Wednesday, December 12, 2012

How do you know that your phone call with the Department of Revenue won't be a smooth one?

Well, if it starts like this:

Department of Revenue Rep:  Ma'am what tax are you calling about?  It states there on your notice.
Me:  It's the tax with a code 321.
Rep:  I see, it's UBIT.  Ma'am do you know what's a UBIT tax?
Me:  Yes.
Rep:  What kind of a tax is that?  I never heard of it.

That should've been my cue to ask for a transfer to a different rep or a supervisor, but theoretically, the kind of tax they were charging my company shouldn't have made a difference in this instance.  So I proceeded to explain what kind of tax UBIT was and explained that we have already paid it; therefore, we were perplexed as to why we were billed again by the Department of Revenue.

Rep:  You filed twice, that's why we billed you.  Ignore the notice until we sort this whole thing out.
Me:  We did not file twice.  Why would we?
Rep:  Ma'am, I see here that we received two filings from you, and paid UBIT, I don't even know what this is, only once.  (I wish I were making this up or exaggerating.)
Me:  We filed once and another piece was just correspondence.  Not sure why it went into your system as another filing.  So what should I do now to avoid double tax?
Rep:  Send us a letter explaining that you filed twice and ask us to deleted the second filing.
Me:  But we did not file twice!
Rep:  Ma'am, I'm not going to beat here around the bush all day long.  You filed twice and that is that.  That's what I am seeing in the system.
Me: How do I know you will delete the letter and not the tax return or won't treat this piece of correspondence as the third filing?  And what should I do, ignore the notice or write a letter?
Rep:  Ma'am, I already told you everything.

At this point I admitted defeat, after all if the rep from the Department of Revenue told you that you filed twice, he simply cannot be wrong; you might have done it in your sleep or suffered a short term memory loss, but you surely did it.  Because it's right there, in the system.  And no one argues with the Department of Revenue and the system.

Me:  Well, thank you for your help.  By the way, what is your name?  You never introduced yourself.
Rep:  Bill.
Me:  Bill, do you have a last name?  Or some sort of ID that would uniquely identify you?
Rep:  I don't give out my last name.  We don't have IDs.  I am the only Fred in the Customer Service Bureau.

And finally the ray of sunshine!  On behalf of all tax paying entities in the state of Massachusetts,  I say thank God that there's only one Bill working for the Department of Revenue.

P.S. After some consideration, I called back and got someone polite and competent.  The matter is now resolved.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

If you are in need of a make over, just give us a call.

DS, upon finding his mother unexpectedly and uncharacteristically made up:  Why are you wearing this?
SW:  to look pretty.
DS, skeptically:  Pretty?  Why would you want to look pretty?
SW:  (at a loss)  I don't know.  Wouldn't you want your mother to look pretty?
DS:  (thinking and then a bit exasperated),  Okay, shiny lips are good.  But all of that (and he points in the direction of my eyes) is too much.   (Ha makes a face that I simply cannot describe well, a mix of dismay and disbelief that is so uniquely his and that I will probably never witness again.)
SW:  should I take it off?
DS:  Yes.  Will you?
SW:  No.  I like it.
DS:  (sigh)
SW:  Now go to sleep.

I do have some unethical ways of winning an argument with a child.  What?  You have a problem with that?  You should also go to sleep!  Now!

Monday, December 3, 2012

The blame game

I don't know whether feminism bashing became the latest trend, but frankly I am getting a bit tired of it.  I am tired of highly educated women who reaped all the benefits of feminism, such as education, suffrage, and equal opportunities at work, bashing that same feminism and blaming it for all social ills.  I am tired of this longing look at our past, with clearly defined gender roles, and cherry-picking of all the nice things about it, conveniently forgetting that not everything was nice and peachy.  Seriously, if a throw back to a time when woman's place was restricted to home is so desirable - please, half the world still lives this way and you are free to choose:  Pakistan, most of India, Saudi Arabia and a bunch of other countries where incidentally few women from U.S. are rushing to move.

The latest feminist bashing comes quite unexpectedly from Dawn Meehan of BecauseISaidSo blog.  In her latest piece, Dawn blames the lack of femininity in modern day women on some men's lack of desire to enter  marriage.  We can argue this premise until the cows come home (and are milked by the properly feminine women), it's not the premise that I find odd, it's Dawn's definition of femininity.  Based on all prior reading of Dawn's stuff, driving a car, being smart and educated, having strong opinions, wearing pants, participating in competitive sports - all the things at some point considered not appropriate for refined women - are not unfeminine.  What is?  Being able to change a tire, do minor household repairs and earning high enough salary to support oneself financially.  In a nutshell, not being a damsel in distress 24/7 and not even attempting to fake being one is why some men don't want to marry.

I have heard this idea before, that women are responsible for all social change.  Men remain more or less the same, it's us women who change social mores.  I don't know if it's empowering to women precisely because men in these scenarios sound like helpless creatures in need of control and manipulation.  However, it is very convenient for blaming - we can blame women for everything!  Obesity is the fault of working women.  High crime rate is the fault of single mothers.  Glass ceiling at work is the fault of working women who choose to procreate and have the audacity to like their children more than their careers.  High divorce rate is the fault of women not investing enough time into their families. And now men's lack of desire to marry is also somehow women's fault.

Do you know what I find very surprising?  It's rarely men who express these opinions and do this type of bashing.  It's mostly women bashing other women.  And somehow Dawn, a very intelligent woman, is missing a double standard in her own writing.  When she, the recently divorced mother of six, ended up without child support, a job or good prospects of finding one, there were quite a few people who criticized her choice to stay out of workforce for so long and not having a financial back up plan.  She felt that the consequence of her choice deserved sympathy, not scorn.  (And just to be clear, I think it absolutely did.)  Yet career women, due to the perceived consequences of their choice not to be completely financially dependent on men and thus turning men off marriage, deserve nothing but blame.

And the most surprising thing of all, is that the women Dawn describes - aggressive, constantly competing with the opposite sex in every facet of life, and out there to prove that they don't really need men -  are very rare in real life.  And you know what else?  Every single one I have met was married, some managed to land a husband more than once.  So maybe, it's not what's turning men off marriage after all?  Maybe, it's constant bashing of other women that does?  Or maybe it's our insecurities about our life choices, which make us bash each other, that are so off putting to men?









Sunday, September 9, 2012

SubVacation - Prologue

We are back!  from our SubVacation!  which I am planning to milk for a few posts!  G-d knows if this doesn't happen, it's not for lack of material, but time :(  But I will attempt!  And maybe even post some pictures.  Maybe...

All SubVacations start the same way.  I start planning about a month or two after our previous vacation and spend an inordinate amount of time searching all the places we possibly might want to go to, then after zeroing in on one or two, I look up places to stay and activities to do.  That takes about six more months of planning, and usually selections are done in May or early June.  Then all the planning stops, for various reasons, and in July we enter phase two: contemplation.  That's when I look at our finances,  compare my and SubHubs' and all the kids' camp and school schedules, cry in despair and start doubting our ability to go anywhere farther than the local playground.  At some point in early August I resign myself to vacationless year because it is just not prudent for oh! so many reasons.  For the next three weeks I go back and forth between going and not going, while making reservations, drive my boss and husband insane with indecision, contemplate cancelling reservations, and only know for sure that we are definitely going on vacation when we are in the car on our way there.

While in the car, I questions myself why I spend so much time looking at other places since we end up going to the same one year after year:  it's close, it's cheap, it's fun and available on a short notice, which is convenient for people who cannot make up their mind without driving herself and everyone around her crazy.  And I also wonder why I drove myself crazy about going or not going on vacation in previous years - we end up going anyway, and in previous years our finances were in a much better shape than now.  It's similar to gaining/losing weight:  you look at the pictures from 10 years ago, realize you didn't look all that fat, especially in comparison with now and wonder why you drove yourself insane with crazy diets.

(To be continued...)




Monday, September 3, 2012

Baby's Soliloquy

I am, I am so cute.  Adorable?  No, I am not adorable.  I am very, very cute.  Because I am.  (short pause) Where's cheese?


In unrelated news, I have to find a new nickname for my youngest child.  She is 3 1/2, and kind of outgrew "baby" two years ago or so.  DD2?  DD3 (in regards to the age?)  Decisions, decisions.


Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Has it been that long?

I had a funny/weird dream last night.  It took place in the future, we were at some social or school function and I was stunned by the realization that DD was almost twelve.  I turned to SubHub and told him, "Can you believe we've been together for thirteen years?  The last few years just flew by! I am still telling people that you ruined only 9 years of my life."

Paging Dr. Freud!

Monday, August 6, 2012

Words you probably don't want to hear from your 6 year old

"Mom, I am trying not to kill so many people, but it's so HARD!"

Okay, so it was said in an emergency room while playing with his father's iPod and in response to my concern that the game was too violent, but still...

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Too good for general tween public?

DD, as it turned out at the end of the school year (something that deserves a post of its own) has been having social issues at school.  To this day not really sure what issues she is having (again, post of its own), but I think I have a clue or two.  My guess was proved right by the conversation we had today.

DD:  T told me today that I am a nicee.  Mommy, what is a nicee?
SW:  No clue.  
DD:  Well, she said I am a nicee, and she liked normal people.  
SW:  Did she explain what she meant by that?
DD:  She said I am too nice all the time.  Is that a "nicee"?
SW:  I don't know.  Maybe she meant she doesn't like people who fake being nice?
DD:  No, she said I am too nice.
SW:  So basically she said that she wanted you to be meaner to her.
DD:  ...
SW:  Did you tell her to @#$$ !@#$ !@#$?  (Okay that part was an imaginary scenario of what I quite possibly would've said in real life to any adult accusing me of being too nice to him.)

I am greatly bothered by this issue and not only because DD is involved.  I don't get it.  I really, really, totally don't get it.  Why does being nice to peers results in social awkwardness?  I know DD is not one of those who is faking niceness (not sure whether 7 year olds are even capable of that).  She is a genuinely nice and considerate kid, and quite honestly I had very little to do with that.  She was just born that way.  So why are kids so nasty to each other?  Why are bitchy girls more popular?  Now in my olden age, when I have acquired some experience and wisdom - hopefully, I see how rare are people who are genuinely nice and take time to be considerate.  Those are the qualities to be cherished, and people exhibiting them should be treasured.  So I don't get the younger kids who not only  don't value niceness, but actually consider it a vice.  I guess that means that I don't get my younger self.  It's hard to describe how much I want to go back in time and slap her around, for her own good.

Sunday, July 15, 2012

It's the end of the world as we know it

Today, on Saturday, July 14th, approximately at 10.30 a.m. the word has come to an end.  This unfortunate event was punctuated by the loud wailing of females and children.  Well, a female child, to be more precise, who interspersed her wailing with heavily punctuated screaming, "I hate you!"  "Why are you my brother!" and most importantly, "GIVE ME BACK THE PILLOW AND THE DOG!!!!!"

I tried to approach her and explain that her loud screaming is more indicative of some terrible event, probably of the cataclysmic type, not really commensurate with the loss of a pillow and a stuffed dog to another family member living under the same roof with her.  In between the sobs and grunts, she managed to dignify my speech with the answer.  "But Mom, he also took away the elephant!!!"

Well, in that case, wail away, my child, because I had no idea it was THAT serious.


Monday, July 9, 2012

In defense of happy endings or Things with which I have made peace, Part I

Growing up, I constantly heard intelligenzia-type Russians poke fun at American movie makers' penchant for happy endings.   Somehow happy ending in the mind of a Russian thinking elite equates with fluff while - I guess - horrible physical and /or psychological suffering that ends really badly is what real art is made of.  Of course, their judgment was based on the very narrow selection of U.S. movies allowed by the censorship rules, and after Perestroika movie selected for public viewing were based on their guaranteed financial success.   And most of them, if not all, ended well for main characters.  Such minor details as deaths of secondary characters were easily dismissed and forgotten.  Even the movie Gone with the Wind that didn't have the happy ending, as I pointed it out to my dad, didn't have a really bad ending either.  Seriously, was there a single soul in the movie theater doubting Scarlett's ability to win Rhett back in no time?  Not in the mind of this 14 year old.    

Twenty years forward (OMG, this just took my breath away.  Twenty.  fripping.  years...)  After moving here and sampling quite a few American movie genres, I can vouch first hand that not all American movies have happy ending.  Ironically, unlike twenty years ago, I now concede that American mainstream cinema is very fond of happy endings.  (I don't know if director from any other nation could as successfully make a happy ending out of a Holocaust story.)  And I concede this point very happily.

When young and in emotional turmoil about such fundamental questions as "Who am I?"  "What is my purpose in life?"  "Is there true happiness?" "Do men find me pretty?" and "How do I change the world in less than 30 days because this is how much time I can devote to any project without losing my attention span unless it's very serious and in that case it can be extended to 35?" books and movies with heroes in emotional turmoil appealed to me.  They were confused, conflicted, in search of something they often couldn't identify, much like myself.  I could relate to their feelings.  I could be them.  

At some point, probably after I got married and had kids, my movie selections were getting fluffier and fluffier (and books were mostly of the self help kind) with the wake up call coming after watching Unfinished Piece for Player Piano.  My Mom have been raving  about this movie every time she mentioned it and I finally was able to get my hands on it  Probably for the first time in my life my Mom and I saw the movie so differently.  It was a good one, but I found the main character and his search for truth annoying and overbearing rather than compelling.  The drama of a man worried about big truths and what could've been more than with his present life and people in it was quite honestly nauseating.  Most likely because I have seen  a variation of it played out in real life.  And I don't know about you, but once I saw a few people dear to me battling cancer, it is one of the things I currently do not want to see on the screen.  Ditto for bitter divorces, family violence and drug abuse.

A few years ago I finally had to admit to my former self that at that point in my life, and quite possibly forever, I was not looking to get invested in imaginary people's problems.   That when I find an hour or two a week, between dealing with real life headaches and problems and even drama, to sit down and watch something, I want to come out of the experience feeling better about life, myself, my and my children's future and the world in general rather than questioning G-d's goodness and fairness.  That is why I no longer watch most Olympic games (fairness...), sitcoms ( the inevitable Will they or Won't they plots lasting years are just too exhausting) and dramas (for obvious reasons).   Occasionally I accidentally stumble upon something more serious (Hard to Be God, if you must know what it is, please read it, do not watch a movie) or get a poor recommendation (after 4 + years you are still not forgiven - and you know who you are - for recommending me Pan's Labyrinth), which only strengthens my resolve to avoid serious stuff regardless of its artistic qualities.

Part of artistic and thinking elite I am not.  And I have made peace with it.  

Monday, June 11, 2012

Art imitating life

It's already past DS's bedtime and we are trying to fit comfortably on his twin bed.  When finally all the technical difficulties of sharing a small pillow and a child-size blanket with his quite overweight mother have been resolved, DS resorts to his usual, "Mom, tell me a story."  I have been in a horizontal position for only few seconds, but already feel my eyelids getting heavy.  I search the brain for a story, any story, but it has shut down for the day.  DS doesn't give in.  I can barely turn my tongue, but resistance is futile.  Hmmm.... Space, the final frontier, Captain Jean Luc Picard...  "Mommy, my story!"  jolts me from my half-asleep half-awake state.  And so I start.

"Once upon a time there lived a little boy, just like you, whose name was - surprise - DS!  Once he decided that he no longer wanted to fall asleep alone and started asking his Mommy to lie down next to him.  Mommy didn't like it much, but she loved her little boy and agreed.  Then the little boy would ask Mommy to tell him a story.  And Mommy usually would tell him a story, about kings and princes, and two best friends Baby Penguin and Baby Sea Lion, or about an Old Man and his Golden Fish.  But that night Mommy was soooo tired, she couldn't think of any story and asked DS if he could fall asleep without one.  And DS, being a nice and considerate boy, who took commandment of honoring his parents very seriously, happily agreed.  End of story."

DS:  This is a fake story!
SW:  Why do you say it's fake?
DS:  Because it is about me.  I want a real story!  (I'll let you ponder on the irony of that statement.)
SW: Tomorrow.
DS:  Today.
SW:  Tomorrow.

DS is also wiped, so he gives up and we both drift off to sleep.  Well, don't know about him, but I am gone before I finish saying"tomorrow," but after thinking "Real, huh?  Because friendship between baby penguin and baby sea lion is soooo real.  Just watch some National Geographic."  



Friday, April 20, 2012

Beware of dieting cults

SW: I am always forgetting your apartment number.
Dad: Ah, just ring any bell.  No one here asks, they just open the door for anyone who rings.   Always letting these cult people enter the building and knock on your door to proselytize.
SW:  Cult people?
Dad:  Yeah, just last night had to explain two gentlemen from Weight Watchers that we are not interested in their literature.  Thought they would never leave.
SW:  Weight Watchers???
Dad:  (mistaking my incredulity for religiously motivated outrage)  Yes, from Weight Watchers!
SW:  You mean, Watch Tower?
Dad:  Weight Watchers, Watch Tower, they are all the same.

Dad, you thought you were joking, but, as the saying goes, there's a grain of truth in any joke. 

Sunday, March 25, 2012

On flings and long term relationships...

This past Sabbath:

SubWife:  Why don't you come with us to the playground?  It's a nice day.
SubHub:  I would rather not.
SW:  Oh, c'mon.
SH: Nah.
SW:  Okay then.
SH:  Just don't come back too late.  I have to be at SubHubFriend's at 5.30.
SW:  Isn't he like half hour away?
SH:  Well, he's giving a class on Passover and would be glad if I came.
SW:  So let me get this straight (no pun intended).  You are willing to walk half hour each way not to disappoint SHF, but not afraid to disappoint your wife and children by not going with us to the playground?
SH:  SHF knows it's a one-time thing.  With you, it's a bigger commitment -  if I go once, I will have to go every time.
SW:  Does SHF know it's a one-time affair?   He might expect more and you'll have to decide between walking there weekly or breaking the man's heart.
SH:  I didn't think of it this way.
SW:  I see.  Well, I am taking the baby with me, so you can leave any time.  I don't want to stand in the way of your and SHF's happiness.

Happy to report that SubHub decided not to break any hearts and instead chose a nap, to nourish his well-established relationship with his pillows.  The man gets around.

Friday, March 2, 2012

Why do you cry, baby?

What they see in school: DS is not doing his classwork, has a hard time memorizing alphabet and concentrating, is being disruptive at times...

This is what I hope they can see.

DS:  Mom!!!  Mom!!!! MOM!!!
SubWife:  (rushing to DS) What happened?
DS:  Mommy, baby is in the bathroom and is crying  Go to her.
SW:  She's with Daddy, I am sure she's okay.
DS:  Mommy, she is crying, go to her, she wants you!
SW:  How do you know?
DS:  She always wants you when she cries.  Go to her!

I oblige.  I am also impressed.  This is the same baby that rips up his projects, colors his school work and always seems to want the same toy DS took just a minute ago.

A few minutes later Baby emerges from the bathroom, with hair washed , which was the reason for crying.
DS rushes to her:  Are you okay baby?  Why did you cry?

He's still five years old.  He's got a good heart.  I just so hope that he keeps it this way and doesn't lose it.  And I also hope that among his academic and behavioral difficulties, his teachers notice his big heart too.

Monday, February 20, 2012

Our little philosopher

There's a little song all Jewish kids sing in their nurseries.  It goes like this:

Hashem (God) is here,
Hashem is there,
Hashem is truly everywhere.

Up, up,
Down, down,
Right, Left and all around.
Here, there and everywhere,
That's where he can be found.

I am always really excited when they teach them this song because it is so adorable when the little tykes point their pudgy fingers in the "up, up" motion.

Only our baby has her own version.  She dumped the fist verse and walks around singing "up, up, down, down, I can't find him anywhere..."  And looks really lost and disappointed.  Which probably describes the feelings of so many adults...

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Tea anyone?

I am having another busy week at work and coming home late and exhausted.

One night this week I came home, plopped myself on the couch and started to slowly take off my boots.  And then I heard SubHub from the kitchen asking me to make him some tea.  For the past few months the man really got into tea, and guess who was making it for him?

The only thing I wanted at the moment was to take off my boots, stretch my feet and decompress for five minutes before tackling homework with kids.  So I told SubHub, "Look, you are right there next to the stove, why don't you do it?"  SubHub replied that I didn't understand and could I make him tea?  I tried to suppress frustration and said, "Fine, put the kettle on the stove, that's all I ask, and in five minutes when the thing whistles, I'll make you tea."  SubHub insisted that I didn't understand him and yes, could I make him tea.  Part of me was - shall we say not happy with him, another part tried to understand why it was so important that it was I who had to make him damned tea and what childhood trauma led to this sad state of affairs, and yet another part thinking that maybe I forgot that "making tea" was a code for something else.  It was not.

 I wasn't trying to hide my annoyance any more and said, "I am really tired, but fine, I will make you your tea." To which SubHub looked funny at me, half smiled and said, "You really didn't hear me at all, all those times."  I looked at him not quite understanding.

"All this time I was offering to make YOU a cup of tea because you looked so tired."

We laughed, then we laughed some more, we finally drank tea - don't remember who ended up making it, but I keep wondering some days later, how many times do I hear what I expect instead of what is said, let alone meant? Scary stuff.

Monday, February 13, 2012

If it walks like a duck...

Ahh, kids.

(Overheard DD and DS talking)
DD: ... and she turned into a  swan.
DS:  What's a swan?
DD:  It's a big duck.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

The week in numbers

This is the recap of my week in numbers.  After all, I am an accountant, right?

# of dental appointments: 1.  Same goes for the # of very expensive and totally avoidable dental appointments.  If only one could purchase extra brain in the same way one could purchase another tooth bonding, so that one could avoid that another tooth bonding.

# of peanuts in one (old) Weight Watchers point: 13.  How do I know?  Yes, I am baaack.
(courtesy: collegelifestyles.org)
# of times lost my work ID: 2.

# of times found my lost work ID: 1.  This is just embarrassing because I have to ask my boss to sign off on getting a new one.  Again.

# of audits going on at work: 1, but trust me more than plenty.  In addition to beginning of the year/tax/closing of affiliates stuff.

# of nights staying late at work: 4 (Yay for being shabbat-observant.) Same goes for number of nights had to forgo checking and doing kids' homework.  Can't wait for teachers' phone calls, at least from those who care.

# of healthy home made suppers served to kids despite coming home late: 6, including home made pizza and home made bread.

(courtesy of time.com)


# of time burned myself making those suppers:  every effing time.  No kidding.

# of suppers the kids said they truly enjoyed: 1, when husband baked fish sticks.  Not homemade and/or healthy.  Just to clarify.

(courtesy of blog.ajc.com)

# of laundry baskets with clean clothes still unsorted: 4 (we are actually branching out to garbage bags.  On the other hand, fishing out needed items is just the right kind of entertainment we all need in the morning rush hour.)

# of fights with SubHub: 3, I think.

# of times broke down crying in front of own house: 1 (2 - is the number of neighbors who witnessed this. )

# of times I asked myself why I made a resolution to be furiously happy and not angrily miserable or perpetually overwhelmed because everyone knows that resolutions are made to not be kept:  every waking minute and some sleeping minutes too.

But when I thought about my resolution, I decided to look for positive things in my life.  Health!  Vision! I still had my vision.  Near-sighted, but still, vision.  Smell, I still had the sense of smell!  Umm, no, not with that lingering cold, I didn't.  Taste.  Yeah, my extra pounds could attest to my healthy sense of taste.  Extra pounds that could lead to diabetes, heart disease and premature death.  And cancer, how could I forget cancer? Who was I kidding?  I am Jewish, and as such cannot talk about health in a positive light.  We practically invented  hypochondria and passed it down from generation to generation from Mount Sinai together with our tradition.  Come to think of it, we might have been more successful in passing down hypochondria.

Relationships!  I must concentrate on relationships!  Except for the one with husband because he totally deserved what he got and if he didn't, will deserve it very shortly.

Decided to take a break from this post, call my folks and complain about hard week at work, not complain about hard week at home and hint at kids' ingratitude.  Only to find Mom sounding very weak and Dad breaking the news that Mom's really bad to begin with cancer was getting worse.

# of times I wish it weren't true - infinity.

P.S. The post was written before I found out how bad things were getting.  Except for the last paragraph.  Part of me wondered whether I should post it.  Or whether I should post the last paragraph.  Maybe, in light of the news, I should alter something, change things around. And then I thought that it's things like this, dwelling on minutiae of life, that are partially making me miserable at times.  So I decided not to overthink and publish things as they were.  After all, it is my life and that's how it goes: one minute you are writing a, hopefully, funny post about every day annoyances and next minute you get really bad news.)

Love,

SubWife

Saturday, February 11, 2012

English is a strange language

English is a strange language.  This occurred to me a few nights ago when I was spelling out numbers to DD.  Well, it also occurred to me when I was learning it, actually it occurred to me more than once, but eventually I made peace with it.  And now that DD is learning spelling, it is re-occurring to me once again on a regular basis.  So here's my discovery:

Don't you find it strange that the word "one" does not have a "W", but the word "two" does?  Am I the only one (without a "w") who thinks that?

Monday, February 6, 2012

Democracy is not welcome at SubCasa, but pizza is.

Today I have been outvoted 3:1 on what we were going to eat for supper.  We were on the way back from a long-awaited trip to see my friend's cats.  The whole trip was a stroke of genius that occurred to me while explaining DS the difference between C and G.  I told him about my friend's cat  - Cat George.  C and G.  Once DS learned to differentiate between C and G, he would be rewarded with a trip to visit Cat George.  We scheduled a trip a bit prematurely as DS still couldn't recognize either letter and mixed them up.  Oh well.  Education is overrated.  Cats, on the other hand, are cool.  I mean, Cat George doesn't know that his name starts with a G and how that letter differs from C, and he's doing just fine.  So we are on the right track of doing "just fine" with DS.  

But back to the voting business.  On the way home from this trip we are talking about supper when I heard DD saying something about me making pizza.  Before I knew it, the little monsters were taking a vote.  Even the one who still needs my help putting her on on a toilet and wiping her tush, was raising her hand and said, "Pizza! Pizza!"

So there I was, in the chilly winter wind, tired and outvoted, and, let me be absolutely clear, in no mood to make pizza.  I looked at all three of them menacingly and asked to recount the votes.  Again 3:1.  Yep, I might be a screaming banshee from time to time, but I am not menace.  No one's afraid of my evil eye.  I didn't want to use "Because I said so" card just yet, so I asked, again the stroke of genius, "Out of the people present here, how many of you can make pizza?"  DD raised her hand.  So did the baby, but we disqualified her vote because we are ageists.  "From scratch?!" I insist.  Only one hand went up.  Mine.  "Out of the people who can make pizza, how many wish to make it tonight?"   No hands went up, even the baby felt beaten.

"Chicken soup it is!"  I looked at their little disappointed faces and acquiesced, "All right, with croutons."  Even us, despots, have hearts.  But we also have memories, and I distinctly remember who voted against me. (Please insert the look of menace as I am clearly unable to produce one.  Thank you.)

(Source:  Rutgers.edu)

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Guess whose mother is getting him an R/C monster truck?

(This picture contains Amazon affiliate link.)

DS was supposed to have a special speaker come into his class.

SubWife:  DS, did the special teacher come to school to today?
DS:  Who?
SW:  You know, the special lady who was supposed to come and talk to you guys?
DS:  Ah, the skinny lady?
SW:  What?  Skinny lady?
DS:  Yeah, skinny lady.  She is very skinny.  She is much skinnier that my teacher.
SW:  And you notice these things?
DS:  Yeah, her stomach is like this, - and he shows concave stomach.  - She is very skinny.  Like you.

I have to wrap up here because I am busy searching for a blue R/C monster truck.

One could see this as reason to lose weight #69, you know, to have less ways to be manipulated by your 5 year old, but I am a glass half full person and no longer see any reason to lose weight.  Now, where's my chocolate stash?

Monday, January 23, 2012

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Reason to get organized #672

We read the books, attend the lectures, ask advice from professionals and those with experience, and still, there are things in parenting that catch us completely off guard.  I was caught off guard today.  I tried to brush it away, to dip into the knowledge acquired from books, lectures and discussions with professionals.  I ended up yelling a little, expressing my disappointment and largely tried to avoid thinking about it.  And now, when everyone is asleep, the clock is showing about 2 a.m. and I am scrambling, as usual, to find that piece of paper that I absolutely need, it hits me and I start crying.

In the grand scheme of thing it really is not that important.  It could be one of those things I will not recall a few years from now.  But it still eats at me.  My daughter, my lovely, kind, bright, absolutely delightful daughter has failed her Hebrew test, and she failed it miserably.  I knew there were problems in this subject; I spoke with the teacher several times.  DD has been having academic issues this year, but eventually math and English have picked up.  Hebrew - not so much.  And even though I was aware of it, nothing seals the fact that my child is not succeeding in school like seeing the failing grade on top of the test paper.  It sits there, along with the note that DD needs individual help in this subject, and I can feel it accusing me of somehow letting this happen, of being a bad, irresponsible, neglectful mother.

Rationally I know that I can't fault myself for every bad grade and I definitely shouldn't beat myself up over it.  Yet I can't help but feel guilty: for being such a disorganized mess, for quite possibly passing this on to my kid either through genes or through observation, and possibly both.  For working full time and not being at home enough to help her out or organize her studying time better.  For not having enough patience when I do help out.  For not having the means to hire a tutor and for not really knowing the subject myself.  For taking time to myself when I could've been studying with her.  It feels that it wasn't the test that she failed, it feels like I failed her in some major way.

I have always been a proponent of the very sound advice on homework: make it a kid's responsibility.   My own parents never checked my homework and helped only when asked.  It was never spoken, but I knew that school work, academic success and studying were solely my responsibility.  And even though I was a disorganized mess as far as I can remember myself, the first time I struggled academically was at the age of 12 or 13.  Even then, the onus of figuring it out was on me, with help available if asked for.  And it worked; as far as I can remember, I have never failed a test.  And I didn't expect my daughter to either, at least not at 7.  Armed with my personal experience and all the advice from all the books I read, I planned to employ the same approach to my kids' academics as my parents.  And it worked, until it no longer did.

It was apparent that I had to take over homework, in some way.  DD obviously needed someone to explain what she missed in class, help her focus and organize her work, check answers and drill, drill, drill, But mainly help her focus and get organized.  Ladies and gentlemen, how can someone struggling her entire life with organization and focus teach her child those same things?  How can I help her fight the monsters I haven't conquered myself?  Somehow I was always, or almost always, able to wing it, improvise, come through at the eleventh hour, which allowed me to compensate.  I don't know how to teach that.  I don't know whether I should.

I am  not in despair.  I am not upset at DD.  Well, I try not to be even though it drives me up the wall seeing how easily she loses focus.  We have a plan of how to improve.  Isn't what this life is all about - improving?  I should put getting organized  on top of my "to do" list.  Heck, it's been there as far as I can remember myself.  But I must get better, and sometimes it is easier to improve for someone else than for myself.  And now I have that reason.

Monday, January 16, 2012

If you had any doubts

...that men and women are different, here's another proof.  My husband has been spending 1.5 hours 5 nights a week for the past 4 or 5 years in a Jewish learning program.  He sits next to a man with whom he has got friendly.  They are not very best friends, but the man has been to our house a few times and my husband has gone to this man's.  And again, the whole spending 1.5 hours next to each other almost every night for several years in a row thingy.

This week this man came to us to help out my husband with his computer issues.  At some point of the conversation, the man noticed our baby sleeping on the couch.  He had inquired whether this was our youngest child and then asked, "How many have you got?"  Yeah, he did not know.  I asked hubby how could that have happened, and hubby said, "It just didn't come up."  I didn't ask - too petrified to confirm that I'm right - but am almost positive that hubby doesn't know how many children this man has.

Now, after this, do we really need research that men and women are different?  I assume we all know that had that been women, not only we would know the number, but also the names, ages, and quite possibly birthdays.  But this is precisely what I had seen recently on msn.com, another article that men and women actually are psychologically different.  Who would've thunk?

I am suggesting some other very valuable topics of research:

1.  Are men and women different physiologically?
2.  Is making bed really necessary every single morning?
3.  If you gorge on sugar and chocolate all day long for several years, will you gain weight?
4.  Does this dress make me look fat?  Please analyze from all angles.

and my personal favorite:

5.  If given a choice, would people prefer being rich and healthy over being poor and sick?

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Reason to lose weight #68

DD:  Mommy, why do you have a big stomach?
Me:  Ahem, because mommy was eating too much for far too long.
DD:  Oh, and I was hoping it was a baby...  I want a big family, Mommy.  Can we have another baby?  Please, please, please?

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

The joke's on you

When I was a little girl, one my father's favorite jokes was about Fantomas.  I don't know whether you are familiar with this character, but in Russia French Fantomas movies with Louis de Funes and Jean Marais were very popular.   Basically the heroes are:



Fantomas - a ruthless and extremely successful criminal, master of disguise always appearing under assumed identity, which he achieves by wearing masks.



Juve - police detective obsessed with catching Fantomas.



Fandor - journalist, covering Fantomas's crimes and also looking to catch him.


Helene - Fandor's bride

So the joke goes like this:

"Ha-ha-ha," said Fantomas, leaving Helene's bedroom and taking off Fandor's mask.
"He-he-he," said Inspector Juve, leaving Helene's bedroom and taking off Helene's mask.

I don't know why this joke was appropriate to tell in front of or to the little kids, maybe to acclimated us with more liberal attitudes of the West, but I heard it often.  Well, all of this intro is to tell you that we had our version of this joke play out at SubCasa.

I didn't get much sleep last night and needed a little caffeine, so I poured myself half a glass of Coke.  I took a few sips, turned around for a second, only to find my son holding now almost empty glass and laughing, "Ha-ha-ha."

"Well, buddy, ha-ha-ha, the joke's on you, I have a cold sore and you just might get it too after stealing my soda and drinking from my glass."  I repeated the "ha-ha-ha" (what, I wanted the lesson to sink in) and finished the coke in the glass, only to realize a second later that  - he-he-he, DS still had a stomach virus...  A virus that lasted quite a few days, affected both hubby and the kids; the virus that I miraculously avoided and now willingly ingested...  He-he-he indeed.

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Reason to lose weight #67

A few weeks ago I got my kids these absolutely adorable mice.




(clicking on the image will bring you to Amazon.com page).



They were an instant hit, but of course two weeks later cheese got lost somewhere in action and I kept finding mice in all the weird places.  Tonight, as I was sweeping around our eating area, I noticed this tiny little mouse shaking on the table next to the cereal bowl.  "Oh, why is this cute little creature shivering?" I thought  And then it hit me.  My walking around was shaking the table that much.  Ouch.

Monday, January 2, 2012

Corn chips anyone?

Well, I, for one, am glad that I didn't make that long list of resolutions for 2012.  Because the one about being a more attentive, gentler, and less yelling mom would've been broken - yes, you guessed it on January 1.  Here's the photographic evidence of my motherly inattentiveness.


Oh no, I do not think that I am an evil mother because my child fell asleep on the floor.  I am told it happens to the few lucky ones whose kids fall asleep on their own.  Which today is me!  (me! me! me!)   It's what I did next that makes me a viable contender for the title of Horrible Mother of the Year.  I reached for the camera only to realize that the battery is completely dead.  So I did  what any caring mother would've done in my place - went to charge the battery.  Then I snapped a few, OK, quite a few shots.  I might or might not have uploaded the picture on Facebook before finally transferring the poor kid to bed; I'll leave that up to your imagination.  

On the bright side please note that the floor is relatively clean (on a day when kids were mostly home!) and the chips next to the sleeping kid are organic.  So there's hope for me.  And for my kids.  And for Target, whose products are getting free advertisement from my blog.  

P.S. I was about to publish this, but Blogger had issues.  And of course the baby woke up.  She came into the living room, saw her picture on the screen and started screaming, "It's me, it's me.  I fell!"  I said, "No, baby, you fell asleep on the floor."  She gave me one horrified look and said, "Oh my God."  I think that describes it all.