Friday, October 14, 2016

Hamilton Envy

A while ago, this video was shared in the Hamilton fan group I run on Facebook. I found it hilarious at the time, but now I feel like the girl who rips apart the pillow (and I think that girl even saw Hamilton anyway).

I've come to realize that it's not only depressing to get on Facebook and see all these posts about how horrible people are (and let's face it, some people are truly horrible...and I'm not just talking about election stuff), but also to see how many people are going to be seeing Hamilton before I even get the chance. I feel like it's some sort of retribution for all the times I've posted about my relationship or my kids. I am happy for people who do get to see it now or in the near future. It's hard not to be jealous though.

Sure, I could just hop on over to New York and just see it on Broadway. The last time I searched for tickets, even with keeping options open, nothing was coming up. And I'm not going through other brokers who charge my child's college tuition to see it. I thought about getting tickets to see it in Chicago, but even that comes with a lot of extra costs, such as travel. (New York is around $50 on a bus, round trip vs. either the gas and hotel costs or the airfare to get to Chicago.) So it annoys me when people seem to think it's so damn easy for me to just go and see it. Unless they are paying my way, it's not easy at all. I'm also factoring in my family. There's no way I can just see it by myself. I guess it's the price I pay for getting my family hooked on Hamilton (minus my husband, who wants to see it anyway). It also annoys me when people think I'm somehow depriving my kids by not taking them to see it just yet. (Side note: If anyone knows of any great deals on tickets that don't involve sitting outside all day, please clue me in. I've entered every online giveaway known to me already. So far, no luck.) is coming to DC. I should think "how lucky I am" instead of "I can never be satisfied." It's coming here either late 2017 or early 2018. At that point, there is no way I'll be "throwing away my shot" to see it on stage. (My sons will be a little older by then, as well. Not ready for my daughter to see it yet, even though she loves the music. Too bad there isn't a child-friendly production available.) I sometimes worry that I'll either get sick of it by then or no one will care at that point since they all saw it. However, I listened to The Last Five Years for 10 years before seeing it on stage and was still in love with it. And people still care about Rent 20 years later. Also, I'm pacing myself with the soundtrack, by listening to other music and audio books on my rides to and from work. I listen to Hamilton in the car when I'm driving the kids somewhere though.

In any case, I should really try not to complain since my desire to see Hamilton is so minor in comparison with what some people have going on in their lives. In the grand scheme of things, I know I will get to see it within the next few years. "It's only a matter of time."

Who knew someone as disinterested in history and politics as I am would be so in love with this musical?!?

So, until I see Hamilton, I am making a list for myself of other things to look forward to between now and the time it comes to DC (unless I somehow get lucky and there's a great deal on tickets for the Broadway production).

*Crazy Ex-Girlfriend season two, which comes back in a week! (Also, Jane the Virgin, season three!!!)
*More mini-trips and vacations with my family (although the mini-trips are more likely)
* husband's, my kids', my own
*My anniversary in March
*Hamilton's America on PBS (also coming next week)
*Lin-Manuel Miranda hosting Drunk History about Alexander Hamilton in late November
*More episodes of This is Us, which I am loving
*Hopefully a good outcome from the 2016 election (and surviving the intensity of that day)
*My sister's upcoming visit
*Fuller House, season two, coming in December!
*Moana (which has music from Lin-Manuel)
*Taking my kids to see Mary Poppins at my favorite local professional theater
*Hopefully seeing Wicked again if the price is right
*My daughter learning how to read (It will happen in due time. She's getting closer.)
*Season five of Orphan Black next spring (sadly, the last season)
*All the good books I still have waiting on my shelf to be read (along with the new Wally Lamb book coming next month)
*The Mary Poppins sequel featuring Lin-Manuel (not sure if that's before or after I will finally get to see Hamilton)
*Stranger Things, season two, coming next summer
*Live-action Beauty and the Beast, coming in March
*Seeing Avenue Q at a local college theater in February
*Getting my Hamilfun-ko Pop soon (I couldn't resist and had a little birthday money to play with)
*Going to Six Flags a lot next summer, as we got a great deal on season passes

This is just a short list. I'm sure other things will come up that I'll want to see or do, and those things will keep me entertained until the day I see Hamilton in all its glory.

Thursday, October 13, 2016

My first attempt at poetry in 22 years...

Blog Project 3.0 has been going on for about three years, even though one of the group members changed after a few months. I love blogging with this group and I hope we can continue to inspire each other.

We will be posting bi-weekly as life keeps getting in the way.

This week, Moma Rock chose the topic: Write a poem. It can be prose, haiku, sonnet. Whatever you desire, and whatever you'd like it to be about.

First, read what everyone else had to share on this topic. I will be only posting links to posts on this same topic from my group. So check back if you were hoping to read their blogs and don't see a link yet.
Darwin Shrugged
Moma Rock

Since we're just coming off of Yom Kippur, which is the holiday of confessing our sins, I have another confession to mind has a tendency to wander off during any religious service. This has happened ever since I was a kid. I try to focus on the prayer at hand, but then my mind will pick up on something and go on its own path. So I'm going a bit freestyle to talk about some of the things that pop into my head while I'm sitting (or standing) in Shul.

Side note: I have not written a poem since senior year of high school. So please bear with me!

Head (in) space

Why is the air conditioner only set to "Arctic" during the High Holy Days?
I mean, seriously. I'm frrrrrreeeeeeeeezing.
Even my sweater and jacket aren't helping.
Mental note: bring gloves next year.
And a scarf!

What does the Hebrew on top of the ark say?
How many pages left until the service is over?
Why do I always get seated where there isn't a place to rest my Siddur?
Mumbling while reading Hebrew aloud is not really helping anyone.
What page are we even on? (See the above sentence.)

Are we going to survive through Election Day?
How am I going to catch up on my shows
when more are coming back next week?
What do I need to get done at work?
What is going to happen next in my book?
What happened in a book I read three months ago?

Since half the Siddur is in Hebrew
and half in English,
we're only reading half the pages,
so divide the amount left by two.
Much more manageable.
We just skipped a bunch of pages.
Now there are even less to divide.

Other people's problems
that I somehow need to worry about
right now.

When everyone is kneeling
low to the ground
at the same time
it looks like simultaneous heart attacks.

When will they close the ark so I can sit again?
They closed it. Why are people still standing?
Are they actually going to collect the donation cards?


The speech was about putting yourself first.
Now I have "Put Yourself First"
from Crazy Ex-Girlfriend
in my head.

I had weird dreams last night
and now seems like the perfect time
to analyze them.
Why did I even have those dreams?!?

Everyone else here has
better clothes
and hats
and shoes
than me.

That's a really cute baby.
Glad my kids aren't babies anymore.
Glad I can look at a baby and not want another.
What will my kids be like as teenagers?

Come on...concentrate
This part is important!
*Mind goes off again.*
Wait up!

Is it me or does anyone else's mind wander in Shul?
What is my husband thinking?
The people next to,
in front of,
I can't be the only one having these random thoughts.
Can I?

Only a few pages left.
I can do this.
Get back here, mind!

Time to get the kids.

Sunday, October 9, 2016

Book Review: Small Great Things

I've always been a fan of Jodi Picoult's novels, but there are some that really stand out far above the others. Her latest, Small Great Things, falls into this category. Not only is it relevant to what is happening in the world right now, but also told in a honest, sensitive, and heart-wrenching way. Even when you put the book down (which is difficult to do) to get back to other things in your life, it will stick with you until you get back to reading it.

Ruth Jefferson is a labor and delivery nurse at a Connecticut hospital with more than twenty years’ experience. During her shift, Ruth begins a routine checkup on a newborn, only to be told a few minutes later that she’s been reassigned to another patient. The parents are white supremacists and don’t want Ruth, who is African American, to touch their child. The hospital complies with their request, but the next day, the baby goes into cardiac distress while Ruth is alone in the nursery. Does she obey orders or does she intervene?

Ruth hesitates before performing CPR and, as a result, is charged with a serious crime. Kennedy McQuarrie, a white public defender, takes her case but gives unexpected advice: Kennedy insists that mentioning race in the courtroom is not a winning strategy. Conflicted by Kennedy’s counsel, Ruth tries to keep life as normal as possible for her family—especially her teenage son—as the case becomes a media sensation. As the trial moves forward, Ruth and Kennedy must gain each other’s trust, and come to see that what they’ve been taught their whole lives about others—and themselves—might be wrong.

With incredible empathy, intelligence, and candor, Jodi Picoult tackles race, privilege, prejudice, justice, and compassion—and doesn’t offer easy answers. Small Great Things is a remarkable achievement from a writer at the top of her game.
(Synopsis courtesy of Amazon.)

I only have good things to say about this novel. Jodi writes it in such a way that you feel like you're in her character's shoes. Even the ones you're not supposed to like. Everyone feels so real that it's like they're practically sitting in my house as I'm reading it. I feel Ruth's stress and hurt as if it were my own. I was able to relate to Kennedy a lot, as our personalities are similar. And although I was not supposed to like Turk, I still felt bad over what happened to his baby and still felt his wife's pain over the situation.

As always, Jodi seamlessly inserts gray area into the story, making the reader wonder whose side they should really be taking. Was Ruth right or wrong to do what she did? It's definitely a lot to think about and even discuss with others who have read the book.

Overall, this was an incredibly told and well researched novel. I enjoyed reading the author's notes at the end which detailed all the ways Jodi came about writing this story. It reminded me of The Help...someone on the outside telling the stories of women who have been in Ruth's situation, but not to the extent of where she takes the story.

I highly recommend reading this book prior to Election Day, if at all possible! I'm going to share some final thoughts that include SPOILERS below, but first I'll give my casting choices for the movie version, which I hope will happen (as long as they don't pull a My Sister's Keeper on it).

Ruth: Thandie Newton
Adisa: Taraji P. Henson
Kennedy: Mila Kunis
Turk: Alex Pettyfer

Thoughts with SPOILERS (keep in mind that the comment thread might also contain spoilers):

Last chance to turn back...

What I liked best about this book was that it had a happy ending, which is not typical of Jodi's other novels. I went into it expecting something tragic and ironic to happen at the end, when the most ironic thing was Turk becoming a decent human being. I know that realistically, the ending might have been a lot less happy. Not everyone gets a second chance the way Ruth did, especially after she spoke in court. I did enjoy the revelation of Brit's mother. That was one of the best ironies.

In terms of what happened to the baby, I felt that Ruth was in an impossible situation. I like that she did try to intervene even when her boss told her not to touch the baby and was annoyed that she didn't just admit to doing so. She clearly didn't kill the baby anyway, so admitting to try to save a life would have caused far less grief and her boss might have taken her side. I also am glad that race was addressed in the court room after all. It couldn't be shoved under the rug.

I'd love to hear your thoughts, if you made it this far.

Thanks to Ballantine for the book in exchange for an honest review.

More by Jodi Picoult:

Thursday, September 29, 2016

"Doing lunch" with legends

Blog Project 3.0 has been going on for about three years, even though one of the group members changed after a few months. I love blogging with this group and I hope we can continue to inspire each other.

We will be posting bi-weekly as life keeps getting in the way.

This week, Darwin Shrugged chose the topic: Write about two people with whom you would love to sit down and have a meal. One must be living, and one must not. To make it easier, do not write about any family members.

First, read what everyone else had to share on this topic. I will be only posting links to posts on this same topic from my group. So check back if you were hoping to read their blogs and don't see a link yet.
Darwin Shrugged
Moma Rock

If you haven’t figured it out by now, I’m [only just a little] fixated on Lin-Manuel Miranda. However, this started long before Hamilton came about. I first heard of him in 2008, when In the Heights came to Broadway and I couldn’t stop listening to the music. I was all excited to see him on the cover of a magazine on our Amtrak trip that fall. I didn’t get to see him in In the Heights, but it was still an amazing show and I was so blown away (“Blow us all away…”) by his music and script writing talent. (Side note, as I’m writing this, “Breathe” from ITH just came on Spotify. Darwin Shrugged is probably snickering right now. Of course, the title of the song is something I would not be able to do in Lin's presence!)

So when this topic came up, I immediately thought of Lin to be the living person with whom I’d want to dine. Heck, I’d be happy just to have a quick cup of coffee (café con leche, perhaps) or tea, in my case, with him. And along with that, the dead person I’d want “In the Room” with us is none other than Jonathan Larson, who is one of Lin’s incredible inspirations. Again, if you know me, you’ll know that Jonathan is the creator of Rent. Unfortunately, he died way too young (younger than I am now) 20 years ago, on the night before Rent was supposed to open off-Broadway. He made something truly amazing and was not around to see it, bask in the "[One Song:] Glory," or receive his much deserved Tony award. Social media wasn’t prevalent back then, so he didn’t miss the accolades on that end.

I’d love for Jonathan to come back to life (or perhaps as a ghost) for this opportunity to be surrounded by greatness. Once I am able to speak in coherent sentences, I’d want to ask both Jonathan and Lin what it was like to write such legendary musicals that have such a huge fan-base. I’d want to know about the highs and lows of the experience. What it was like to work with the talented actors in their shows. Why they chose to focus on certain aspects. What their favorite song is. So many things to ask in such little time!

After the meal, Lin would treat both Jonathan and me to a private performance of Hamilton. (A girl can dream!) Then we’d all head to Marie’s Crisis Café (can you tell that I love going there after only one visit?!?) for a late night sing-along to just songs from both their musicals.

"Hey, what a way to spend a day!"

In relation to this special experience, here are some fun treats.

A recent video of the “Schuyler Sisters” (Renée Elise Goldsberry, Lexi Lawson, and Jasmine Cephas Jones) performing “Out Tonight” from Rent:

A video from a while back of Lin, Karen Olivo (Vanessa from the Original Broadway Cast of In the Heights) and Leslie Odom, Jr. (Aaron Burr, sir) performing scenes from Tick…Tick…Boom:

Okieriete Onaodowan "Oak" (Mulligan/Madison) performing "Over the Moon":

Finally, my dream Rent cast starring actors from Hamilton:
Mimi: Jasmine Cephas Jones or Lexi Lawson
Roger: Lin (obviously!!!)
Mark: Jonathan Groff
Benny: Leslie Odom, Jr. or Christopher Jackson
Joanne: Renée Elise Goldsberry
Maureen: Phillipa Soo or Mandy Gonzalez
Collins: Daveed Diggs or Okieriete Onaodowan
Angel: Anthony Ramos

Thursday, September 22, 2016

The show I'm "crazy" about

I started watching Crazy Ex-Girlfriend at the beginning of this month and was immediately hooked. Not only is it funny with a chick-flick feel, but it also has musical numbers. Rebecca (played by Rachel Bloom) is easy to relate to, whether or not you’ve done something drastic for love. Some things that have come up in her life have definitely struck a nerve. Not to mention that Rachel Bloom is my new girl crush, given that she’s cute, funny, and can sing really well. I can also relate to Paula, a mom who is looking for something interesting to do outside her home and finds that by investing way too much into Rebecca's quest to be with Josh. And of course, I adore Greg. He's like my replacement for Danny Castellano (from The Mindy Project), yet he is eerily similar to him. He's played by Santino Fontana, who also reminds me a bit of Christian Campbell, and who did the voice of this guy (so we know he can sing really well):

The character I both love to hate and hate to love is, of course, Valencia. Like when she's nice, she's so awesome and I would totally want to hang with her. When she's mean, watch out for the claws. She really knows how to go for the jugular. Then there are times when I really feel sorry for her. In second place for both categories is Naomi, Rebecca's mom. She can be totally overbearing and shallow, but other times she's proven herself to be caring and loving. Josh is a mixed bag too. I want to like him because Rebecca does, but it's hard to with Greg being a potential option. I like Josh best when he stands up for himself.

Finally, I really like Heather. She sounds so vapid, but she has a good heart underneath her "what do you want from me, I'm just a student" attitude.

I love how quirky the show is, even without trying too hard. It's just so naturally funny when done the right way. (Some of it reminds me of Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt, but unlike season two of that show, this series is actually hilarious and I hope it has similar humor in season two.) Like at the end of each episode, there's something funny based on something that was said or that happened during the episode.

And, of course, there is the music. The songs are so funny and done in different musical styles. The theme song is catchy and reminds me of the one from The Nanny, especially since they have all the animation. I love that she tells the sun that "the situation is a lot more nuanced." I also love the way she says "West Covina, California."

Now that I’m finished with season one, I’m already going through withdrawal until season two starts next month. After the below video, I'm sharing my favorite episodes and songs. There are spoilers, so don't read any further until you've watched the season in its entirety and can come back to see if you agree.

Curious? Watch a trailer for the first season (really just the first episode). Please note that the guy playing her boss was re-cast for the show, and is no longer played by Michael McDonald from MadTV (however, Stephnie Weir and Michael Hitchcock are on a few episodes):

Here are my favorite episodes from the season (may contain SPOILERS):

Episode 4-I'm Going on a Date with Josh's Friend!:
Because, well, Greg! I did enjoy the moment he and Rebecca had before she went and messed everything up.

Episode 8-My Mom, Greg's Mom and Josh's Sweet Dance Moves!:Paula as a British Jew, Naomi's song, Heather getting Greg to see that he's wrong about his mom and then kissing him and quitting her job on the spot, what Naomi thought Rebecca gave her as a gift, etc.

Episode 10-I'm Back at Camp with Josh!: Just a really cute episode. I loved the girls giving Rebecca a pep talk. I also like that Josh stood up to Valencia at the end.

Episode 11-That Text Was Not Meant for Josh!: The text situation itself (sooooooo mortifying); Paula and Scott bonding over Rebecca's love life, which included them talking out the theme song.

Episode 13-Josh and I Go to Los Angeles!: JAP Battle, Les Miz style song, B.J. Novak cameo, Greg realizing he really does like Rebecca, heightened drama at the end, Valencia getting shut down.

Episode 16-Josh's Sister Is Getting Married!: The ending was well worth it. Lots of cute and funny moments. I love how Greg had more face time this episode. It was cute how he helped Marty try to woo the girl at the store and how he learned something about himself in the process.

Episode 17-Why Is Josh in a Bad Mood?: Living vicariously through Rebecca's "relationship" with Greg. So many funny moments too.

Episode 18-Paula Needs to Get Over Josh!: Lea Salonga! Paula's Gypsy style song! feeling angry with and sad for Greg at the same time. The "crazy" ending.

Favorite songs (may contain SPOILERS):

In no particular order, other than alphabetical. I'm too lazy to link a video to each song, but they're all here. Just for fun, here's a ranking of all the songs.

"After Everything I Have Done For You": This Mama Rose number was perfect for Paula and she did it so well.

"Face Your Fears": Paula sings it really well and I love the background chorus

"Flooded with Justice": Definitely inspired by Les Miz and I love it for that reason.

"Getting Bi": Has a fun 80s feel and the words are so funny. I love how Daryl felt he needed to out himself at a work meeting.

"Group Hang": Fun song with a salsa feel. I love how she's questioning the authenticity of the restaurant.

"I Gave You a UTI": So funny and upbeat. *And Greg sings it! He's so cute how he sings it too.

"I Have Friends": Reminds me of something from Teen Witch. I love how people describe themselves instead of using names. I also love the duet with her younger self.

"I'm The Villain in My Own Story": Clever song and fun video to go along with it. Has a Disney feel.

"JAP Battle": Best line "Sheket b'vaka shut the hell up." I also love that this song was inspired by Lin-Manuel Miranda.

"Oh My God I Think I Like You": I like how Rebecca is realizing her feelings for Greg and it also has an 80s feel.

"One Indescribable Instant": Reminds me of Enchanted. 

"Put Yourself First": Fun girl power song, even though the message isn't totally clear.

"Settle For Me": Reminds me of the Big Band era music. Plus *Greg is singing it! The music video for it is cute.

"Textmergency": Has an 80s big hair band feel. I love how they're arguing about what the situation should be called. I like "textastrophe" better.

"West Covina": Has a Broadway opening number feel to it.

"What'll It Be": Sounds like "Piano Man" at first but then is all passionate and intense. And it's *Greg singing!

"Where's The Bathroom?": Tova Feldshuh is hilarious with this song. It's the ultimate nagging Jewish mother song. It reminds me of this thing I wrote in HS when I listed everything my mom would say to me all the time. (She saw it and said "you were listening!")

"Women Gotta Stick Together": This is a funny country-style song, regardless of the fact that Valencia sings it. I love how she's insulting everyone but they are all following her anyway.

"You Stupid B*tch": This self-berating ballad is so perfect for the show and I love how Rebecca sings it so convincingly and with all the shame in her voice.

*The only song I have to make an exception for, when it comes to Greg, is "I Could if I Wanted To." That song doesn't appeal to me, even though it was ranked high on the article I posted above.

Monday, September 19, 2016

All at Sea

So...four months ago I went on a cruise with my family (husband, kids, and my parents). Although I haven’t written about it until now, it’s been fresh in my head the entire time. However, I am not planning to go through the details of each and every day. Instead, I will share the highlights.

*The pool area for the kids. Since my kids love swimming and water activities, this was perfect for them. They had a shallow pool, splash park, current pool/mini-lazy river, and a hot tub that felt more like a bathtub so kids could go in it too. We spent a lot of time by the pool area. There was also a soft serve ice cream machine, as an added bonus.

*The shows. Probably the best part of the trip was all the entertainment in one place. We saw a full Broadway production of Mamma Mia on the first night. My daughter loved it and made me sing the songs with her afterward. There was an ice rink, where they put on Ice Capade quality shows. One of the shows was about the cruise ship in the style of a Monopoly game. The other was a How to Train Your Dragon ice show. One of the nights, there was a show in the main theater where they did singing, dancing, and acrobatics (Blue Planet). It had a bunch of popular songs done in different styles and sung by some of the actors from Mamma Mia. It was visually pleasing too. Another night, they featured a ventriloquist, Ronn Lucas, who was really funny. There was even an aquatic theater where they did a water show. (The water show was probably the least of my favorites because it felt slow and repetitive, but some of the stunts were cool. My husband liked it a lot.) On our final night, we saw a family-friendly comedy act, which made up for us not getting a chance to see the adults only comedy acts.
Waiting to see Mamma Mia

The ice rink turns into a regular floor for watching other shows

Oceanaria at the aquatic theater

Blue Planet (photo credit:

*The excursions. We weren’t always at sea. We spent one day in Labadee, Haiti, which is privately owned by Royal Caribbean. The kids were happy to finally spend time at a beach and loved playing around in the water. The next day was in Jamaica. We docked at Falsmouth and then met our tour guide who took us to Ocho Rios for our visit to Blue Hole. That was really impressive. I’m a coward when it comes to jumping into depths of water from any height, but the tour guide there was really nice about it. He even carried my daughter the entire time. Later that week, we went to Cozumel and went to a stingray beach. We had lots of stingrays swimming all around us and the guides showed us how to feed and pet them. (I did not feed them as I wasn’t going to hold a dead fish in order to do so.) Then my husband and sons went snorkeling and they enjoyed that a lot. (Again, so not my thing.) We got back onto the boat earlier than most people, so the dining areas and pool were not crowded.

Blue Hole

*The ship itself. Allure of the Seas is huge. There are different sections, like the Promenade, which has restaurants, shops, and entertainment areas; Central Park, which actually looks like a section of Central Park in NYC and also has restaurants and little sitting areas; The Boardwalk, which has the aquatic theater, a carousel, stuff for kids to do, etc.; a kid’s activity center that has a science lab, craft room, movie theater, etc.; the area with the ice rink, jazz club, and comedy club; three large dining rooms, as well as snack bars and lounges. There is just so much to explore and take in!


Carousel at The Boardwalk

*Evening entertainment. You basically had to clone yourself to do it all. There were so many things going on at one time. My favorite was The Quest. It was like a scavenger hunt game show. Each team had two captains, one male and one female. The game show host would give a task to one of the captains to get an item from the audience and do something random with it. It was so funny and involved a lot of audience participation. (Here is a video I found online from someone else, as we didn't get one the night we did it.)
Another night, I participated in this game called “If You Know it, Sing it.” I ended up helping our team win by knowing the words to “Mamma Mia.” (Thanks to my daughter who made me sing it with her all the time.) There was a woman on my team who was clearly drunk and kept hogging the microphone even when she didn’t know the words. I was especially annoyed when she did it during “Obladi, Oblada.” (Anyone who has watched Life Goes On in the 80's should know all the words to that song!) There was another woman on my team who balanced out my annoyance for the drunk lady, as she grabbed the microphone from the other team during “Beat It” and just rocked out. One night, they had dancing to 80's music. The music was super loud though. However, my younger son was dancing all silly and someone on the entertainment staff gave him a prize. Good thing I won the same prize at the singing contest because my daughter was so jealous and wanted it too.
One of the evenings, my older son and I went to a jazz concert where they were performing songs from movies, TV shows, and musicals. The lead singer’s name is Simon Drew and he was giving away his CDs at the end, so I got one of them. My son and I got a kick out of him saying that every song was his “all-time favorite.” (In a British accent, no less.) We’d say that about every song after that night.

*Food/Dining. The dining staff was accommodating to our dietary needs and even gave us challah and Kosher wine on Friday night. They were even good about getting our reservations changed so we didn’t have to eat so late with the kids. Since we had limited options, it was easy to get bored of certain food items after a while.

We didn’t make any new friends, as it was too hard to socialize while focusing on our kids. We saw a lot of the same people around the boat, but never made the effort to chat with them or introduce ourselves. One person who stood out was this woman with extremely frizzy hair. My hair has a mind of its own, but I’m not brave enough to avoid conditioner or gel. I applaud her for not caring how wild her hair was and just letting it go the way it wanted.

Also, unless your kids are really close in age, the child care programming doesn’t work well if they want to stay together. We found that out the hard way and it was very frustrating. Needless to say, we did not have a “date night.” We also had to take turns relaxing during pool time, as someone had to be watching our daughter. I did get a little reading time in, but I usually wanted to sleep when I had the chance to relax by myself.

Overall, we had a great time and the kids already want to go on another cruise. If that’s the case, I’d probably want something even more kid-friendly with opportunities to socialize with other families. Not to say this wasn’t kid-friendly. It was sponsored by Dreamworks! However, if the kids don’t want to go to child care because of their lame rules, there should at least be more entertainment options for them at night. You know a cruise will make them into insomniacs! Perhaps a late night sundae bar would do the trick? Or another family friendly show?

Clearly it was a memorable trip if I had all this to share four months later!

Check out some video and photo montages from my husband:
Day 1 (Boarding the ship and first night at sea)
Day 2 (At sea, formal night)
Day 3 (Labadee and the singing contest)
Day 4 (Jamaica)

There's one more coming that I'll share once it's available.

Thursday, September 15, 2016

The summer I turned 40

Blog Project 3.0 has been going on for about three years, even though one of the group members changed after a few months. I love blogging with this group and I hope we can continue to inspire each other.

We're finally back after summer break, but will be posting bi-weekly as life keeps getting in the way.

This week, Froggie chose the topic: My summer

First, read what everyone else had to share on this topic. I will be only posting links to posts on this same topic from my group. So check back if you were hoping to read their blogs and don't see a link yet.
Darwin Shrugged
Moma Rock

This summer went by in a blur. At least it feels that way! I can’t even remember most of what I did in June. It started off with “Will” visiting during Memorial weekend. He stayed with us for a couple of days and we got to do some exploring in DC. I even had a reunion for him and “Jack” at our house. Like the good old days!

The big thing in June was my daughter graduating from Pre-K. She narrated a story during the performance part of the ceremony and spoke so well. I was verklempt! At the end of the month, we all saw Finding Dory. I enjoyed it a lot.

July was the month of the big 4-0. It started out with Fourth of July weekend. We had one of my online friends and her family over for a BBQ that Sunday. On the actual holiday, it was raining a lot, so we went to an indoor pool nearby. They had a shallow splash pool for the kids that included a little water slide. The kids had a lot of fun and the water was the perfect temperature.

A few days before my birthday, my husband threw me a little party for our friends in the neighborhood to attend during Shabbat. We had a great turnout and he even made this “time machine” for me.

The next day, I saw a community theater production of Rent with two of my close friends. It was decent, but the rhythms were off a lot of the time. And Angel’s makeup made him look like one of the Golden Girls going for a night on the town.

My actual birthday was…interesting. It started out with a trip to the pediatrician because my younger son wasn’t feeling well. Turns out, he had strep. I spent most of the day with him and we watched The Karate Kid (the original version). My in-laws were in town, so they stayed home with him for a little while so that I could get my hair cut. (They also stayed with the kids that evening.)

At night, my husband and I went out for dinner and frozen yogurt, and then saw Evita at a local professional theater. It was a different kind of production in comparison with the movie version, but they did a nice job with it. The dancing was kind of strange though. The next day, he and I went to a Nats game with my office. It was fun, but too hot to stay out the whole time. When we got home that evening, I got a manicure and pedicure. It was really nice! I enjoyed all the Facebook posts I received on my birthday, as well.

The weekend following my birthday, we went to our cousin’s Bat Mitzvah. It was nice to see some family that we don’t normally get to see. There was also a brunch at their house and we spent some time at their pool too. The Bat Mitzvah reception was a lot of fun and my older son had a blast dancing with the other kids. My parents were there too, even though it’s on my husband’s side. They’re best friends with my husband’s cousins, through whom we originally got connected to more cousins. The Bat Mitzvah was for their granddaughter.

At the end of July, we went to a really nice water park by Chesapeake Beach. There were a lot of slides, including a cool one that you go down on a raft. They had a lazy river, as well. We had a great time there and I am glad I got the Certifikid deal when it was available.

August was more low-key in the beginning of the month. We took the kids to a butterfly exhibit at a nearby nature center. The butterflies seemed to like my younger son. My daughter kept telling me to take a lot of random butterfly pictures. It was really hot in the exhibit though.

The exciting part of August was when we took the kids to NYC for a few days to spend time with my in-laws and tour around the city. It was more for them to really experience NYC, as the last time they were there, my older son was three and doesn’t remember anything about it. He’s wanted to go for a while, so he was really excited. The days were filled with visits to museums, Ground Zero, seeing the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island, going up the Empire State Building, and eating at some delicious Kosher meat restaurants. We also saw Matilda. It was cute, but sometimes I had trouble understanding what they were saying since they used thick British accents. I was verklempt from the ending though.

I didn’t tell a lot of friends I was going to be in NYC because the focus was on spending time with family and exploring. However, we got to meet up with a friend I hadn’t seen in a couple of years. And the last time she saw my kids, my daughter was a toddler. And we also had a random meet-up with another friend who just happened to be at the Museum of Natural History at the same time we were. Only in New York, right?!?

Random meet up with my friend from HS

Planned meet up 

We didn't get to see the show,
but we couldn't resist stopping by!
At NY Historical Society, which had a Hamilton
exhibit, as well as a cool kid's museum and a
Mo Willems exhibit.
We ended the summer (as in right before the kids went back to school) by taking my cousin out to dinner, as she moved across the country to study at University of Maryland. It was nice to spend time with her and I hope to see her again soon!

Labor Day weekend was pretty uneventful, but a friend from Chicago was in town, so we got to see her and meet her new baby.

As for TV shows...I watched Orange is the New Black, Odd Mom Out, The Goldbergs, Orphan Black, Stranger Things, and am now getting into Crazy Ex-Girlfriend. I didn't see a lot of movies. Just one in the theater and a couple on DVD (Room and My Big Fat Greek Wedding 2).

I obviously read a ton of books! One of my favorites from this summer is Everything We Keep by Kerry Lonsdale. I also got into audio books for the first time. I started off with In the Unlikely Event by Judy Blume and am now almost finished listening to The All-Girl Filling Station's Last Reunion by Fannie Flagg.

That’s about it for my summer. I’m not into hot weather at all and am glad that autumn is almost here.