Friday, September 23, 2005

Compilation for my kids

Before I get started, though, I would like to make a Public Service Announcement: This Sunday, September 25, is Laura's birthday. Pop over there and wish her a happy one! Thanks.

IF I happened to be tech savvy enough to figure out how to download music, this is the compilation CD I’d make for my kids (my compilation-making days ended when I switched from cassettes to CDs, but I used to be pretty good at it). Most of these songs are favorites for both of them. Dvorah is 7, Ariela is 4. These are their most-requested songs in the car. (In no particular order.)

Zulal is topping the car chart right now. This is an Armenian a capella folk trio. Sounds weird, I know, but they’re fantastic and the kids LOVE singing along in Armenian (no, we're not Armenian nor do we actually understand a single word) and hearing the story from the CD insert, what the song is about. They love the song Ghapama which is about a delicious squash dish somebody’s cooking and the entire village shows up to partake. But there’s only one squash.

Dixie Chicks are a big favorite. One day they were in the back seat fighting and I put on Sin Wagon reeeeeealllly loud. It starts with this big, loud Nascar guitar riff and shocked them into silence. Then they started rocking out. We’re not exactly church-going folks, so “sin” wasn’t in their vocabulary. Dvorah thinks sin is “When you stay up too late, drink tequila and don’t listen to your parents.” Ariela thinks “mattress dancing” is, you know, “jumping on the mattress and dancing around.” Clearly a sin. I haven’t introduced them to Goodbye Earl just yet. I love the Dixie Chicks. They’re down to earth, funny and not afraid to speak their mind. (I had a link here which I thought was recent, but it's not so never mind.)

Tom Waits’ song Anywhere I Lay my Head cracks them up every time. They think he’s the Cookie Monster. This song has the added bonus of morphing after 2 minutes into a burlesque-y horn & cymbal bit, which they call “the elephant circus dance!”

Sean Paul Get Busy is Ariela’s theme song. One of them anyway. She is positive he’s saying “Shake that thing, miss Ariela, shake that thing, yeah, Bella Bella…”

They Might be Giants’ Istanbul, not Constantinople is in heavy rotation too. Ariela sings “Even old New York, was once new Hamsterdam.”

David Francey, the Canadian Folk Singer, sings Red Winged Blackbird. This is a really pretty song, they heard him perform it in Nova Scotia a couple of years back, they love to make blackbird noises in the car and they know all the words. I have to sing it in an overdone Scottish accent.

Lennie Gallant, another Canadian folk singer, sings several that they love. Destination has a driving train rhythm and is half in French, which I have translated for them and they love to translate back to me. Meet me at the Oasis is a beautiful song with an Arabic feel. They have met Lennie several times and rock out at his shows.

Jewel. The album “Spirit” lives in my car, and they pretty much love the whole thing. Their top 3 favorites are What’s Simple is True, Hands, and Kiss the Flame. I guess her voice is pretty much in the right range for 4 & 7 year old girls, because they love singing along and can easily hit the high notes. I, on the other hand, have a bit more trouble.

Indigo Girls’ Southland in the Springtime is, of course, the family anthem. This one we don’t even need to play the CD for any more, and it’s a bedtime song too. They think it was written for us. Welcome Me is another favorite, although with the IG, there are too many favorites to list.

Today’s fragrance: Ormonde Jayne Tolu. Tolu is hard to describe...think old-world library but not musty. Overstuffed chairs, comfort, lingering smell of incensey tobacco. Lush and comforting and definitely unique. It's that crazy resin. The resin combined with the slight edge from the sage keeps this from being too plush a fragrance, if that makes sense. I can sit on the overstuffed chairs without sinking in up to my neck. Here are the notes:
- Top: Juniper berry, orange blossom and clary sage

- Heart: Orchid, Moroccan rose and muguet
- Base: Tolu, tonka bean, golden frankincense and amber

Thursday, September 15, 2005


I had a difficult summer. My 7-year old daughter spent every waking moment testing and tormenting me and her younger sister. My husband was working this summer, where I was home with them, but that makes no difference...she doesn't pull this crap with him.

My mother suggested therapy. My mother's answer to everything is therapy and don't get me wrong, it's helpful in some cases but in some it just makes kids feel like there's something WRONG with them when they're really normal kids going through normal kid stuff. My mother thinks there's some deep, underlying issue.

It took me a while to figure it out, but I finally realized it was about power and control and my job was to remain firm (without losing my shit - a tall order at best), maintain control and enforce rules. *Sigh* Kids do go through these phases.

One day I had her in her bedroom "cooling off" - which is far more about ME cooling off - for about the third time in as many hours. I was on the phone with my husband, at my wits' end and I said "This is about power. She thinks she can break me down and start running this house her way, with her own rules? She wants to be alpha female, well she's got another thing coming cause that is NOT going to happen! (really raising voice now) EVERYBODY in this house is beta after me!

*ahem.* Except you, babe. heh heh."

But I didn't really mean that last part and he knows it too. Cause even the alpha male is beta to the alpha female...everybody knows that, don't they?

I blame my mother. I'll work it out in therapy.

Wednesday, September 14, 2005

Warm Fuzzies...get 'em while you can.

The Quilt of Belonging

While in Nova Scotia, it was decided that we would visit Halifax’s Pier 21 – Canada’s version of Ellis Island. Note I say “it was decided” because it was not MY decision. It turned out to be a really interesting place, rich with history and fascinating stories. Extremely well done.

But when we first arrived, my parents were already there and my mom said to me “You have to go into this room, they have the World’s Largest Quilt on display.

Whoopee, I thought. The world’s largest quilt.

Like a good daughter and mommy, I took the kids in to see the World’s Largest Quilt. I bypassed all the information of course so it took me a little while to figure out what it was all about. It’s called the Quilt of Belonging.

I am not a crafter. I do not knit; I can sew a button or fix a seam, I do not crochet and once, for a brief moment while watching H&G TV, I thought “I should take up quilting!” and then realized that would result in a box full of quilting stuff sitting around the house unused, dusty and inspiring guilt. Ain’t no way in my current life I’m ever going to make a quilt. I recognize that about myself.

But the Quilt of Belonging…wow. It is a moving and inspiring piece. Made up of 263 squares, each one representing a nation or aboriginal culture found in Canada. The whole *is* greater than the sum of its parts.

From the website: "The project was designed to create a better understanding between Canadians of all origins. Our vision statement reflects this purpose: Our vision is to create a collaborative work of art that will recognize Canada's diversity, celebrate our common humanity and promote harmony and compassion among people."

It’s a staggering testament to the people of Canada. Celebrating the diversity that makes it such a wonderful place. We had a wonderful time in that room, walking around looking for the bits and pieces that make up who we are: England, Russia, Austria, United States, Lakota (Sioux), Holland, France, Germany. The quilt is organized into sections by background color: Aboriginal Peoples of Canada, Africa, Asia, Australasia, Caribbean, Central and North America, Europe, Oceania and other Ocean Islands, South America.

I was lucky to catch the showing at Pier 21; it moved on just a few days later and goes next to Newfoundland, I believe. They had a book on display, with a picture of each square and the story behind it – a beautiful book. I ran to buy the book but they were all sold out. I’ll be pre-ordering the next printing.

You can look through the 263 textile artworks here, and read the stories behind them.

What an amazing project.

Today's Fragrance: Chanel No. 22, parfum. This is a somewhat soapy and yet smoky, incensey sophisticated scent. I prefer to spray on my fragrances rather than dab and this was dabbed. But I've had it on now for a couple of hours and it's still there. Less soapy now than on initial application, more incensey. I like that better. I don't know if I'll need a full bottle of this one, but it wears well and is not so sophisticated that it can't be worn in the daytime.

Monday, September 12, 2005

I feel good.

Every rare once in a while, the heavens open up, the light shines down and things seem to fall into place.

Friday I got a phone call from the Board of Ed in our township, offering to move Ariela from the morning-only spot in the grant-funded pre school into the full day program. I got goosebumps...I could not have been more thrilled. This means I no longer have to do all the crazy running around in the middle of the day to take her from school to school, an hour and a half of driving, picking up and dropping off, and pay through the nose for the privilege. I dropped her off this morning with her new teacher in her new class and realized the teacher she now has is the one I wished she had been assigned. The curriculum is superb, this teacher taught it last year when it was a pilot program and she just exudes warmth and caring. Ariela is going to thrive in this program.

Saturday I went to see Rachel become Bat Mitzvah and not only did I make it through my torah portion (with flying colors, if I do say so myself), but she did an amazing job. It's a lot of work, preparing to become Bat Mitzvah and she was wonderful. I saw family and friends and extended family and we all had a really great time.

Sunday Dvorah woke up, got her backpack, found her homework and did it perfectly, without being asked or nagged. She focused on it, knew exactly what to do and had it done before I even got out of bed. She is clearly excited about this school year and that makes me happy too. When she is productive and focused, that kid can move mountains.

This morning after dropping off Ariela, I went to thank the woman who facilitated the move and discovered she has a new position she's enjoying immensely.

And I realized that with the money I'm saving on pre-school, I can stop stressing about bills and actually DO something about the Katrina situation. I had been feeling helpless and money was super tight after the summer. Now I can donate to a worthy organization (or two) and feel like, in some small way, we've helped.

I got an email update yesterday from a couple who have a daughter about a year and a half old, who was born severely disabled, and their lives have been focused since that moment on helping and caring for their baby. She IS their life. I can't begin to imagine myself in that situation, and how they manage to stay positive is beyond me.

I have two healthy, happy beautiful children. I have a roof over my head, a job, transportation. We never go hungry and we have clothing and shoes. And now I can help a little - pay it forward. Today is a good day.

Friday, September 09, 2005


It cost me $52 to fill my gas tank this morning and I drove here, ranting in my head thinking - Oh, nobody is going to want to read my blog at all any more if all I do is bitch. But I had to stop on the way at the Judaica shop to pick up a gift for my cousin Rachel, who is becoming Bat Mitzvah tomorrow.

I had seen the signs on the highway but had never stopped in to this particular store. I always get a little nervous walking into Judaica shops because, although I have been a Jew my entire life, I don't know all that much and feel a bit out of my element. But this morning I walked in and saw a beautiful selection of kiddush cups, menorahs, seder plates, Roah Hashanah stuff, and I felt this instant, soothing connection with my ancestors. Our people have been using this stuff for thousands of years. The holidays, traditions...they are part of me and where I come from. My ancestors died defending the right to live our lives in peace and practice our religion. I always say for me Judaism is not a religion, it's a culture and a tradition. It's a connection.

I don't always agree with the way things are done though, and definitely have problems with some restrictions placed on women in the past and even now in the more "traditional" sectors. People make their choices, and have all their reasons to do so. I just like having the freedom to choose for myself.

As I walked around the shop, guided by a knowledgeable, extremely friendly and helpful sales assistant, I felt soothed by the beauty and the atmosphere. I began thinking of what would be an appropriate gift for a 13-year old girl on the occasion of her Bat Mitzvah, and remembered that, at least a few years ago, the first woman to ever become Bat Mitzvah was still alive. This is a staggering thought to me still - that in my grandparents' time, women were not allowed up on the bimah, nor to read from the Torah. Even on the occasion of my own Bat Mitzvah, in a Conservative synagogue in 1983, I was not offered a chance to read from the Torah. I read from the Haftorah only. I didn't fuss about it then because I didn't know any better, and quite frankly had enough to do already. Bat Mitzvah means literally, "Daughter of the Commandments."

I wonder if Rachel knows that for thousands of years women were not allowed to participate in this mitzvah. I often think 13 is a crazy age to have this ritual of passing into adulthood, with the kid up there smiling through braces and hoping she gets a bunch of money to blow at the mall, but 13 it is. I bet that it will take her a while to appreciate fully this occasion, or to really understand what it means. It did for me.

I ended up choosing for her a beautiful hand-painted wooden Torah pointer (yad), by Israeli artist Emanuel (picture above). Since we are not allowed to touch the Torah, we use the yad to keep our place when we read from it. I thought it was a meaningful gift to give a girl who, not so many years ago, would not have been allowed to point at the Torah, let alone read from it. I hope she appreciates it...I'll let others give her money to blow at the mall.

Wednesday, September 07, 2005

I hate September (aka my current stress list)

1. Dvorah's anxiety over returning to school and entering 2nd grade. Oh, how I remember that feeling. (Fortunately, she had a great first day and was practically jumping out of her skin at the bus stop this sharp contrast to yesterday's subdued anxious tone.)

2. Trying to sort out the HUGE horrible mess the township has handed me by awarding me a mornings-only spot in the highly coveted Grant-funded pre-K program with fantabulous curriculum and no options for after-care.

3. My anxiety over returning to work and organizing a large conference, which I have no experience doing, for the end of October.

4. I have to learn a torah portion, to be chanted this Saturday morning at my cousin's Bat Mitzvah. It's really slow going and I'm afraid I won't have it, even though I have had plenty of time to learn it.

5. Helping my sister move and getting some new-to-us furniture moved into this house which is a complete shithole and I'm not even really sure we want the stuff.

6. In all my spare moments I'm just furious at various government agencies and people over - well, this big fucking mess. Completely disgusted and embarrassed for our country.

7. Many other minor, day-to-day stresses: Doing the big season-switch clothing sort and figuring out what I need to keep my kids clothed this year. Sending healthy lunches that they'll eat. Who is going to watch the kids for back-to-school parent night, when my husband goes to that because I have a board meeting I have to attend and all our babysitters are always too busy? How am I going to resume work and do laundry, shop, cook and provide moral support for my husband who is also working full-time as well as taking demanding graduate school classes?

8. Dealing with dropping off a crying 4-year old at her new school who howls in pain as I park the car that her tummy hurts. Picking up a smiling, happy kid at the end of the day and knowing we're going to have the exact same scene every morning for quite a while. And now doing that twice a day, as I pick her up from morning pre-school and drive her to afternoon pre-school. Man, kids can cut deep.

The month of September for me is the one that always makes me want to sit and cry and bury my head in the sand. It's overwhelming.

But Laura's birthday is in September, so I can't completely hate it.

By request, I will be adding info and impressions of fragrances at the end of my blogspots (when I remember). I give full credit to mireille of c'est chic for a wonderful model of how to include fragrances in my blog without necessarily making it all about fragrances.

So on that note, I give you today's fragrance: Susanne Lang Yellow Blossom. Ylang-Ylang and other florals mixed in here. I get a bit of Linden, maybe some Jasmine and Tuberose...all that stuff so often used to approximate Gardenia. This is lovely on first application, with a big burst of the Linden note. As it dries down, it's mellowing, but I get just the faintest hint of rotting flower. Perhaps the indoles from the Jasmine, but I normally wear Jasmine well. As it continues to evolve on my skin, the rotting flower note fades and I'm left with a very nice floral. This is a very nice white floral, even a hint of tea in the drydown, but it just doesn't move me. And now the rotten smell is back...there must be musk in the base composition of this fragrance - just a tad too much for it to work for me. Musk hates me. I don't think I'll be needing a full bottle of this one.

Tuesday, September 06, 2005

Hard to focus on the positive right now.

I have deliberately not written about...well, about anything, really. Because anything I want to write about seems trivial. And the really big stuff I don't feel knowledgeable enough to really write about. So many others have done so, and so eloquently. I am disgusted and horrified by the events in NO and our handling of them. I can't believe we're calling our own citizens REFUGEES. I can not begin to comprehend what happens in people's minds when outside law agencies no longer have any power and people start killing each other in broad daylight.

I continue to be pissed off by gas prices because, although it is trivial in light of so many other things, it is hitting us hard. I know it's higher in Europe, Canada etc. but I also know there are a hell of a lot of people in this country for whom the difference between $1.75/gallon and $3.25/gallon might be the difference between enough food and not enough food for their families...or being able to get to work at all.

I choke on bile as our president stands up and says looters will be prosecuted...and so will price gougers at the pumps. Excuse me, price gouging at the pumps has been happening since the minute this asshole walked into office. Not to mention a thousand other offenses against the people of this country.

And I don't want to get into a political debate, because I can't cite my sources and I don't read enough news to argue intelligently. But we have some nerve talking about Third World countries as if we're a First World country and so far superior when we can allow our own people to die of thirst, call them refugees and allow bodies to float around cities for days on end.

I don't believe my blog has to be all sweetness and light, but I try to focus on the positive, and will be back doing that soon. I just felt like I really needed to say something about this.

Friday, September 02, 2005

I'm back!

The trip was wonderful. I'm still unpacking and somehow jet-lagged even though I only drove and ferried around. But it was a loooooong drive. Fortunately I love road trips.

I'll write more soon but had to share the best quote of the trip:

'Yonder' is just a Spanish word for 'over dere.'

Said by Ariela, age 4.