Monday, November 23, 2015

Husband Humor and Praticality

Commuter Husband pulled away from our home in his red Prius at approximately 3am this morning, give or take a few minutes. Commuter Husband does this most Mondays. He likes to be in his Houston office by 7am.

During the week, I have lots of space both in our comfortable queen bed and in the concrete double driveway. I admit that I do relish the freedom to take up whatever area I choose. However when Commuter Husband arrives back in Dallas after a four hour drive, he expects to regain full access to these zones.

Fortunate for me, Commuter Husband is the spouse who never moves at night allowing me to constantly traverse the bed as a restless sleeper; love this about him! The predicament is the driveway and the indisputable fact that I seem to forget every single week that I must share this asphalt with Commuter Husband where each of us is allocated exactly one half.

Weekly, Commuter Husband pulls into the alley and clicks the gate opener excited to be reunited with his family. He turns his small car into the driveway only to be confounded with a blue-grey Prius parked haphazardly across the middle leaving no room for his diminutive vehicle. Commuter Husband patiently reminds me over and over and over and I cannot seem to remember, ever.

Today, I arose to drink my coffee and take the first conference call of the day. I open the blinds to the backyard and nearly spit out my coffee with irrepressible laughter. My loving husband of twenty years has solved the problem:
A few soccer cones and Commuter Husband's parking spot is reserved for the week! We always tell the kids to focus on the solution and not the problem. Well Played Commuter Husband!

Saturday, November 21, 2015

It Is Really Quite Simple

Less fortunate can mean many things such as
  • Temporary set back due to loss of job or health 
  • Lifelong struggles with mental illness
  • Unable to function well after an unhappy childhood
  • Being born the wrong gender or color or in the wrong place
  • Caught in an abusive situation unable to escape
  • Physical disability preventing work at decent wages
  • Caring for special needs child or elderly person
  • Addictions to substances or food
  • Chronic illness that will never go away
  • Not very smart and unable to make logical decisions
  • Loss of family due to car accident, cancer, war, violence
  • Kids in foster care tossed around from place to place
  • Making one bad decision that impacts forever
  • Living in a war zone
  • Homeless for any of the above reasons
The less fortunate are women, children, men, families, sisters, brothers, cousins, mothers, fathers, elderly, veterans, refugees, etc. And yes some less fortunate are simply lazy and depend on others.

I admire people who work hard and are productive members of society. Currently I am one of these people. But I am not better or more deserving than those less fortunate. The list at the top could be me or it could be my child or it could be my neighbor or it could be my best friend's grandchild. I am okay with my tax dollars spent, my non-profit donations helping and my time allocated; for I am lucky because I am one of the fortunate ones.

It is not complicated. Do not judge. Help those in need. All human life is valuable. All humans deserve love.

We do not choose who to help. We choose to help all.

Sunday, November 8, 2015


Suicide seems unthinkable. But it is quite the opposite. Read the statistics above. Clearly many people think about it. These statistics only reflect those who have acted. It does not capture the torment of many that consider suicide and never act on it.

We tell the person "get help." Help usually means a therapist or a counselor. Someone you pay to help you with your emotional health. And I am a HUGE supporter of therapy - frankly everyone should have a trusted counselor on stand by. The 90% referenced above with a diagnosable psychiatric illness certainly needed professional help. I would propose that we as a society need to collectively help with embracing mental illness by showing compassion, empathy and kindness for the tortured person and for the family and friends walking life beside them. Mentally ill persons are talented and funny and thoughtful and flawed - just like those not suffering from mental illness. The mental ill are human beings with many dimensions on an infinite spectrum. We are all complicated. We all have our demons.

I also want to discuss another aspect suicide. Recently a man was senselessly murdered in Dallas. The wife he left behind committed suicide shortly thereafter. A column was then written in the Dallas Morning News describing her as selfish. I was angry reading this opinion and will not comment any further. Was she mentally ill? Or was she heart broken? Or some descriptor in between?

Our emotional well being does not fit into a simple state. The statistic (1) below references 8 million people who have had serious thoughts of suicide. And what about the people who think of suicide but are "not serious"? How many more millions would we add to that number? What word do we have for them?

And then the next scary statistic (2) below is that suicide rates are not going down. Personally I ask myself with so many drugs available to help people with their mental challenges, why are these numbers increasing? With so many trained professional available, how can this number get bigger?

I have way more questions and almost no answers. I think what happens inside our heads is not what appears on the outside - frequently - mentally ill or not. And I am stating that as a human condition. Right now I would like to reach for more understanding on every level of this topic. And I wonder out loud if we need sociologists to look into this situation just as much as psychiatrists.

"Also worth noting this week was the release of a study by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), based upon a survey of 46,190 American adults (18 and older). It found that 3.7 percent of the adult population had serious thoughts of suicide in the past year (or 8.3 million adults). Not surprisingly, the survey found that young adults (ages 18-25) have the most thoughts of suicide, made the most plans for suicide and to have attempted suicide, compared to older adults."
Reference 2006 - Click Here

"From 1986 to 2000, suicide rates in the U.S. dropped from 12.5 to 10.4 suicide deaths per 100,000 people in the population. Over the next 12 years, however, the rate generally increased and by 2013 stood at 12.6 deaths per 100,000"
Reference AFSP - Click Here

Friday, October 30, 2015

Testing Who We Are

I still like having the actual book.
Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World that Can't Stop Talking by Susan Cain
This book came recommended by several.

Modern societal norms encourages self-assessment. We are given opportunities to make sense of our personalities and our inner core. There are activities and quizzes at work, in school, on teams, from magazines and in books, just to name a few. Some of my favorites include Myers Briggs, Strength Finders, Love Languages and Stand Out. I profess a strong tendency towards the positive psychology movement. The hope is we will be more comfortable with who we are and by sharing this information, our relationships will benefit.

I admit to corralling Commuter Husband, Oldest Son and Youngest Son into many of these exercises in self-exploration. I may have dragged along a colleague or two as well as friends and other relatives.

Tonight, on page 13 of the Introduction in Quiet, there was a unsophisticated questionnaire with twenty statements requesting a true or false response. I called all four family members around the fire and we took it together.


  • Commuter Husband - 18 True
  • Oldest Son - 16 True
  • Youngest Son - 6 True
  • Me - 4 True 
And on page 14 is the statement "The more often you answered "true," the more introverted you probably are."

Commuter Husband and I are well aware of how introvert and extrovert are defined. Oldest Son was also quite knowledgeable of these characteristics which I attribute to a Wellness curriculum at his school and his  voracious reading tendencies. Youngest Son, age thirteen and in 7th grade, had no understanding of the two terms yet.

As a parent of teens, I want to have these conversations with my sons. While I certainly see the benefit of self-understanding, the real lesson I want them to learn is tolerance of those who are different. Obviously, Commuter Husband and Oldest Son will approach the world differently than Youngest Son and myself. How cool that we get this interplay of personalities?! BUT, I also know conflict surfaces among differing personality types. Turning that tension into a positive is completely doable but it takes conscious effort and sincere respect for how a glorious mix of personal qualities paints the world with way more colors ...
Commuter Husband was appalled that I wrote in the book! No surprise that we have different opinions  - ha!

Monday, October 26, 2015

Embracing My Introvert(s)

Tonight Oldest Son and I are finishing dinner and I am peppering him with suggestions for the weekend: 

Me nicely "How about you ....?"

Me trying again "What about you ...."

Me more persistently "You can ...."

Me reaching "I can invite ..."

Oldest Son responds with sly grin but completely serious "This is the problem with extroverted people."

I laugh and sincerely reply "You are so right."

Pause in the conversation ...

Me asking Oldest Son "How about we go to a movie this weekend?"

Lucky extroverted me gets to hang out with my favorite introvert. Love this kid who just so happens to be allot like my Commuter Husband - go figure.

Hmmmm .... LATE BREAKING UPDATE: Apparently when teen introverts get invited somewhere by a teen friend, they go. So Commuter Husband (the adult introvert) Date Night it is! Still Lucky Me.

Monday, October 5, 2015

Youngest Son, Mommy & History

13 year old Youngest Son is doing his homework:


Youngest Son yells "Hey Mommy!"

Me as I walk to the dining room table and casually reply "Yes."

Youngest Son tells me "I am reading about this case about a man who kidnapped and raped ... and he plead the ah, ah, ..."

Me finishing his sentence "The Fifth."

Youngest Son says "Yeah ... well it went to the Supreme Court because his rights ... ah, ah, ..."

Me finishing his sentence "Miranda."

Youngest Son with incredulous sincerity "How did you know that?"


Youngest Son yells again "Hey Mommy!"

Me replying as I walk from my office "Coming."

Youngest Son reveals "I am reading about the abortion ..."

Me prompting him "Roe versus Wade."

Youngest Son looks at me with big, wide eyes clearly surprised I know the name of the case.

Youngest Son adds wryly "Of course it is in Texas."

Me with a smirk as I head back to my office "Of Course."


Youngest Son shouts at me across the house "Did you know that I will be able to vote my Senior Year?"

Me in response "I did know that."

Youngest Son shouts again "Did you know you cannot make me go to Religious School my Senior Year?"

Me in a surprised loud voice "I did NOT know that."

Youngest Son walking to my office telling me excitedly "It is my right in the Constitution - Freedom of Religion. Yes! I love the Constitution."

A good night with the History Book.

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 ...