The List

With 2 daughters in tournament/travel softball, my social media feed is often full of posts from teams looking for guest players, tryout dates, and tutorials and videos on batting and drills. In addition, there is a ton of advice from collegiate athletes and coaches on how to behave, interact with your teammates, coaches, and family, and present yourself because someone is always watching.

I appreciate all of the posts and would like to take this opportunity to add a few notes on what I, a parent, expect from coaches, because yes, someone IS always watching.

When my oldest daughter first started playing softball on our local recreational team, our goal was for her to learn a new sport, make friends, plus learn about teamwork, sportsmanship, and healthy competition where win or lose she was encouraged to try her best and to have fun.

During her first 2 recreational spring seasons she grew to love the sport and wanted to play in the fall season where local recreational teams were mixed up so that the girls could experience different coaches and play with girls from other nearby localities.

At the end of the registration from there were 2 areas that stood out. 1) Will softball be your daughter’s priority? 2) Comments

The answer to the first is only slightly complicated. While her commitment to her team is a priority, we have a plethora of other priorities that exceed sports including but not limited to health, family, and school. Most coaches understand this, and a coach who does not is simply not the right coach for us.

The comment section of the form was more complicated.

While many parents may not have much to say on the topic, my husband and I had plenty. After spending two seasons, watching and listening to some coaches berate, demean, and yell at young impressionable players who were there to learn not only skills to play a specific sport, but also learn life skills, such as teambuilding, sportsmanship, and perseverance through hardship, our comment section was comprised of a list of coaches that our daughter was not permitted to play for because they exhibited such negative behavior during the spring season.

During her final fall ball, season before making the switch to tournament and travel softball, a handful of coaches were trying to draft her onto their team. One coach pointed out to another, that he was not permitted to draft her according to “the list.” I am unapologetically sorry, not sorry.

Since then, after four years of travel ball, plus my younger daughter beginning to play, recreational softball followed by tournament softball, it has become more of a joke among my friends and our team parent families. When a coach on the opposing team goes “off the rails” at his players or an umpire, we just look at each other, and acknowledge that that coach would be added to “the list.“

In fairness, most coaches that we come across model positive reinforcement and the majority of the games that we play remain friendly. However, there are times when this is not the case and this is my advice to those coaches, who could use a little coaching on coaching:

1. Recognize that this is a game and it is meant to be fun. Of course we all want to win and your players should be putting in their best effort, but at the end of the day, it is a game and like it or not, the trajectory of your life and those of your players is not going to change based on today’s results. This game is not getting her a full ride or you a coaching position to a D-1 school, so chill out.

2. Understand that a players’ best is going to vary day to day and game to game. We all have off days and days when we’re unstoppable. If a player is off, talk to her respectfully or even remove her from the game if needed. But instead of insulting and embarrassing her from third base or the dugout, maybe quietly see if she’s ok or use the mistake as a teachable moment, not an opportunity to dance on her grave. Seriously. It’s not rocket science. It’s psych 101, basic human decency, and the golden rule. You know, the one about treating others how you want to be treated.

3. Take your ego out of the game. If an ump makes a questionable call, go ahead and ask a question. There is zero reason to puff up your chest, raise your voice, or slam your clipboard down. And once the final decision has been made, even if you disagree with it, take it in stride and move on gracefully.

4. And finally, if you, as a coach, feel it necessary to put down players on the opposing team in order to lift your team up, you are in the wrong field. You should be cheering FOR your team. NEVER against their opponents. If you can’t do this, have a seat on the sidelines, or better yet, stay home.

By the way, this same advice can be applied to parents as well. Just saying…

Looking forward to the next several years of cheering for my girls and their teammates!

See you on the sidelines!


Nine and half years ago I got my first real taste of our injustice system. You can read about the details in the drop down menu tab “The Event” but the very basic story is:

We had a devastating house fire that I ran from carrying my then 2.5 years old and 15 month old while being 14 weeks pregnant, minutes before I was expecting a house full of my friends and their toddlers for our weekly Mommy and Me class.

The gas company responded with a more than normal response such as digging up our entire street and replacing caps, lines, meters, and valves after over a year of neighbors complaining of smelling gas.

The police responded with an investigation (or lack there of) that lasted less than 24 hours. And our insurance company followed suit by never completing a full investigation to our knowledge and taking the detective’s word that I burned my own house down and thus, denied our claim.

Three weeks after we sued insurance for wrongful denial, I was indicted for aggravated arson and the insurance claim was put on hold.

I was initially offered a deal from the prosecution to plea down from a second degree felony to a third degree felony with no jail time and mandatory counseling. But I’d be a convicted felon. No deal. For 6 years my case was moved around from judge to judge, and prosecutor to prosecutor while I showed up to court every 6-8 weeks for a 2 minute appearance.

After 6 years of nonsense and 7 years after the loss, my case became the oldest on the docket and a new deal was brokered. I was offered pre trial intervention that stated that if I plea and don’t sue insurance, I can be on probation for 12-18 months, have a chance to expunge my record, and insurance won’t sue us.

Let me be clear that the fact that our civil lawsuit was completely intertwined with the criminal case is abhorrent. I was handcuffed to committing a crime in order to be free from a crime I never committed.

Let that sink in…

So here I am now, a college educated middle class Caucasian Stay at Home Mom with no record. Life is generally great for me now and I truly can’t complain about my personal day to day. And yes, agree or not, that is privilege.

Tonight, in preparation for Election Day, I went looking for my pearls. My grandparents gave me and each of my cousins a set of pearls for our bat mitzvahs. Years later, my boyfriend, now husband, added a ring to the set when we went to Disney and I picked an oyster in “Japan” at Epcot.

I rarely wear my pearls but they are extraordinarily sentimental to me. We had them cleaned and restrung after the fire after finding them in the charred oriental jade and wooden jewelry case my uncle had given to me, again, for my bat mitzvah.

My pearls sit in the same plastic bag the jeweler used to return them to me and have been untouched in a drawer since we moved into this house 5 years ago.

Unfortunately, I was unable to find my pearl ring and I knew there was only one place it could be, if it survived the fire.

I opened my bottom drawer in my closet, gingerly lifting the bag out and placing it on the floor. The scent of smoke and ash wafted up as I opened the bag to reveal the charred box. I slid each drawer open, revealing the imprints the fire left around each piece of my jeweled memories.

I sat and examined each burnt item in the box, tears flooding my eyes, soot blanketing my hands. The ring, unfortunately, was nowhere to be found.

As I sat there sobbing, a clarity overwhelmed me knowing that my grandparents and late uncle would be proud of me, the choices I’ve made, and the one I’m making tomorrow.

Tomorrow, I will don my pearls in honor of RBG and in memory of my grandparents. I will vote for the rights of my friends who are justified in demanding equality. I will vote for the future of my daughters to always have control over their own bodies. I will vote for a system that is truly blind to color, religion, orientation, and gender, and one that is honestly just.

Tomorrow, I will finally put out my charred jewelry box to the curb while taking out the rest of the trash at the polls. It’s time to let it go.

Tomorrow, may we all begin to heal our nation’s great divide.

Convos with Kids: Old School

The scene: Malt Shoppe

Young server to Max: Excuse me sir, but you need to remove your hat when inside this establishment.

Max complies.

Max, after thinking about it: Mom? Why do I need to take off my hat but Jordyn and Kennedy don’t?

Me: That’s a great question! It has to do with some very old school rules on etiquette and manners. Men had to remove their hats when entering a building and women didn’t. I’m honestly not sure why or when it originated. We should look it up.

Max: Well I don’t think it’s fair.

Me: I honestly don’t disagree with you. In fact, when I was in high school, my teacher made a guy in my class remove his hat but not me. They got into an argument over fairness and he wound up getting a detention for arguing with the teacher. I felt horrible even though it wasn’t my fault.

Max: Yeah. But you probably should’ve taken off your hat too. But that still doesn’t make it fair or change the rule.

Kennedy: Well, ya know, boys can go topless at the pool and girls can’t do that so that’s not really fair.

Jordyn: But would you really want to be topless?

Kennedy: No. I don’t want anyone to see my nickles, but why is it ok if boys show theirs?

Max: Maybe it’s because boys don’t make milk in their breasts.

Jordyn: True. True. But usually only moms with babies make milk. Like our mom stopped making baby milk because we don’t need it anymore.

Max: Good point. So why do boys even have nipples?

Kennedy: Maybe it’s just for decoration.

Jordyn: Maybe it’s so they look more like women.

Max: Maybe the next level male people won’t even have them.

Jordyn: Mom, is that possible with evolution?

Server, approaching carefully: Um, can I get you anything else?

Me: An expert in history and evolution?

PSA: Boardwalk Etiquette

It's that time of year again. Summer vacation is in full effect and beach towns along the seaboards are inundated with seasonal visitors, many of whom enjoy relaxing strolls, family rides, and exercise routines down the boardwalk. As someone who partakes in each of the previously mentioned activities, I make sure to follow a few guidelines and work hard to teach my children the proper safety rules and manners needed:
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Once Upon a Dream…

They were sleeping peacefully on a top floor of the hotel room in Washington D.C. with an 8 month old Riley between them when the bombs shook her awake, the entire building quaking. Dawn darted upright, still dazed and wide eyed, searching for answers. The flashes of light blazing through the slats in the shades and echoes of explosions were close. 

“Wake up, Scott. It’s here. It’s time. The war is here and we need to fight,” Dawn spoke gently, tears flowing down her cheeks as cradled the baby and slipped her safely into the infant seat…

….and then I woke up to the downpour of the storm that really did shake me awake and rattle our house, our 8 year old daughter sleeping between us, and the news of this weekend’s bombings in New York and New Jersey…

Fill Up The Cup

Ok, so let me start by stating that this whole #MerryChristmasStarbucks over a cup is the kind of news that should not be reported and I realize that by writing and posting this, it’s adds the proverbial fuel to the fire. But this time of year is especially hard for so many people and stories like this truly highlight why.

Is the pastor who began this rant and “movement” really willing to hang his hat on a cup? (Side note: the red cup is in no way related to the Holy Grail.) It’s just a cup! Have some perspective. I can recommend a good book if you need one…

I personally avoid Starbucks regularly because I find their coffee to taste awful and it’s too hot for human consumption unless you buy it iced…which probably won’t be served in The Red Cup anyway. {I will say that their organic cheese & protein meal was just what I needed before the NYC marathon though, so I can’t truly claim to avoid the franchise…I just rarely go there.} Also, can I state a fact? WAY OVER PRICED. {And I really don’t understand their sizes…sorry, I know I should by now, but I don’t, probably because I rarely go there.} That being said, here are some thoughts I have on the matter:

I’m Jewish. My husband is Catholic. Our children learn both and accept the differences. We practice together and our children have no confusion on either, although they do ask a lot of questions because that’s what kids are supposed to do.

We say Merry Christmas and Happy Hanukkah. Sometimes we say Happy Holidays. I even sent out our perfect family holiday picture card last year that said, “Happy Chanumas!”

I go into our children’s classrooms at public school to give a little schpiel (aka: social studies/history lesson) about real religious persecution (the story of Hanukkah) followed by a math lesson on gambling (dreidel) and then hand out spinning tops and chocolates wrapped in gold because I’m cool like that.

We decorate the Christmas tree, have an elf who mostly stays on the same shelf because I’m lazy and forgetful, and light the menorah right next to the advent wreath. We have different opinions of what God means and frankly, although my belief is strong, I have some serious faith issues right now. (This boycott the cup thing isn’t helping.)

We’re not very religious, but we’re very realistic in our strong beliefs in teaching, modeling and instilling moral values in our children. We “do unto others as we would like done unto us” and we “do not do unto others what we do not want done unto us.”

So with all that in mind, I’ll be stopping by my local Starbucks tomorrow, (or Dunkin Donuts or possibly another local coffee shop because I honestly don’t know where a Starbucks is around here…weird, right?) to buy a few red cups of coffee or pre-made food items to share with those actually in need. There are several names for this type of act or movement:

    Pay it Forward

      Buy One Give One

        Random Acts of Kindness

          Human Decency


              And if you happen to be the religious type: The Word

              So let’s start this holiday season right and with a positive perspective. Please join me to #FillUpTheCup


              CWK #247365711: The “Playground”

              Lady J: Mom, can we play on the beach playground?

              Me: What beach playground?

              Lady J: You know… The green and brown one. It’s right on the beach. The one with the climbing things and tunnels.

              Me: There’s no playground on the… Wait, you mean the drainage pipe? Sure… Why (the heck) not. (I feel like getting berated by complete strangers as to how I should raise my children anyway.*) Let’s go!

              Lady J: Thanks, Mom! You’re the best mom we’ve ever had!

              (That last part always amuses me, no matter how many times I hear Lady J say it…)

              *It should be noted that I was only berated by one complete stranger as MY children happily played on the “playground”. But that’s for another post at another time…maybe


              Last Shabbat 7.25.14

              A few nights ago I was sitting alone on a boardwalk bench doing a whole lot of nothing important. The cool night sea air was calming and the stars were out in abundance. I sat there for over an hour, taking in the hushed summer calm, breathing deeply, and just being.

              Many people walked by carrying on their own conversations about life with the company they were sharing on their walks. I only heard what was spoken loudly enough to hear and caught mere snippets into their lives as each couple or small group passed. Some shared stories of their day: the frustration or successes at work or in personal lives. While others spoke of ideologies or politics. Jokes were told and laughter shared. Empathy or sympathy was offered if needed. And there was an overall feeling of camaraderie and humanity.

              A group of 3 twenty-somethings was walking toward me and I overheard just a bit of their conversation about an interaction one of them had earlier that involved a Jewish man inquiring about her marital status. The follow-up response from one of the males accompanying her made me look up in disbelief:

              “FUCKING Jews,” he spoke nonchalantly, “They’re ALL scum.”

              “Yeh,” she agreed, “They ALL suck.”

              I was honestly shocked and could only mutter, “Wow,” looking at the group, while thinking, “That. Just. Actually. Happened.”

              The first male turned around and responded unapologetically, “I’m sorry but I don’t believe in Zionism and I think Palestine should be free.”

              I was still in shock and said nothing. They kept walking and that was it.

              But that wasn’t it. Not at all. Not even a little bit.

              IT mulled around in my mind for the next hour, kept me up into the wee hours of morning and lingered for days, though it has felt like eternity. I felt those hateful words coarse through my veins and beat through my heart. They reverberated in my head like a pinball…

              When I was in first grade I had a play date over and as we played our religions came up in conversation. She was Christian. Upon hearing that I was Jewish she said very matter-of-factly, “You killed Jesus.”  I have no recollection what my response was. I know that we were 6. I know that at the time I knew very little of Jesus, except that I didn’t believe in him as God. And that was it.

              When I was a student at Akiba, a Jewish day school, during Operation Desert Storm, the school was on lock down and high alert for security reasons. It was located near an orthodox community and on 3 of 4 corners of the intersection stood a Jewish elementary school, a Jewish middle/high school, and 2 synagogues. The area was considered a potential target so precautions were made: Outer doors were to be kept closed and locked, book bags left unattended were checked, and those students with off campus lunch privileges had to sign in and out at the office. And that was it.

              When I went to Poland as a junior in high school, there were less than friendly bystanders watching the 5000 participants on my trip symbolically walk the March of Death from Auschwitz to Birkenau on The March of the Living. If I recall correctly, there were a few onlookers who made inappropriate gestures at us. We ignored them and marched on in silence.  And that was it.

              When I taught religious school and preschool, pre-9/11, the synagogue received a bomb threat one Sunday morning. We calmly evacuated the students and authorities were called. Regular classes resumed the following morning. And that was it.

              …Yet NEVER have I experienced such BLATANT anti-Semitism as I did a few nights ago.

              I tried to convince myself that it wasn’t personal. But it is.

              I tried to think that it’s just an uniformed, ignorant person connecting all members of a specific religion to one country. But it’s so much more.

              I tried to separate the two statements and wondered in disbelief: How could disagreeing with a specific country’s defense and subsequent response to ACTS of TERROR make every member of that religion “scum?” But I was left with no logical or humanitarian answer.

              I, as a member of the Jewish religion and people, do support Israel but I do not find her infallible at all times. I do believe that Israel has the right to defend herself and should continue her offensive to rid the world of a KNOWN TERRORIST ORGANIZATION.

              I also, DO NOT confuse Hamas with ALL Palestinians nor ALL Muslims. I am pro-Israel during this questionable time.  But more importantly, I am anti-terror at ALL times.

              I feel badly for any loss of civilian lives on either side, yet recognize that it is an unfortunate and unavoidable consequence of war. And I commend Israel for trying to prevent and avoid such losses, a fact that much of the media fails to report.

              I am also an American. I am not an Israeli, although Israel would grant me citizenship purely based on my lineage. Yet based on the ignorant, uninformed, HATEFUL comment that connects a political disagreement to an ENTIRE people while walking down the boardwalk in a predominately JEWISH area of the NJ shore, it is clear that I may need to become Israeli, one day.

              That unfortunate fact is exactly why I support Israel.  That hateful statement I overheard is proof that I NEED her.  She is a safe haven for me and my family, no questions asked, purely because I am Jewish.

              I cannot say the same for ANY other country, especially based on the recent global anti-Semitic violent acts and demonstrations that have surfaced with unabashed JUDENHASS (Jew-Hatred).

              And that is why #IstandwithIsrael #AmYisraelChai #NeverAgain