Sunday, January 30, 2011

Seven days and counting - Top 10 List

Eldest Daughter's Bat Mitzvah is in a week. Here's a peek at what's going on inside my head:

1. It will rain. It won't rain. If you were at our wedding you will understand this.
2. There will be too much food. There won't be enough food.
3. One of us will get the flu.
4. My clothes won't fit after coming back from alterations.
5. Eldest Daughter will have a growth spurt this week and her clothes won't fit after coming back from alterations.
6. A storm will strand Tristan in SLC and I'll have to do our hair and makeup myself.
7. The kids won't eat the centerpieces. Please, under 21s, eat the centerpieces! Over 21s too!
8. People will try take home the centerpieces. Who started that tradition anyway?!
9. The photo montage will not be finished.
10. My friend from college, who gave much thought to attending but in the end could not, will go to the SuperBowl instead to cheer on her beloved Packers. I will, of course, blame this on her husband and never speak to him again.

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Mission Pie

I read about this Mission District restaurant on one the food blogs and the description of the Shaker Lemon pie set it pretty high on my list of Must Visits.

The Shaker Lemon pie was not good. Mushy. Curdled. With slices of lemon in it. I suppose it's supposed to be that way but as a lemon lover, I was disappointed. The crust was the only redeeming part. My friend and I also tried the Pear-Raspberry and that was better although not mindblowing. The problem I have with pies in general is that my mother makes the best Apple Pie in the entire universe and everything else falls short.

My goat cheese, spinach and bacon quiche was very good from what I remember of the seven seconds it took me to devour it. My friend's onion and potato galette was quickly consumed, too.

The restaurant is at 24th and Mission, a colorful spot. Bonus points to Mission Pie for having a seasonal menu with organic ingredients borne of sustainable methods.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

The Hair. The Makeup.

Tristan moved back to Salt Lake City last year. Not only is she gorgeous, she is a hair stylist and fabulous with makeup.

I asked her to be our on-call beauty expert for the Bat Mitzvah weekend.

As our planning progressed, I asked her how much time she'd need to do hair for me and The Pinks, and makeup for me and Eldest Daughter before each of the three functions.

Her answer made Eldest Daughter jump around the house screaming for 15 minutes.

It was a long diatribe about sending her pictures in advance of the people and all the clothes so she could plan looks and make recommendations on hair and makeup. It talked about makeup brushes and styling products and. I am beginning to think I should have bought her two airline tickets - one for her and one for the equivalent of Sephora that she will haul out here to beautify us.

Bring it on!

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Cybersecurity and the Tween

I attended a parent education workshop at our middle school on cybersecurity. More than a few of you asked for the recap.

Here's the thing: I'm fairly web savvy. I work in technology. For many years Dave sold computer security software. We have firewalls and virus protection at home.

But when it comes to your kid, you forget how much you need to teach them.

The night after the talk I spent an hour tightening up the security controls on Eldest Daughter's Facebook account. Let's just say she's pretty locked down now. I also went through all her email. That was another fun three hours.

It pretty much comes down to this: own your identity and our actions. Your digital presence stays with you forever. It's like a tattoo. Sometimes it's visible and sometimes it's not. But it never goes away. A student's drunken pictures from Cancun and posted to Facebook will come back to haunt them when they interview for a summer internship at CBS News. On Facebook, reposting a link to a web site that sells term papers will have college admissions officers questioning your ethics.

One of the police officers speaking was absolutely against Facebook. He says kids don't need it and shouldn't have it. It just causes trouble. I suspect he doesn't have kids. The school guidance counselor had a more realistic approach. When your kids are 10, 11, 12 you can manage their online presence, you can teach them right from wrong, you can discuss cyber etiquette and consequences with them. Not so much with a teenager. Start these conversations early.

We have kept Eldest Daughter on a short leash when it comes to the computer. For the longest time she could not accept friends or post without discussing it with us. When we ask who she's texting, IMing with or talking to, she has to tell us. It's important to know who your child's Facebook friends are. We have been through her whole friends list together to ensure this.

Facebook has an entire Safety for Parents section. It's a good read.

The scariest part of the talk was learning that laws that protect our children from cyberbullying are still in their infancy. Lori Drew, who cyberbullied Megan Meier in Dardenne Prairie, Missouri, until she took her own life, was not prosecuted following Megan's death.

And Formspring, let's not even go there ...

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Simcha Shoshana

Yesterday was the happy occasion of the Bat Mitzvah of a family friend.

Sharon and Simon, the proud parents and longtime Jewish educators, both grew up on the east coast. Shoshana is their only child and Sharon readily admits that she'd been planning this day since before their daughter was even born.

Sharon and Simon both teach at our synagogue and their community is the local Jewish community. The service was musical. And poignant. And of course Shoshana shined. This event was a true community celebration.

I tell you that they are transported east coasters for one reason: wow factor. Sharon and I have been friends since before we had children and throughout the last year she's been telling me that our two Bat Mitzvahs will be different than all the rest at the synagogue. This scares me on many levels.

One of the things I love at our synagogue is how small and low key it is. At the synagogue Dave and I grew up in, a large temple with gorgeous facilities, three rabbis, and a fabulous education program, there seems to be a very "see and be seen" mentality.

Sharon put together an 18-page, full-color program for the service. (Don't go looking for that at Eldest Daughter's!). Their family came from as far away as Israel. The evening celebration had a Chinese food buffet (brilliant for this crowd!), a Lemon Drop fountain, a dance performance by Shoshana and her secular school friends, and a DJ that kept the kids and adults on their feet. I'm happy to report that my Prada stilettos were still comfortable at the end of the evening. Who would have thunk?

Two weeks from today Eldest Daughter's Bat Mitzvah will be behind us. As she and I departed last night, Sharon, tutor to many B'nai Mitzvot, pulled me aside and said, "She will melt down tomorrow. The pressure and reality will set in." I have no reason to doubt her. She's been right on so far.

Mazel Tov Cohen family!

Monday, January 17, 2011

Have we met?!

While chaperoning an elementary school field trip last week, I had an extended conversation with another mom, one who I did not know previously.

We are both working moms with more than one child.

One of the things we had in common was that neither of us spends much time at school, and that we approach school functions with a smidge of anxiety because we know that moment will come. You know that moment. And I bet you fear it, too. It's the one where a parent, who looks vaguely familiar, approaches you and picks up the conversation where it left off last time. The problem is, you don't remember that conversation and you are struggling to remember who this person is without looking like an idiot.

Here's my situation: I have three children. This means that in my years of parenting I've had children in 14 elementary school classes. Add to that the preschool / dance / soccer / theatre / religious school / softball parents. Now add in the people from volunteer work, my professional life and childhood in a nearby suburb. No wonder I'm a little slow on the pickup.

My friend in NYC doesn't have this problem. Her kids go to a teeny tiny private school and she lives in a city big enough to provide a comfortable layer of anonymity. Part of me really likes that idea. And part of me is happy to live in a small town, one where both the upside and the downside is that you run into people you know every time you leave the house.

I think this is another one of those taboo topics, one people will cop to upon discussion but never admit out of the blue.

Anyone with me?

Friday, January 14, 2011

Al Capone shines my shoes.

Not really because he's dead. And even if he were alive, he probably wouldn't.

However, this is a great children's book, set on Alcatraz.

It was really becoming embarrassing, this having lived in the Bay Area off and on for 35 years, and never having been. And so I found a friend with the same predicament and we went!

Alcatraz is a quick ferry ride over from San Francisco's Pier 33, one with stunning Bay and city views. My friend and I took the audio tour, which wound through the former cell house and onto the exercise grounds. The view is incredible; we went on a bitterly cold and clear day.

Things I learned:
  • The food there was so good that the guards and prisoners ate it.
  • There were 1,576 men who served time at Alcatraz during the 29 years it was open.
  • The worst of the worst were sent to Alcatraz.
  • Only one escape attempt was successful; three men left the island on a life raft made of raincoats. They have never been found.
  • It closed because it was too expensive to upkeep.
  • Entire families lived on Alcatraz: the warden's family, the guards' families. It had its own Officer's Club.
The audio tour is well done, just long enough to go through the history but not so long that you're bored.

I'll take the kids and Dave next time.

Next on my list: walking across the Golden Gate Bridge.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Today's BatM Funnies

I got an email from "Valerie" today. We are friendly with Valerie and her husband, and our daughters have been friends since first grade.

She inquired about appropriate attire for the BatM. I gave her my usual response: covered shoulders for the women, knee length or longer is better for skirt length at the service. Anything goes at night -- most women will wear party dresses and men will wear jackets and about half will wear ties.

Her response? "'Eleanor' told me that parents don't get to come to the party." I laughed and said, "I think Eleanor may not want you there but we invited you and we do hope you'll come!" I'm so glad we clarified because Valerie said that they really did want to come and had been looking forward to it.

I suspect Eleanor is busted tonight.

And then ...

Yesterday was the cut off date for RSVPs. There are a dozen people we have not heard from, mostly Eldest Daughter's middle school classmates and my weird relatives.

This afternoon, after the mail came, I picked up the phone and began making calls to the outstanding invites. I'd made six calls when the texts started coming to Eldest Daughter's phone. I'd humiliated her. C'est la vie. As her mother, it's my right.

Friday, January 7, 2011

Polar Bear Plunge!

Thing 2, no stranger to cold water*, participated in the community pool's Polar Bear Plunge.

With an outside temperature hovering around 40F and light rain, I was not sure she was going to get out of her warm bed to do it.

She placed second.

The funniest part was the lifeguards' race. Three late teens, all water polo players, screamed like 2-year-olds as they hit the water. They then swam laps at the speed of Michael Phelps and pulled themselves out of the pool seal-style with a loud grunt and belly roll, all with matching grimaces.

* A few winters ago Thing 2 went to the outdoor hot tub at Tahoe with our neighbors. One of her friends dared her to swim across the pool, which had ice-berg-like masses in it. Of course she did. I'm glad I didn't know this until after we got home.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Taskmaster. Taskmistress?

I had last week off work and it seemed to me that Bat Mitzvah preparations took up a significant chunk of that time.

My gas-guzzling week included trips to Aaron Brothers, the SF Flower Market, Flax, Nordstrom (x3), the post office, Richard's, Target, Cost Plus, Cheesecake Factory, Crate & Barrel, At the Candy Shop, Costco, Party City, Levy's Bagels, Joann Fabrics, Beauty Source, Office Max and on and on.

The dining room continues to take on a life of its own.

My panic has subsided as I've methodically checked things off my list. If you've offered help, I've taken you up on it.

My Badgers were in the Rose Bowl so we had a crowd here New Year's Day. Sadly, there was no deep friend turkey left. My friend's daughter, an UofO-bound high school senior, will be one of the party motivators at the Big Bash. She gave me some pointers and her mom helped me with some assembly projects during the ugly game. (At least we didn't go to Anaheim to see it this time.)

I still have a lot to do but the advance work is pretty much on schedule. This week's project: finding something for me to wear.

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Tim Gunn would be proud.

The eight-year-olds turned nine this week and Thing 1 had a Project Runway birthday party!

The Challenge: to create a fashionable evening look using Old Navy pajama pants and a plain white t-shirt.

The contestants really rose to the occasion and we saw some serious and thoughtful design from these aspiring designers!

The models had their makeup done by our resident glam guru, Eldest Daughter. Then the fashion show and judging were followed by a pizza and Baskin Robbins ice cream cake.

We also celebrated the birthdays with an immediate-family-only outing to Sky High. Sky High is a fun spot and lucky for you, they have a few Bay Area locations. It's essentially a warehouse with a trampoline-lined floor. You can bounce off the floor and walls, and even play games like dodge ball and jump into a foam pit. One thing I especially liked was the reservation system. So while the arena was at capacity, it wasn't dangerously crowded because they limit the amount of people who can jump at one time. This was a blast even for me and Dave. Of course his uterus didn't feel like it was going to fall out like mine did.

From there we had dinner at California Pizza Kitchen with my MIL and the cousins. And then Thing 1 tried to stay up until 11:46p so she could gloat to her sister that she was older. No such luck. Maybe next year.