max missed three days of school just before break with a stomach bug, which then took down Hannah and Marc just as vacation was getting started. Somehow, finalizing Hannah's speech, filling out forms for the temple and the DJ, and a myriad of other bat mitzvah-related things also got done, but not without compromising my sanity a bit.

I know that all sounds like privileged whining, and it definitely is. We are very fortunate to have these problems. But knowing that didn't stop my eyelid from twitching. What did help was a four time repeat of a new song obsession, which I belted out from the kitchen one night while doing the dishes. That helped a lot.

So, 2016 is almost over. I recently read an article that went on to examine the past year in the financial sphere I work with, but first it decried our "fetish" with the end of December and choosing the end of these 12 months as some big marker in time, and then trying to reduce the entire period into one compact theme. Which, I have to admit, is really useful in finance. It's helpful to have a kind of shorthand, to say 2008 or 2015 and know what you mean. I think 2016 is unexpectedly going to be that way for pop culture, if not for the financial markets (except to refer to it in connection with 2015).

My word of the year for 2016 was "nachos." Yes, it was a little ridiculous. And yes, if you go back and read that post, I have to admit that I'm shocked to still be project-less a year later. But "nachos" did serve its purpose fairly well. I did have nachos more often than ever before in a 12 month period - maybe 8 or 10 times. I had sad desk nachos on a bad day at work, and nachos from room service on a business trip in LA. I ordered them as an appetizer once in a while. "Nachos" was a good reminder to lighten up a bit, in a year that felt mostly like just moving along, not moving so far forward. My word for 2017 will be amplifying this same theme behind "nachos," so check back here in a week or so for more on that.

I can't really say that 2016 was such a bad year. Everyone I love is still alive and relatively healthy, and so even if some beloved celebrities are not and political uncertainty abounds, I'll still take it. Life moves on. It'll all be okay.

See you in 2017.

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Productivity and Procrastination

On this last day of NaBloPoMo, I share with you my insight today that there is no better way to get me to be productive than to put something I *really* don't want to do in front of me. Which sounds crazy, but trust me, it's not.

Today I *really* didn't want to read a 10 page memo about how Trump might or might not affect the economy, written by our chief economist at work. He's a brilliant guy, and I knew I'd be happy once I'd read his thoughts, but I just didn't want to do it. Mostly because I'm still trying to hide from the fact that is Trump. And because it's pure speculation, as we really can't know what he's going to do. It's informed and intelligent speculation, but can't I just stay over here with the blankets pulled up to my eyeballs and still pretend Trump isn't happening?

Sidebar: I actually had a dream last week where I relived the entire election night all over again. This better not become a recurring nightmare.

Anyway, I knew I had to read the memo, but I got SO MANY other little things done first. Recycled stacks of unread newspapers and took the bin outside. Filed a few things in the filing cabinet. Scheduled my annual eye exam. Registered Max for day camp. Activated a credit card. Took care of every other email I could in my inbox. And then I finally settled in and read the memo.

Sigh.

At least I got some things done before I was forced to contemplate an economy without immigrants. #immigrantswegetthejobdone

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And that concludes NaBloPoMo 2016. I'm happy to be done. I only missed one post, but I did my best to stick with it. Now you probably won't hear from me again here for weeks. :)

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Out of Steam

It's day 29 on 30 for "post on your damn blog every damn day" month (#PoYoDaBloEvDaDa for short!) and I am out of steam. It was a long weekend followed by a long day and a long night and another long day and I've got nothing left for here. But we just got a large trade closed at work so that's some good news to end the day on.

I'm going to try to go watch some Sister Wives, if I'm allowed to control the TV. No judging. G'nite.

Monday, November 28, 2016

A New Era: Leaving the Kids at Home Alone

I can't recall if I've posted about this here before, but we have entered a new era in our family life, one in which we can leave the kids home alone. It's still relatively new for us, and not employed all that often, but it's been helpful. Like the hour tonight after I picked up both kids from school, and Hannah had a lot of homework, so she asked if she could skip the much-needed grocery run, and then I realized she could keep Max home with her too.

Not having to take both kids for an unplanned grocery run with no list after a long day of work, school, commuting, aftercare and play rehearsal? You don't have to ask me twice.

Well, that's not 100% true. I did miss their input and talking to them in the store. I *like* being around my kids, and they can be fairly helpful with shopping. But they needed the quiet time at home more than I needed them there with me.

I'm definitely not used to this new era. It didn't even occur to me that they would want to stay home, or that they even could. I'm sure there will be more and more times that they request to be left at home, and I'll be begging them to come run errands with me. But for now it just seems like a marked difference from a few short years ago, when leaving them home alone was out of the question, and so you'd think long and hard about whether a shopping trip was possible after a day like this one.

It seems that the one true constant in life is change.

Sunday, November 27, 2016

Know Thyself

We left Ohio after dinner last night and stayed in Buffalo, which meant we were able to get back to Newton around 6 pm today. That worked well for me, as I was able to dive back in to all the things I'd ignored over the last few days, and catch up on some work before heading back to the office tomorrow morning too. I've been feeling stressed out about what I wasn't getting done, which is frankly ridiculous. I wanted to relax - knew I needed to relax - but instead felt anxious about what I wasn't getting done. I should probably just give in and get some things done every day instead of putting it off in the name of relaxation if it just leads me to anxiety instead. Know thyself, right?

I think I've also been anxious because Thanksgiving is the last "big thing" before the next "big thing," being Hannah's bat mitzvah. Okay, yes, the holidays are coming too, and both kids' birthdays, but I expect to be in full bat mitzvah prep mode during those weeks. It's scary to think about all of the things I'll be doing over the next seven weeks or so. Exciting things, but there are also lots of work deadlines to be met, and lots of regular life stuff that will need to keep happening.

So, it's Sunday night and I fully expect to be lying awake in a couple hours, staring at my ceiling and listing everything in my head. Because I really do know myself, after all.

Saturday, November 26, 2016

Mocha

This is Mocha. She is making my resistance to getting a dog very low. 

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Easy

The road trip to Ohio is so much easier now. That's something to be very grateful about.


Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Anti-Semitic Imagery On Facebook

It's fairly typical for me to write something around Thanksgiving where I express gratitude on Facebook, for Facebook. Since joining the network many years ago now, I believe that on the whole Facebook has made a positive impact on my life, and I'm so grateful for the many people it has kept in my life.

But the last two weeks since the election have been brutal. Every single time I look at Facebook, I am confronted by Nazi imagery, shared usually by well-meaning people trying to share their shock and horror about it. And I definitely appreciate that. It's the right thing, to express shock and horror like this. But I can't look at it.

This shock and this horror is something I carry with me daily--and not just because Trump is President-elect. That the escalation in these types of incidents since the election is upsetting to so many is warranted and justified, but I've always seen it there. You may not have heard the stories until now, but they linger around me, always in the shadows, just beyond the frame of the happy picture.

So I'm really trying with Facebook. I want to stay informed, and to not lose connections with so many people I care about. But the constant barrage of imagery that I can't filter out is really hard to deal with.

Monday, November 21, 2016

Monday, Monday

Random thoughts on a Monday:

- I am so glad to be home right now. I've been fighting a cold for the last week, and though I am a lot better, well, I'm really tired from fighting it.

- I still haven't packed.

- Max went to urgent care for a possible broken wrist on Saturday, but we got the all clear on his x-rays after a second review tonight. Thank goodness, because, as said above, I am so glad to be home right now and not going to get him a cast somewhere.

- I updated approximately a zillion apps today, but my Blogger app is still misbehaving. Of course.

- I don't go in to the office again for a week. I'm working from home tomorrow as Marc has a conflict at work. Then, Thanksgiving vacation time for me. Yippee.

- I fell asleep watching "Saturday Night Live" on my "Sunday Evening Recording" and can't decide if I should bother watching the rest.

- I am planning to watch "Search Party." Vulture says it's one of this year's best shows, and I'm interested to see if I binge watch it or wait as the episodes unroll this week. It's a personal test.

Enough typing for now. How was your Monday?

Sunday, November 20, 2016

Winning

"I love you."

"I love you more."

"No, I love you more."

"No, you don't. I love you more."

"No, that's impossible. Not possible. I love you more."

An often-heard argument in our house. Everyone wins.

How to Make White Chocolate Banana Bread


Step 1: Be receptive to almost-teenage daughter's upset feelings before 9 am on a Sunday.

Step 2: Get surprisingly emotional over never-known about family artifacts by 9:30 am on a Sunday.

Step 3: Face the usual Sunday drudgery of laundry, dishes, emails I can't answer and pestering Max to do his long-term homework assignments, plus the unusual added dimensions of packing to go away, putting away the air mattress, the fact that I skipped blogging yesterday, still lingering feelings over politics and always over Hamilton.

Step 4: Decide to bake white chocolate chip banana bread. Because the bananas aren't going to get eaten in that state, and there are leftover white chocolate chips from some other failed baking attempt and you need something good and positive to come out of this morning.

Friday, November 18, 2016

No Place for Hate


Here's the Massachusetts State House. Isn't she lovely?

I spent about 30 minutes there on the front steps today, during my lunch break, asking that our governor, Charlie Baker, speak out against the appointment of Steve Bannon and other frightening (thus far) men to senior positions in the new administration, and to guarantee that our state is a safe haven for all. I wrote a letter, which the protest leader is gathering with others and submitting to the governor's office, but I emailed mine in too.

I stood in the sun and chanted, "no place for hate, no time to wait" and "speak up, Charlie!" and "love trumps hate" with a group of a hundred or so strangers. Passersby joined us, stopped and wrote a quick letter, or honked their horns in solidarity. Two duck boats of tourists drove by, and I hoped they were all from red states, and they saw us spreading support for others.

And for the first time since November 8, I felt a little better.

This Girl

I forgot to blog yesterday, despite thinking of it several times, but this one distracted me with various middle school things. I totally enjoyed watching her and so many of her friends in "Law and Order: Fairy Tale Unit." And this kid, this Pig #1 pictured below? Not quite as innocent as she seems.


She's almost 13, you guys. THIRTEEN. How did we get here already? Wasn't she just dancing around her bedroom yesterday?


I look at these photos now, and they barely capture all that she is. I'm so lucky.

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Blogging From My Car

Well, I've made it to the half-way point of NaBloPoMo, annual torture device where I post here every day, and I'm still at it. Only a few people who started with me have made it to this point (hi, Melisa, Jen and Vikki), but I know they've all been checking in and encouraging each other, and I'm on my own island over here, so in fairly proud of myself. Anyway, tonight I'm writing from my car, in between a quick trip to Wegman's and picking up both of the kids from their schools.

It's show week here, meaning Hannah's fall play, "Law and Order: Fairy Tale Unit" is this Thursday and Friday evenings, and she's had extra late rehearsals this week. She's playing Pig #1, as in "The Three Pigs," and has been remarkably chill about this production. Her costume was sourced from my closet, since it's all "street clothes with accents of fairy tale" and her pig is a bit of a tough guy, so she's borrowing a pale pink shirt and leather jacket of mine. And my black "biker" boots, which she seemingly took from me last year. She's only in two scenes, and she's been trying to set expectations on the low side, but I know I'm still going to love it. I can't get enough of my girl, on stage or off. But I think she's just looking forward to the next show, "Zombie Prom." Yes, that's a real thing. G-d help us all.

Max is taking an improv class after school once a week, but I think he misses being in a show. He's been pondering time and the meaning of life lately. I'm really not kidding about that. This morning he asked me, "if all my days are basically the same, what's the point of all this?" I pointed out that there are exceptional days, like when you go on a Disney cruise, but yea, life is repetitive. I don't think he appreciated my answer. I think he's a little bored with his life right now, solidly in the middle of the elementary school years. I need to find him some excitement.

Then again, I could use some excitement too. Of the non-Donald Trump variety, that is.

Oh, and I cooked again today. My eyes were bigger than my appetite though. I always take too much pasta.

Pasta with turkey meat sauce and lemon-pepper spinach

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Uncommon Goods is Uncommonly Great (Sponsored Post)

Wearing my favorite necklace from UncommonGoods.com at Boston's Lawn on D

This post is sponsored by Uncommon Goods, but all opinions are my own.

I know it's only November 15, but based on the number of catalogs crossing our threshold in each day's mail, the holidays are coming and it's time to shop. Typically, most catalogs I get go straight into the recycle bin without much of a glance, but I always make time to look through the catalog from Uncommon Goods, and to peruse the unique gift guides on UncommonGoods.com.

Uncommon Goods is a company focused on sustainability in all that they do. They believe in creating a positive work environment, with health care benefits for most and fair wages for all, and are committed to treating their employees with dignity and respect. Their products are often handmade, recycled or organic too. The Tagua bib necklace I'm wearing in the photo above, which I've had for years and still never fails to earn me a compliment, is made from the Tagua seed out of Colombia. I bought it for myself for Mother's Day years ago, and it remains one of my go-to pieces.

I've also bought many gifts for family from Uncommon Goods, and they are getting ready for the holiday season with their really helpful gift guides. You can see the UncommmonGoods gift suggestions for women and UncommonGoods gift suggestions for men at these links. I've found their products to be well-made and reliable, and sometimes, simply fun. Enjoy and happy shopping!

Monday, November 14, 2016

What's for Dinner?

A consequence of the fact that Marc is pursuing a certification in sacred music while still working full-time this year has been that I've been trying to help with dinners more around the house. This feels monumental for me, as while I've always attested that I *can* cook, but I do not enjoy cooking.

Raw meat is so, so gross. Especially if the bones are still in it.

No, I'm not a vegetarian, I'd just prefer to not be the one involved with dealing with it.

But now that we're past the craziness of the Jewish holidays and life has settled into a bit more of a routine, I've been helping plan more meals, doing the shopping and the cooking. And I have to admit, it's not as awful as I have always maintained that it is.

(I still haven't dealt with any raw meat with bones though.)

So tonight I picked up Max from aftercare and Hannah from play rehearsal and then cooked dinner when we got home, and cleaned up some simultaneously. It wasn't complicated, frozen tilapia filets with a separate sauce, and asparagus with Parmesan cheese. But everyone ate it, and liked it, it was fairly healthy and it didn't take forever and I survived cooking it and no one got food poisoning. And since we switched our roles, Marc handled the rest of clean up.

I still won't claim that I enjoy cooking - not by any means - but it's getting a little better.

Sunday, November 13, 2016

Moving Ahead




Though I was sure I heard the record come to a screeching halt on Wednesday morning, somehow, life didn't stop happening.





In fact, that morning I woke up to an email that Hannah's art was going to be on display, with a small reception, that very same afternoon. Less than a day's notice.

Apparently, this was my second time to find out that morning that change is harder to come by than we think. The same lack of notice happened to us years ago. In 2012, I called the events surrounding that art show a "perfect storm."

We all grieve differently, but it's been really helpful for me to be out and connecting with others. At the Yavneh board meeting and Shabbat dinner. By entertaining Hannah's friends. At a breakfast with dear, like-minded Brandeis friends. At my friend's foster daughter's 1yo birthday party, where my friend told me the story of her mixed-race family being spat at a few weeks ago just a couple towns over (connecting, commiserating and strategizing over bad news counts too). And at a Byzantine music festival last night where Marc's Hebrew College chorus performed alongside various Christian groups.

I really want to keep connecting. I want to keep these conversations going. I want to make sure I don't just slip back to life in 2012, where pick up complications and logistics dominate my thinking.
That's going to be the real challenge for me, because honestly, pick up is hard. Dinner every night is hard. All of the everyday stuff of life can be really hard.

I think a lot of people who voted for Trump have been finding life is really hard, and feeling that the politicians who are supposed to represent them, who are supposed to try to make life a little easier for them, haven't actually had that happen. And their frustration and anger shouldn't be ignored.

So I'm going to keep talking, but I'm going to actively listen too. I'm moving ahead, but hopefully bringing more with me as I go.

Saturday, November 12, 2016

Good Day

My every-other-year Brandeis meal

Breakfast with some of my favorite people. 

Watching a one year old taste her first cake. 

And tonight, live music including my husband's first performance in like 20 years. 

Not a bad Saturday at all. 

Friday, November 11, 2016

The Real Friday

It's almost sundown and this day has passed by much quicker than I anticipated. Probably because I let myself take a nap for a bit this afternoon, which is highly unusual for me, but so necessary after a week like this one.

I've got to get ready for Shabbat dinner with Camp Yavneh alums and campers, so I'll leave you with this fantastic "Hamilton"-inspired Adon Olam, the Hebrew song which can be sung to basically any tune ever invented. We sing this at the end of Saturday morning services, and I'm now campaigning to sing it this way at Hannah's bat mitzah. I may not win, but it's making me happy today. And mazel tov to Zoe - what a lucky girl to have this happen to her. I'm sure she's going to be on to great things.



From the video's description:
Cantor Azi Schwartz sings Adon Olam to the tune of 'You'll Be Back' (Hamilton) by Lin-Manuel Miranda.

Zoe Cosgrove's Bat Mitzvah at Park Avenue Synagogue, October 22, 2016

Thursday, November 10, 2016

Feels Like Friday

It's Thursday night, but due to Veteran's Day and the kids being out of school tomorrow, it feels like a weekend here. I'll be working from home again tomorrow, but Hannah has some friends over now, and one is sleeping over, so that means it's probably the weekend, right? Maybe tomorrow will be a quiet work day.

Surprisingly, things have been okay at work since the election. That's been a relief. I'm probably one of the few people in investment management who cried over how their clients might react when I was crying over so many other factors as well. I still surprise myself that I'm in this business. At times it's hard to care as much as I do.

I'm excited for this weekend. We're going to a Shabbat dinner for the kid's camp tomorrow night, and on Sunday night I'm hosting a fundraiser for MediaGirls. I met founder Michelle Cove when I did a series of videos for JewishBoston.com a few years ago, and since then she's started this fantastic organization. MediaGirls is "a nonprofit organization that teaches girls how to strike back against the media message that their self-worth is based on how "hot" they are. We give girls the skills to critique media messaging, and make content that lifts up girls and women. We publish our participants' work on our blog, allowing girls to become part of the solution. Media, not girls, needs the makeover."

If that sounds like something you'd like to support, click here to donate.

And here's some of Michelle and me. Work-life balance, baby.

Wednesday, November 9, 2016

Numb and Sad

There's not a lot to be said today.

I've spent a lot of time crying, and am grateful it's a work from home day so I can process my feelings mostly alone.

I keep feeling like this is in some way a referendum against women like me. That the men and women who support Trump don't want women like me, and families like mine, to succeed. And I'm just a professional Jewish woman. I can't imagine what my friends with more labels that differ from "white, Christian male" are feeling today.

I know the right things to do and say. We will recover, and we will go high. But today, we cry.

Tuesday, November 8, 2016

Now We Wait

It's almost the end of election day. The purple pantsuit I wore as a testament to Pantsuit Nation is now in a ball on the floor (because OMG so uncomfortable), and my comfy slippers are on my feet.

I've made no secrets that I've been with Hillary since the beginning, watching her launch her campaign from a Connecticut parking lot. I wanted her to win so badly in 2008, when I was home on maternity leave with newborn Max and overly invested in primary season. I learned from one of the men who tried to help her shape health care policy during my time at Brandeis. I remember her saying she didn't bake cookies, and even then, I knew I probably wasn't going to be much of a cookie-baker myself.

I've donated to her campaign. I put up a yard sign. Checking my privilege, I wrestled with what more I felt comfortable doing, a topic I hope to explore more some day. I facebooked and tweeted countless articles, made sure my children knew why I was supporting her, and (hopefully) I was cautious about the feelings of others along the way. But I always made myself known.

So tonight we wait, and tomorrow, we work on healing all that this campaign has broken. There is still a lot to be done. But for now, comfy slippers. I hope Hillary has a pair to wear too.

Monday, November 7, 2016

Middle School Math


Hannah forgot her math homework at school. Through the wonders of technology, her friend was able to snap a photo of their worksheets and now Hannah is copying them by hand (because they were half-done, and she doesn't want it to look like she didn't do the work herself). And she is extremely frustrated. Apparently, "everyone already knows how to do all this because all of the other kids take Russian math."

She would really hate me if I made her take Russian math instead of letting her be in the fall play. So no Russian math, and more angst over negative numbers and early algebra.

I was awful at this stuff myself. I used to write "WATCH THE SIGNS!" in giant letters on tests and quizzes because I'd just assume everything was positive, all the time (you'd think I'd be more optimistic!). But she *isn't* awful at it, she's just learning something new and that takes time. And lots of reminders from her mom that math has been very good to our family, and to keep at it.

So I'm by her side, doing middle school math, after hours spent commuting, a high-intensity work day, fielding a call from aftercare that Max bumped his head (he's fine), picking him up from aftercare, cooking dinner and cleaning up.

At least middle school math is a little easier for me, the second time around.

Sunday, November 6, 2016

Futzing

I just spent way longer than necessary futzing around trying to make something work on PicMonkey when I have no actual idea on how to do it. At least 90 minutes on something that in truth, no one would remember and most probably won't notice anyway, so now I'm giving up. It was silly to work at it for as long as I did, but I am proud of myself for cutting my losses and not sinking further time into the effort.

Because it's daylight savings and already getting dark and I slept poorly despite having the bed to myself and I've already done enough today and there is still probably more left to do and Google lets things be only so easy but not entirely easy and I'd really rather go watch the latest episode of "This is Us."

I'll get back at you another day, PicMonkey.

Saturday, November 5, 2016

Max and Me

Being home alone with Max has meant we've gotten some quality time in together, but I also caught some time alone.

Pavement Coffee, near Berklee
I took him for a haircut and out to dinner last night, and then he put up with me falling asleep at 8:30 while he watched a movie beside me. Then this morning we got up early and took the T into the city so he could attend a music festival at Berklee College of Music. He spent the morning playing the bucket drums and ukulele, folk dancing and singing, while I checked out a very hipster coffeehouse for breakfast and had some pad Thai for lunch. Meals out alone don't happen often, so Thai is real treat for me.

I picked up Max after lunch and we headed over to the Christian Science complex just a few blocks away, which houses the publisher of the Christian Science Monitor. I wanted to take him to see the Mapparium (please click on that for images--you'll want to see it), a spherical glass globe room with a bridge through the middle, frozen in time as the boundaries were in 1935. The globe was commissioned to depict the global focus of the publication. It's fascinating to see the beautiful artistry to the glass panels, but also to see how the world has changed, and try to decipher country names many people have never heard of before. The acoustics in the room are also fun to play with, as voices bounce around and you can hear whispers from strangers on the other side of the room. It's only a 20 minute tour, but Max was totally entranced. Before we headed home, we went inside the Christian Science church as well. The organ pipes were unbelievable. Max took an extra reflective moment there, probably happy for some quiet after a loud and busy morning. Then we made one last stop in the city, at Guitar Center, where Max has picked out what he's sure he wants for Hanukkah this year: a new acoustic guitar.

Max at the Christian Science Center
It was fun to spend some time in the city together, but also fun for me to spend a little time exploring on my own too. I can see Marc and me having more time to do that again in the not-too-distant future, as the kids seem to be spending more and more weekend time away from us. Maybe we won't be limited to our usual suburban spots with a little more time to explore.

Friday, November 4, 2016

Today? Really?

As someone obsessed with my calendar, I'm always looking ahead, plotting things out and theorizing about how life is going to unfold over certain especially busy times. That leads me to feel a sense of discombobulation when those dates actually arrive, and I find I question myself with, "Today? Really?" It's like my mind can't comprehend that enough time has passed to actually be here, in those theorized moments.

This weekend is one of those. When Hannah got the invitation to attend a camp friend's bat mitzvah in Connecticut, we thought about how it might be able to work out. We thought about seeing if other locals could join her. Emails were sent, plans were made, RSVPs were sent, and somehow they're leaving this afternoon to have this weekend away. Hannah's excited, of course. But I'm left asking, "today, really?"

I first noticed this tendency in myself on June 21, 2002. I was up early at home in Ohio with my family, and getting married in two days. The "Today Show" was just coming on, and it started with its usual "today is" and the date. "Today? Really?" This date that I'd been planning towards for the past 13 months wasn't just some date on a hypothetical schedule anymore. It was real, very real--and amazing and terrifying and exciting.

But not something out in the future anymore. It was present, and all-too-soon to be past.

Thursday, November 3, 2016

Vanity Fair Proust Questionnaire

Lindsey from "A Design So Vast" recently published her answers to the Vanity Fair Proust Questionnaire, which she said provides answers to some of the "minutiae" of life. I love minutiae myself, so I thought I'd take a stab at answering these too.

What do you regard as the lowest depth of misery?
Back pain. Something I know all too well. 

Where would you like to live?
I really like where I live now, but eventually I'd like to live someplace where snow removal isn't a major concern.

What is your idea of earthly happiness?
My kids singing "The Cup Song" together in the backseat of the car. 
 
To what faults do you feel most indulgent?  
Harboring high expectations.

Who are your favorite heroes of fiction? Who are your favorite characters in history? Who are your favorite heroines in real life? Who are your favorite heroines of fiction?  
It was this series of questions that made me want to NOT do this quiz, but then I thought my answer here is kind of interesting after all.

I don't really have any.

Maybe Meredith Grey, of Grey's Anatomy, but that's because I've watched her for so many years mostly. But it's hard for me to choose because there is good and bad in everyone, and whenever I think of of someone, I can't invariably say I love everything they've ever done, fictional or not.

Your favorite painter?  
Jackson Pollock. And not just because of his last name. I had this up in my office until they replaced all my walls with glass and turned it into a fishbowl.


Jackson Pollock's "Convergence"

Your favorite musician?  
Early Counting Crows. I can't say I've kept up with them much over the last decade.

The qualities you most admire in a man?  
Compassion

The qualities you most admire in a woman?  
Compassion. Because I'm not sure what gender has to do with this question.

Your favorite virtue?  
The ability to let things go. I'm not good at that.

Your favorite occupation?
I once wanted to be a playwright.

Who would you have liked to be?
A singer on Broadway. Maybe someday.

Wednesday, November 2, 2016

Where I Live

Lincoln Street in Newton Highlands
Today is one of my work at home Wednesdays, which I told you in a recent post that I've just begun having after years of working from home in a very chopped up way on Tuesdays. So far, I've really been enjoying these Wednesdays, with a longer stretch of quiet time at home where I'm able to do some deeper thinking about work stuff with fewer interruptions. It's been really good for me.

But just like my Tuesdays, I've been using my Wednesdays to get some errands in, and today was no exception...except that it was a particularly lovely fall morning. Okay, yea, the leaves are off all of the trees in the photo above, but that didn't matter. The temperature was perfect for a few walkable errands in my village center. Yes, village.

This morning I was able to go to the dry cleaners, stop at the post office, have a yummy breakfast burrito, buy a baguette for dinner at the local bake shop, and get a manicure all in about 90 minutes, on foot. Which is extra good, because our car, as Marc described it, decided to dress up as Frankenstein on Halloween by getting a bolt lodged in its tire, so I'm without access to a car today.

I love feeling so accomplished by 9:30 in the morning. Then I was able to dive right in to work when I got home, without all of those things nagging over my head for the rest of the day. Or, um, week, as can be the case when it comes to taking in the dry cleaning. ;)

Tuesday, November 1, 2016

Another #NaBloPoMo

So, Busy Since Birth seems to be barely alive. I've posted only 17 times so far this year, which is pathetic. But like almost every other blogger I've ever encountered, it seems to be getting harder to sustain this (non-paying) medium, and the psychic payoff for doing so is minimal. This March will be 10 years of blogging though, and I am committed to at least hitting that milestone, even if I barely make it to first base.

Oy. A sports metaphor. I'm really sorry about that. Too much time pretending to care about sports at the office. Though, since we're here now, go Tribe! (My Cleveland is showing.)

Anyway, it's another NaBloPoMo, which translates to "bloggers cajoling other bloggers into writing every something every day for a month because we think it's good for us until it actually drives us insane." I've done this a few times now, and those last few days of November are PAINFUL, but the month overall is fantastic. I do feel better when I make time for writing every day, and as my post count this year shows, I haven't been feeling my best this year. Definitely not enough moments of nacho happiness.

I'm still project-less. I mean, Hannah's upcoming bat mitzvah is a huge distraction/amazing thing, and I have some volunteer things that start up soon, but I'm still missing my Having It All Project/Listen To Your Mother side gig that's mine, all mine. I keep waiting for inspiration to strike, but I have yet to find it at the bottom of an episode of Real Housewives (though I'm really digging Siggy on RHONJ, anyone else?). So I am giving myself until mid-January for the idea to just come to me, and if it doesn't by then, I will find ways to actively seek it out.

And in the meantime, a little NaBloPoMo never *really* hurt anyone, right? Here we go.

Sunday, October 16, 2016

What Happens to An Unloved Tree

The other week I felt a moment of profound sadness for a tree. This is rather uncharacteristic of me, because while I like trees, well, I don't always notice trees.

During autumn, around my birthday like it is right now, I notice them in their daring "look at me!" tantrums of color. I notice the leaves that get embedded in the rug at the front door, stuck wet to shoes hastily shrugged off. I notice the tree on the tree lawn of our house, with its huge branches that could break during a storm and crush a car below. But this particular tree, on another part of our property, I'd really never bothered to notice before.

It is/was wedged between our garage (something else I barely notice, as it is not wide enough to accommodate a car) and the fence that belongs to our neighbors and their garage. Per the survey done on our property during last year's renovation, it is/was definitely our tree. But given its location, a few feet behind where one could easily walk and the fact that it was just so large, it somehow just became background.

Over the summer, "my" car, our SUV, got less use while the kids were both at camp, and I took to parking it at the end of the driveway, near the tree. But then when I did go to use the car, I'd find it covered in bird droppings and other debris from the tree. After this had happened several times, I finally looked up and saw it, really saw it. In the middle of the summer, its branches were completely bare. The tree was dead, and based on the woodpecker activity, probably rotting away quickly.

My unloved tree--almost too big to fully fit in the photo
It took a couple of months for us to bump "tree removal" to the top of our schedule. Spending a four-figure amount just to get rid of something really didn't appeal to us, but it was the responsible, adult thing to do. It would have been worse for us to wait and see what the winter would bring, likely broken tree limbs and destruction. So on a Friday morning, a very brave man, in a bucket raised high into the sky, cut down the tree.

Coincidentally, both Hannah and Max are studying trees at school. Trying to appeal to seventh graders, Hannah's science teacher told the kids that they might some day impress love interests with their knowledge of trees (the kids were #notimpressed). Hannah had a leaf project where she had to gather, research and document a large variety of leaves from trees she found locally. They needed to be local trees so that they could be identified, so she was specifically told not to go to Arnold Arboretum in Boston, as they have trees from all over the world there. So of course that's where Max's class is going on a field trip. He's been learning about how tree trunks get their rings. And I can't help tying all of the stories together, as fifteen years ago, *I* was the one being romanced and getting a new ring in Arnold Arboretum. Well, Marc proposed to me there, under an unidentified lilac tree, though my ring wasn't ready for another couple of days. But it was the beginning of trees being special to me. We followed up with a tree on our ketubah (Jewish wedding license), and trees created at Hannah's and Max's Hebrew naming ceremonies, and more since then.

So you can see why I felt so sad about this long-neglected tree that had been right there, unnoticed by me for the last ten years. I only seem to notice special trees, and this wasn't one of them, until it was about to be gone. Only when it was about to be gone did I bother to see just how beautiful it was.

Tuesday, September 6, 2016

My Last Work From Home Tuesday

Over five and a half years ago, I started working from home on Tuesdays. This post from 2012 sums up why, and Hannah and I once made the front page of The Boston Globe for it, but for a quick refresher, a childcare gap during the afternoons due to early release schedules each week necessitated someone being at home then. That someone was me. Now that Marc has started a new job where several other people work from home on Tuesdays, it's going to be him.

This is a good change for me, but a bittersweet one. Over the last year, it seems my Tuesdays have gotten more hectic. With two kids coming home at different times, my work was interrupted twice for catching up with each kid. Orthodontist appointments were sometimes thrown in. Max's piano lessons interrupted as well, and since his teacher was on the unreliable side, that sometimes added disruption too. And while I liked making the kids laugh as we waited for their Hebrew school carpool to arrive, some days it was hard to tear myself away from work one more time. I always got everything done, but my Tuesdays were far from easy. (I think Marc tends to be less distractable while working than I am, so I don't expect he'll have as hard of a time dealing with this as I did. We shall see.)

While all the interruptions sometimes complicated things, I will miss the extra time I got to spend with my kids. I think it was good for all of us. I think Marc will benefit from it now.

In a couple of weeks after I do some travel for work, I'll be starting a new routine of work from home Wednesdays. It's going to take a bit of time to shake out because I already agreed to some Wednesday meetings, but eventually I'll be working from home with a longer stretch of uninterrupted time. Sometimes I may have to take Hannah to a mid-afternoon rehearsal across town, and again, I'm grateful to be able to have that flexibility. But now it's an exciting thought that I can work from home one day a week mostly because it's good for me, and not just what I need in order to make life work.

So with the kids starting back at school today (7th and 3rd grade OMG HOW?), I'll be saying goodbye to Tuesdays, at least for now. Maybe in a year it'll all change again. Mostly, I remain grateful for this opportunity that I've had, and I continue to hope that others can be afforded similar flexibility.

Tuesday, August 9, 2016

Making the Montage

So as I mentioned in my recent Kveller.com piece, I am working on assembling a photo montage for Hannah's upcoming bat mitzvah. For the uninitiated, at some bar and bat mitzvah parties, video montages are shown depicting photos of the child growing up, set to sentimental music. It's not a requirement by any means, but I've always loved watching them, regardless of how close I am to the kid involved. I usually even shed a tear or two. Kids grow up, time passes, we're all getting older. How can you not cry? Just thinking of making Hannah's has had me on the verge of tears many times already.

And yes, I've started to work on it now, after admitting I hadn't yet gotten to it during the first half of the summer while both kids were gone. But this past Sunday I spent a significant chunk of time going through the over THIRTY THOUSAND PHOTOS we have access to online. How amazing is it that virtually every photo taken of this kid since the moment she was born is available to be accessed on a computer? I remember sorting through physical photos of me, with my parents, to make the montage that was shown at my bat mitzvah.

Thankfully though, Hannah isn't in all thirty thousand photos. In fact, there's an awful lot that I should delete, and many photos are duplicated due to various systems used over the years. But my first cut of the photos left me with about 250 from which to chose, probably 100 or so more than I need. It will be harder to cut the number down, because oh my, what an amazing, lucky, wonderful, fantastic life has she (and I) had over the last twelve and a half years? These photos highlight so much, from her first patriotic outfit on the Fourth of July, to the three times she was a flower girl, to amazing vacations. So many photos with Max and Marc and me, and many other family members and friends. School projects. Plays and concerts. It's a true highlight reel.

That version is what we'll show at the party. Obviously, a party like this is when you're supposed to look back on only the highlights. But it's not the full truth.

I won't include photos of the hard days. There won't be photos of tantrums or tears. I won't show the school project that was only completed through force. You won't have to watch video of the recital that didn't go well. There aren't photos of the endless piles of laundry or carpool runs done in the rain. There aren't photos of the conversations at bedtime, about a how a "friend" wants to copy your work at school. And you won't notice the three month period when no one took any pictures of my children, because I was completely incapacitated before back surgery.

The hard stuff doesn't make the montage, but it's still there, in our history. We wouldn't be able to see how wonderful the wonderful moments are, without acknowledging the hard is there too.

I last watched my own bat mitzvah montage a few years ago, showing it to my kids. Mine was a highlight reel too. I didn't cry when I saw it as a newly minted 13 year old Jewish adult, but I did re-watching it then. I cried for the grandparents and other relatives since lost. I cried for the way my Dad picked just the right songs, synchronizing the photos to land at just the right moments. I cried that my own mom is in too few of the photos, being behind the camera herself. I cried for the passage of time, wanting a new highlight reel to reflect what happened from age 13 on.

And then I realized that I'd be making Hannah's montage. While Hannah's accomplishments are hers, not mine, so many of the best moments of my life over the last 13 years have involved her, and Max, and this life Marc and I have built together. So in a way, this video will be a highlight reel from ages 26-39 for me, too.

Now to find the perfect music for making me cry.

Sunday, July 31, 2016

What I Really Learned While My Kids Were at Overnight Camp

On Friday, I had my second piece published on Kveller.com, "5 Things I Was Able To Do While My Kids Were at Sleepaway Camp." (Please click over, read, comment, share. Thanks.) It's a perfect little piece for the site where it's published; Marc's response upon reading it is that I've gotten better at writing pieces for the purpose of selling them elsewhere. A worthy blogging goal if there ever was one, since I don't make any money off of Busy Since Birth.

However, there was one idea I'd told him I'd been mulling over, which didn't make it into the piece. And that idea maybe isn't as revolutionary or sellable, although maybe it is. Are you ready?

It's that I actually *like* doing things with my 12yo and 8yo kids. Shocking, right?

But here's the thing. When they were smaller, not so very long ago, we savored every break we got from our children. The exhaustion and relentlessness of life with small children is a lot. Most days are overwhelming. Most HOURS are overwhelming. Breaks are very, very good. But now?

Well, the kids are fairly self-sufficient at these ages. Sure, they still need us, but the physicality of it all has decreased. Beyond that, they're really good company. I love hearing their opinions and including them in discussions of complicated topics. If we're going to a concert or a museum, I want to bring them along and share it with them. If I'm talking with friends, they can usually entertain themselves long enough so I can finish a conversation. They still need me, but not in the same ways, and I know, all too soon, not for much longer. Which makes it even harder to let them go to camp.

(You wouldn't blame me for telling Hannah she could come home for the second half of the summer. I couldn't help asking. At least she was polite when she firmly told me, "no, not happening.")

So I settled for bringing home just Max at the halfway point. On the ride home, he shared new thoughts on racism and sexism, and wondered why there are so many chemicals in chocolate milk. He sang us a new melody for "Modeh Ani" and a bunch of other songs he learned. He asked if he can apply to be a counselor in training some day (Kerem 2024!).

So yes, I was able to get some things done while my kids were away, and have a little fun too. But it definitely wasn't more fun than I have when my kids are joining along.

Eighteen more days til she gets home.

Camp Yavneh Sibling Photo July 2016

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Come for the Politics, Stay for the Charts

One day after Hillary Rodham Clinton can finally declare that she is the Democratic party's nominee for President of the United States of America, what many have defined as breaking through one of the last remaining "glass ceilings" keeping women from attaining the highest positions in government and business, The Wall Street Journal ran this article on its front page, basically declaring the entire event as NBD, "no big deal."

For those of you without access behind the pay wall, the headline and sub-header read as follows:

"Hillary Clinton’s Historic Moment Divides Generations of Women

Presidential candidacy reflects hard-fought gains in gender equality so widespread that some women see little urgency in crashing another barrier"

Personally, I don't know who those "some women" are. Based on my Facebook feed and Twitter timeline, I saw a lot of women (and men!) who were incredibly moved by the moment, many watching the unfolding events with tears in their eyes, bringing their children to the television to see history being made. But I can admit that there might be some women out there who don't see it as that momentous. That proves to me that what we've been saying to women and girls in generations younger than mine, that you really can do anything, has worked. They already believe it, and that's great. I know my own daughter believed it too, until she was maybe 10, and then she stopped feeling so sure about that sentiment. I've seen that change in her in recent years, where the lofty aspirations she had as a kid became tempered by the reality of the world around her.

But what I came here to write about after a long work day and a frustrating commute was the supposed evidence provided in the WSJ article to substantiate that women ascending to higher positions is just so commonplace as to be unremarkable now, and the charts that they used to show the data. The text is inane too, but I'm going to focus on the charts.

Now, I design charts as part of my professional career. A good chart can tell a story more effectively than all of the text around it, and I pride myself on being able to do that well. Before those charts can be shown outside of our firm, to clients and prospects, they must be cleared through our Legal department. We have to cite our sources, show our calculations, and most of all, make certain that the charts are presented in an accurate and straight forward manner. Nothing can be cherry-picked or misleading in any way.

And there is simply no way that the WSJ charts accompanying this article would have passed muster with our Legal department. Frankly, for a paper that purports to have a higher education level among its readership, this is just embarrassing. Screw the paywall, I took some screenshots for you.


The chart above shows what looks like a meteoric rise in women elected to Congress since Clinton was born in 1947. The timing of her birth is awfully coincidental, as it doesn't look like there might have been any females in Congress prior to that time, or very few. Now there are 84 in the House. OUT OF 433. 19%. On the Senate side, just 20 women out of 100 serve today. The way the scale of this chart has its maximum set at 120 makes it look like women's involvement has hit the highest possible peak, but had the scale shown that maximum number (435, according to a law set forth in 1911), women's progression would be a lot less impressive. (And I'm still so impressed by those 104 women - watching the women of the House speak at the DNC was very inspiring!)


And then there was more. Four more charts that again were poorly made and misleading. In the Education chart, I'm not sure how 0.4% more women who completed fours years of college or more is *that* much progress, especially when the trajectory shown is very similar to that of men. The Money chart is again missing a top range showing the fact that men earn 100% (it's implied, but if it's on a chart, it's misleading to leave it off). As for the Politics chart, I had no idea how many people are working for state legislatures, and I consider myself not that ill-informed, but it took only a few clicks to discover that women are only 24.5% of legislators nationwide, so again, we're missing an upper bound on that chart. But my favorite chart by far is the Business chart, showing that since 1995, over the last 20 largely progressive years, a whopping 24 women are CEOs at Fortune 500 companies. You can do the math on the missing upper limit of that chart, right? That's 476 males still in significant power, but the chart looks like women's involvement at that level took off like a rocket ship.

So you're not that impressed with Hillary's accomplishments, up to and including nomination to the Presidency? I hope your reasoning is a lot more sound than the "women accomplish stuff all the time!" ridiculousness of these charts. And while I'm certain there are charts existing that tell stories I *do* like in misleading ways, I hope this post makes us all slow down a bit and evaluate things more carefully. Think about the scale, and think about what's not being shown.

And if you're a woman? Maybe think about finishing college, going after that higher paying job, or even running for office. We've clearly got a lot more work to do.

Friday, July 8, 2016

I Was Taught To Sing

As a child, I was taught to sing. "The Wheels on the Bus" and "Itsy Bitsy Spider" eventually gave way to choir concerts where I earnestly sang "Show Me the Way" by Styx.

That I wake up each morning and turn on the news, to find we have so far to go. 

Or Michael Jackson's "Heal the World."

Make it a better place, for you and for me and the entire human race. 

Or Bette Midler's "From a Distance."

It's the voice of hope, it's the voice of peace, it's the voice of every man. 

And I believed. I believed that singing those songs would make the world better. We were on to something. Things were going to change because our generation would make it so.

I didn't understand how many generations had sung for peace and change before mine. 

I don't sing as much now. I wear my headphones on the train, and try to forget that I'm even in a public space. Pretty much everyone around me does the exact same thing. We're all looking inward now. No one is singing outward. 

But on my headphones, I've been listening to "Show Me the Way." I'm trying to remember to face outward more. I'm making eye contact, sharing a smile and saying good morning. 

I was taught to sing. And maybe the time for singing will eventually come. 

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Random: June 2016

I've had a hard time writing lately. I actually wrote a long post that I never published, which turned into me declaring an end (or at least a break) here. I told Hannah about it, and she convinced me not to post it, not to stop writing, to find it in me to keep going. But nothing has really jelled for me lately, so there's been a very long silence here.

And then after a difficult afternoon, I got an email from a friend saying something I wrote in January has still been on her mind, a post of random things that weren't quite developed, but still worth sharing. So here I am, nudged into it again. Here are some additional, probably not ready for prime-time, but I'm going with it anyway, random thoughts. 

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The building where I work requires that you swipe your security badge every time you enter the building. Assuming it's not your first day and you're not a visitor (and there are lots of friendly security guards to help you if you are), swiping your badge should not come as a surprise. Yet everyday, I witness someone confounded by this, completely unprepared, digging around and trying to find their badge. This is frustrating for my hyper-organized self, who generally has her badge in hand, ready to go. But, I am much more irritated by people (and I will generalize, but you can guess which gender does this more often) who don't remove the pass from their pockets and instead graze their various body parts across the scanners. Ew. It's just not that hard to take something out of your pocket, is it? And they really must not realize how truly awkward they look to those of us forced to witness it. Ah, the glamorous life in a highrise. 

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Both of my kids leave for overnight camp in two weeks. I said on Facebook that I'm most looking forward to watching the clock a little less. It's going to be lovely to just walk out the door when I'm ready to go to work, and not have to wait until the school bus has arrived. And on the flip side, I'll be able to leave earlier and avoid some of the Red Sox-related shenanigans on the train ride home. Plus I expect the house will stay cleaner and I'll have a lot less laundry to do. Though I fully expect to use up any time I might save by obsessively checking the camp website for photos of both kids, which will take twice as long now. I'm going to miss them terribly, but I know they'll love every minute. 

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Do I go to my 20th high school reunion? Or do I already know everything there is to know about you? I'm anticipating a message from Sarah E. after she sees this part. :)

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I've spent a lot of time thinking about family and friends and the difference between them over the past few months, specifically with regards to proximity. There are certain things in life where friends can approximate family very well, like rides to the airport or sharing a meal once and a while. But then there are moments when family really would be best, like when your kid is sick and you need childcare, or that big milestone that doesn't mean as much to someone who hasn't known your kid since the beginning. As I've said here before, it all comes down to expectations, and I think I expected that if friendships developed a certain way, they would be like family. I think that was a naive assumption, though, especially when those friends already have strong extended families as well. 

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Lots of bloggers I admire have started email newsletters. This is a way to drive traffic to their sites more directly, which is probably useful as Facebook seems to share my blog posts with a very select audience. I've thought about starting one myself, but then I realized I don't really write enough to warrant one. But I do really like the idea of it. 

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I'm still totally obsessed with Hamilton. And this meme, from Joy of Dad is kind of perfect. 


That's all I've got. How're you?

Sunday, May 1, 2016

The $500 Trajectory

It's a story I've often found myself telling, and I'm sure you have a version in your history like it as well. A moment, when you might not have known it at the time, when the trajectory of your life took shape, all over some almost meaningless distinction. For me, it's the $500 moment, and the next 16 plus years have been shaped by that relatively small amount of money.

In early January of the year 2000, just after we miraculously survived Y2K, I pounded the pavement as a new college graduate (a semester early), trying to find my first full-time job. I had two not-so-great business suits, paper resumes laser-printed one at a time on expensive stock, and $23 left in my bank account. I worked with two different staffing agencies, playing one against the other, conserving quarters to call them in between interviews from various payphones around the city. Within two weeks, I had two job offers. Not a lot of direction or idea about what I wanted to do with my life, but two offers nonetheless.

Both offers were from solid companies, but very different opportunities. The one I got first was with a prominent Boston family office, where they owned a lot of property then used as parking lots. I would help manage those parking lots - carry a lot of cash, work with the employees of the lots. I was told that they knew someone like me wouldn't expect to stay in a job like that for very long, but that the family was so well-connected, they'd help me find something else within six months to a year. They would open doors, invite me to fancy parties. I had no idea how I'd afford the kind of lifestyle they suggested on the salary they offered, and I was worried about my odds of succeeding in a position like that, but I still felt it was a solid job offer.

I'd only had my first round interview with the other company at that point, and my second interview was scheduled for the following day. I was tempted to blow it off, but also worried about being "nice" and didn't want to cause problems for the recruiters who had been helping me, so I went. I was young and dumb (or maybe smarter than I thought), but I told the woman interviewing me that I already had another offer. I couldn't find any information about this private company online (there were few websites for this sort of thing back then) and almost nothing in the press. But the offices were nice, and I'd only be working in one spot, not all over the city. They asked me how much I was offered. I answered honestly, mostly because I was so proud of the number. They came back with $500 more.

I figured that even if I hated the job and only last six months, I'd make $250 more there than at the parking lot job. That was a lot of money at the time. I took the second job offer.

I stayed for almost six years. I've stayed in this very niche industry for the entirety of my career.

I think back on that moment often. I'd never negotiated for anything before, much less a full-time job. I knew incredibly little about the decision that I was making, just that I really wanted to stay in Boston and I needed a job to make that happen. And, a really good, successful life and career has been the result. I never could have imagined then, having the type of job I have now. I couldn't have imagined it even when I started my MBA program a few years later, or when I applied to join the group I'm in now. But I do wonder what might have happened to me if I'd taken the other post. I would have feared for my physical safety, I'm sure, but I might have thrived. I might have met someone at a party like they promised me, and seen my life go in a completely different way. Sliding doors, as the movie goes.

As I said, $500 doesn't seem like that much money to me now, but it's still not the kind of money I spend on anything regularly. But over the course of a year, it's less than $10 a week. Even less after taxes. Less than $10 a week, a #Hamilton, influenced my destiny.

Pretty crazy to think about. Has anything like that happened to you?

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

How Do You Do Passover?

All the Passover foods
As I've said many times on this blog, I'm fascinated by the minutiae of life, how we make decisions big and small, and how there are so many ways to do the same things. And so now I'm going to pull back the curtain on how we celebrate Passover (or Pesach) in our home. Because as you know, a clean kitchen is very important to me.

While I'm showing you all of this, you should know that our practice is largely driven by how Marc would like to observe things for the week, as I didn't grow up doing anything like this. So I can't take much credit for how this has evolved (and evolved is definitely the right word), but I still think it's interesting to share.

For those that don't know, during the eight days (though some people do seven) of Passover, you can't eat any chametz, which is defined as any leavened food. There are many intricacies and ways to follow these rules, but basically, there's no bread, pasta, cereal, cookies, or anything like that for eight days. Instead, we eat matzah, a cracker-like substance that represents how quickly we needed to leave Egypt when we were slaves, as our bread dough did not have time to rise.

For our family, it's not just about what we eat, though there is a lot of attention paid to that subject alone. But we also take the extra step of putting away all of the dishes, pots and pans, utensils and small appliances we typically use, and do an extra deep cleaning to try to remove any chametz from the kitchen. Then we bring up plastic tubs filled with our Passover dishes, pots and pans, utensils and (very few) small appliances, separated for meat and dairy meals, and we use those, supplemented by paper goods as needed, for the length of the holiday. When we first started celebrating Passover together, Marc had a fairly bare bones collection of separate kitchen items, but the collection has grown every year, and we seem to find something new to add each year. This year also meant buying a new microwave. Ours died some time ago, but Marc waited to replace it until the holiday, so it will definitely be chametz-free.

A few photos to show you how we do it in our house. First, the photo at the top of the post shows the corner of the counter where all of the food is set out for the week, things we'd normally keep in a pantry. There is Kosher for Passover cereal, snacks, various desserts and candy, even new ketchup.


Here's our famous apple green countertops, with none of our typical appliances pushed up against the wall. No toaster, no Cusinart, no heavy wooden cutting board; they've been stored in another room for the holiday. Even the drying rack got a deep clean with the kitchen steamer before we're using it for the week. You'll also notice the blue electrical tape on some of the cabinets, there to remind us not to use the contents in those cabinets during the holiday. There are a couple of new baking sheets on the stove top as well; we'll use those for Passover this week, and then they'll transition to become regular everyday use afterward, since we really needed some new baking sheets too.


These are our Passover plastic tubs that hold all of the items we use specifically for the holiday. We've accumulated more over the years, or decommissioned some items from everyday to Passover-only (like a set of orange mixing bowls that I think my parents were given as a wedding gift; I used them in college, now they're Passover only).

So there's a peek inside our Passover process. I'd love to see yours, or to hear about some other traditional items you use at different points in the year!

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

10 Years at Home

We closed on our house 10 years ago. Here's how it was then, with me, Marc and 2yo Hannah:

April 2006


 And here's how it is now, plus a shot of Max in the front yard, since he didn't even exist back then:

April 2016


I'm really lucky to call this place home.

Wednesday, April 6, 2016

Glimmers

I'm a bit lost.

Not in a traditional sense. Or maybe the most traditional sense. I'm approaching 40, after all. But I haven't been feeling much like myself lately.

A story:

When Hannah was just a baby, maybe 10 months old, I went to a book reading at the Brookline Booksmith. At the time, we lived about 2.5 blocks from the Booksmith, but as I was working full-time, parenting an infant, and going to school for my MBA part-time, I didn't spend much time in bookstores. We were also in a relatively new home, involved in new communities, practically still newlyweds. Constants were hard to come by, but writer Catherine Newman had become one for me.

When I was pregnant with Hannah, Newman's columns on BabyCenter were a lifeline for me. She updated them weekly, but I'm sure I went back in time and read the entire archive. Her daughter, nicknamed Birdy, is close to Hannah's age, and Newman's blog became a book, "Waiting for Birdy." Though I felt like I already knew the story, I devoured the book too, and made attending the book reading a priority. This was 2004, and while it's hard to believe now, meeting people you knew through the internet was still a rarity discussed in hushed tones.

So when Newman came to town, I was there, probably sitting in the front row. She read and I nodded along eagerly. She signed my book, and complimented my smile, a complimenting strategy that works so well with new mothers who may be wearing ill-fitting, possibly stained clothing, no make up, and haphazard ponytails, but who at least made sure to brush their teeth that day. She didn't invite me to be her new best friend on the spot, but she still bothered to connect with me, and with her stories of slightly older son Ben, I knew that there was light further down in the tunnel, ahead of what I could picture then.

I left the reading feeling more like myself than I had in a long time. It was a glimmer of how I could, and would, feel again, with time. I think I did feel that way for a while, but I've lost it again.

I see glimmers of that version of myself sometimes: a really productive day, a new way of thinking about an old problem. But the hard thing is that the glimmer is all about me. It can't be generated by something my kids do, or some goal we've reached as a family, though those things contribute to it. Maybe it sounds selfish, but I need to have things that are just my own, too. And so much of my life right now doesn't feel like it's about me.

Newman has a new book out. Though I've kept up with her blog all these years, like me, she's shared less and less about Ben and Birdy as they've grown. I'm looking forward to reading it, and catching up with them again. I wonder if, in the intervening 12 years between her books, Newman also felt a little lost sometimes too. I wonder if, with the publication of this new book, she's catching a glimmer of herself again. I hope that the glimmer is actually a glow.

And maybe I'll catch her on her next book tour.

Thursday, March 17, 2016

Year Nine: Making Room

My desk and vanity table in our bedroom. Spaces for me.

It's another blogiversary, my ninth one. I'm still here, I guess.

I sounded a lot more confident last year, at the end of year eight. That feels like a very long time ago, longer than the year it's been.

I haven't been writing very much. I wrote something I'd rather forget, had to re-learn not to read the comments, and to let the comments said to my face not derail me completely. That piece was only part of a much bigger reckoning that kept me awake during many middle of the night hours in recent months. I then wrote a long piece about the difference between friends and family, grappling with issues on that topic that I've had for as long as I can remember. That piece is sitting in drafts, probably never to see the publish button clicked, but it helped me process things.

Writing always does, which is why I keep coming back.

I've made room for so many things over the past year. We literally made room in our house, doing the addition. I now have a place for me - a desk and a vanity - and they make me so very happy. I've made room for more work-related travel. I made room for planning a trip to Disney, and now, maybe, for buying a puppy. I've made room for running lines with Hannah and for practicing spelling bee words with Max. I've made room for Marc to add more coursework as he pursues one of his dreams. I haven't made much room for blogging.

We'll see what happens in year 10.

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

On Going Back to Disney World

Aboard the Disney Magic

We just got back from a trip to Disney World: three days at the parks, and a three day Disney cruise to Disney's private island in the Bahamas. It was fabulous for far too many reasons to list, but if you really want to hear them, I'll tell you them all. Seriously, our list of negatives included approximately three items, one of which was an overly-attentive server at the adults only restaurant, who was required to be so attentive because they included so many free extra courses with our meal. Among the many positives: the weather was better than the weather in Boston, we had very little wait times thanks to well-planned Fast Passes, the kids were old enough for all the rides they wanted to go on and could handle all the walking, the many engaging activities and shows on the ship, the fact that I couldn't check my email for three whole days, and, most especially, continuous uninterrupted time with my three favorite people. Well, except for the parts when the kids got to experience a little independence and do their own things on the ship. But then we had fun texting them.

I sang pop songs with abandon, and I danced. I sang princess songs too. I can't stop singing Frozen's "In Summer" since we've returned.

I survived "scary" rides. I even laughed during the Tower of Terror. 

I took more pictures than I realized. I took videos. On our last trip, I had a Blackberry. iPhones have changed everything.

Before we left, I was doing a lot of comparing the upcoming trip to the one we took when the kids were 5 and 1. That was such a great trip, too. I will never forget Hannah's sweet voice, from the darkened backseat of the car as we left the hotel for the airport, "it was a really good four days, Mommy." Now, I can remember Max saying something similar at the end of this trip.

I couldn't help comparing the two trips because I was in such a similar emotional state to when we'd last gone to Disney, a state I described in this post, which became the genesis for The Having It All Project. While I've had some time off and trips, the last "real" vacation we took was in December 2013, our jam-packed trip to Israel. We've still been spending time moving back into the house post-renovation (and we'll still be doing that for quite a while). The kids are busier than ever. The economy is lousy and work has been stressful. Situations with family and friends have weighed heavy on my mind and heart. February descended, bringing snow and extreme cold, and I was growing ever more certain that our lousy February luck was going to come back and derail everything again. But that string of lousy February's was why we'd planned the trip in the first place. We needed to break the cycle. Thank goodness we did.

Aboard the ship, there's one themed night, a pirate party. Bandannas are left in your room, some people dress in costume, but basically it's a chance for another dance party on the top deck of the ship, ending with fireworks. The characters are brought out, Mickey saves us all from Captain Hook, and there's more of that dancing and singing with abandon. Marc, Hannah and I stayed together, but Max ran around the deck, sword fighting with some kid he'd just met, flush with independence. As the fireworks began, he came back to me, and put his arm around my waist, leaning in to watch the lights. I was completely in the moment. All of the stress I'd felt just a few days ago must have been left back on the shore.

It's the first time I've left a trip to find myself sitting in the airport, strategizing about how and when we could do it all again. Hopefully, it won't be too long.