Saturday, November 19, 2016

Healthy Debate

I'm back.  I've had a week to take some deep breaths, have lots of amazing conversations with friends and like-minded women, and I'm feeling energized and yes, even hopeful.  If anything good has come from this election so far it is that I can strongly feel a movement of newly invigorated and impassioned citizens ready to step up and make sure that the President-Elect knows we are watching.  We will not be silent if he tries to impede on the rights of already under-served Americans.

I had drinks one night with a group of women who all wanted to come together just to share ideas of how we can each help, individually.  One of us said she'd make a donation each month to a favorite charity.  One said she'd focus her time and efforts on immigrants.  Another, young women.  I am still doing research and soul searching on where I want to focus my skills and time but I'm narrowing it down to something education-related.  And of course, I'll make sure that my kids are involved and learning from my actions and commitment.

My friend Nicole reminded me this week that young voters overwhelmingly rejected the hate-filled agenda in almost every state.  She said she has hope because while "today is dark, the future looks bright.  Educated, hard-working, intelligent students who are driven to make a change WILL change this world."  Thank you, Nicole.  I couldn't agree more.

So now back to our regularly scheduled programming.

Autumn is my absolute favorite time of the year in this city, for obvious reasons.

Last Friday since Ella was off from school for Veteran's Day, the kids took a class at The Met on Jerusalem, ancient history through modern times.  Kevin took the day off work as well so that he could join us in the class since they've been studying the Jewish people as part of their ancient history lessons on the weekends.  We've taken classes with this professor in the past and always love her talks.

Holden's volunteer group spent their time together this week making centerpieces for the tables at the soup kitchen that we'll be volunteering at next week.


We had a fantastic day at The Whitney Museum this week.  We just took our time wandering aimlessly through the galleries sketching and enjoying ourselves.  We all participated in the open studios hands-on activities as well.

The highlight of the week though was Ella's first debate tournament last weekend!  She and her team spent the entire day participating in debates on topics such as: Should mass transit be free?  Should immigrants be given a pathway to citizenship?  Is the Olympics worth the cost?  Should we abolish the Electoral College?  These are 11 and 12-year-olds...  They had to prepare to argue either for or against and were told 20 minutes before the debate which side they were going to argue.  Apparently her school did so well last year (won every single tournament) that they had to move up to a higher league this year.  They were the only public school competing against all private schools, many for gifted children.  Ella and her team prepared for weeks, even meeting on the weekend for hours at the library.  She was a nervous wreck and swung the gamut of emotions throughout the day.  In the end it was an incredible experience for her and she learned so much.  They already have their next tournament next month.

I've been volunteering at her school leading tours for prospective students for the last few weeks and have been learning so much about the school and their teaching philosophy.  I'm also participating in a book club led by our principal reading the book Learning That Lasts by Ron Berger which (in addition to his other book Leaders of Their Own Learning) is our school's model and philosophy in a nutshell.  I am so incredibly grateful that we found this school and have completely drank the kool-aid.  I'll write more about the details in a separate post someday.

Saturday, November 12, 2016

What Have You Done?

I had originally titled this post What Have We Done? but realized that I wanted to take no blame for the election of Donald Trump.  As you know I voted for Hillary Clinton.  Not because she’s a woman - that would have been the icing on the cake.  I voted for her because she is brilliant, she is a diplomat, she is a leader and an incredible role model for my children.  I voted for her because she wants to bring people together, not cut us off from the world and each other.  I voted for her because I believe she would have made all of our lives better.  I voted for her because she isn’t Donald Trump.

If you voted for Donald Trump then I want you to read the rest of this post carefully.  I am speaking directly to you.

If the fact that Trump says he “loves the uneducated” and polls have shown that Americans with college degrees overwhelmingly voted for Hillary doesn’t make you think that maybe those who spent blood, sweat, and tears to better themselves are onto something, then you should probably go back to school.

If you voted for him because you don’t want gay people to marry or women to have abortions or a whole host of other issues that will probably never affect you directly then you should think about why you want to control strangers’ lives and bodies and mind your own business.

If you think you can’t find a job because undocumented immigrants are taking them all, then you should probably admit that you were never going to work in a field picking strawberries for five dollars a day anyway.

If you're angry that these same undocumented people are using our services without paying for them, then you should know that most of them pay more in taxes than Donald Trump.  And he still expects firemen to keep his properties from burning down and police to keep him safe.

If you lost your job at the factory then you need to realize that you just elected a businessman who has all of his goods manufactured overseas in countries with no labor laws where workers are exploited all so he can make more money.

If your response to ‘black lives matter’ is ‘all lives matter’ then you don’t get that there isn't a silent "more" at the end of that statement.  There's a silent "too".  Black lives matter TOO and have been undervalued for too long.  Please read up on white privilege.  I don’t have time to explain it to you here.  But if you’re white then you have it, regardless of how poor you are.  We aren’t all beginning the race at the same start line.

If you have called Hillary a criminal or crooked, or shouted, “Lock her up!” then please show me evidence of a single crime she’s been found guilty of because no one has been more scrutinized or closely investigated than she.  And yet no crimes have ever been found.

If you think climate change isn’t real then please show me your advanced degree in science.  Or explain to me why your ego allows you to think that you know more about the planet than millions of scientists.

If you think we should keep an entire religion out of our country then you need to read up on American history, world history.  And pray that your religion isn’t next.

If you voted for Trump because of your “Christian values” then you need to listen to the tape where he brags about sexually assaulting women.  Listen to it over and over again.  And then you need to admit that you aren’t a very good Christian.

If you are willing to throw millions of Americans under the bus because a woman hurt your feelings, then you really are deplorable.

Yes, I’m angry.  The schoolyard bully won.  Love didn’t trump hate.  They say he won because the country is angry and wants change but they’re angry at the wrong people.  Your life isn’t hard because of Democrats or immigrants or gay people or black people or Muslims or intellectuals.  You need to look in the mirror.  You need to spend some time at the library reading history books and science books and frankly any goddamn book at all.  Stop being spoon-fed your information from the TV while sitting on your Lazy Boy.  Reality TV isn't real.  Pundits aren't journalists.  Opinion isn't fact.  The con-man isn't going to fix your problems.

I am purposefully raising my kids in an urban environment so that they are constantly being exposed to people who look different, speak differently, pray differently.  I am teaching them that the “other” isn’t someone to fear or demonize but to learn from.  I am going to continue to teach my daughter that women can do anything and that they can and should control their own bodies.  I am going to continue to teach my son that women are to be respected and valued, not prized and rated.  I will raise two open-minded, respectful, curious, hard working, intelligent human beings.

I will do these things because Hillary was right.  We are stronger together.

Tuesday, November 8, 2016

We're With Her

Last week was very musical for Holden and me.  Not only did we get to see the opera Aida at The Metropolitan Opera House, but on Friday we joined another homeschool field trip to see the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra led by the famous Wynton Marsalis.


It was a special program for kids on the life and work of Count Basie.  Wynton did an amazing job keeping the auditorium of 500+ young children interested and entertained.  He talked about Count Basie, taught the kids about jazz music, and the orchestra played us the most incredible music for over an hour.  Holden was riveted.

Earlier in the week Holden got to visit a local senior center in Manhattan with his volunteer group.  The small group of young kids spent a couple hours painting with the elderly residents and I'm not sure who had more fun, the kids or adults.


He also got to go to a Jason and the Argonauts themed birthday party in the park.  Such a homeschooler's kind of birthday party...


Meanwhile, we're all on eggshells this week with the election happening today.  I'm sorry that the first presidential election that they'll remember is one that's been filled with insults as opposed to policy debates, with hate and vitriol instead of cooperation and communication.  But it's all over today.  Now we wait.

But I'm also very happy that the first presidential election they'll remember is the first one in which one of the candidates is a woman.  Ella will remember coming into the voting booth with me and watching me vote for Hillary Clinton.  Not because she's the lesser of two evils, but because I think she's awesome.  And I think she'll make an amazing president - woman or not.

Today I dedicated my vote to this kick ass girl.

Wednesday, November 2, 2016

All Treats, No Tricks


Amid the stress and negativity surrounding us in these last few days of the election cycle, we've managed to pull ourselves away from the news long enough to enjoy lots of good family time together.

Some highlights -
Dinner with our good friend Nate visiting from California

Family game night

A walk along the Hudson River at sunset

a display of over 7,000 carved pumpkins at the historic
Van Cortlandt Manor in Sleepy Hollow country

An entire train made completely of carved pumpkins

It takes 20 volunteers 3 hours to light all the candles each night

Entire ceiling of tunnel is carved pumpkins

Too pretty to be scary

We headed up to the suburbs to join Maeve's family for trick-or-treating again this year
Our little Amish girl

Yes, Holden is a pigeon.  Because, New York.

And to top off an already awesome week, Holden and I got free tickets to see the opera Aida at The Metropolitan Opera House in Lincoln Center with a homeschool group.  The scenery and costumes were stunning.  Real horses even came on stage at one point.  I've made an opera lover out of Holden.