The Great Interview Experiment

The Great Interview ExperimentI can’t even tell you how I found out about this little interwebs-game, but I did and I signed up and it was very interesting and fun.  The basic premise of the GIE is that I interview the person who signed up before me, and I am interviewed by the person who signed up after me, or something like that.

So, my interviewee-pal is a chap named ‘Jack’ who maintains his blog  wwwjackbenimble.blogspot.com.

Whoa.  I had been assigned a real deal, hard out blogger.  Someone who writes and blogs for the sheer love and joy of it, someone who is not a mommy-blogger, someone who writes really, really well and doesn’t just fill the gaps with pics of whatever their kid did that day (like me).  Suffice to say, Jack’s blog has been added to my google reader.

Here are my questions and Jack’s answers;

  • Your blog archive dates back to 1999, though your posts then seem somewhat…….blank.  Were you just inventing the interwebs back then or beginning your blogging journey?  What were you really doing online in 1999?

I started blogging in 2004. It was kind of an impulsive move on my part, can’t really say what made me do it. Prior to my blogging career I had participated on a bunch of message boards and various chat rooms. I started doing that sometime around 1994.

I know for certain that I was doing it on January 16, 1994 because it was the night before the Northridge earthquake. I saw Schindler’s List that night and was so bothered by it that when I got home I logged onto AOL and spent some time there trying to distract myself.

Anyhoo, years later I am a seasoned blogger with a ridiculous number of posts.

  • New Zealanders are beginning to share you view on over-parenting, those precious kids are being referred to here as “cotton-wool kids”.  How are you letting your kids get grubby and bruised and really experiencing the world?

I am a big believer in teaching kids how to survive in the real world. That means that sometimes I let them fail at activities. When we play games I don’t always let them win. They need to learn how to deal with adversity and how to rely upon their own resourcefulness, ingenuity and intellect.  At the same time we try to be careful to make sure that their egos don’t get crushed in the process. It is a real balancing act.

It makes me crazy when I see parents totally cater to their children. One day those kids will be in a world of hurt because a situation will arise and no one will be there to rescue them.

Part of the process/theory we use is providing the kids with an allowance and providing opportunities for them to spend their own money to get things that they want. Again there is a bit of a balancing act going on, but I like them to understand that things aren’t free. Not to mention the benefits of teaching them how to use money responsibly.

  • Practitioners of the Jewish faith here in New Zealand are about as rare as a good taco, so can you hook me up with a good Latkes recipe?  I have tried to make them one time and they turned out not so bueno.  Thanks in advance.

There are a million different recipes for Latkes. I am a big fan of Joan Nathan. She is a well known author of cookbooks of Jewish foods. The New York Times just ran an article she wrote with some latke recipes that sound interesting.

I like making latkes and use a recipe that is similar to this one. I say similar because I am one of those people who uses the recipe as a sort of guide. I never make anything exactly the same way, there is always a special twist or two.

  • How much social media is enough?  FB, blogging, tumblr, posterous, twitter…….where does it end and what suffers as a result?  Your thoughts please

Social media is an interesting sort of animal. It is the kind of thing that can easily become a major time suck and I suspect addicting for some people. I suppose that I have sort of a low grade addiction. I truly can’t imagine giving up blogging, but that is because I love to write. It is a an expression and an outlet that I never grow tired of.  But I certainly don’t spend the same amount of time reading and commenting on other blogs as I once did.

I have two Facebook accounts that I use.There is one that is tied into my blog. Since I am semi anonymous I decided that it was easier to use one account strictly for the blog. I have a second account under my real name that I use with friends, family and business colleagues.

I got into Twitter a year ago. For a long time I was reluctant to add any other “extra curricular” activities to a fairly busy schedule. But a while back it became obvious that social media was going to be a big part of my business so I set about doing what I could to try and learn how to become proficient in it.

The question of when does it become too much is subjective. I suppose that if you become so involved that you lose your employment or find personal relationships suffering it is time to curtail or cut out some of your social media activities.

  • How does a Jewish family spend Christmas Day?

Christmas day is just another day of the year for us, albeit one in which we often find ourselves with lots of free time. There is an old joke that Christmas day is the time when all the Chinese restaurants are filled with Jewish families.

It is not unusual for families to go to the movies or to organize parties. In college they used to have dances they called “The Matza Ball” that we would hit.

In my family we did a lot of those things. But some years we would be invited by Christian friends to their homes. When that happened we’d go hang out and help them celebrate.

  • Have you participated in the Great Interview Experiment before?  If this is your first time, how did you find out about it?

I did this last year. I interviewed Marinka.

  • What do you love/hate about LA?

I am a native Angeleno, born and raised in Los Angeles. I love this city. It has everything that you could ever want in a city. There is art, museum, cultural events, incredible restaurants, great entertainment and of course spectacular weather.  How many cities can you name that provide the opportunity to surf and ski on the same day. It is close to the mountains and the desert. There is fresh fruit year round.

Going back to food, Los Angeles offers access to great ethnic cuisine. We probably have the best Mexican food in the country and in spite of the protestations from others we have great pizza. You can find a great steak with your eyes shut and there isn’t a city anywhere that offers more opportunities for great sushi.

And none of that covers great Indian food, some of the Ethiopian restaurants or the hundreds of others that are here.

On the other side of the coin I have seen the city grow and become a bit crowded. Not unlike many cities traffic has become problematic and the public transportation needs work.

As a kid the public school system was great. We received an excellent education and went to the best universities. There are many issues now that need to be addressed. You can still receive a very fine education but it has become harder.

In addition the housing market went crazy here. It has become harder to find affordable homes to purchase.Now that the bubble has burst there seems to have been a correction, but I wonder.

  • Have you considered moving your family anywhere else in the world to live?  If so where and why

I love L.A. and there really aren’t too many other places that I would consider living. All that being said I wouldn’t say that I am locked into living here forever. In 1995 I was on the verge of moving to Israel. Some times I am still surprised that it didn’t happen.

Within the states I’d consider living in a bunch of different places, preferably a warmer climate. I am a guy who can wear t-shirts and shorts year round. I don’t like the cold very much. Although I suppose that if the right opportunity came up I could find myself living virtually anywhere.

Writers Prompt: If you give a Mum a moment

  1. She might remember to take her Happy Pill, her iron pill, her vitamin C + zinc pill, her multi-vitamin, her antibiotic and wash them down with a big sip of Sav
  2. She might start putting away some stuff and then get distracted by something that needs putting away in the room where she was putting away the first thing  and move in circles throughout the house putting away some stuff but never really tidying up one room completely
  3. She might ignore all chores needing to be done and search for Botox prices online for over an hour
  4. She might pluck her eyebrows for about 17 minutes…..v e r y   s l o w l y
  5. She might lay down on the couch just so, because that is where the winter sun shines through the ranch-slider and is hot on her face and she can half-sleep and listen to the never-ending narration of the ITM Fishing Show and  uh-huh in all the right places one should express interest when your 4yo discusses the stomach contents of a broadbill swordfish
  6. She might eat 5 chocolate chip cookies….they are quite small
  7. She might not brush her teeth but rather go straight to bed and read New Moon on her laptop
  8. She might blog instead of studying
  9. She might LOVE the peace in her car as she drives to work on her own and can listen to morning radio and interviews with Prime Ministers without interruption
  10.   She might realise how lucky she is for her wonderful life xxxx.

The First Day of……

SPRING!!!!

Hallejulah, OMG it finally arrived.  I love New Zealand, I love New Zealand I really do love New Zealand, but winter in Auckland sucks ass more than anywhere  else that I have ever lived (specifically Florida and San Diego – tough crowd I know).

Anywho, the sun arrived in opposite land this week and we have been loving it.  Fathers Day was on Sunday and we celebrated by taking Ethan’s training wheels of his bike.  He had it down in 2 hours!  Kid is crazy.  Our lawn is so big and flat (have I mentioned it takes 2 hours to mow the whole thing?) that we didn’t have to leave the house to find a suitable place for Ethan to practise, this was handy as it meant we didn’t have to find to-go cups for our mimosa’s!

Taking the training wheeles off!
Taking the training wheels off!

Everything is better when done in your pajamas, you understand.  What this really means is that we were talking to Ethan about taking the training wheels off, and he was all like “Yeah!  Lets do it  NOW” so we were all “OK” let’s do it, clothes can wait.

He kept saying, "isn't it amazing that I can do this, it's amazing!"
He kept saying, "isn't it amazing that I can do this, it's amazing!"

Jim had his own first on Sunday, he caught his first chicken.  Luckily Ethan was able to chicken-whisper the poor thing away from Jimbo;

Free range chickens are still a few egges short of a dozen!
Free range chickens are still a few eggs short of a dozen!

To celebrate Fathers Day the absolute best way, we had our first BBQ of the season!  Whilst cleaning the winter cobwebs off the BBQ Dave discovered that someone had moved in over winter;

New Zealand Weta

Ethan knew right away that she was a girl because of her big egg laying spike-thing coming out of her bum, and that she was scared as she was making a huge racket with her legs.  He ooohhhed and ahhhed over her for about 5 minutes than found her a new home in the dark abandoned doghouse.

I love you Dad xxxx
I love you Dad xxxx

Mum also had a first (of sorts), she caught the bike riding bug from Ethan and they rode laps around the lawn together, little Marley running alongside of course!  I don’t think she has been on a bike for years;

Mum on my Bike
Mum on my Bike

So, a little late, but there are a few firsts for Writers Prompt this week.

Mommy play dates? What's your experience with mom dating?

I am happy to report that I have had many successful and ongoing playdates here in New Zealand.  The kids become long term friends (see here) and us Mums become long term drinking buddies as well.  Everyone goes home happy.

When we lived in Southern California we had lots of friends.  Lots of single, childless, surfing, skating, imbibing-type friends – did I mention that NONE of them had kids?  My family was all in New Zealand and Dave’s family all live in the south so I searched out a local Mom’s Group on the coast, made contact via email and hooked up Ethan and Mama’s First Play Date.  I was excited, nervous and feeling quite self-conscious.  Ethan was six months old by this point and I had never been in a situation where I could sit around and talk to other mothers – I had no idea of the protocol.  Professional mothers (as I thought of them) were scary, I was just an amateur.

Things started off well, the babies sat around and played with the communal toys, the 3 other moms were nice and polite and appeared interested / nosey about me and my little family.  They were all quite a bit older than me as apparently there is this unspoken law in SoCal that if you live at the beach and are under 30 you DON’T have children, they ruin you hot-ness and cut into your time at the bar.

We ran into the major snag when the topic eventually drifted into what the babies were eating / drinking etc.  I mentioned that I was making ALL of Ethan’s food myself.  Even carrots believe it or not!  I know who would have thought?  This was where the clique and I parted ways because if there is one thing you must NEVER do for your child, it is cook and process carrots for your baby!

WHAT THE?!?

That’s what I said.  These incredibly mis-informed matrons berated me for a good half hour about the danger of homemade carrot puree, not wanting to upset the applecart I nodded my head and “uh-huhed” at all the right moments, and then I got out of there quick smart.

I cried all the way home, those awful mothers, with their advanced age and established playgroup clique had made me feel so inadequate and bumbling.  I was doing a damn good job with that baby with NO family around to help and NO friends to offer advice.  Dave and I were doing it our way and I had thought it was working pretty fine.  Ethan was eating like a champ, 100% organic for his first year.  I made from scratch every meal that child ate, our freezer was a veritable supermarket of little frozen cubes of peaches, eggplant, pumpkin, the evil carrots, blueberries, lamb, free range chicken and whatever else was in season.  He never, not once ate from a jar or drank from a bottle.  But did I wave this in the faces of the smarmy women?  No I just sat there and took the anti-carrot slander without making a peep!

I left that awful playgroup never to visit again or join another.  Mothers groups can be full of stupid bitches, with lame opinions who have never heard of Google.  I don’t have much time for these people.

This picture was the one good thing that came out of our foray to playgroup
This picture was the one good thing that came out of our foray to playgroup

Writers Workshop – Why is your kid in time out?

Why is your kid in time out?

…………Oh…my kid?  He’s not in time out, he’s behaving this month – a little sprinkle of attitude but generally things are all smiles around here.

What about you Mrs D-brats Mum?  Why is D-brat in time out?

Well, it’s a bit embarrassing, are you going to put this on the Internet?  Because here in New Zealand we don’t talk about personal stuff on the Internet (people in America might read it), and everyone thinks you’re a bit weird with all of this BLOG stuff you waste your time on.

Don’t worry about it, reading about other people’s problems makes Americans feel better, they’ll be very sympathetic {note to reader[s]; don’t be offended, I married one and gave birth to one and love you all, now lighten up!}

It’s been a bad 3months.  D-brat has been in time out a lot.  In fact he spends more time there then he does in actual kindergarten class!  He is having a few problems I guess you could say.  It’s been so hard on me.

Oh dear, how awful, I had noticed that Ethan was coming home with bruises and scrapes right across his back from being flipped head over heels over a giant cotton reel and my first thought was “I bet Mrs D-brat really felt that one in the nads”.  My heart goes out to you!

Oh thank you so much, it is so nice to get some sympathy!  D-brat is such a GOOD boy, I think there must be a bad element at that kindy, someone must be leading him astray

Hmmmm, I thought the same thing last week when Dave told me how D-brat ridiculed Ethan right in front of him, An Official Adult!  When corrected on his behaviour D-brat did that gorgeous 4.5 year old thing, you know, when he pokes his tongue out at you and says “Ethan is so the slowest runner at kindy and he does ruin our game so there!”.  Yeah, one of those other bad-ass kids must have infiltrated his bible studies group or something.

Ooohh, you might be onto something there, perhaps I should get my head out of my fat ass and start talking to D-brat and figure out who I can really blame for my bad parenting.  The teachers keep asking me to reinforce their behaviour expectations at home, but why should I do their work for them?  I do not get paid for all I do for that child, it’s sacrifice in the name of love!

Um yeah, uh huh.

Oh,by the way, is Ethan part of that sacrifice because if he is we should probably get on the program a little at home, you know.  Start running him down a little, push him around a bit, would that help?  Yeah, then D-brat wouldn’t have so much on his plate each day at kindy, his time for bullying is really getting cut short with all of these time outs – you should probably speak to the teachers about that.  Hmmm, ok TTFN!





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Writers Workshop – Something I made

The best part of making something from hand is the using of it.  A lot of times you get these grandiose DIY ideas and you begin and [hopefully] end your project but never actually use it or wear it cause it just plain old sucks.  Not so however for my first knitting project – The Scarf.

When my brother Hadyn announced he was going on a solo musical adventure to the states, namely Chicago – in WINTER,  I kindly offered to knit him a scarf.  But summer and non-scarf activities got in the way so I gifted him the scarf I knitted for myself.  A snazzy merino number in apple green and charcoal.  And damn if Hadyn didn’t wear that scarf.  He went here, he went there, he blew is trombone everywhere and there was my scarf, keeping him warm and snuggly as he posed for cheesy tourist pics.

But have you really monitored it yet?  Have another look, it’s a work of art, it will probably be a hot vintage item one day – a one of a kind even as my knitting has really hit a slow patch since I finished that scarf, my first scarf, there may never be another.

Thanks Kat!

Writers Prompt – Little Kid List

  Writers Workshop from Mama Kat

This week my little-big kid

* told me I wasn’t to call him baby, babe or bubby any more.  Acceptable names are, mousey, mouseling, rabby, bub, melunkin (?sp?) and ratbum

* ate half of a family size pizza in one sitting

* decided he wanted a skip jack tuna birthday cake this year

* had a dream that he and his Nana went on holiday to Samoa by themselves

* named a previously un-noticed part of his body ‘the blob’ and decided it must be filled with peas

* asked his father if a song on the radio was sung by David Bain!!!! (a convicted murderer who was released 13 years later on appeal)

* told us he is NOT getting his hair cut anymore as he needs to grow his wool for summer

* has been banned from his computer twice because of bad behaviour,but has taken his punishments seriously and respectfully

* declared that he HATES Home & Away and tries to sabotage all my attempts to watch it – such as strategically watching his Outdoors with Geoff fishing DVD at 4:50pm

* decided that he does not like my pumpkin soup as much as pumpkin soup in a pouch from Pak n Save, and we should probably just buy that from now on (::gasp::: I thought my pumpkin soup was really good!)

* told me I am the most beautiful and sweetest mama in the whole world and that he loves me all of the stars.

Trampoline fun

Writers Prompt: Heidi-ho neighbours!

 Describe a situation that forced you to confront a neighbor

Oh this is a good one Mama Kat!

I can’t decide which one is best, they all terrorised me equally so prepare to meet my multiple bad neighbours;

1.  When Bush and I lived in Tortilla Flats in Encinitas we had a small 1 bedroom apartment.  Yes, you did the math right, 2 girls, one bedroom.  We didn’t have a bed so get your mind out of the gutter, we both had our own little pile of cushions and blankets that we slept on and we took turns sleeping on the mini-futon.  We lived next door to a Mexican family with approximately 11 sons, all between the ages of 18-24.  They were pretty fascinated by their new neighbours and would spend most of their time smoking cigarettes and staring in our windows.  Blatantly staring.  We didn’t have curtains so that was quickly rectified by some sarongs that we kept up for the entirety of our tenancy.  It got so bad we were forced to learn some quick spanglish and found ourselves constantly yelling “NO MIRA ME!  NO MIRA ME!”.  Apparently the general context of what we were saying sunk in I guess, because our bikinis drying on the clothes line quickly ceased being the local water cooler.

2.  The first apartment Dave and I rented by ourselves was in a sweet 5 apartment complex so close to the beach in San Diego you could hear the waves at night.  We were super happy there, or at least Dave and Ethan were.  I was to discover that apartment living is really not for me.  Poor Dave, I was constantly dispatching him to ask John & Rion the single surfers upstairs to turn their TV down, the lesbians living above me would stomp around at all hours and their loud toilet flushing would just about put me over the edge.  The thing that drove me the most crazy was their roommates habit of clipping his nails on the shared outdoor steps.  He left the clippings on the steps people!  It wasn’t just the nastiness of leaving his nails all lying around but for me it was the whole ritual that grossed me out – the very sound of the clippers would make me run for my ipod to drown out the noise.  It was akin to water boarding for me, in fact I think I would actually give that a whirl rather than sit through the sound of Miguel ever trimming his nails again.

3.  Same complex.  New Years Eve.  Neighbour on top floor is a semi-retired early fifties divorcee.  He loses the plot on New Years somehow gets a hold of a massive amount of cocaine, snorts himself silly then goes on a 48 hour prostitute bender.  Once the working girls stopped coming over he made do with porn.  Problem was he turned it up so loud that the entire alley 3 floors down was awash with the various soundtracks on New Years Day.  Yeah, I did some serious yelling that day.

4.  Home in NZ this time.  Our first sweet little flat here was next door to a small, old and quite lovely graveyard – nothing spooky about it at all.  It has a bench at the top that must be one of the best places to sit and relax on a sunny day – problem was, every sunny day the drunk frenchman would park himself up there with his 4 pack of large bourbon and colas and get hammered.  First three were pretty quiet, but he would then totter back to the local liquor store and grab his second 4 pack and then he was ON.  Louder and louder, more cuss words by the minute.  This guy would get so lost in his own conversation with himself he wouldn’t even see you coming.  I lost count of the number of times I called the cops and would peek through my fence as they came and took him away.  Mean I know, but I just couldn’t understand why he couldn’t keep his boozing at home like us normal people do.

Writers Workshop

The Prompts:

1.) Tell us about a “dirt cheap” you’ve taken this summer.

2.) When I grow up I want to be like…

3.) Describe a difficult moment that you survived.

4.) List 5 things you like to do while camping…or 5 places you’d like to go.

5.) What are you paranoid about?

Well, it’s not summer so #1 is out, I just plain do not want to grow up so I can’t even entertain #2.

3.  Describe a difficult moment that you survived.  OK let’s tackle this guy. 

The first situation that springs to mind is Ethan’s Christening.  I don’t even know if that’s what it was called, maybe his dedication or something?  Obviously I am not much of a ‘force religion on your child’ type-person.  We were in the south, staying with Dave’s family for the final month before we moved permanently to New Zealand.  There was this ridiculous drama surrounding the whole thing, certain family members had not spoken to us for 3 of the 4 weeks because we weren’t shelling out money to their children left and right (cause we are filthy rich right?) so tension was running high.  Add to this, it was Mothers Day and I was being forced to go to a Baptist church and do something I felt quite strongly against.  It was a ill planned joke in the church.  On a day when a number of very young children were ‘booked in’ for this procedure, the pastor decided to make the kids wait til the end of the service.  By wait, I mean a couple of hours.  Can you imagine?  So when it’s finally the time to address the issue of the screaming children and their destiny with Jesus we line up in front of the congregation.  It’s very quiet, everyone is listening to the pastors inroduction of each little family.  Ethan is pissed and wallops me across the face with this satisfying slap that was totally worthy of a Sopranos sound bite.  That’s how The Jack family met the southern baptists.

To amplify my mothers day misery, it was a Sunday.  In Georgia.  Do you know what that means?  NO LIQOUR SALES.  I was unable to drown my sorrows.  So I did what any self-respecting, miserable wife would do – I sent my husband and my best friend to Florida to buy beer.   Happy mothers day!

Writers Prompt: Write five "Incredibly Short Books"

So, I’ve been skipping class but I’m back with this weeks Writers Prompts from Mama Kat;

1.  How I keep myself swimsuit ready in the depths of New Zealand winter

Oh this is a book you must read.  For real.  I put lotion on my legs tonight for the first time in probably almost 3 months.  Why?  Because I was thinking I might get around to shaving them sometime before August.  Yeah I know, how totally feral of me, but I do have excuses reasons for my lack of grooming…….like…..we are on tank water so I am always hurrying in the shower…..and….it is so damn cold when I get out of the shower that I pull my long socks and jeans on before you can say big-hairy-yeti.

2.  A Mothers Guide to Taking Care of YOURSELF

This is the sequel to #1.  Ethan has his kiddie vitamins, which he doesn’t really need as I feed him all natural food and heaps of fruit and veges each day, he also takes fish oil capsules to lube up his big ol brain, he drinks plenty of water at my urging, gets tonnes of exercise and sleeps 12 hours a day.  Me….well, I went to see the doctor yesterday who noted that I was badly dehydrated, I was all like, but I drink plenty of Diet Coke?  WTF? I can’t remember when I ate a piece of fruit last, or when I went for a run, or was able to sleep without coughing my lungs out every five minutes.  Being a grown up sucks.  Especially when you can’t drink wine because of your sucky expensive antibiotics that you have to take because YOU JUST AREN’T TAKING CARE OF YOURSELF!

3.  Why women don’t need chocolate or caffeine

This one has to be a no-brainer.  Dave came home from the supermarket last night and unloaded the last bag of groceries and handed me a king size bar of Whittakers Dairy Milk Chocolate.  I couldn’t really talk because it felt like there were razor blades in my throat, but I was so happy I jumped up and down.  And then I coughed.  It was a glorious moment.

4.  New Zealand’s Guide to Nuclear Power

This will never happen, the New Zealand voters will never agree to nuclear power.  I was reminded of this today when I heard this awesome track by Tiki on the radio.  It’s called You da Bomb and remixes former Prime Minister David Langes legendary anti-nuclear Oxford Union Speech.

5.  The Complete & Unabridged Lexicon of George W. Bush

See above:  George says nucula.  The end.