2013 in review


The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2013 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

The concert hall at the Sydney Opera House holds 2,700 people. This blog was viewed about 10,000 times in 2013. If it were a concert at Sydney Opera House, it would take about 4 sold-out performances for that many people to see it.

Click here to see the complete report.


The Poor Princess in the Kingdom


So the Poor Princess got poorer — $600 poorer — for one day (excluding accommodations) in Walt Disney’s genius megascam, Magic Kingdom (the magic is that they get you to agree to handing over $100s of your hard-earned dollars to wait hours to go on 3-minute rides that give you whiplash).

Poor Princess--the poorest princess in the kingdom

Poor Princess–the poorest princess in the kingdom

I’ll be honest: Parts of the day were brilliantly fun–like Splash Mountain, which we got a fastpass for and were all tall enough to go on:

The Princess-Scientist Family, renamed the Perries, on Splash Mountain

The Princess-Scientist Family, renamed the Perries for the day, on Splash Mountain

And parts revealed surprising beauty, like Cinderella’s Castle at night:

Cinderella's Castle at night

Cinderella’s Castle in shades of violet

And parts–like Cool J not being tall enough for Space Mountain (and LL raving about how amazing it was all day) and the miserably bad food we had to wait as long as Space Mountain for–were neither.

The day involved kicking, yelling, crying, too much ice cream (some of which was kicked . . . and led to yelling and crying . . . see above), a torrential downpour, rides that we could have ridden at any fair and at half the malls in America, and, of course, some magical delight. Was it worth $600?

Hell, no. Do you know what I could do with $600?

Unless–unless it was an investment.

This occurred to me the next day at breakfast, when I tried to interest the boys in the waffle iron but could not get their attention for the life of me. The boys were plotting and plotting. I listened in. Cool J, they decided, was going to built a bigger and better version of WDW–named after himself, of course. It would be in Texas–warm weather, lots of money, cheap real estate. The boys planned characters, logos, and rides. The conversation spilled from breakfast to our long, long car ride, and into the next day.

I doubt “Cool J’s World” will come to fruition, but I like the way my boys were thinking. WDW’s brilliant marketing suckered us into spending the cost of a roundtrip ticket to Europe for a day of kitschy Americana, but it also offered my boys an education.

And let’s face it: $600 is a whole lot less than I would spend on their MBAs.

Man School, Take 3




Day 3. LL pranced over to the church, and once there, he foxtrotted, he waltzed, he learned a bit about table manners (confession: so did I. I had no idea food must get passed around the table counterclockwise. How useful this school is proving to be!), and he did it all without complaint.

In short, the kid with the fluorescent green tie you’ll glimpse in this video is no Fred Astaire, but he was a well-behaved boy yesterday–which is good enough for me (though if Ginger comes acalling, she might appreciate a little more practice with his footwork).

Potty mouth


“You fucking idiot!” screams Cool J at LL at the Y this morning. I am walking hand-in-hand with Baby MoFo, trailing the older boys by about 20 feet. Near the boys, I see a startled woman look this way and that (Where is the parent of this cussing FOUR YEAR OLD? she is surely thinking. Or else she is wondering how a dwarf-dad could speak to his child that way. Cool J is small for his age. I  really was once asked by a stranger, in earnest, if he was a dwarf. “He just speaks like a grown-up,” she explained. At the time it was because Cool J was talking about implementing certain modifications into his Lego structure, not swearing like a drunken frat boy). Rather than reprimand Cool J, I stoop to tell Baby MoFo something, looking directly at him and pretending he’s my only concern. Parent of the swearing psychopath? Who, me? I just have this cute little boy who holds my hand and sings songs about dinosaurs.

Afterwards, I give Cool J an earful. And then–a horrible thought flies into my head. “You’re not speaking this way at your new school like you did at your old school, are you?” I demand to know.


“Are you sure?”


“You never get in trouble for what comes out of your mouth?”

“Well . . . ”


“Well . . . a little.”

Fuck!! (–in my head, of course. I am a model parent). “You said the F-word at school?”

“No, not that, I promise!”

“What then?”

“Well . . . ”


“It’s just that I don’t think the girls like  my song.”

“What song?” Baby MoFo is still singing at the top of his lungs–

        Oh he wants to light the candles and 
        He wants to drink the wine. 
        He wants to eat the challah and 
        He wants to dine with us. 

        There's a dinosaur knocking at my door 
        Knockin' one two three 
        There's a dinosaur knocking at my door 
        He wants to have Shabbat 
        He wants to have Shabbat 
        He wants to have Shabbat with me.

Is there any chance this is the song Cool J is singing? “It’s not a bad one.”

“What do you say?”


I thought the Gangnam Style phase was over. But alas, for Cool J, the allure of bad–or even potentially bad, or borderline bad, or potentially borderline bad–language is strong. I guess, for this song anyway, it’s better that he sings the lyrics than do the motions–

Etiquette class — take 2


I’m not going!

You thought etiquette class was a bizarre idea, didn’t you? You thought I should just sign him up for little league like all the other parents do?

Ha! I thought it was genius. And the reason I thought it was genius was the aftermath.

We come home from day 1 of etiquette class, and my mom calls. Usually LL refuses the phone because he’s playing DS or doing his homework or playing Wii or doesn’t feel like it or it’s not Monday (once, my mom made the mistake of telling the boys that she would like a phone/skype date with them every Monday. The routine never materialized, but the idea stuck forever). But that day (a Tuesday), he took the call readily. “Yes, hello. This is LL. Is this Gramma?” He spent the conversation telling her how much he loved her and missed her. My mom marvelled at this foreign creature I was passing off as my son.

The next evening we had a babysitter. This same babysitter (we’ll call her Magda), who is outstanding, had threatened never to return after her last visit (another babysitter didn’t threaten but just canceled on us and never came back after a world-famous performance by all 3 kids). Magda came, albeit reluctantly. At the end of the night, I asked, fearfully, “How did it go?” She said, “That LL is something else! He has the most beautiful manners and we had a long conversation about European cities. I felt like I was talking to an adult!”


I was, of course, tremendously excited for the second class. I went to pick him up, armed with snacks (vital for good behavior) and “man clothes” (I even remembered his shoes, an improvement on the first class).

We walked into the church where the class is held. “Can you tie my tie?” he asked. I didn’t know how. The first time I had asked The Scientist to tie it and then I left it loose enough to slide over LL’s head. I said, “Don’t worry about it,” and took him to the class, where the program director told me to go to the side and tie the tie. I stood in the doorway. He realized I wasn’t moving. “Do you know how?” he asked. Not meanly, but I felt kind of stupid. I shook my head. “Next time,” the elderly patrician gentleman courteously admonished me, “Please watch a youtube video before you come.” He did LL’s knot and propelled him gently into the classroom. LL turned back. “Where’s W?” he asked of his friend. But W, it turned out, was at the ENT where his first-grader brother was having an emergency procedure to remove a bead from his nasal cavity (“I did that during an art project . . . in kindergarten,” the kid reported. Apparently beads can hang out in nasal cavities for long periods without causing problems. But then they do. On etiquette class day). “Will you watch me? Are you going to stay and watch? I want you to watch!” called out LL as he slowly walked into the class. Despite–or perhaps because–he’s my eldest (the only one who ever had us with no siblings around), he is our #1 “look at me!” child.

“No!” said Cool J. “I want to go out to the playground!”

“Playground!” echoed Baby MoFo.

A second later, LL was by our side. “My head hurts.”

“No it doesn’t.”

“Yes, it does.”

“It didn’t a second ago.”

“It does now.”

“You’re going in.”

“I can’t.”

“You have to.”


And then I threw a hissy fit rivalling any LL has ever thrown. But he wouldn’t be moved. He wasn’t going, and that was that.

Alas, another parenting dream down the toilet. Sigh.

Man Training


“You’re going for man-training lessons,” I told LL. “It’s like a bar mitzvah, only without the Jewish stuff.”

I chose my words carefully. I didn’t say etiquette class. I didn’t say ballroom dancing lessons. I didn’t say It’s this lovely WASPy institution or reform school. I thought there was no way the lately-defiant eight year old would go if I gave him a single detail about the program I had signed him up for. It was enough that he knew it was neither hockey nor soccer.

And just as I was mum on the name and the activities of the course (How to Make Small Talk, How to Answer the Phone, How to Use Your Silverware . . .), I kept quiet about the dress requirements:


Blazer or suit

Dress trousers (gray flannel or pressed khaki) — please, no cargo or casual pants

Dark socks

Properly buttoned dress shirt


Dress loafers

(On the lady-training side of things, parents were buying dresses, patent-leather Mary Janes, and the sartorial star: white gloves.). I just said, “Oh, can you try these on? I want to see if they fit. How about this shirt? Hey, I want to learn how to put on a tie. Can you come here for a second?”

“He’ll hate it,” said my husband.

“He’ll hate you,” said my neighbor.

“He’ll never go,” said my friend.

But you know what I say to the naysayers? Suck it!

He went:

The carefully attired third graders being herded into etiquette class

The carefully groomed and gracefully attired third graders entering etiquette class

He slouched:

Apparently the course should have started with How to Sit Up Straight.

Apparently the course should have started with How to Sit Up Straight.

He danced:

Gentlemen, find your ladies . . .

Gentlemen, find your ladies . . .

And then he came out to report to his brothers that it was . . .



Admittedly, the geniuses at the program end the class by having the boys give the girls candy, and vice versa.

Poor Cool J. “It’s no fair!” he declared jealously. “I want some–. I mean, I want to learn ballroom dancing and wear a tie!!!”

All in good time, my little one. All in good time!

Shana Tova


Overheard at the nail salon today:

“Hey, Rachel, how are you?”

“Good. Tired.”

“You hosting?”

“Oh, Sarah. I am. Both nights!”

“Oy. Poor you. That’s so much work.”

“It’s OK. I hired a girl to help out with the cooking, the serving, and the clean up.”

“Oh good! So it shouldn’t be too bad.”

“No . . . I thought this was the best way to do it. Why should my nanny have to do everything by herself?”

. . .

Shana Tova to all the Yidden out there — the rich, the richer, and the rest.

Shana Tova! Love, Poor Princess, The Scientist, LL, Cool J, and Baby MoFo

Shana Tova! Love, Poor Princess, The Scientist, LL, Cool J, and Baby MoFo