Friday, December 30, 2005

Snug Harbor

This was the source of the carnival we saw on Staten Island:

Richmond County Savings Foundation presents
A Dickens Festival
December 29, 30, & 31
Thursday and Friday 12 - 9pm
Saturday -New Year's Eve 12 -7pm

For three exciting days visitors will experience a Victorian village and the works of Charles Dickens as characters and scenes come alive around you. This dynamic indoor-festival recreates authentic street scenes with actors in period costumes, an old-fashioned tavern, an English teahouse, The Old Curiosity Shop and an indoor street market featuring shops selling linens, jewelry, perfumes, antiques and sweets as well as traditional British Pub food, Shepherd's Pie, Fish and Chips and English Bangers. Puppeteers, jugglers, magicians, fortunetellers, tarot card readers, clowns and an array of music will flood the halls of Snug Harbor. The festival will offer a collection of exhibits on Dickens' life and works as well as glimpses of Victorian culture, in addition to great performances.

Oliver!, a family-friendly musical based on the classic Dickens novel, is sure to please audiences with outstanding musical numbers such as "Food, Glorious Food", "As Long as He Needs Me" and "Consider Yourself". Oliver! will be presented with a full orchestra and a full cast of Dickens’ well-loved characters, including a large children’s chorus comprising Fagin’s Gang, The Artful Dodger and young Oliver Twist; co-directed by Christopher Catt and Norb Joerber who is best known for directing Robert Goulet in Camelot on Broadway.

For the little ones, a variety of children’s activities and entertainment will be offered including marionette shows, cardboard gingerbread house making, storytelling, coloring contests and arts & crafts that not only entertain, but help understand times past.

It was a wonderful time- the girls really got a kick out of the whole set up. The Cutlers can start their own travelling show I think. Bret was part of a magic trick involving a hungry tiger, and Allison was an assistant in another trick during the carnival. (yes pictures will be forthcoming).

I want to return to the Cultural Center just to see it in the daylight- the buildings and the history are worth exploring. I'm crossing my fingers for this summer....

Return to the Big Apple

Hooray I'm home!

Travel to NYC the second time this year- not bad for an Arizona gal. :-) But we couldn't be on the east coast and NOT come down and visit my aunts and Dad! We left actually on Tuesday- just have had limited access here.

We did learn something on the drive down- our poor little Sammy gets car sick. We're on the road not even half and hour and we hear from the back seat:

"Mom.... my tummy hurts...."

Then- HURL! Ug.... but after thinking about it, the same thing happened when we left Disneyland back in April. AND, they had just started watching a movie in the car. I knew those portable DVD players were a horrible invention!

After that, the trip down was uneventful. We did get to try out my Christmas present, an FM receiver for my iPod. Worked very well, until you changed cities and states and all the stations would change. But at home it should work quite nicely.

The girls were VERY happy to see their Aunts, because they knew they would be spoiled rotten. I don't think I've actually SEEN my girls more than once or twice since we got here! Wednesday night we took them into NYC to see the Tree in Rockefeller Center. Which was completely nuts. I had never seen so many people in my life- and it's not like I haven't been to NYC before. Eventually Samantha ended up on Bret's shoulders, which actually helped us because we could see the bright pink coat over all the people. Allison had a hard time of it, the crowd got to her, along with the fact she couldn't see. I could definitely relate to that- a short person moving through crowds is NOT fun. :-) But once we reached the tree, well they enjoyed it very much. Watched the people ice skating for awhile, took numerous photos, then stopped in St. Patricks cathedral across the street. (No, I was NOT struck down by lightening).

The rest of the trip so far has just been hanging out with family. Catching up with my aunts, that whole thing. For me, I could spend the entire week just sitting upstairs in my Aunt's kitchen, drinking coffee and bs-ing with them. Bret needs a little more activity.

I did notice however that the older sister is getting increasingly tired of the younger one. After all, they have had to share sleeping space, and just about every moment together this entire vacation. So today, I took Allison back out into the city to visit one of the most sinful, cavity-inducing places there- Dylan's Candy Bar. Oooohhhhhhh.... I had an instant sugar high just opening the door to enter.

It was fun though. Me and my daughter shopping in NYC. Of course this is also the side of town with all the 5th Avenue stores, Bloomingdales, Barney's... a woman with a shopping problem's worst nightmare (for her husband anyway). I was good, we only window-shopped. I think I was feeling guilty at what I spent in the candy store....

So, tonight it is off to the island of my birth (Staten Island), to see my dad and his wife for the evening. Yay!! We're supposed to end up at a carnival I think.... hmmm....

Saturday, December 24, 2005

Keeping the traditions in my sister's home

"Yay! It's Christmas Eve!" My girls yelled excitedly today as I woke them up. We had a photographer come this morning, so we needed to be up and dressed earlier than we had been this week. It had been at least 5 years since the last time the whole family was together for a family photo, so we took advantage. This is also the first Christmas that we Radin kids can remember spending all together ON Christmas in probably a good ten years at LEAST, so it certainly was a special occasion. (I may have only been a Radin for 16 years now, but I swear if they did a DNA test it would match.) Throw on top the fact that our parents just celebrated their 40th wedding anniversary this week, and you've got enough of momentous occasions to warrant having it documented professionally.

Afterwards all 11 of us took Mom and Dad out for a luncheon to commemorate their anniversary, then everyone disappeared to finished their prospective wrapping of gifts.

This evening was our turn to make dinner, and Bret and I kept with our usual tradition of chili on Christmas Eve. The girls were holding their own very well and being very patient, but unfortunately their cousins are still a bit young to keep up with the festivities, and needed to get to bed.

So, "The Night Before Christmas" in hand, the girls sat on their Uncle Brett's lap while Allison read the story to everyone. Looking over at my husband, I saw him get a little welled-up at the whole thing, the big mush. After, we got a plate together of cookies, hot cocoa, and a carrot for Santa and the reindeer, and they wrote a note with a few pointed questions for Old St. Nick:

1) Does Rudolph really have a red and glowing nose?
2) Is Rudolph a girl or a boy?
3) Is Frosty the Snowman real?

...along with space for him to write his answers. Then we went outside with our reindeer dust, to sprinkle along the walk so they knew where to land. (consists of a mixture of oats and glitter). We went inside, and without my saying a word they were up the stairs to brush their teeth, and poof in bed.

I just love Christmas Eve. :-)

So now we're finishing up the wrapping, some are crashed out in front of the TV watching a movie, Dad's doing his crossword, and I sit blogging. Feeling rather sentimental, which this time of year tends to do to most I imagine.

No computer tomorrow, so to all who read this- Merry Christmas!

Friday, December 23, 2005

I still have 10 toes!

I really thought I was going to lose a couple after walking around Edaville Railroad last night. It was a good hour and a half drive away. We stopped for dinner in the middle, and made it just in time to make the last train ride of the night. The kids were in heaven- I think they were waiting for it to take off like The Polor Express! These are the reasons I just love this time of year, the magic of the whole season, and the light that never seems to go out in the kid's eyes.

But OMFG- people walk around in this weather?? We took the kids on some rides afterwards, and seriously I couldn't feel my poor feet after like 20 minutes! Poor Samantha, after her meltdown (she is doing alot of those lately) about not going on the exact amount of rides as her sister, had quite the chaffed cheeks from the cold. The poor dear.

Today has been lazy. We're waiting for Mom and Dad to arrive with the Aunt(s), Katie's baking cookies, the girls are outside with their cousin making BIGGER snowmen with Bret and Brett (yes we both married a Bret(t) ), and well you know where I am. :-)

Sitting here surfing, chatting with my sister, and now I hear my younger nephew waking from his nap, so I will go smother him now.

Thursday, December 22, 2005

What IS that white stuff on the ground?

Well we are 4 days into our vacation in MA, and it has been wonderful. The flight was VERY uneventful, which for me is good. Other than my iPod dying for no apparent reason... but that has since corrected itself. We are thinking that perhaps the high altitude did not agree with it.

Anyway, it has been fabulous seeing my sister again after over a year, and meeting my now 10-month-old nephew. Seeing Elliot as a full-fledged 3-year-old has been a delight as well. My older one seems to be adjusting well, but Sam is having a bit of a time. She refuses to dress warmly, to the point where she will sit in the room in nothing, screaming at the top of her lungs that she doesn't want to put on her clothes.

To which I say "ok then," and leave. What else am I going to do? She is as stubborn as her mother- and I am better at the game. :-D

It has been a shock to our systems I think, this cooler weather. Sam was all ready getting over a cold, my sisters boys were sick, then I got it, now Bret is getting it. Merry Christmas! But even thought my desert body is not used to the weather, I'm still in absolute heaven. I love it! It's going to be hard to leave the east, as it always is when I visit...

It hasn't all been sniffles and coughs. Tuesday my parents took the girls to see the Boston Pop's Christmas show, and Bret and I snuck away to finish our Christmas shopping. We also were reminded of how time-consuming it is having a baby with us, as we took little Jonah with us on our shopping trip. Not a bad thing, as he is a better traveller than I remember my girls being. Get baby in the car, put the stroller in the car, drive, park the car. Get the stroller out of the car, get the baby out of the car, etc etc etc... it was also a reminder that I am indeed finished with having children. LOL!

The girls made a snowman the first day we were here, and it still stands proud on the back deck. Yesterday we took all the kids into Boston to the aquarium, and that was a treat for them as well. Samantha really enjoyed watching the penguins be fed.

My parents left this morning for New York to pick up Dad's Aunt Anita and his sister Peggy (hopefully without too many obstacles related to the strike), and Andy comes in Friday night as well. Katie and I were reminiscing that we have not actually had a family Christmas ON Christmas in quite a number of years. I think we're more excited than the children about that!

Saturday, December 17, 2005

Do unto others...

Brahmanism: This is the sum of duty: Do naught unto others which would cause you pain if done to you.: Mahabharata 5:1517

Christianity: All things whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye even so to them.: Matthew 7:12

Islam: No one of you is a believer until he desires for his brother what which he desires for himself. Sunnah

Buddhism: Hurt not others in ways that you yourself would find hurtful.: Udana Varga 5:18

Judaism: What is hateful to you, do not to your fellowmen. That is the entire Law; all the rest is commentary.: Talmud, Shabbat 31:a

Confucianism: Surely it is the maxim of loving-kindness: Do not unto others that you would not have them do unto you.: Analects 15:23

Taoism: Regard your neighbor's gain as your own gain, and your neighbor's loss as your own loss.: T'ai Shag Kan Ying P'ien

Zoroastrianism: That nature alone is good which refrains from doing unto another whatsoever is not good: for itself. : Dadistan-i-dinik 94:5

See... I should have went here the other day

It probably would have made me (and my sick child) feel better!

Well, at least she is recovering now... :-) Now everyone is getting excited- we leave for MA Sunday!!! WooooT!

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

A Mother's Guilt

(WARNING: One huge ranting whine ahead)

This morning began like pretty much every morning has for the past couple of weeks. Pleading with my children to get up for school. They are normal kids... they whine and complain about being tired when I rouse them.

My youngest usually whines about waking up. Then about the clothes she has to wear. I've become more patient over the years certainly, but this week especially my patience has been worn thin all too quickly. I feel it- every time I'm about to travel... and know I'm going to be 30,000 feet in the air... it happens. I can't sleep. I fidget. I check my Will.

So this morning as I said was like the rest. Samantha started to cry about her selection of clothes. She doesn't like the way jeans "feel", so she refuses to wear them... even though it's all she has. We go back and forth, until I lose it and stomp off JUST like a 5 year old myself.

My husband tells me to relax and calm down, which just incenses me more. Sam is still crying about not wanting to go to school. She's tired. I'm thinking, oh yes she IS going to school.. I've got shit to do today. We leave for MA Sunday, I've got to get the rest of the clothes in order to pack, finish the last bit of Christmas shopping, blah blah blah.

She's quiet and a bit happier when we get to school, and I make sure to give her a big hug and tell her to have a good day. I get home, and what do I do? I fall back asleep. I send out some emails. Waste my whole freaking morning. Pffft. I'm such a loser. It's no wonder my business is going in the toilet.

I felt even worse when at 12:30 the school calls me to tell me that Sam needs to come home, she is hot, has slept in a corner of the classroom all morning, and has the shakes. I hung up the phone, and started bawling as I got my keys and headed out the door.

Seriously, did the universe intentionally make someone who really shouldn't be a mother a mother? Is it some cruel joke? I'm so selfish- I'd rather worry about myself than whether my child might not be feeling well. Even though she's been fighting this cold for almost a month now. You would think I'd be a little more compassionate and in tune to this.

I pick her up and she bursts into tears at seeing me. "Mommy," she croaks, " I feel so bad."

Turns out she has a 102 fever and her throat still hurts. Last week the doc said it wasn't strep when I took her in. So now she's lying on the sofa, resting.

My children deserve someone better to take care of them. I've never been worthy of the title "Mom".

Sunday, December 11, 2005

The Real Miracle

I like to walk alone on country paths, rice plants and wild grasses on both sides, putting each foot down on the earth in mindfulness, knowing that I walk on the wondrous earth. In such moments, existence is a miraculous and mysterious reality.

People usually consider walking on water or in thin air a miracle. But I think the real miracle is not to walk either on water or in thin air, but to walk on earth. Every day we are engaged in a miracle which we don't even recognize: a blue sky, white clouds, green leaves, the black, curious eyes of a child--our own two eyes. All is a miracle.

-Thich Nhat Hanh, "Miracle of Mindfulness"

Thursday, December 08, 2005

25 years Ago Today

New York Times

Op-Ed Contributor

A Final Record

Published: December 8, 2005

TWENTY-FIVE years ago today, John Lennon was shot and killed outside his apartment building on the Upper West Side of Manhattan. This previously unpublished photograph was taken a little more than a month before his death.

Jack Mitchell

Back in the 70's and 80's, I took many pictures of people in the arts, and I had been asked by The Times to photograph Lennon and Yoko Ono for a story about their new album, "Double Fantasy."

The session was to take place in my studio on East 74th Street on Sunday, Nov. 2, at 8 p.m. The couple, who had not been in a photography studio for five years, had insisted that I be alone - with no assistant, or anyone else, in my studio during the session. I put up a gray seamless backdrop because I had no idea what they would be wearing.

The two arrived about 15 minutes late, rang my buzzer and walked up to my second-floor studio. They were wearing sweaters, and they were by themselves.

In an effort to gauge how much time I was going to have, I asked John if this was a stop en route to dinner. He replied, laughing: "Dinner? I've not had breakfast yet!"

When we started the shoot, John and Yoko both kept their glasses on - she was wearing dark sunglasses and he had on tinted lenses. After four long-shot takes, I asked that the glasses be removed. I explained that I wanted to take some tight close-ups and needed to show their eyes.

They agreed - and from that point on the photographing went easily. They were both relaxed and agreeable to the poses I suggested. John was especially spontaneous and loose. He seemed to be having fun and laughed a lot.

During breaks John looked at the pictures hanging on the studio walls, admiring especially some portraits I'd done recently of Meryl Streep. He said he was a Meryl Streep groupie. He also liked, and petted, my ginger studio cat, Red.

It was apparent that John and Yoko were enjoying being photographed and were in no hurry to leave. But at 10:45 p.m., with eight rolls of black-and-white film and a half roll of color film shot, I suggested we had more than enough pictures and should stop.

I was scheduled to process the black-and-white rolls by midnight so a photo editor from the Times could pick up the contact sheets. But I was well over an hour late - largely because the couple stayed a while after the shoot.

John mentioned how comfortable he was in my simple, home-like studio and asked if he and Yoko could come back after the first of the year to do a personal sitting. (I said yes.) Then they took the time to draw a self-caricature. John drew himself first, then Yoko drew her face adjacent to his. They both signed it. We never discussed music.

After a photograph from the shoot was published in The Times on Nov. 9, Yoko telephoned to ask if she and John could use the picture on their 1980 Christmas card. I gladly gave permission. Given what happened on Dec. 8, I'm not sure if the card was ever produced.

Over the years, many Lennon fans have asked why I didn't take any solo pictures of John. My reply has always been this: First, my assignment was to photograph John and Yoko together. And second, they were just so together that it simply never occurred to me.

Jack Mitchell is the author of "Icons and Idols: A Photographer's Chronicle of the Arts, 1960 to 1995."

All we are saying is give peace a chance.
John Lennon

And so this is Xmas for black and for white, for yellow and red, let's stop all the fight.
John Lennon

Everything is clearer when you're in love.
John Lennon

God is a concept by which we measure our pain.
John Lennon

I believe in everything until it's disproved. So I believe in fairies, the myths, dragons. It all exists, even if it's in your mind. Who's to say that dreams and nightmares aren't as real as the here and now?
John Lennon

I believe in God, but not as one thing, not as an old man in the sky. I believe that what people call God is something in all of us. I believe that what Jesus and Mohammed and Buddha and all the rest said was right. It's just that the translations have gone wrong.
John Lennon

I don't believe in killing whatever the reason!
John Lennon

I'm not going to change the way I look or the way I feel to conform to anything. I've always been a freak. So I've been a freak all my life and I have to live with that, you know. I'm one of those people.
John Lennon

If being an egomaniac means I believe in what I do and in my art or music, then in that respect you can call me that... I believe in what I do, and I'll say it.
John Lennon

If everyone demanded peace instead of another television set, then there'd be peace.
John Lennon

If someone thinks that love and peace is a cliche that must have been left behind in the Sixties, that's his problem. Love and peace are eternal.
John Lennon

No work ethic? Messy? Disorganized?

Yup- that's me... (I feel my husband nodding his head...)

Advanced Global Personality Test Results
Extraversion |||||||||||||||||| 73%
Stability |||||||||||||| 60%
Orderliness |||| 20%
Accommodation |||||||||||||||||||| 90%
Interdependence |||||||||||| 50%
Intellectual |||||||||||||||| 63%
Mystical |||||||||||||||| 70%
Artistic |||||||||||||||||||| 90%
Religious |||||| 23%
Hedonism || 10%
Materialism |||||| 30%
Narcissism |||||||||||||||| 63%
Adventurousness |||||||||||||||| 63%
Work ethic |||||| 23%
Self absorbed |||||||||| 36%
Conflict seeking |||||||||||||| 56%
Need to dominate |||||| 30%
Romantic |||||||||||||||||||| 90%
Avoidant |||||| 23%
Anti-authority |||||||||||||||| 63%
Wealth || 10%
Dependency |||||||||||||| 56%
Change averse |||||||||||||||| 63%
Cautiousness |||||||||||| 43%
Individuality |||||||||||||||||||| 90%
Sexuality |||||||||||||||||||| 90%
Peter pan complex |||||||||||| 43%
Physical security |||||||||||||||||||| 90%
Physical Fitness |||||||||||| 50%
Histrionic |||||||||| 36%
Paranoia |||||| 30%
Vanity |||||| 23%
Hypersensitivity |||||||||||||||||| 76%
Female cliche |||||||||||||| 56%
Take Free Advanced Global Personality Test
personality tests by

Stability results were moderately high which suggests you are relaxed, calm, secure, and optimistic.

Orderliness results were low which suggests you are overly flexible, improvised, and fun seeking at the expense too often of reliability, work ethic, and long term accomplishment.

Extraversion results were high which suggests you are overly talkative, outgoing, sociable and interacting at the expense too often of developing your own individual interests and internally based identity.

trait snapshot:

messy, disorganized, social, tough, outgoing, rarely worries, self revealing, open, risk taker, likes the unknown, likes large parties, makes friends easily, likes to stand out, likes to make fun of people, reckless, optimistic, positive, strong, does not like to be alone, ambivalent about chaos, abstract, impractical, not good at saving money, fearless, trusting, thrill seeker, not rule conscious, enjoys leadership, strange, loves food, abstract, rarely irritated, anti-authority, attracted to the counter culture

Thursday, December 01, 2005

Diwali blessing

The following is a Diwali blessing by Swami Chidanand Saraswati (Muniji):

May the light of love and devotion shine brightly in your hearts.
May the light of understanding shine in your minds.
May the light of harmony glow in your home.
May the light of service shine forth ceaselessly from your hands.
May the light of peace emanate from your being.
May your presence light the lamps of love and peace wherever you go.
May your smile, your words and your actions be as sweet as the sweets of this festive season.