Sunday, July 31, 2011

Snapshots from a move

Cat exploring the wall of boxes. After sniffing at the tall, narrow box for our framed pictures, she decides to jump in. "I'm not stuck. I'm cozy!"
The only thing better than people who take your kid for a while so you can pack are people who take your kid for a while and then make you dinner.
Yes, the appliances all work. No, I'm not kidding - we will throw in a free blender if you take away the grill RIGHT NOW.
It's a little weird to see other people sitting on your couch. In your driveway.
No, Kid, bubble wrap is too expensive to spread out on the floor of the carport and ride your tricycle back and forth over it.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Jews have too many damn dishes

Fine china set (for Shabbat). Everyday dishes. Passover dishes.

Add in milk/meat for real kosher folks, and OMFG. Seriously. The whole "wandering Jew" thing must be a myth - who could move around constantly if they had to pack up this many dishes every time?!?

Thursday, July 21, 2011

People don't want books, they want reading.

There's an entrepreneurial adage that emerged in the last 10 years that goes, "don't sell anything that Amazon can deliver cheaper." That is, channels of distribution are changing. Retail, especially, is changing. Starting up a brick and mortar bookstore, music store, video store, makes little sense.*

But this doesn't mean people are not willing to spend money on books, music, movies, etc. Or that established retailers who stick to sound business planning will necessarily get hosed by online competitors. As Dennis Johnson of Moby Lives points out, big retailers are more likely to get hosed by their own bad decisions:
"If there’s anything to take away from the Borders story, it’s this: It doesn’t at all represent that fewer people want to buy print books. It represents that fewer big corporations want to sell them."
So why do these myths about the big bad Amazon wolf continue? I think it's because so many companies don't understand what business they're in. Borders, and to some extent Barnes & Noble, decided they were in the business of creating large, expensive retail space for physical things. What most of us know is that they were really selling a coffee-break-with-a-book.

The best thing about Borders was always those big comfy chairs, where you could browse at leisure through the topics of your choice, and maybe find something to buy. And get a cup of coffee and some crappy baked goods. And that experience is what made us remember them when it was time to go back and buy a birthday present for someone (great art books!) or entertain a child for a few minutes (the kids' section!).

And that experience is NOT something Amazon can offer.

*Of course there are always exceptions, especially if you're exploiting an emerging niche market.

HT: Norcross

Thursday, July 14, 2011


Our impending move has been doing great things for my social life. Suddenly, people we haven't seen in months are clamoring to get together one last time before we're gone. And last night we got to chat with almost every member of our shul, at a big farewell party for our junior rabbi, who has decided to switch careers, in an effort to spend more time with his remaining limbs. Or maybe that was the Care of Magical Creatures teacher, sorry.

So, with all the fun stuff, I was surprised to find myself flopping back and forth, fretting and sighing in the middle of the night. What had me awake wasn't the packing or logistics, or anything to do with us, really. I was thinking about a family thousands of miles away, and how their lives had changed in a single afternoon from an unpredictable tragedy.

I've always been kind of a free-range parent, believing that experience is the best teacher. I let The Kid climb trees and rocks, play in the backyard by himself while I make dinner, and run around in the park with his friends, even behind trees where I can't see them for 30 seconds at a time. It's not always easy, since, let's face it, he's a small boy and his judgment isn't always the best. He gets scrapes and bruises, bee stings, fights and collisions. But I want him to learn that he can cope with these things.

What I kept replaying over and over in my head last night was the fact that this sweet little boy disappeared on the first day his parents had allowed him to walk home by himself.

He knew the way. He'd done the route for weeks, with a parent. He asked for them to trust him, and they did. They didn't realize he was also asking them to trust in the basic decency of humanity.

What must the world look like, when your trust is betrayed in the worst possible way? How can they ever feel safe in this world again? I kept The Kid on a shorter leash than usual at the shul picnic last night, but I know my anxiety is temporary. Theirs is forever. My heart and my prayers go out to them, and to their whole community. Baruch Dayan Emet.

Thursday, July 07, 2011

Lemons to lemonade? Loving what is.

I'm working on being grateful for good things, so my challenge for myself for today was to make a list of all the GOOD things that come from moving our whole family across the country.

  1. There will be wardrobe boxes to play with/in after unpacking. (Trust me, with a 4/5 year old, this is HUGE)

  2. I can try out some new square-foot gardening type ideas by using only my outdoor pots for the rest of the summer.

  3. I will get to meet LOTS of cool new people

  4. Perhaps I, too, will be Hot in Cleveland

  5. I finally won't have to share a bathroom with my cats' litter box! (yay, basements)

  6. Lots of new restaurants to try

  7. The first real break from my job in 7 years (of course, I need a new one...)

  8. Rearranging furniture etc. in a whole new house (I actually love doing this)

OK, that's all I can do for now. What about you? What upcoming stressful thing can you turn into a list of things to look forward to?

Tuesday, July 05, 2011

The Asshole at the Party

Once you have children over the age of one, you find it necessary to rearrange your social life around other friends with kids. For one thing, going to the home of another family with young children means you won't spend the whole time shadowing your child, shrieking things like "No! The crystal vase is not for licking!" For another, they won't look at you like you're insane if you suggest a 5pm dinnertime.

I've always found it easier to invite over friends whose children are roughly the same age as, or slightly younger than, The Kid. Those with an older child (unless we're talking teenagers or girls) are, um, difficult. The older kids are bored with The Kid's toys, or want to use them in, let's say, "creative" new ways that involve lots of "pow pow!" noises, or things getting stuck in trees. Sometimes those things are other, smaller children.

This weekend, we were invited to a lovely 4th of July cookout with family friends. The Kid, who'd pretty much been a jerk all weekend after a stomach bug upset his sleep cycle, was excited for the party and promised to behave well. Ha ha ha.

When there were only three children - mine and two 3 year olds - it was lovely. Then there were more small children. And then suddenly The Kid was pushing a 2 year old backwards into a wading pool, while my husband and I had the silent, telepathic "you be the parent, I'm enjoying my adult conversation over here" fight. (I lost.)

So yes, my charming child has now become the asshole at the party. I need a compensation prize. Maybe a margarita.