The 40 Year Old Bat Mitzvah

Q Time

Posted in Uncategorized by Juliet on September 27, 2011

Rudebekia aka Brown Eyed Susan

For weeks we’ve been driving past an empty field wedged between a church and ranch house on Pauba Road near the girls’ school. The field always catches our eye because it has masses and masses of vibrant sunflowers.

One day last week when the girls had no school, I rounded everyone including the dog up and we headed out for a walk. Jane insisted on wearing an inappropriate outfit (Madras shorts, Hello Kitty sweatshirt, and snow boots) and riding her bike. Eva started out surly because I dragged her away from playing with friends. She carried the dog’s poop bags and garden scissors.

It took us forEVER! You know how something looks really close or small or just different when you’re whizzing past it in the car, but then when you actually walk around there, it’s another story?

First off, it was far. It took us a long time, and it was hot. Even the dog looked a little bit wilted.
But as we trudged along, we discovered interesting things. A little streamlet running through a hillside. A dead opossum pelt, so old and dessicated that even Mo turned away from it. A mysterious (why?) hay bale pyramid. And lots and lots of bottle caps.

When we got there, the “sunflowers” turned out to be Brown Eyed Susans, which are still very pretty. Eva cut them long-stemmed and we put them in a vase.

Rudebekia aka Brown Eyed Susan

Everyone in the Pool!

Posted in Uncategorized by Juliet on September 24, 2011

I’m rockin’ the Honda Odyssey minivan and the kids love it.  To be honest, it’s not as bad as I’d feared.  At first I felt like I was sitting very, very high, but minivans aren’t as high as SUVs so it’s not that much of an adjustment from my old Passat.

Also, my minivan is loaded.  It has tons and tons of extras and features.  My carpool kids are enamored.

The other day we drove a sixth grader named Michael home.  I headed out with his mom to HER silver Odyssey and we got Michael’s stuff to put in MY silver Odyssey.  (Seriously, it’s that bad.  If you aren’t driving a Honda Odyssey minivan in Temecula, you’re driving a silver Toyota Siena minivan.  Or white.  Or you’re Mormon in which case you are driving a white Suburban.  If you live in Crowne Hill you may have downscaled to a rental house but you’re probably still driving a black or white Escalade.)

So anyway….Michael loved the features.  Back-up camera!  GPS navigational display with maps showing all gas stations and Honda dealerships along our route!  Outlets at every seat!  DVD player that folds down airplane-style!  My kids love to pretend they’re in seats 23F and H watching “Just Go With It!” without any sound.  (Our DVD plays a  blank screen since I’m afraid watching a video in a moving car will give them motion sickness.)

The kids are also really excited about all of the cup holders.  The dog loves that he can jump up (I bought a heavy wool army blanket that I drape over the back so his toenails don’t scrape the tailgate when he gets in) and stand up like a horse while I drive.  He can look out the windows to monitor our progress to the dog park or vet’s office.

And I am doing some crazy carpooling.  Several hardy Temeculans (and I hope we are hardy, not foolhardy) joined Temple Adat Shalom in Poway this year and we are scrambling to shuttle out kids down for all of the myriad activities their Mosad Shalom school offers.  Poway is in inland north San Diego County, and by the time this year is over, our kids are going to know every stretch of the 40 or so miles of 15 between home and temple.

For instance:  “I think we’re almost home because those rocks look familiar.”

(It’s kind of a featureless, boring drive.)

It’s the drive I made every Monday for an entire year while prepping for my adult bat mitzvah, so I feel  confident that it can and will be done!   Complaints notwithstanding.  Sometimes you’ve just got to tell kids they have to do something because it’s what they have to do.  Eva was carping the other day about having to go to Hebrew school on Tuesday after sitting in regular school all day.  “Congratulations; we’re Jewish.  We worship in a foreign language.  Deal with it.”

So I’m enjoying the minivan even when it’s just the girls and me doing errands around town or taking to dog to his bath, but I love it most when it’s crammed with kids singing and dancing along to the radio.  We’re getting somewhat into our little routine and our little routine is not bad.

Unraveling

Posted in Uncategorized by Juliet on September 6, 2011

Sometimes in life you just have to cut your losses.

I’ve been thinking about this a lot lately because I have a good friend who has been dealing with the long-term struggle of finding good school placement for her four kids.  Each has dramatically different personality and learning style.  It has  been really hard.  She thought she found something that was working well, but at year’s end, testing showed that the kids weren’t progressing the way she wanted them to.  They decided to cut their losses and go back to more traditional education for everyone.

It’s not easy to make a big investment, then realize it was a mistake and decide to start over fresh.  It’s even harder to make the decision to go back to whatever it was you were doing in the first place.  “It would have been so much easier to just have stuck with this without ever veering off into XYZ,” you think.  We’ve all been there.

There’s a reason the cable company tells you to not hang up and try redialing when you get put on hold.  It’ll just extend your waiting time even longer.

Knitting has great metaphors for life.

Here is a legwarmer-in-progress:

I’m learning a new skill with this project: knitting in the round. It’s not hard except for when it suddenly is. Like when you mess up, and it just doesn’t look right anymore. I ignored my first couple of mistakes. I’m making the legwarmers for Eva, and my kids are pretty forgiving gift-recipients. If I knit it and it doesn’t fall apart, they like it.

But this was starting to look so bad that I knew it was time to cut my losses. I had already invested about six or seven hours of laboriously learning to knit in the round. Every knit-in-round pattern contains some variation of the language, “Be careful to not twist,” and believe me, it’s true. If you don’t knit, and later start, there will be a day when you look back and remember me telling you this. Believe.

So I tore the whole thing out. I unraveled row by row and round by round. At the end I was left with nothing but a curly mass of slightly tired looking yarn.

I started over. Experience had made me wiser but also warier. I knit with my eyes open a little bit wider now. If I’m chatting, don’t be insulted if I don’t look up at you. I know things now that I didn’t know before. I’ve raveled, unraveled, and raveled back again.

And the result? I have a pretty damn good start on a pretty damn good legwarmer.

As in knitting, so in life.