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Archive for October, 2007

I confess that for years, I’ve been dreading Maya’s bat mitzvah. They are such huge deals and it all seems so overwhelming to handle. Maybe it is because I converted and therefore never went through one of my own (or, more likely for my generation, watched my brothers go through bar mitzvahs), but I’m not sure that is all, because J is pretty much terrified too.

Her bat mitzvah date is April of 2009 – a year and a half away. I thought that was enough time to keep my fingers in my ears and loudly and tunelessly sing, “Lalalala, I can’t hear you” for a while longer, but apparently not. A few days ago, a friend whose kid is having her bat mitzvah about the same time asked me if I’d signed Maya up for her class at shul yet, and was I going to the meeting? Huh? I knew nothing. J knew nothing.

So I called the synagogue, where the nice secretary peppered me with questions – how much is she going to read? Are we having our evening even at the synagogue? Are we having the lunch kiddish there? Will we be doing a Friday night thing, or Saturday morning thing? I dunno I dunno I dunno.

So I went to the meeting, where I was happy to see I wasn’t the only perplexed parent there. I realized that it was in fact high time Maya start the classes, as apparently they are supposed to take them for 1.5 to 2 years. I can’t figure out what it is going to take so long to learn, since she can already read Hebrew fluently and knows many of the prayers. As far as I can tell (but as I said, I’ve never done this before), she needs to learn the cantillation.

The Torah is a complicated thing to read. Hebrew for grown-ups doesn’t have vowels. You can put the vowels in, as they are marks that go under and over certain letters to let you know, for example, that the ‘t’ sound will be ‘ta’ or ‘to’ or ‘ti’ but after you learn how to read fluently, you drop the vowels. So no vowels in the Torah. There are lots of other little marks on the words, though. They tell the reader how that word is to be chanted. All the different marks, called trope, have their own specific tune and the kids need to learn them so they can properly chant their Torah portion.

This does strike me as nightmarishly difficult and so I do see requiring a far amount of prep time, but now I’m not so sure, since Maya came home from her first class at ‘shul school’ last week with a page of the names of all the different markings, and began singing them to me. Next!

Okay, it isn’t that simple, but she certainly is sucking up the information. At least one of us has a brain. I panicked at the meeting when I discovered that classes are on Tuesdays and Thursdays only. I asked the Rabbi about tutoring as, I explained, Maya has piano on Tuesday and delivers her papers on Thursday. I know one has to make priorities, but piano is unmovable and I think having a job is very good for her. To bad. The tutors are booked solid.

Thursday seemed more flexible, but then I saw that the class was currently populated with 4 boys from her grade at school. Nuh-uh. One boy’s mom came over and told me if I put her in that class, they’d carpool her there and back. That’s very sweet, I told her, but Maya will freak if I put her in that class. But, said the mom, they are very nice boys. Nice? Nice has nothing to do with it. They have penises and nothing else matters.

I then realized that piano is only half an hour and I could race from it to the synagogue, and at least she’d be in a class full of girls, with her best friend. I signed her up. Leaving the meeting, I phoned Maya to tell her the news, as I knew she was keen on being with her friend. After I told her, she said, “Mom, my piano lesson is on Wednesdays.”

So, so not ready.

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Allergies

While I am an unhealthy mess, with so many annoying conditions and syndromes that I dare not list them all, my kids are healthy. Really healthy, particularly Maya who, when Asher is bedridden and feverish for two days over a stomach virus, experiences the same virus by being slightly put off dinner one night. So it seemed odd this spring when she had an annoying cold that just would not go away. Finally, it occurred to me to try an antihistamine and, sure enough, things improved somewhat.

I took her to our GP, who referred her to an allergist. The appointment was yesterday. He did a scratch test, where drops of different common allergens were placed on her arms, then the nurse used a pin to make a small scratch in each one. We then sat in the waiting room waiting to see if anything happened. In short order, several spots along one arm began to turn red and swell.

May I just say it is a good thing Maya isn’t sick a lot, because that kid is a huge whiner. First, she was so freaked about the scratch test in the first place that I had to order her to sit down and then hold her arms down for the nurse. Then, as the spots began to react, she flopped around and moaned about not being able to scratch, and complained that it didn’t just itch, it hurt horribly. We were sharing the waiting room with a mom and little girl of about 5 or 6, who watched her with huge eyes. When Maya started to say it hurt, I said very, very pointedly at her, “You mean it itches, right? Nothing here actually hurts. It is just annoying that it itches.” She got the message, but didn’t stop whining about how unbearable the itching was.

So, she’s allergic to several trees (including cedar, as in the cedar hedges we have in the backyard), grass, ragweed. Basically, she’s managed to cover the entire summer. The doctor says that it is likely to just get worse and worse each year and we should do allergy shots.

Off my game, I just agreed without questioning and paid about $200 for them to order the allery serum to be sent to my GP, who will administer them. As we were driving home, I wondered why so many people put up with seasonal allergies when you can just get the shots to cure everything once and for all. I found out when I got home and actually read the information he gave me.

I have to take my kid to the doctor for the shot once a week, staying half an hour to watch for a bad reaction, for twenty-eight weeks! Then it goes down to every 2-3 weeks for a while. That’s seven bloody months of weekly doctor visits!

I know it is still better than sneezing your way through summer for the rest of your life, but I still don’t know if I made the right move here. Maybe she will buck the trend and not get worse. Maybe all these stupid shots won’t work. Maya, of course, is horrified, and I didn’t even tell her how long this has to go on.

I think I need a nap.

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As I’ve mentioned previously, I can see the search terms allowing people to reach my site. I now know why there are so many slutty Halloween costumes out there. I’ve gotten searches for ‘homemade slut costume’ (if you can’t figure that out on your own, don’t bother). And ‘slutty clown costume’ (just, why?). Also, ‘gay leather’ (they must have been so disappointed to end up here) and ‘leaf’ (?). Next to the slutty clown question, my current favourite is: ‘is Dalton McGuinty Jewish?’ I hope that person didn’t vote.

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It was hot and sunny for the past two days. I was in absolute heaven. I thought after it got cold after our return from New York that we were done with the really good weather, but I was really wrong.

Yesterday, the kids and I took the dog on a long walk along the river at a spot we don’t normally frequent, because we popped in to visit friends with their new baby (She came home from China a couple of months ago and is doing amazingly, as well as being freaking cute. My three kids surrounded her on the floor and all tried to engage and play with her at the same time. Her mom and I were concerned that they would overwhelm her, but when she started throwing her arms in the air and cheering, “Ay!” we figured she was okay.)

Anyway, we came upon a great wooden play structure and while the kids played and the dog ran around, I gathered leaves into an ever-growing pile. There were a lot of leaves. It was several feet high when Asher spotted it and took a flying leap into it. Whenever I see people jump into leaves in the cartoons, I always think it’d still hurt, as leaves aren’t a great cushion. But when you pile them 3 feet high they are!

They spent a long time repiling and leaping in the leaves. Even the dog got into the act at one point. I let them bury me with leaves, and it was strangely peaceful under there (until I burst out growing and grabbing and children). Serious, serious fun.

Today, I took Jasper for a long walk in a huge, gorgeous protected park area, admiring the leaves and just reveling in the weather. I wasn’t the only one, and I’m toying with making up a card to hand out. It would say:

“He’s a Doodle, a Standard Poodle-Golden Retriever mix. No, he doesn’t shed at all, but some do. I have to brush him daily or he mats. Yes, I have to trim him, but I do it myself. It’s actually an unusual colour, most are blonder. No, they aren’t cheaper than getting a pure bred, since they are very popular. No, they don’t all get this big, but they are still generally pretty big dogs. 55 lbs. Yes, I know he seems like more as he is very tall and skinny. He’ll likely fill out in the next year. One year old. Yes, he is very calm for a one-year-old. No that isn’t typical. Thank you – we think he is great too.”

Because I have that conversation over and over and over. I’m glad people love him, but it does get a bit tired at times.

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And they make great family dogs, too!

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I swam. I yogaed. I walked the dog at a furious pace for at least an hour. Every day was something. Friday, I crashed. It rained, so I even got out of walking the dog.

Shauna asked if it would be better. Yeah, it’ll get better. Only it’ll take 6 months or so of having it feel worse. The entire time I was doing yoga, I had a running commentary in my brain (that I tried to squash it, since it seemed very un-yoga-like) that went like this: fuckthishurts, fuckthishurts, fuckthishurts.

The nice yoga lady, who knows I have Fibromyalgia Syndrome, told me to take it at my own pace and if it hurts, my body is telling me I’ve gone to far. Unfortunately, when you have FMS, your body frequently tells you that getting up in the morning is going too far, or braiding your hair, or walking up the stairs. You can’t listen to it. It lies. I didn’t tell her that. I just smiled and assured her I would listen to my lying body.

When you have FMS, you have to view exercise like physiotherapy. After J tore his calf muscle in the spring, his physiotherapist would massage the scar tissue, digging her way into it to break it up and telling him that the way he knew she was doing it right was by how much it hurt. That’s how it is. Exercise hurts. All of it. It hurts to do it and it hurts worse after you are done. People tell me about how invigorated they feel after they finish a workout. I just feel a sense of accomplishment from ignoring the pain for long enough to get the job done.

That sounds a bit dramatic, but it’s an accurate description. (If you can’t whine on your own blog, where can you whine?) As shitty as I’ve been feeling for a long time, I feel shittier now. The only saving grace is that I knew what I was getting into, and I know it can work.

When I was 21, unemployed and living with mommy and daddy, I began to exercise. I biked, which I loved for the speed and freedom, making it easier to ignore the pain (this time, I’m too far gone to get on a bike, but it’s almost winter anyway, so who cares). I biked for longer and longer, until I was gone for an hour or two every day. I also used their rowing machine in front of the TV, and did weight training with some small hand weights of my father’s.

What it added up to, at it’s peak, was about 2 hours of exercise a day. And, at some point, I realized that the pain wasn’t much there, and I slept through the night and I had energy. I’d kicked the FMS into remission. But it took being an unemployed bum at my parents’ house to give me the time and freedom to do it.

I went back to school for my Masters in Journalism and even though I did try to get to the gym, the school schedule was grueling and I was reveling in the revival of my social life. The exercise fell away and the beast returned. Now I’m 20 years older, fatter and in worse shape, so I think it’ll take longer to get there this time, but every study ever done on FMS had demonstrated that the only thing that reliably leads to improvement is exercise, and I have the personal precedent to back that up.

But, fuck, this hurts.

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I’ve always been quite pleased with my kids’ Halloween choices, with the exception of my fairy princess. This year, Asher is going to be a knight and Maya decided to be a clown. I found a cool knight costume at the Children’s Place. All we needed was a sword, which the Children’s Place politically correctly did not include. How long is a knight going to last without a sword, I ask you?

Maya went with something new this year, deciding to be a clown. I was delighted. That’s an easy one. Wig, make-up, goofy clown costume. Since my kids are past the days of being impressed with my no-sew homemade halloween costumes, off we went to find a clown costume at the store.

The first one we went to had no clown costumes at all. How odd that they would have run out. They had good face paint, though. The second one had a clown wig and clown nose. It also had ailses of costumes, but nary a clown in sight.

The third one had ailses and ailses of costumes. The had an entire wall of swords, so now Asher is the most dangerous knight around (when we got home, I allowed him to attack and kill all the dead plants I had yet to clear from the garden – boy heaven). They had Bratz, pumpkins, regular vampires, slut vampires, angels, bunnies, slut bunnies, knights, ninjas, Spiderman, Superman, Batman, Spongebob, an entire ailse of princess dresses of all sorts, cowboys, dogs, kittens, slut kittens, turtles, Ninja turtles …

Not one damn clown.

It seems to me that a clown costume would be very easy for them to make – two pieces of cheap colourful polyester sewn together with pompoms down the front. Maybe a ruffle. Certainly, that is easier than the slut bunny costume I saw. Why no clowns?

We did find a pair of stretchy polyester pants that I strongly suspect came from another constume, but it was alone when we found it, and they sold it to us for $3. And a hat with a flower on it. Clearly, clowns are not off the radar, what with the hat, clown nose and wig. but since when do marketers then assume people will just make the actual costume themselves, providing us with only the accessories? They make ghosts, for god’s sake, and even I can hand-make that costume.

Fortunately, with help from some internet back-up (“See, these people made it themselves and it looks cool. These people too.”), I have convinced Maya that a colourful over-sized shirt with big patches and pompoms or buttons sewn on by us will make a perfectly good clown top. But still, it means I have to go buy some cheap colourful shirt at Walmart, find or make pompoms and sew on the colourful patches. I am so past personal effort for Halloween costumes.

But, even though she’s 11.5 years old, Maya is still my baby and she doesn’t have too many Halloweens left. And she does have the good sense not to want to be a fairy princess, so I’ll do it.

I want all her Reese’s Peanut Butter cups, though.

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When I was pregnant with my children, I used to wonder if they’d have my eyes, or hair colour. It didn’t really occur to me that more than that would get passed on, which is short-sighted of me, as it all got passed on to me.

I have (among many other things) Restless Leg Syndrome. It basically means my legs twitch uncontrollably at times. Sometimes my left arm too. Annoying – sometimes very – but not life-threatening. Turns out, according to Consumer Reports, only 3% of the population have it. My mother has it too, as has one brother, so I never felt that weird.

A little while ago, I happened to be sitting with Asher as he fell asleep. He kicked his feet as he faded off, and continued to kick in his sleep for a while. He did it the next night too. I then asked him about it, why he moves his legs as he goes to sleep. He said, “I just need to move them or it feels weird.” And on it goes. I feel kind of bad about that one.

I bought a pill organizer that is comprised of 7 small containers that screw together, one on top of the next. They are all different colours and come with the days of the week on labels to place on them. As I labeled them, I commented on my irritation that they didn’t have the right colours for me to use. “I need a brown for Monday,” I said, mostly to myself.

Another quirk – I have a form of synesthesia called grapheme, wherein you experience the days of the week and, for some people, the months of the year, as having an inherent colour. In my case, Monday is brown. Tuesday is blue. Wednesday is yellow. And so on.

I had no idea everyone didn’t have this until I read an article on it somewhere. I asked my family about it and they all made it clear they thought I was insane, then tried to trip me up by asking me at different times what colour various days of the week were, to see if the colours changed.

So I was kind of delighted when, after I commented on Monday being brown, Maya said, “Monday isn’t brown. It’s green. Use this container.” We compared our days and agree that Tuesday is light blue and Wednesday is yellow, but our days and months are different colours. We had fun arguing over them.
I told her how weird she is, which she did not appreciate. The days and months are so inherently colourful to her that she cannot imagine that other people do not experience them this way.  I said, “Go to school tomorrow and ask your friends what colour Monday is, and see how many know what the heck you are talking about.” She said, “I will! And they’ll say it’s green!” “Brown!” “Green!” “Go to bed now.”

She not only has my eyes, she has my grapheme. And on it goes.

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When Maya was born, J’s entire extended family showered us with gifts, which was very nice of them. Several people gave us ruffly pink dresses and those pink headbands you put on naked baby heads so everyone knows you have a girl. We got pink sleepers, t-shirts, jumpers saying, “Little princess.”

I wrote out thank you notes and then took everything but the sleepers to a consignment store. I could not bear to put them on my baby, especially the dresses, which J and I called baby armpit warmers.

As she aged, I put her in dresses and girly things – black dresses, blue dresses, green dresses. No pink. Most of the non-dress stuff I got was gender neutral in case I had a boy next time. That was my excuse, anyway.

We have no Disney movies, so Maya had limited ‘princess’ exposure and it never caught on with her, to my great relief. When someone gave her a viciously pink book of Disney princess stories for her birthday, I nudged it under the couch the moment she was distracted by the next toy and she never saw it again.

She soon asserted her independence, of course, demanding only shirts that demonstrated some sign of femininity, like flowers or hearts. She feel madly in love with Barbie and much as I hated them, I figured making them forbidden fruit was worse.

So she got girly. But at least she wasn’t princessy. For her 3rd Halloween, she went as a biker chick, with a faux leather jacket from her aunt and wee cowboy boots from a friend.

Asher came along and loved pink more than Maya. Perversely, I was happy to dress him in the pink sleeper. Then I steered him towards gender neutral stuff too, not wanted him to be abused by his peers. He had his own dolls (named Sam and Sleeping Baby) and wore nail polish, but I managed to distract him from the bright pink raincoat he was set on with a colourful but less pink umbrella.

I don’t just hate pink because people have irrationally assigned it to only one gender (oddly, in the 1800s, the colour was considered to be too strong for girls and was almost exclusively for boys). I just don’t like it.

I weakened a bit when Boo was born, because she had dark hair and looked pretty nice in pink. Limited, non-ruffly pink.

Despite the fact that we still don’t have any Disney movies, she found out about the princesses. I have no idea how. That’s the problem with the third kid – you have no idea what’s going on with them, even when they are little.

Last year, she wanted to be a princess for Halloween. Maya has been a witch, a ghost, a unicorn, a cat and a biker chick. Asher has been a wizard, a witch, a magician and a vampire. I sighed and told myself that at least she didn’t want to be a specific princess, like Cinderella, and bought her a cheap blue costume dress.

This year, she has decided on being a fairy princess. She already has the pink wings, but the blue dress is too small.

The other day, I was in the Children’s Place and saw this:

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It has that gauzy stuff underneath to make the skirt stick out all the time, like they do with wedding dressed (and which I took off mine), and you can’t see it well enough, but the front is all this brocade-type patterning. It’s really quite well put together, and it was on sale for $15.

I ignored it and went around the store collecting $3 skirts and $7 pants, and brought the entire pile up to the cash, where I spotted a knight’s costume for the same price and decided to get it for Asher, who is sick of being a wizard.

Then I stood in line and stared at the princess dress. I hate pink and I hate princesses, but Boo loves pink and princesses and as far as pink princess dresses go, I recognized that this was a good one, and for a good price too. I knew I could find her something I hated less and that she would like, but I also knew that she would love this dress.

I sucked it up and bought the dress. It isn’t me dressing up for Halloween, it’s her. And she was just as happy as I imagined she’d be when I showed it to her. She put in on immediately and wanted to wear it everywhere.

So there you go. It took me 11 years to slide all the way down that slope from giving away all the pink gifts and forbidding my mother-in-law to buy anything that colour to voluntarily buying my kid a pink princess dress. Now she’ll never be Prime Minister.

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Thirteen Things about just making it up.

  1. Top of my list is a book called How to Read the Bible, by James L. Kugel. It puts the Bible (and by that I mean the Torah, the one Christians call the Old Testament) into historical, archaeological and etiological context, as well as giving the traditional interpretations of the various elements and stories. It looks at the assumptions people bring to it as they read it, and why they bring those assumptions. It is just fascinating. I stumbled across it at Barnes and Noble in the US. The only problem is that, at 800 pages, it is hard to drag around in my backpack or read in the bath (although I’ve been doing the latter anyway).
  2. Biblical Literacy, Rabbi Joseph Telushkin. I have several of Telushkin’s books, as I like him as a person and a thinker. He does a lot of speaking about Jewish ethics. I got this book because J was at a conference at which he was scheduled to speak, and when he arrived at the hotel, it had bumped him from his room. The desk dork was directing him to some Super 8 miles away so J, who recognized him from other talks, approached and offered him the other bed in his room. Telushkin gave him this book in thanks, and several others since, but they are made out to me as I’m the one who reads this sort of thing. Anyway, I’ve read a lot of it before, but it is an interesting companion to read along side #1. It’s only 600 pages, though.
  3. The Blessing of a Skinned Knee, Wendy Mogel. This one was a Borders buy, but I’ve been looking for it, as several people recommended it. It is a parenting book along the sort I like – that say that this self-esteem thing is producing self-absorbed little shits for children (doesn’t put it quite that way, though) and they actually need a little hard work and to be allowed to experience failure and disappointment in order to grow up to be happy, successful adults. The twist on this one is that the author uses the Torah and Talmud as her jumping off points for parenting successfully.
  4. The Optimistic Child, Martin E. Seligman. Another parenting book that’s all for letting your kid fail on her own, and succeed on her own too. This guy’s thesis is that not allowing this sets our kids up for depression as they grow up, and we need to produce resilient, realistically optimistic kids in order to ‘innoculate’ them against depression. Based on a ton of research and study, and very interesting.
  5. The New Yorker, latest issue. This stays in my car in case I get caught without anything else to read. (heaven forbid!) My in-laws got me a subscription for Hanukkah last year and it has been one of the best gifts ever. The damn magazine is expensive, though, and up for renewal soon. I’m going to have to start making off with their copies again, which was what inspired the gift in the first place.
  6. Inkheart, Cornelia Funke. I read this to the older two every evening.
  7. Pain, The Fifth Vital Sign, Marni Jackson. It is a sort of sociological look at pain in our society and how we deal with it (or don’t, as the case may be).
  8. Stumbling On Happiness, Daniel Gilbert. It’s a kind of Freakanomics sort of look at happiness. Interesting. I think it is due back at the library soon, though.
  9. The Dangerous Book for Boys, Conn and Hal Iggulden. Reminds me of my childhood, even if I’m not a boy. Asher and I are reading it. He’s very keen on the part about making a battery and about making a bow and arrow. He hasn’t discovered the chapter on hunting and skinning a rabbit so far, thankfully. I’ve noticed this book reviewed and wanted it, but it is damn expensive. The friend we stayed with in NY had a copy, though, and when I commented on it he gave me permission to steal it, so I did.
  10. Several days of newspapers that I refuse to recycle until I’ve at least had a look at.
  11. The Case Against Homework, by Sara Bennett and Nancy Kalish. The title is pretty self-explanatory. I haven’t opened it in a while because it is too painful, as Maya slogs through her homework each night. I’m toying with just giving it to the vice-principal as a gift.
  12. Blogs.
  13. Okay, I’ve run dry. But doesn’t the fact that I’m reading an 800 page book and a 600 page book together kind of make up for not having a thirteenth?


Links to other Thursday Thirteens:
1. Pass the Chocolate

2. Bring Your Own Cheese

3. Burnt Offerings

4. MamaArcher (kindly put me in her 13 favourite Thursday Thirteens on motherhood.)

Get the Thursday Thirteen code here!

The purpose of the meme is to get to know everyone who participates a little bit better every Thursday. Visiting fellow Thirteeners is encouraged! If you participate, leave the link to your Thirteen in others comments. It’s easy, and fun! Be sure to update your Thirteen with links that are left for you, as well! I will link to everyone who participates and leaves a link to their 13 things. Trackbacks, pings, comment links accepted!


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Well, we did it. We drove 8 hours (give or take a few pee/food breaks) down to New York on Wednesday and then 8 back on Monday.

The weirdest part of the trip was the weather. It reached the high 20s (Celsius) every day and didn’t get much cooler at night. It was so hard to convince ourselves that we were there in October. We feel blessed by the weather gods.

We stayed on the Upper West side in a friend’s apartment. He was kind enough to vacate it and stay with his girlfriend so we could take over. I have to admit, I could totally see living in New York if I had buckets of money. We walked to Central Park, which we all just loved. They have a carousel there that costs $1.50 per ride – the best deal in the whole city.

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Even the big kids liked it.

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We went back two days in a row.

The kids also lived climbing on the rocks (and giving me heart failure) and just watching the action. Here’s a picture of them at the top of the rock, silhouetted.

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We also stumbled across people practicing their rock-climbing skills on the more sheer parts of the rock. Our friend, S, ever up for a challenge, climbed it in his street shoes. As he got higher, they dragged the mattress they had to break falls over and placed it underneath him. Then, as he hoisted himself over the lip at the top, every hand went up to catch him as he fell, which he didn’t.

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They then swore they weren’t a club, just random people who show up, conveniently with a mattress and gear, but we think there were just jealous and didn’t want S to join and show them up.

We also got Boo’s face painted.

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Here’s the final product. She has a dopey expression on her face, but it was the best I could get. She’s in the ‘lame smile’ stage right now.

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Another good deal was the little zoo in Central Park. It is very lovely and well-kept, and just beautiful.

We’ve been going to New York since J first took me 15 years ago, and I have to say, the place has changed. We took the kids to gawk at 42nd street without a moment’s concern, and had lots of fun checking out a 3-floor M&M store, amazed that a place with 3 stories of M&M stuff could stay in business.

When I first saw 42nd Street, I stood and gawked like the hick tourist I was and J nudged me and said, “Stop looking like such a tourist! You are going to get us mugged!” He based this on his experience of being mugged on 42nd Street a few years earlier. There were strip clubs and peep shows everywhere and a large black guy with a wild look in his eyes was up on a stool preaching about how the ‘so-called white man’ had ruined the world.

No more crazy people and peep shows there now. Never at any point in New York, even when it was just Maya and me walking in the dark, did we feel a moment’s concern. In fact, several times, when we were having trouble figuring out exactly how to get where we wanted to go, people just came up to us and asked if they could help us out. It was a really nice experience. It seems New Yorkers have mellowed.

Another fun thing was the shopping, thanks to our equal dollars. A lot of stuff, like clothes and books, are cheaper in the States, plus there is no tax on clothes, so we went a little nuts. I bought $50 worth of underwear. (Woo hoo!)

We, of course, had to take the kids to FAO Schwartz.

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We fed them at the little cafe there, which actually had healthy food for kids (plus ice cream – there are limits) . Here’s a happy Maya after a day of shopping.

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The place we really lost our minds was the bookstore. The book situation is ridiculous. One book I got was $14 if you bought it in the States and $21 in Canada. As a result, it just felt to us like everything was on sale and we all got several books. Then, on the way home, we stopped in a Borders for a pee break and walked out with 5 more books and 2 magazines.

We also did various museums, of course. A huge hit was the Metropolitan Museum of Art, as The Lightening Thief begins there, plus, it has a section full of Greek statues of the various gods. Here are Maya and Asher ‘posing’ with a young Hercules.

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I know I’ve already raved about this book, but really, it was so remarkable to follow my boy around as he said things like, “Look, he’s holding the skin of the Nemean lion he killed,” and “This sarcophagus has carvings of Theseus fighting the Minotaur on it!”

We then sat on the steps outside the Met, relaxing for a bit. This is Boo’s idea of relaxing:

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We then got to witness something else typically New York: a performance art piece. These women, dressed to the nines, kept crossing the street, pausing in the middle to wave and pretend to flag down taxis. Frequently people who were crossing with them would get into the act, blowing kisses to the crowd and such. Very funny.

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And now we are home. The weather has turned cold, it is raining and the routine has returned. Sigh.

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