Why Edwards, Why?!?

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I just heard that John Edwards dropped out of the race. I am so upset. I am upset because he didn’t wait for me to voice my opinion. I am upset b/c I almost voted in the primary early and I would have “wasted” my vote on him. This is a good lesson. Don’t vote early, b/c the candidate you vote for may not be around by the time they count the votes. Now I will cast my vote for Obama. I do love him, I just think Edwards was badly needed now. He was needed because he was going to do something about the disparity between the rich and the poor. Obama is fresh and young, and needs more time to prove himself as a decision-maker. Oh well, I’m casting my vote for him anyway. As far as I am concerned, Hillary had her chance at leadership and failed. Remember when her husband put her in charge of getting us universal health care? Remember that she didn’t do it? She’s a corporate puppet just like her husband. If the pharmaceutical companies say “jump,” well, you know the cliche.

My sisters over at Chicago Moms Blog want to talk to the candidtates. If you have any connections, please help. Thanks!

Fresh Flowers on the Table

tulips.jpgAs I was placing my new yellow tulips on the dining room table, I was thinking about a) what I princess I am that I have to have fresh flowers on my table at home every day and b) how truly easy it is to make me happy. When I see those flowers on my table, I instantly smile. The flowers don’t have to be fancy. Today’s flowers are a simple bunch picked up at the grocery store. Charlie was with me and he wanted yellow. I was reaching for the funky pink and white ones, but why not let him have a choice about something? Despite my mood swings, I can really take pleasure in the little things. It’s a luxury to have fresh flowers all the time, but, after all, it is a little luxury, and some luxuries are worth it.

Blacks and Jews Have Much in Common

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I admire Martin Luther King Jr. tremendously. Sometimes, I wonder where we would be today without him. Sometimes, I wonder where we would be today if he had lived a longer life. In his day, many Blacks and Jews were united (click on this link to see an informative news story about this ) behind the common cause of Civil Rights. Why shouldn’t we be? Yeah, there are many differences, especially the reason why we are in this country. Jews, of course, came here voluntarily, we were looking for a better life, and/or escaping the Pogroms or the Nazis. The majority of African Americans, as we all know, came here most involuntarily. But we still have a lot in common. Historically, both of us have suffered as slaves at the hands of tyrants. We still face discrimination and we are still subjected to stereotyping by Hollywood and the media.

What is my point? Ok, I’m going to come right out and say it. There are a lot of racist Jews. Although I was raised in a house where not a racist word was ever uttered (really), I hear my fellow Jews, especially those in my parents’ generation, spout Black racist jokes and subscribe to many derogatory stereotypes. I never understood this. Why would Jews, who have been treated unfairly, treat others in such a fashion? I just don’t get that hypocrisy.

My childhood Rabbi taught me to speak up whenever I hear someone spout that racist crap (ok, he never said “crap”). He said that if we, as listeners, allow it to be said without objection, it is as if we are in agreement. Indeed, whenever I hear a racist joke or a racist comment, I ALWAYS speak up. To hell with being polite and respectful to these old folks. They can think and feel whatever they want. They can even say whatever they want (I think we still have free speech in this country, though I’m not sure) but I don’t have to stand for it. I use my right to free speech to tell them I don’t approve of that kind of talk. Won’t you? Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel said, “Hitler did not come to power with tanks and machine guns. Hitler came to power with words”. Words are powerful tools. Use them for good.

An Upper Middle Class Tragedy

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It’s nine p.m. and the telephone rings. “Sophia? It’s Liza, I’m really sick. I can’t come tomorrow. I know you were really counting on me, but I’ve been in bed for three days.” “Ok, thanks for calling. If you wake up in the morning and you feel better, please, please come! Otherwise, get your rest, get healthy, and we’ll see you next week.” “Sophia, I’m really really sorry.” “Don’t worry Liza, these things happen.” Liza is my housekeeper. She comes once a week and cleans, straightens and organizes my small house for four hours. On this occasion, she was scheduled to come the day before we were having a big party, the biggest we have ever had. I had come to rely on her, and I had become super lazy over the three years we have had help with the housekeeping. As I hung up the telephone, panic set in — I would have to clean my own house! I was in shock, denial even. “Maybe she will feel better in the morning, ” I said to Gadget Man optimistically. “Don’t worry, I’ll get the kids out of your hair tomorrow,” he offered. “Excuse me? Aren’t you going to help me clean the house?” I exclaimed. “Oh, sure,” he stammered, “I just thought it would be easier for you if we weren’t around.” What a doll.

I left the house before 8 a.m. the next morning. I had a ton of grocery shopping to do and I needed to get that done and all the other things I was planning to do while Liza cleaned my house. Cell phone in hand, I telephoned my husband at 8:15, hoping Liza showed up. “She’s not coming Sophia,” said Gadget Man apologetically. I had an idea, I hung up the telephone and dialed my best friend. “What’s Esther doing today?” I inquired of her housekeeper/nanny. “She’s home preparing for a big party she has every year. She’s not even helping me today,” she explained. She sympathized with my plight. “I’m going to make some calls,” she promised, “I know a few people, don’t worry.” Then I telephoned another girlfriend. This friend had once told me that her mom admonished her to never, never go without a cleaning lady, even if she was forced to live on beans and generic toilet paper. “Oh, I feel just terrible for you! This is just awful, the worst!” She asserted. Although she really meant it, I started to feel really stupid.

What a princess I had become! I was embarrassed and disappointed in myself. Growing up, we were one of the few households in Northbrook without a housekeeper. My mother didn’t keep the cleanest house, but she did it all herself. The idea of a stranger doing that work for her was totally foreign. Gadget Man, on the other hand, was raised by his live-in nanny. Regardless, he and I used to clean the house ourselves until I was put on bed rest with Charlie (yes, he really helped). We had to get a cleaning service to help out weekly because I wasn’t allowed to do it myself. When Charlie was born, there was no going back. I liked it way too much and we had already figured the cost into our budget.

Of course, I’m not alone. In 1996, about 9.4 million American households had paid cleaning help (this was about nine percent of households.) With the exception of a couple of households, everyone I know has a housekeeper. So much for living in “middle class” Skokie. The thing is, having a housekeeper makes our house “happy.” Apparently, it is really good for our marriage too. Some experts blame divorce rate spikes on housekeeping pressures.
I calmed down a bit and realized that this was really not a big deal. After all, we had our health, right? I could clean the house and get everything else done for the party. It would just mean that I would be up much later and be tired for the party . In between grocery store stops (no, I can’t do all my shopping at just one store anymore) I telephoned Gadget Man one more time. “Please take out the yellow pages and telephone a few maid services. Let’s just give this one last shot.” A half hour later the cell phone rang, it was Gadget Man with good news, “Skokie Maids is sending a couple of people over around 11 a.m., will that be ok?” I was saved! My handsome prince saved his desperate spoiled princess. What a relief! Tragedy averted.

My Great Escape

Did anyone hear a great sigh of relaxation at about 1:15 p.m. on Saturday afternoon? I wouldn’t be surprised. At about that time, I was getting a massage at Elizabeth Arden’s Red Door Spa. All the nursing I have been doing really gives me a sore neck and shoulders (yeah, I have terrible posture and my nursing slump exacerbates the whole thing). My decadent massage kicked off a night away from everyone and everything. My plan: relax, sleep, and read for 24 hours.

When I first asked for a night away, Gadget Man didn’t hesitate to say, “yes.” I had done this once before when I was pregnant with Charlie and Eva was having sleep issues. Although I would have preferred staying in the city, I picked a place in Evanston to be closer to home. As long as I can walk to restaurants, shopping, and the lake, I’m happy. A couple of days before my escape, a girlfriend called to ask if I was free to go to dinner with a few girls. Although I love a girls’ night out, this wasn’t what I needed. “I’m free,” I answered, “but not for a girls’ night.” When I explained that I would be spending the night alone in a hotel room, she completely understood. After, all, she is a mother of two little ones too. When my parents found out I was spending a night away from home, they didn’t get it. They thought I was depressed again. It was tough explaining my need for a night away to a mother who sacrificed every bit of herself for her family.

Without my knowledge, Gadget Man had prepared the children for my departure two days in advance. When I approached the subject with Charlie and Eva, I was pleasantly surprised that they already understood I would be away from home for a little bit. When the time came to go, Gadget Man whisked the kids out the door for an adventure of their own so they wouldn’t be able to dwell on my goodbye.
I arrived early enough to buy some “guilt gifts” for the kids at Wild Child just before my massage. After my massage, I lingered in some of the shops on the way to the Orrington Hotel. Finally, sitting at the desk in my hotel room, I munched quietly on the giant salad I had picked up at Whole Foods, and sipped sparkling water out of a wine glass. After my lunch, I settled down under the covers with a novel from Sue Miller — Family Portraits. I promptly fell asleep for the next two hours. When I woke up, I turned on the television and browsed the movie selections. Then I paged through a few magazines I hadn’t had time to read at home. I phoned in my Chinese food order and bundled up for the walk outside to pick it up. I know I could have ordered it to be delivered, but walking around is part of the fun for me. I passed several Northwestern students, and wondered if they knew how lucky they were to be so young and so free to enjoy this Saturday night and all the Saturday nights to come. I considered stopping in a pub to hear some live music, but the mere idea that I could do it if I wanted to was enough freedom for me. I really just wanted to get back to the room with my sweet-n-sour shrimp and hunker down with a movie.

I was asleep by ten, and although I picked my head up at six a.m., I put it back down and didn’t get up again until eight a.m. Talk about well-rested! Since Charlie wakes up every couple of hours or so, I hadn’t had a good night’s sleep in ages! Next on my agenda was a long, long walk along the water with a cup of coffee in my hand. After my walk, I stopped into the Barnes and Nobel and stayed and stayed. I can hang out in a bookstore for days if permitted. By this time, it was almost check out time and I had to return back to shower (the tub was disappointingly small). Even though I was having a great time with myself, I missed my children and my Gadget Man.

When I arrived home, I was greeted by two smiling healthy children. They had survived without me. Even the house looked good. Following the hugs, the jumping up and down, and the “Mommy’s here! Mommy’s here!”, I presented the gifts to the children. “I knew you would bring us gifts!” Eva exclaimed. As I watched Eva grab Charlie’s gift from his hand and Charlie’s tears begin to fall, I turned to look Gadget Man in the eye and pleaded, “It’s OK if I do it all again next weekend, right?”

Nursing Bra to Impress

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I recently purchased this new nursing bra from La Leche League. The material is very comfortable, but I don’t like how the inner lining and some of my breast peaks out over the outside. I may wind up sleeping in it if it gets any more flimsy with wear. Anyway, when I was putting Charlie down for a nap yesterday, he looked up at the bra as I was unhooking it and exclaimed, “Ooooh Mom, that’s fancy!” Gee, I’m so glad at least someone notices my lingerie.

Taking a 2 Year Old and a 5 Year Old to the Art Institute

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In my child-free days, I belonged to the Art Institute and had season tickets to The Goodman which used to be next door. I took full advantage of my membership in those days. No matter what I went there to see, I had to stop by my favorite painting by Seurat. I have been craving a trip to see that happy day in the park. Sadly, until just the other day, I hadn’t been to the museum in at least three years! I had lots of grand plans for Eva and Charlie over this Christmas Break. We were going to be sightseeing tourists all over Chicago. We managed to see the Nutcracker windows twice, and have a meal in the Walnut Room, but otherwise, the break flew by. To satisfy my craving and my sightseeing bug, I bundled up the children and headed for the Art Institute.

I was fully prepared to pay for parking. The signs for the underground parking advertised $13.00 and $14.00 for the day. I thought I was following those signs and parking there. However, when I parked, my lot charged $24.00 — yikes! I have no idea what happened there. Anyway, we walked the short two blocks to the museum, checked our coats, and paid the $12.00 for my admission fee. I was delighted to discover that all children under 12 are free.

Before we arrived, I fantasized that the children would be wandering around in awe, delighting in everything they saw. Instead, they complained about the stairs we had to climb, and seemed completely unfazed by the abundance of fantastic artwork surrounding them. The Thorne Rooms captured their attention initially, though my back was sorry that Charlie had to be lifted up to see every room. Eventually, Eva exclaimed, “Another drawing room?” By the time we went upstairs to view my favorite masterpiece, Charlie was whining, “I don’t like this museum, I want to go home.” Even ballet aficionado Eva was unimpressed by Degas’ dancers. What a disappointment. Oh well, at least I paid a visit to my spotty friends in the park.

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