The Brody Bunch Goes to the School Dance

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The School Dance – Rite of Passage, Hormones & a Mom

The school dance. It’s a rite of passage. It’s hormones about to explode. It’s a night of music that ages the chaperones. It’s outfits of self expression.  It was a surreal experience as a former tween myself.

2 Siblings: 1. Please Chaperone.  2. Please Stay Home.

My one child begged me to chaperone. While his sibling practically insisted that I leave the same zip code where the dance was being held, at their school.

Days leading up to the dance were draining on the home front, “What if there is drama?” or “I am not sure which friends to hang out with.” And, more.  My heartstrings were torn. All of the horrible voices in a tween’s head were being vocalized. While I was grateful for open lines of communication, I became more sad with each conversation prior to the dance.  I recalled how I didn’t like school dances when I was in Middle School.

The day of the dance, I received a communication from my pro-chaperone child, “Best day ever, please don’t come to the dance!”  WHAT BUDDY?  I bailed on an older sibling’s track meet, first place in the mile race, wearing indoor soccer shoes.  And, I said no to a dinner date. I SIGNED ONTO THE DANCE TO PROVIDE COMFORT & SUPPORT!  While my pro-chaperone child threw me a plot twist and requested that I stay away, his anti-chaperone sibling was thrilled. Fortunately, for the kid who rescinded his request for my presence, I developed Vertigo this week, and I couldn’t put up a strong fight.  

For the past two years, I have attended this dance with the pro-chaperone and anti-chaperone’s older siblings. This was our pro-chaperone kid’s first time at this rodeo. My friends appreciate when I attend dances because I text reports and photos of their kids who have banished them from the dance. It’s an unofficial community service I provide for the Village. Though, perhaps my friends are smarter and let their kids win the chaperoning battle, and maybe those parents are all at happy hour, without me. 

Time for the Dance & Karma Was My Date

It was officially time to open the dance floor (the decorated multi-purpose room).  When I pulled up to the schoolyard, the tide of tween concerns washed away. I felt the vibe change.  My pro-chaperone dancer had the most relaxed smile. Kids were running up and squealing his name. It was like a celebrity got out of my car. My gut knew, that we were at a different place than we were when I signed the permission slip for the event. Anxiety and fear turned into comfort and joy. We entered a place of being relaxed and content.  I wasn’t sure what to do, should I linger around or leave? Most people in my shoes would have driven away to the local bar.

Nonetheless, I had a prime parking space in front of the school, so I walked in to say hello to the PTA parents who made the dance possible, and snagged a photo with my kids.  And, out of the blue, I was handed a cash box and asked to collect money for candy and soda sales. I LOATHE candy and soda access for kids. Yup, I am THAT Mom who brings in sliced oranges when signed up for team snack. My kids hate when I am the snack parent. Yet, I understand candy and soda concessions are big money makers for the school. Karma got me, I wasn’t a signed up to volunteer and I shimmied my way into the dance for a photo.  So, there I was with a bunch of sweaty hormonal tweens armed with twenty dollar bills from their generous parents eager to purchase dollar candy bars and cans of soda. The 8 foot banquet table filled with candy was sold in lightning bolt speeds, and I had to keep counting out $19 in change for many transactions.  Then the party goers would come back with their dollar bills and more sugary inventory moved out.  While I was being a good steward of the cash box and candy, I was trying to find my kids from my assigned station, especially the one who initially invited me to attend the dance. As a mom, I sensed that I was initially needed, and now I was not needed at all. Many would call that a victory. I call that Mom growing pains.

My kids and their friends checked in with me several times throughout out the dance, even though they stopped being candy and soda consumers early into the dance. At least I wasn’t being used for my own cash and inventory on hand. From afar, I saw my kid who was anxious about this social evening find joy, acceptance and kind kids.  From our experience, this was the perfect first Middle School Dance.

Sweaty Hormonal Tweens Are Our Future

I looked around the room and realized that one day, these students will be our lawyers, our doctors, our teachers, our researchers, our politicians and more.  I pondered when  the switch flips between tween insecurities into a more established person participating as a contributing member of society.  These experiences are all about the rite of passage throughout life and time. These kids will be okay and we will be okay, too.

While Karma had me selling concessions, and my head was spinning to both bad music and Vertigo, I witnessed happiness.  There is nothing more gratifying in the parenting world as seeing your kids find their way. Communication, being present, quietly worrying, and a little faith is all part of the journey, it’s the parental rite of passage.  

The Brody Bunch – A New Bus Rider, Finding Freedom and Letting Go

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City Slickers New to Public Transportation

We live in the City.  I constantly drive the Brody Bunch from activity to activity, 7 days per week, times four kids. This is our lifestyle. My Dad always tells me after a crazy carpool route that he would have been happy to help, and he brings the best after school snacks. I hate asking for help.

A typical timing conflict presented its ugly head. My daughter needed to be downtown at the same time that I volunteered to photograph my son’s elementary school play.  I am the master of resolving scheduling conflicts. 

I recalled a friend telling me that her daughter and another girl go downtown at the same time as my daughter, and those girls rely on public transportation. Yes, the bus is another option! But, I am fearful: 1) Riding the bus, without me, is a first time journey. 2) Our public transportation is unreliable. 3) And, my kids are growing up too quickly at lightning speed. Oddly, as a City resident, I have never been on a bus, except when the bus is used as a cooling station during our citywide Arts Festival. That experience probably doesn’t count.

So, I texted my friend, the one with bus riding daughter, and about 8 texting rounds later, I learned: how much money a bus ride costs, what time to be waiting at the stop, where to exit the bus, and arranged for my daughter to walk a few blocks with the other girls to their destination.  At first when I shared the bus idea, my daughter declined as these girls are her brother’s friends. Yet, over texting, with my daughter, the idea was embraced.  I don’t understand the teenager decision process. But, my daughter easily and happily agreed to the plan, and she will get to experience independence.

Carpooling Versus the Bus – I Save Money!

Before considering the bus option, our routine was me driving her downtown. I used the time that she was in class to have a dinner date with her brother at an overpriced marketplace. Predictably, he eats a burger, shake and fries. And, I eat a double portion of Teriyaki salmon over a Korean kale bowl. Carpooling is an expensive and time consuming effort versus the bus option that just costs $1.70, exact change! My daughter and I are each spreading our wings!

Boarding the Bus – It is Symbolically the Vehicle for Independence

It is time to let my daughter live like a City Slicker. I am a little scared with the smallest window of willingness to let her be on the bus, without me. Here we go!  We are both spreading our wings.  She is going to the arts school for her theater class.  I am staying uptown to photograph her younger brother’s school play rehearsal.  However, I know myself.  The bus stop is across the street from the kids’ school, where I am photographing the play. I will have my long camera lens and might, will probably, photograph her boarding the bus. For posterity. 

Often I speak about public transportation in terms of urban advocacy. A local issue is that there are not enough bus routes for employment opportunities beyond the Inner City, the jobs are outside of the City. We need a better public transportation system.  Yet, now, I am nervously excited for my daughter’s new experience. I am open to getting bus passes for the whole Brody Bunch. 

Moving forward, I view public transportation literally as the vehicle for my daughter finding her independence.  And, I am finding my wings. She is excited and I am happily nervous.  I asked my daughter if there is anything she wants to review before her new journey, “Well, I finally get to ride the bus, but you won’t be there to give me a sandwich like you always do.” My daughter traded gourmet sandwiches for her freedom. I gave her a granola bar for the ride.

The Brody Bunch – Chanukah, Lights, Memories and the Fire Department

Tis the season for the Festival of Lights, Chanukah, Hanukkah, the Miracle of Lights … 2018/5778 (Jewish Year) is down in the books.  Here are the Brody Bunch Chanukah Chai-Lights in no random order.  For those who celebrated, may the new wax you accumulated from your candles add to the good memories from years past.  For all, may there always be light.

  1. Pulling out Rubbermaid boxes filled with preschool made Chanukah art from when the Brody Bunch was little, signifies that Chanukah is upon us. Seeing their little projects displayed brings much happiness.
  2. Hearing Adam Sandler’s “Hanukkah Song” kicks off the festivities for 8 crazy nights.
  3. Four kids x eight nights = 32 gifts.  The Brody Bunch tells me that we don’t have to exchange gifts, just light candles, but they have much gratitude, expect nothing, appreciate everything and indulge me in a nightly sibling photo.  We give them things they need or little things we know they want.  Though, it was an epic fail when I let our 13 year old daughter order a book off Amazon on Black Friday featuring her favorite teeny bopper heartthrob like entertainer to discover that I paid for a book about Jeffrey Dahmer’s youth. Thankful for free return shipping.
  4. For the first time, the Brody Bunch created a candle lighting schedule regarding who strikes the match which lights the Shamash candle (the tallest candle in the menorah, the candle helper) and kept to the schedule allowing each sibling to use matches twice. Four siblings x two nights each =  8 nights.  I didn’t mediate once.  That is considered a miracle, too.
  5. Playing dreidel.  Dreidel is a Hanukkah game using something like a spinning top, is similar to gambling, and we use Poker chips instead of Hanukkah gelt (chocolate candy coins) as money. There were no high stake tournaments, but lingering problems such as if the dreidel falls off the table and lands on a good jackpot side, how is that counted? After all these years, we are still in need of clear rules or players become like the Maccabees (the victorious Jews who won the battle) back in a modern battle.
  6. I had so much fun buying boxes of frozen store made latkes, I ran into old friends and we had a great time. But homemade latkes taste better even though they are a lot of work and stink up the house from the oil.  We were gifted with a family friend frying latkes at our house.  And now will be eating the frozen latkes throughout the winter.
  7. We finally used all of my mother’s circa 1970s Manischewitz brand candles. It was a miracle that the jumbo roll of Chanukah wrap, purchased three years ago, the extra long tube that is really hard to store, finally depleted.  I marked my calendar with a reminder to go to the supermarket and restock clearance candles and Hanukkah wrapping paper for next year. Toilet paper and Chanukah supplies, you never stop using either.
  8. Amazon Prime IS Hanukkah Harry.  I will miss my daily visit with our mailman as the last delivery was today. Our mailman is funny like Newman, the Mailman, from Seinfeld.
  9. We festively go through the motions of the holidays for Tradition and to perpetuate our heritage with our children.  The kids waited each night for their Dad to come home from work, late, before lighting the menorahs.  It was a family ritual each night.
  10. My favorite night was night 6.  With more family, we had good laughs, lit lots of menorahs, ate too many homemade latkes, sang Christmas songs, told jokes, used my parent’s very old China serving platters, and the Brody Bunch was full of personality. My kids keep asking what gift I would like to receive and I tell them “just behave”.  They tell me it’s easier to buy a new purse, but on night 6 everyone behaved, that was my gift. Not all gifts are materialistic. I have a new memory to always treasure.
  11. On the 7th night of Chanukah, my daughter lit her Great Grandmother’s menorah. The menorah has been my daughter’s since she had the fine motor skills to place the candles in the holes.  And, this night was special because it would have been my Grandmother’s 98th birthday.  So, I saw the the passing down of traditions from generation to generation literally unfold both in our dining room and in my heart.
  12. On the 8th night, and final night, of Chanukah, I finally located our large dreidel collection and found all of our Jewish themed paper products, it’s like finding your Christmas decorations on December 26th.
  13. Irony ended with the Baltimore City Fire Department.  While celebrating the miracle of lights our circuit breaker kept tripping off.  The electrician didn’t fix the problem, but instead tripped our smoke detectors and left with the smoke detectors chirping.  So, without my family at home, I celebrated the 8th night of lights early when the Baltimore City Fire Department came over with the big truck and lights blaring to help this damsel in distress. What a way to close out the miracle of lights – with fire truck lights.
  14. This Chanukah, I received great memories and new smoke detectors.  Like the Israeli dreidel symbolizes, “A GREAT MIRACLE HAPPENED HERE, it was a great miracle that I survived 8 crazy nights.

The Brody Bunch and The Nutcracker

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I Once Threw Shade at The Nutcracker

It’s the holiday season.  With an abundance of traditional and festive options, Tchaikovsky’s The Nutcracker is one of the most popular winter seasonal highlights for many.  And, I admit that I was not a fan of the beloved Nutcracker, until now.  My mom and my daughter Blanche have made an annual pilgrimage to see this beloved ballet throughout the years. I am invited each year and decline.

Rising to the Occasion Because Your Kid Asks You To

This year, my mom was unable to take Blanche on their traditional outing.  So, I made arrangements for Blanche to see the show, but Blanche wanted me to come, too.  I had no interest.  I saw it once as a child, and that was enough for me.

Though, when your kid asks you to go to the ballet, and her Grandmother can’t go, you rise to the occasion.  For two hours, I was mesmerized.  I loved everything in this holiday treasure.  We saw a stellar production at the Baltimore School for the Arts. From the costumes and makeup to the dancing and the facial expressions, we were given a beautiful gift for the holidays and beyond.  I tried to understand deeper meanings of The Nutcracker.  But deeper meanings pertaining to the story were unneeded.  The meanings in my own story is what unfolded.  It was beautiful, and draining, and a gift received from self reflection.  It was like believing in the magic of the Clara’s dream and the magic of the holidays.

The Magic of The Nutcracker Gave Me Gifts, Too

For the first time, I was engaged in the actual event.  I usually photograph events so I miss being in the moment as I am “focused” on my job. I never realized this.  But I enjoy it. And, I usually watch the expressions on my kids’ faces when we are sharing an experience, but I am never in the moment of the activity.  My happiness is gained by watching my kids experience the moment.  I don’t remember how I experienced things before they were born, but as they grow older, I am sure that I will need to relearn how to be in the moment for myself.  Perhaps, The Nutcracker gave me a gift, too.

Several days have passed since the ballet.  And, I don’t recall watching my daughter’s expressions during the performance. I was most engaged in the actual performance. She doesn’t understand that my experience differs from her experiences. She doesn’t know that I receive much joy out of watching her and her siblings experience happiness rather than enjoying the actual outing itself.  She feels that we went to the show together and shared that journey, which is also true. For her, it is that simple. The moment I treasure most from this outing is that my daughter so much wanted to be with me, and I experienced actually being in the moment.  We were both happy. We supported the arts. And perhaps the arts supported me in my personal growth.

I Understand the Best of the Holiday Season

I finally found the love that many have experienced through The Nutcracker thanks to my daughter, my mom, and the talented performers.  Perhaps this journey of being in the moment, for myself, and with my family, represents the best of the holiday season.  

The Brody Bunch – The Sandwich Years

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The Sandwich Years – Caring for the Generation Below Me and Above Me, our Kids and our Parents

It’s not the typical Thanksgiving blog. In fact, it should probably be notes for my future therapist.  On the cusp of Thanksgiving, we have already hosted two family birthday dinners this week as we are in birthday-palooza with Brody Bunch Thing 3 and Thing 4 birthdays just four days apart.  And, my sweet Mom has needed extra support.  All hands are on deck.  My Mom, once two inches taller than me is now four inches shorter than me. Living in Baltimore, I kid her that we may enter her as a jockey in the upcoming Preakness Stakes Horse Race.  I am so fortunate, we have decent insurance policies and my family is on board with all support needs.  

Reflections on Being in My Generation within My Family

Here is what I wish the Brody Bunch knew:

  1. It is important not to buy many things, experiences are better.  Cleaning up is harder when there is so much stuff, it breaks and the landfills are already past capacity.  I am a professional schlepper (mover). I pack things up and take them to donation centers.
  2. Calendaring is an art.  Sports leagues, theater classes, family dinners, meetings, high school open houses, next summer camp opportunities, it is all a fulltime job involving flexibility, calendars, charts, maps and a checkbook.
  3. As adults, having your social security benefits, medicare plan, housing needs, car sales, will and estate planning, retirement, and pre funeral arrangements in place are all big items that are probably better off being methodically planned rather than doing it all in a four week window.  Though these tasks give a recovering helicopter mom, such as myself, a new focus, now that the kids are more independent and a grandparent needs more help.
  4. Taking family photos are important – documenting hard times and celebrations is part of the tapestry and should be remembered.
  5. People are kind.  Hugging and blowing kisses with older people makes them happy.
  6. Humor is the best tool for surviving the roller coaster.

Planning For Death, it is Surreal With Many Expensive Options

Last night, my mother and I shared perhaps one of our most bat shit crazy experiences to date.  In an effort to make things as smooth as possible, it was recommended that we pre plan her funeral. Thankfully this is not an imminent situation, though we were advised to tackle this need now.  The funeral director presented us with many options.  My mother consistently picked the more expensive option and I consistently nodded my head no and supporting the cheaper options.  I tried to beat the financial funeral system hard last night, it can’t possibly cost this much to die.  My mom found comfort in knowing that she could request a playlist of songs for the service.  We laughed so hard with quick self recommendations such as “Only the Good Die Young” and “Ding Dong the Wicked Witch is Dead”.  We had a great time in our funeral meeting.  Did I mention how sweet my Mom is?  We laughed so hard, that the funeral director took notes of our one liners.  She liked the part where we were given a document about “How to Talk To Your Family about Funeral Arrangements” I compared this to “How to Talk To Your Kids about Sex.”

Tradition, Money, and Preserving the Soul

We grappled with tradition. We discussed options that are not in line with how our community defines tradition. Like many, we are faced to make decisions based upon money.  I heard myself say aloud that we want to spend all of the money now to give my mom the best healthcare, living accommodations and life experiences now, and not after.

My mom wanted to know about her soul. All of the decisions we are making are irrelevant to her soul, as she has one of the best souls out there.  And, I would announce that the funeral industry is in bed with the legislature as many expenses are mandated by our state laws.  The rebuke was that it is for the safety of the funeral parlor employees, I didn’t argue with that.

We talked about burial versus cremation.  I heard that cremation would require that I charter a boat should we chose to sprinkle ashes in the Ocean.  My mother belted over, “with your luck, you will be on the boat, and my ashes will blow in your face when you open the box.”  True. So, I am not chartering a boat.

Candy, Singing, Holiday Stress, and Thankful

After our surreal meeting, my mom and I went to a vending machine and cracked open a bag of peanut M&Ms. We sang choruses to the most inappropriate funeral services possible.  But she was very serious about Sinatra’s “New York, New York.”  You can take the girl out of New York, but you can’t take the New York out of the girl.

While many are stressed out about cooking the turkey, cleaning the house, potential political dinner conversations, if relatives took enough of their medications, this pre funeral arrangements experience shines a new light on being thankful.  I am about to embark on hopefully just a 7 hour Thanksgiving car ride, in a vehicle that the Brody Bunch has outgrown, and I will be relegated to the second or third row, with bags on our laps, and with the wafting smell of four pounds of corned beef in transit. I look forward to being with family from far away even though I will miss my side of the family with whom we see several times per week.  There is much to be thankful about.

The Brody Bunch – The Day After Halloween

Pre Brody Bunch Halloween

It’s odd that I love Halloween.  I grew up in the cyanide poisoning and razor blade scare era, in a neighborhood without many kids, and with a little brother who seemed to get Croup on many Halloweens.  And, whatever costumes I had, always with a plastic mask, which made seeing and breathing difficult, I had to wear my big winter coat over my costume because it was cold.

Early Brody Bunch, Post Halloween = Clearance Finds!

The day after Halloween was another “holiday” chasing 50-75% off candy and costume clearance sales. I no longer eat candy, and sadly, the older Brody Bunch kids no longer play dress up.  As my friend told me, October is all about kids planning the very perfect Halloween costume and then completely changing the said costume choice on October 30th. True.

Halloween Traditions Didn’t Go According to Plan

This Halloween season, things were pretty hectic. The Brody Bunch missed screening the entire It’s the Great Pumpkin Charlie Brown.  We didn’t honor anyone’s specific costume wishes. Our car broke down outside of the pumpkin patch. We finally purchased pumpkins at the grocery store, five days ago, and these uncarved pumpkins are taking up real estate on my kitchen floor.

Pjs Doubled Up as Costumes, That was my Intended Plan

Smartly, I welcomed each kid to pick out new warm onesie pajamas with the understanding that these pjs would double up as Halloween costumes. Brilliant!  All went well until one daughter requested a $5 racoon mask and wore dark lipstick with the mask and was happy.  Another daughter wore a $400 leather jacket, and decided that with her friends, she would be in a biker gang.  My older son, for the first time, wasn’t a Baltimore Oriole. Instead, he was a rooster, thanks to his pajamas. I love that he had a costume rather than his beloved baseball jersey because the shirt reminded me of what older kids wear in the spirit of still wanting to trick or treat, but not dress up, and I wasn’t ready for that.  My younger son, he didn’t want to be a Minion, but we ran out of time, so he was a Minion. I never dress up, but was sick of being cold, even while wearing my winter coat like I did when I was a child. So, I wore my daughter’s monkey suit onesies and I was warm.  Moving forward, I will now be a monkey on Halloween, or a Minion.

We gave up our cute Halloween totes and resorted using our pillowcases.  Between team jerseys, dark lipstick, and pillowcases, these are Halloween signs that the kids are getting older.

Present Day Brody Bunch Halloween – Our Plan

Fast forward to Halloween with the Brody Bunch.  For several years, we have been meeting at one family’s home, quickly eat pizza, tweak costumes, and split into predetermined groups, do a photoshoot and then leave. The older kids, for the first time, got a ride into a neighboring area.  And, we all agreed upon a time to stop where we were, and walk towards a specific house to end the night together.  The meet up house is very welcoming and hospitable whereas the grill was hot, the chili was simmering, drinks were flowing, and kids traded candy while parents mingled on the front lawn around the bonfire.  We hit perfection.  As crazy as life is, and the world has become, these few hours are perfect.

Reflections While Candy Hoarding, Thanks to the Firemen

As we walked the neighborhood streets with friends, I was sad to recognize, that the Brody Bunch is getting older.  We won’t be trick or treating forever.  So between that and our local fire department, I was quite reflective. The neighborhood fire department, hit with budget cuts, had the trucks out driving around with their lights on. Every few houses, the truck would stop and firefighters handed out candy.  It was the kindest gesture which now motivates me to help “fill the boot” at future firefighter fundraisers. Our firefighters went above and beyond being good neighbors.

Our Kid Found The Perfect Halloween Spot, Because Their Friends’ Families Are So Welcoming

The history of our great Halloween stems from my then 9-year-old daughter hearing of a spot where we should trick-or-treat, just a mile away from our home, and near their school friends.  We were quickly embraced and became part of the Halloween landscape. Pounds of candy for the kids and red Solo cups for the parents to have a cold one or a glass of wine.  Wow, my kid knows how to scope out the good spot!

Most of these friends, we met through Little League baseball.  Many of the dads coach. And, those who don’t play ball, are the neighbors. This is a great pastime in modern history – neighbors visiting, kids having their independence roaming the streets and friends being together. Kids have a night to explore neighborhoods independently. Something kids today really don’t do in this world. Neighbors were outside, people were visiting, eating and drinking. Being free, social, and euphoric seems like a pastime too. Again, it is a perfect few hours.

Candy Sorting and Trading, It’s a Ritual

When we got home, pretty late on a school night, our three younger kids organized their candy and started sorting and trading. They have always done this as a Halloween ritual. Our oldest child left his candy untouched, hopefully brushed his teeth, and went to bed. Without any requests, the kids handed over about 50 pounds of candy for me to donate excluding a mango and Chanukah gelt (chocolate candy coins).

Halloween, It’s a Wrap

I miss the days of matching sibling costumes.  I recognize that our trick or treating days are numbered.  I will always treasure the Halloween candy sorting and trading.  Being with my family and many of our friends at the end of the night, reminds me of the sweetness (pun intended) of being part of a wonderful village.  Candy, independance, family and friends, traditions and the sweetest of old and new memories with the Brody Bunch.

The Brody Bunch – THIS is What’s It’s About

Dating Anniversary, Different Start Dates – Same Group of Friends

Today is the 18th year that my husband has been dating me.  I have been dating Mark an additional 8 months. It was a complicated social understanding which took a heavy handed bartender’s margarita that finally got us on one page. Back then, before the Brody Bunch phenomena, we had a very special circle of friends. With these friends, we volunteered, we traveled, we had regular happy hours, we had weekly Saturday brunches, for years.  We spent holidays together, we experienced happy times, sadness, work changes, first houses, and life. These friends knew Mark and me before we started dating.  

What is THIS All About?

Someone recently asked, me “What is THIS all about”?  “THIS” includes: kids’ sports leagues, applying for schools, touring camps, bills, high health care premiums, and the hamster wheel of life. “THIS” includes many first world problems. My reply to the philosophical or rhetorical question, just a few weeks ago was,“don’t ask that question, just keep moving forward!”  

A Celebration with Friends, Dewey Beach is in our Hearts

However, last night, the Brody Bunch and our old circle of friends gathered to celebrate a Bar Mitzvah. Throughout life we create groups of friends, such as school friends, work friends, camp friends, college friends, early career friends, etc. Mark and I were in a peer group of 20 year old civically and socially minded people. Mark developed a spin off group called, “The Walking, Running, Eating and Volunteering Group” and we did everything in the group’s title, weekly. A part of this group remained very close.  

One of our best annual vacations was a trip to Dewey Beach, Delaware.  We rented a mansion on the beachfront.  About 18 years ago, this place cost $4000 for four nights over the long Memorial Day weekend. 18 of us piled in.  It was one long party.  We called ourselves the “original Dewey group”.  A few people didn’t come back in future summers and new people joined the group. We did this trip several times. And, it always rained when we took this trip.  The trip eventually ended.  The Dewey crew split off into smaller groups.  And, life got in the way.

Identifying with A Scene in the Movie, City Slickers

Last night, most of the group, along with my children, reconvened to celebrate a Bar Mitzvah.   We had more sunshine last night than we ever had on our beach trip.

“What’s all of THIS about”?  There’s a conversation in Billy Crystal’s movie City Slickers about middle aged friends on a comedic soul searching journey on a dude ranch that refers to this experience.   

Curly,  played by Jack Palance, a seasoned cowboy, and asks Mitch played by Billy Crystal: “Do you know what the secret of life is? THIS, [and holds up one finger].” Mitch: “Your finger?” Curly: “One thing. Just one thing. You stick to that and the rest don’t mean shit.” Mitch: “But, what is that ‘one thing?’” Curly: “That’s what YOU have to find out.”

So, here we were on the dance floor, in between classic hits from the 80s and songs of today celebrating a friend’s child who became a man in the eyes of our collective faith. Our kids were dancing near us, checking in during dinner and dancing. We laughed about old times.  We gushed over our growing kids. We checked in about each other’s’ parents. I unloaded issues I would never post on Facebook. There was so much love and happiness.  I missed our friends so much.  We all had a good time.  In our younger days, we volunteered in our community.  We got married.  We had kids.  We experienced each other’s’ sadness. We became consumed in our kids’ worlds.  And then we made new life friends through Little League, and the PTA.  Everyone is part of the journey.  But what is THIS all about?

What is all of the Stuff About?

I am in the midst of cleaning out a loved one’s home during a housing transition.  My own home is also in need of a purge. We spent years buying and gathering more stuff and now it is everywhere and we are attached to it, but don’t need most of it. Simplicity seems like a better alternative Again, it’s a first world problem.  “What’s THIS all about”?

To Life! To Us!  To our Friends!

Last night, while I was with many dear old friends, who I have not seen on a regular basis for more than 10 years, and those I have seen quickly in passing at the supermarket or such, quality time has been missed. This is the group, the “original Dewey crew” that knew my husband and I before we were dating.  And, last night, they didn’t realize that we would be celebrating 18 years, which is Chai (Life), in Judaism, of dating.  These were the friends who helped us get where we are today, and they didn’t even know that today is a significant day for us and that they were part of it.

Taking a Reunion Photo, We Were Meant to take a Photo of ALL of US

We all danced together, and told some one liners from the past.  I requested that the photographer take a group picture of the original Dewey crew still hanging on late into the night. I have always done our photos, but I wanted to be in this group photo, too.  We were lining up. And, then significant others and spouses joined in the group photo, as they should.  And, then our kids jumped into the photo, as they should. We were watching our legacy unfold last night THIS is what it’s all about.

Last Dance, THIS is What it is All About – Friends, Memories & The Future

We were called together to celebrate a happy time. The whole night was a reflection of our past as we celebrated a young man’s future… perhaps “THIS is what it’s all about”. I asked the disc jockey if he ever heard of Donna Summers’ song, “Last Dance”? The D.J.’s announced last song was one that I never heard of.  Our Dewey group saw Donna Summers in concert. The D.J. obliged my request and played a final “Last Dance” and there we were, most of the original Dewey group, significant others and kids, singing and dancing the Last Dance. One friend said to me, “hey, I think you have a new blog from tonight.”  And, my old friend Chippy, was right.  I have had a writing block for a few weeks. Not only do I have a blog, I have a very warm spot in my heart for old times. Life is a blessing and hard.  But to see the past, and reflect on the future and know that we are happy, healthy and wealthy in memories and love, “THIS” is what it’s all about.

The Brody Bunch – One Goes Camping

 

See Ya!  Have Good Travels

Today I said goodbye to my younger daughter as she and her 6th grade class embarks on a four day camping trip.  She asked me to go with her. I am a lucky one, receiving such a request.  Though I would hate being in the great outdoors, I value that she asked her Mommy to be with her.  I struggled like most working moms compounded by her three siblings’ overly active extra curricular activities and didn’t know how to accommodate her request, time is not my friend.  I offered to attend for a day, maybe overnight, though that would not pan out, it’s a real struggle.  The response was something along the lines of “I want you to come because you take great pictures and I will be very busy with the ropes course, being on the Bay, and doing other amazing things.”  She didn’t want her mommy, she wanted a photographer.  She has grown up with me documenting her experiences, almost daily.  But, my ego was slightly bruised as a mother, even though flattered as a photographer.

The I-Generation, disposable cameras – what is film?

We packed her up for the her journey, and it was nothing short of packing her for a backpacking trip across Europe. Packing and missing her just caused me to be a hot mess.  In my camera’s absence, she received a disposable camera. I am not sure why these camera are still produced, but it was like time traveling back into the 1980s with modern questions from an I-Generation kid including: “what do you mean I have to advance film?  What are exposures?  I only have 27 pictures over four days?  We have to wait to see the pictures?”  That all sounds correct for a child born after the invention of digital cameras, hence the I-Generation.

Packed A Love Note, with a Goodnight Prayer

I packed a love note in her suitcase.  While I already miss her terribly, I told her in the letter how excited I am for her adventures.  And, I wrote the Shema prayer.  This is a prayer in Hebrew that is often sang to children before they go to sleep.  We have sang her this prayer every night since she was in preschool.  It’s been years. Like mother, like daughter. Rachel said to me, “You have a lot of friends chaperoning this trip.  Do not text them the Shema prayer so that they can read it to me or try singing it to me.”  And she laughed.  Little did she know that I tucked it into her suitcase!  Prayers should probably be offered to the parents who signed up to do this camping trip.  Hats off to them!

I am Responsible for SHELdon the Hermit Crab

As we were rushing out the door to catch the bus, I was given clear instructions regarding how to care for her Hermit Crab, SHELdon.  I feel a lot of pressure, but I marked it on my calendar as a high level appointment.  SHELdon has to continue living through this week under my watch.

She is Prepared.  I Miss Her.

While missing Rachel, sending her off with a disposable camera and a love note, and carrying the responsibilities of caring for her hermit crab, I am ready for her to come back!  As of this writing, they haven’t even had lunch, yet.

The Brody Bunch – The Season Changes and So Do We

Fall Season With Younger Kids

When the Brody Bunch was younger, Fall signified pumpkin patches, jumping in leaves and slow walks picking up acorns. Traditions are now memories that I try to keep going each Autumn, albeit watered down. As Autumn seems to arrive faster and faster each year, I try to schedule all of my favorite Fall pastimes, which now all happens the Saturday or Sunday just before Halloween.  As the leaves change, my heart yearns for pumpkin patches, acorn finds, but not so much raking.

Fall Season With Older Kids, Life is Moving Fast

The weather is getting chilly.  The Brody Bunch is super busy.  Weekends are not our own. We are on this incredible hamster wheel: homework projects, multiple sport tournaments, baseline goals of having clean underwear for the week, grocery shopping, paying bills and aging grandparents.  The aging grandparents part is new because the “sandwich generation” is kicking into full speed for me.  There have been highs and lows, but mostly highs. I love the time I am spending with my Mom and the harder and life lessons conversations with my Dad.  The kids spend even more time with grandparents visiting and being shuttled to extra curricular activities.  We all need more help and everyone is pitching in.  And, everything seems to be pumpkin spiced.  I never liked pumpkin spiced anything, I know that is considered blasphemy to some.

I loved the times at the pumpkin patches and being in awe by the changing colors seen in nature.  As the kids get older, I am getting older, too.  The seasons seem to change more rapidly and the memories seem so long ago. We are at the point where the Brody Bunch can use knives to carve their own pumpkins and a landscaping company blows the leaves. When the Brody Bunch was little, I thought those were really hard days. Imagine being in pumpkin patch with 2, 3, 4 and 5 year olds and being hopeful that we could round up all of the kids and their pumpkins before the last tractor hay ride headed back to the parking lot, also known as civilization.  

“Puff the Magic Dragon” Syndrome

The changing of the seasons and how we mark time reminds me of Mary, Peter and Paul’s classic song, “Puff the Magic Dragon”. This song is about a little boy, Jackie Paper, who had a great imagination and believed in the pretend Magic Dragon named Puff. One day, Jackie made way for other things, and Jackie moved beyond Puff. This lyric sums it up:
“A dragon lives forever but not so little boys/Painted wings and giant rings make way for other toys/One grey night it happened, Jackie Paper came no more/And Puff that mighty dragon, he ceased his fearless roar!”

Believing in the Magic of Fall, Make it Happen, Again

The memorable magic of Autumn has shifted because we have made way for other things. The Brody Bunch is Jackie Paper. And, I still want the Brody Bunch to hold onto the magical moments before growing up.  I am hopeful that as the seasons change, that the Brody Bunch still finds time as a whole Bunch to explore a pumpkin patch, look for changing colored leaves and collect acorns throughout the season.  We may even stop on the way home for a pumpkin spiced latte and sing “Puff the Magic Dragon”.  

Nature, love, memories, tradition, aging, and pumpkin spice and everything nice.

The Brody Bunch – The Apple Did Not Fall Far from the Tree

A light blog inspired by my Dad

I am so excited to write this blog, and dedicate it to my dad, Freddie. I really should wait until Father’s Day to publish this, but I can’t. The apple didn’t fall far from the tree.

Freddie is a gourmet cook. Part of his regiment is that he shops and doubles or triples everything so that we have leftovers for next day lunches and a few dinners, it makes him happy. We have a large family, so this is a big financial undertaking.  And, Freddie honors special requests for everyone – steaks, fish, Caesar salads, whatever we want.  We try helping in the kitchen afterwards by putting a few things away.  But after loud and late dinners often on school nights, Freddie is just happy for us to pack up and go. Freddie never criticizes us for anything, except if we use the wrong size storage bags, seriously.  Freddie’s gadget filled kitchen has dedicated shelving and storage areas specifically for his variety of bags.  And, the bags are purchased in bulk.  Oh, Freddie likes to eat out daily.  So, he has a lifetime supply of storage bags in various sizes. So, if a cleanup helper uses a gallon sized bag to only put in a few leftover crudités, it will be stated that a sandwich size bag was more appropriate, “but no problem”.  We never ask where a specific size bag is stored, it somehow cues my dad that he should buy additional replacement bags within the next day or so.

The Perforated Box Filled with Storage Bags was Opened Incorrectly, & it made me think of my Dad

In my kitchen, we  have one drawer for storage bags.  We don’t use them too often. Though, I thought of my dad and was floored when I noticed that a Brody Bunch kid opened the box in a unique way, FROM THE SIDE rather than pushing along the perforated indentations.  I have never opened storage bag boxes from the side, there’s a perforated cut out in the center, but the bags still come out, so I let it go, I saved my snarky complaint for a higher level moment. Last Father’s Day I gave Freddie a box of snack sized storage bags and he was pretty happy with the gift, though I don’t think he has had need for this size, yet.

Plasticware – Wash and Reuse or Recycle?

We just wrapped up two nights of family dinners at my house and I pulled out some plasticware and paper plates.  It was brought to my attention that either you wash and reuse plasticware, or you recycle it.  I have always been in the wash and reuse group. And, I noticed that when my daughter Rachel serves dessert, that she is generous with the paper plates.  I walk around and pull off the extra bottom plates while someone is eating and put the clean plates back into circulation. Like the storage bags, I am pretty particular with the paper and cutlery, the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree.

Gift Bags!

In addition to this weekend’s family dinners, our daughter Blanche celebrated her birthday. After Blanche opened her birthday presents.  Without thought, like an old habit, she handed me all of gift bags, “Here you go!  I have to remember not to give presents in these bags back to the people who gave me gifts in these bags.”  We regift, reuse gift bags.

The Apples Don’t Fall Far from the Tree

And there you have it, from plastic storage bags to paper plates and cutlery to gift bags, there’s lots of loves and laughs as the apples don’t fall far from the tree.