Saturday, July 25, 2015

Driving is More Than ...

Earlier I was in the backseat when Oldest Son asked Commuter Husband what he thought of TPP. A quick iPhone google search told me this is the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement. Then we discussed the recent Onion article on Iran and Israel. Then the conversation turned to baseball and who would buy the ice cream at the Braums' drive through. And an hour ago during dinner at the Flying Fish, we were in an animated discussion on the recent allegations against Planned Parenthood. 

So , what exactly are we doing tonight? We are passengers while Oldest Son drives us around getting his daytime and nighttime drivers education hours. Oldest Son is doing online drivers education which is parent directed.

We are certainly teaching our 15 year old to drive but the real teachable moments are embedded in the 32 captive hours in the car. The conversations jump from current events to jokes to school to food to sports to driving instructions and on and on ... we also have laughter and sarcasm and yelling and teasing and opinions and on and on ...

Occasionally we get these gems from Oldest Son the Teen: "One of my biggest pet peeves is when people tell me to do what I am already about to do." Of course, this statement prompted Commuter Husband to purposely provide obvious directions just to annoy Oldest Son because ... well ... that is what fathers do with sons.

Good times. Truly.

Oldest Son learning practical skills such as putting gas in the Prius at Quicktrip.

Sunday, July 19, 2015


Sometimes motherhood takes a seemingly comical turn. This morning I am faced with an odd decision.

We are going through the last stages of our remodel (yes - that remodel that started January 2014) and disposing of stuff. Since Oldest Son and Youngest Son have transitioned from "sweet little" boys to "are they nuts" teens, we are disposing of many of their childhood items. As the lone female in the house, I seem to be the only one bothered by this activity.

Which brings me to today's decision: what do I do with their baby teeth that I have kept in a drawer since 2006? Commuter Husband suggests without hesitation that I throw them away. He is right of course.

But I am thinking of .... those excited faces when a bloody tooth presented itself and the day Oldest Son lost two teeth in one day and when Youngest Son finally lost his first molar! In the USA, we were visited by the Tooth Fairy and in Mexico we were visited by the Tooth Raton (translates rat and I am serious.)

So today I simply shove them back into my drawer ... it is not much space in my house but a considerable spot in my heart (crazy I know.)
The Stack of Teeth 

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Movie Night

Tonight was risky ...

Me enthusiastically "Do you want to go to a movie with me tonight?"
Youngest Son with no emotion "What movie?"
Me with matter of fact voice "Me and Earl and the Dying Girl"
Youngest Son immediately "No."
Me with slight lilt "It is better than sitting at home doing nothing."
Youngest Son with resignation "Okay."

With sincere excitement, I purchased online tickets from a theater with those amazing reclining red leather chairs. I packed up a couple small fleece blankets and off we went. With a medium popcorn, sour candy, chocolate covered raisins and a bottle of water, we snuggled in to watch the previews.

Previews are always fun. There is something universally appealing about watching trailers and making judgements. There are always the whispers of "I want to see that" and "that looks good" and "I have no interest" and "no way."

Then the main feature begins and there is that small jolt of a anticipation arrived.

I shared tonight's movie experience with Youngest Son newly turned 13. There was crass humor and rough language. There was hysterical laugh out loud parts. And Youngest Son checked my reactions as tears rolled down my face.

My 13 year old says this movie and the actors should be nominated for Academy Awards. We discussed the character development on the way home. Which character was developed best? Which part was best cast? Ed Sheeran's song Photograph came on the radio and Youngest Son comments that it [the song] should have been in the movie.

Youngest Son with maturity "That is the best original movie I have seen."

Tonight was risky. Tonight was great. 

Sunday, June 21, 2015

Choice. Chose. Choose. Chosen.

No description needed.
The day of Youngest Son's Bar Mitzvah was Perfect. I rarely describe anything as Perfect. A day of family celebrating faith, tradition and hope.

We chose a less traveled path for Youngest Son to complete this important Jewish milestone. Rabbi Evon of Adventure Rabbi ( was Youngest Son's teacher. They met weekly for three months on Skype to learn together and to talk and to find meaning in this moment. Two days prior to the Bar Mitzvah we met Rabbi Evon in person in South Lake Tahoe ... we were reminded of Rabbi Adam and that was a good thing indeed. Rabbi Evon made it all so comfortable for us.

The next adjective I have for the day is Personal. We envisioned a day on the mountain surrounded by nature. The same prayers, the familiar melodies and the sacred words of Torah have been and will be said countless times and were repeated by Youngest Son. How can this be Personal? Our literal chosen path up the wooded mountain with our chosen Rabbi with friends who are our chosen family defined the bold lines of the day. As we hiked up the winding path, Rabbi Evon gave all an opportunity to provide Youngest Son with their stories or thoughts. Oldest Son described how his brother always chooses his own different path even on this day; there are so many layers to that one simple commentary - too much for this simple blog post.

Youngest Son chose the right spot for our group overlooking the blue lake beside the rushing waterfall and on the rocky edge. Then came the three original writings from Youngest Son about Shabbat and Social Action and then his D'var Torah. Rabbi Evon, Commuter Husband and I all spoke to Youngest Son about his past, his present and his future framed by our observations and our wishes. This Bar Mitzvah was a shared experience with all parties who chose to travel to this spot and actively participate in this moment of Jewish community.

And Youngest Son sounded his Shofar! This is the Shofar that Youngest Son chose in Israel and that traveled to Dallas and had journeyed with us to South Lake Tahoe. This is the same Shofar that Youngest Son blasts on High Holy Days at Temple Emanu-El in Dallas.

A form of the word "chose" is used many times in this narrative. We are a family of Jews who chose this religion; Jews by Choice. It is only fitting that this religion allows us to choose our own path literally and figuratively. We will respect the traditions and the teachings of Judaism while honoring our individual voices. One of my wishes for Youngest Son on that day was that he will continue to choose Judaism as the foundation of his spirituality.

My Youngest Son is 13 years old and this independent, strong-willed, determined, smart, creative, thoughtful, giving, beautiful person will have no problem making his choices and having a loud clear voice ... thank you G-d.

At the trail head for Cascade Falls Hike
WOW ... our first great view
Rabbi Evon gathering us to share our thoughts with Youngest Son 
Sam with Kiddish - like that water bottle of wine?
This is the Torah!! In the "Ark"
Song and Prayer and Nature
Youngest Son leading service
Rabbi Evon always there to help and Commuter Husband looking on ...
We Sit ... and ...

We Stand
The Torah
It is super small Hebrew!!
A picture worth a thousand words ...
Emotional Dad 
SOUND the SHOFAR! Perfect and Personal.
Our great photographer Brandi ( hiked up with us to capture these breath taking photos ...

Thursday, June 11, 2015

Morning of Bar Mitzvah

I have watched the sun rise over the Lake Tahoe mountains and the fog roll through the valley. I am listening to the birds sing to each other. I am filled with emotion to see Youngest Son Bar Mitzvah later this morning.

The past couple days have been Perfect.

We met with our truly amazing Rabbi Tuesday afternoon over latte, coke and local brew beer. We planned the service and Youngest Son practiced from the Torah that we will carry up the mountain. Commuter Husband, Youngest Son and I left feeling confident and excited.

Wednesday morning was cloudy and rainy. We had planned a morning boating adventure on Lake Tahoe. Youngest Son made the call to "go for it." On Baldwin Beach, we met our Boat Captain as the rain sprinkled down. We were the ONLY people in sight! We donned wet suits and headed out onto the lake that was smooth as glass.

We water skiied and tubed for three hours on the frigid, clear blue water. The sun peeped through for a few minutes. SO FUN - We are warriors for sure!! The two moms even rose up on the water skis on  the first try - ha!

We returned to our crazy, fun house and sat in the outdoor hot tub for  two hours telling stupid jokes and eating berries. Our house clearly used to be  a ski bum crash pad. It is large and winding and has a nutty lay out. However, we have a pool table, ping pong table,foosball table, huge kitchen, clean comfortable beds for all and stunning views.

Most importantly has been the continuous sounds of laughter. 


Tuesday, June 9, 2015

A Shofar

This morning we leave for South Lake Tahoe. Commuter Husband, Oldest Son, Youngest Son and I will  board our Spirit flight with four backpacks and one shofar. The shofar is cloaked in a black velvet case with an outline of Jerusalem. This particular shofar was purchased for Youngest Son in Israel when Oldest Son had his Bar Mitzvah. This shofar will journey with us to a mountain trail and Youngest Son will announce his entry into Jewish adulthood with the startling yet familiar blasts. Youngest Son's Bar Mitzvah reaches its destination this week.

Sunday, May 17, 2015

More Seaside in Gdansk & Sopot

Saturday afternoon strolling along the Baltic Sea
Lunch at Bar Przystan included fresh baked Zander which is a popular fish in Poland and considered a delicacy due to the difficulty catching it. I also had warm beet borschet sipped from a mug - a new favorite soup since traveling through Poland over past few months.
The marina in Sopot which is the town right next to Gdansk - literally - meaning walking distance.

Watching the boats sail out ... 

Did I mention this is the longest pier in Europe!?!

Quite long ... we sat here in the sun dozing.

Walking back from Sopot to Gdansk ... 

Gdansk, Poland

I am in Gdansk, Poland at the Baltic Sea. The first 30 minutes ... Walking to Sopot:

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

My Feminist Soapbox

Here is what I wish:
  • Women would refuse to work at the breastaurants.
  • Men would refuse to spend money at breastaurants.
If either of these things occurred then breastaurants would go out of business.

Instead I just read this discouraging sentence and the article that goes with it is just as depressing:

"By channeling the lust and gluttony of its patrons, these restaurants have delivered blockbuster growth in an industry that has struggled to move the sales needle."

Many will feel I should lighten up. However, I am not going to come off this soapbox. There is nothing positive that comes out of breastuarants. 
  • Women are oversexualized and the focus on body image is unhealthy. This has a negative ripple effect (an understatement.)
  • My teenage sons are exposed to a paradigm that creates unrealistic and undesirable attitudes towards women. 
  • The large amounts of money being spent on these establishments are taking profits away from restaurants that provide quality dining experiences in which friends and family can share a wonderful meal. Sharing a meal is more than just sustenance, it is a precious moment in which people connect.
Just my opinion.

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

The Mirror

I have never written poetry. I do not know the rules or the format or the syntax. Forgive me.

I see you
Face so fair
Body growing strong

I listen to you
The words are confident
Some of them a smoke screen
Covering a softness undetectable to most

I hear you
Sounds meant to strike
A false front is there
But only a few can detect the pain

I feel the sturdy exterior
Anger wells up too frequently
It seeks a target with uncanny precision
But it is acrimony young and misplaced

Grit is innate
Along with tenacity
No obstacle exists in the idyllic universe
All desires are achievable

Sensitivities are concealed
The extrovert always in front
Popular and amazing you are
Intellect and cunning together

The swings are epic
The capacity to love and be loved enormous
Fierce instincts to protect thyself lie in wait
It can feel like an abyss

Prodigiousness is not subtle
It comes at a wonderful price
Perhaps it is a privilege to share the space
With such a soul

I see you
The mirror is there always
I know you all too well