My 7 year old son is being held hostage by a terrorist organization.  Their mission is monetary.  They are greedy and calculating.  The goal is pure financial gain.  Their preferred method of torture is mind control.

Their name is Apex Fun Run.  And they will stop at nothing to get what they want.

Not since the Girl Scouts has there been such an insidious enterprise designed to exploit and manipulate innocent young children.

The Apex Fun Run is clever.  They show up at your child’s school on an otherwise normal fall day, claiming that they are there to help.  But just like Rooster and Lily St. Regis, they are not Annie’s real parents.  They don’t want her back.  They only want the money from Daddy Warbucks.

Before they know what hits them, Apex swoops in and grabs all of the children. They herd them all into the cafetorium. They hold a “pep rally.” Physically fit young men and women dressed up in neon sports uniforms blast loud music and dance around to current pop hits.  They whip.  They nae nae.  This is no pep rally. It is mass hypnosis. It is Jonestown all over again. And our children are drinking the juice.

“We come in peace,” they say.  “We are here to save you from your taxpayers. They hate schools. They don’t care about education. They hate you children. They want you to go back to one room classrooms and outdoor plumbing.  But not us.  We love you.  We want to buy your school new computers. We want to give each one of you an iPad. ”

“But we need your help. Your task is simple. One day very soon, there will be a “fun run.” On that day, you will run for miles and miles until we tell you to stop. Don’t worry: we will play very fun music while you run. We will provide you with very small bottles of water. For each mile that you run, your family will give us money. And we will give you prizes. These are prizes that you can’t get anywhere else in the whole world. If your grandma pledges that she will give $1 per every mile that you run, we will give you a small sticky hand made of plastic.  Or plastic beach balls with our logo on it that we didn’t blow up yet. Get your dad to pledge $5 per mile and we will give you a rubber chicken. So, today, when you go home, you must ask every single adult that you know for money.  We have a lot of really cool prizes that we definitely didn’t buy from Oriental Trading Company. These cool prizes include bracelets that allegedly glow in the dark and toy helicopters that will break the minute you get it home. You want those prizes. You need those prizes. Ask your aunts and uncles for the money.  Go around your neighborhood and knock on doors, even if you don’t know your neighbors.  Are they child molesters or murderers in hiding from the parole board?  It doesn’t matter to us.  We don’t care how you get the money.  Just get it and bring it to us.  And remember: if your mommy doesn’t give you money, she doesn’t really love you.”

During the “pep rally” aka Branch Davidian meeting, the teachers are also put under the Apex spell by their David Koresh-style leader.  They are told to offer the children donut parties and extra recess for their pledges.  Whoever gets the most out of state pledges in one day gets no homework for a week or a month.  Fuck it, tell them they can teach the class for the rest of the year if they get their parents to put it on Facebook or Twitter.  

The final act of mind control that is imparted to these children is to teach them the art of annoyingly talking about the fun run. The Charles Manson of Apex, with his toned abs and muscles, wearing his neon shirt, tells the children that they must keep talking about the prizes. They are ordered to continually ask if we can call grandma or grandpa to get them to up their bids. Their little brains are manipulated to keep going for hours at a time: just keep on talking about the free recess they will get or the pizza party they will have on Friday. If only they get more bids. More bids. More prizes. More bids. More prizes.

It’s the “Queen Bicycle Song” torture method. Just keep playing it over and over until your victim is so tired of hearing about it, they will do anything to make it stop.

My child is in there somewhere.  I know he is.  Apex can’t hold him forever. Even the girl from “King of Queens” managed to break free of Scientology. The fun run will be over soon. We will get our boy back.

But for now, I must forget about looming my student loan payments or that pesky mortgage. I gotta get him these bids. I gotta get him that money.

He NEEDS that one of a kind plastic spinning top. And he NEEDS the Apex baseball cap. He NEEDS all of the prizes.

And I really, really need him to shut the fuck up about all of it.


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My first political cartoon

Momontour’s Dictionary


(pronunciation: A-pathetic.) adjective.

Definition: America’s response to mass shootings.

“Another one? Wow. That’s sad. Do we have any more chips?”







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She came out of cheerleading practice holding something.  I, as usual, was waiting for her in the car. Hiding, actually. I am not a good cheerleading mom.  I have spent hours sitting in the lobby with much more knowledgeable mothers, pretending I know the terminology.  Through years of watching my daughter in cheerleading showcases, practices and competitions, I am still no closer to knowing what a “full-out” or a “whip” is than I did when we began this activity four years ago.

I have, however, learned one very important thing about cheerleading: as the team’s flyer, my daughter tends to break things in her body. Only one week back into practice this past August and she had already broken her foot.  (Previous broken body parts have included her pinky finger, and the other foot.) After six weeks in a cast, she was back at practice, and I was back waiting for her in the car. When practice ended, she walked out of the building and headed towards me, sitting in my usual illegal parking spot in the tow-away zone.  She was holding something on her neck.  As she got closer, I saw what it was: an ice pack.

“Well,” she said, as she slowly got into the car, “I fell on my neck tonight. I think I sprained it.  I can’t really turn my head right now.”  Tears began to fall from her eyes.  “Why do these things always happen to me?”

Feeling my body fill with sorrow, I turned to her and said, “Honey, it’s time you knew the truth.”

“About what?” she asked.

“About why you keep hurting yourself in cheer.”

“What is it?” she asked, her eyes growing wide with fear.

“You see, sweetie, you are a Jew.  Jews were not built to be athletes. It’s not part of our genetic make-up. It is not your fault. It’s just part of who you are.”

“But the Jews wandered for years in the desert!” she cried.  “That takes a lot of physical strength!”

“We wandered, honey.  We didn’t run or jump or tackle each other along the way.  We strolled.  That’s why it took so long for us to get there.”

“So you are telling me that Jews can never be athletes?  Is that what you are saying?” She was enraged.

“No, Jews can play sports.  But we do ‘nice sports,’ like tennis and golf.  We can play softball. We can even swim laps.”

“So we don’t have any famous athletes from any of the other sports?”

“No, we do.  It’s just that you can google ‘famous Jewish football players” and a list will appear.  You can’t google ‘famous non-Jewish football players’ because that’s basically everyone else. Same with basketball or soccer or gymnastics.  And usually we can’t do volleyball because we are too short. Our bodies were just not designed for contact sports, or ones where you fall and get hurt, or ones where you need to be tall.”

“What about professional dancing? Like ballerinas? Can we do that?”

“No,” I said sadly. “That requires having a very tall frame. And skinniness to the point of starvation. Jews are not very good at withholding food. That’s why we only do it one day a year, as punishment.”

“So, what are you saying?  That I will never be good at something I love?  Is that what you are saying?  You would never say that to Sam or Aidan!”

“Well, Sam is an actor, and Aidan likes math.  Those are things that Jews are actually designed to do.”

And with that, we pulled up to our driveway.  She was furious. She got out and slammed the door and started to run up to the house.

It had been raining that night. The gravel was slick.  I watched her run fast towards the front door. Then I watched her slip and fall.

“Slip” and “fall”- two words that sound like they are sports terms.  And they are, in a way, associated with a sport.  A professional sport.

So don’t be sad, my Lauren.  One day, your Jewish genetics will give you a unique athletic advantage. In this game, you will choose a side. You can chase and even tackle your opponent. But in the game of law, you use your brain to leap over obstacles and to out-maneuver your opponents, instead of your body.

And the only thing you will break, hopefully, will be the bank.


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Yom Kippur Sorry List of 2015

In honor of Yom Kippur 2015 (which is, in actuality, a totally different numbered year in the Hebrew Calendar): I present to you my current “I’m Sorry” List:

I’m sorry that I press no when they ask me if I want to end childhood hunger at the grocery store checkout keypad. I really do want to end childhood hunger, but I feel like there has to be another way.

I’m sorry that I eat things with gluten. I don’t know why, but I feel really guilty for that lately. For example, someone will tell me over lunch that they are gluten-free and they seem to be sad about it. But then I just nod and eat my bagel. I feel really bad about eating my gluten in front of you and I do apologize. I think it’s that I don’t really understand gluten allergies. Is it like peanut allergies and if I eat the gluten-filled food near you, could it possibly fill the air around you and make you sick? Can I kiss you after I eat gluten?  I really need to read up on this more.

I’m sorry that I couldn’t get into “Mr. Robot.” I tried to like it. All of the entertainment magazines said it was the best t.v. series of the summer, but I really didn’t understand it. My personal favorite show of the summer was “Odd Mom Out” because I am pretty sure it is actually based on my real life and no one wants to tell me because they don’t want to give me the royalties.

I’m sorry that I didn’t see “Straight Outta Compton” this summer. I really wanted to, but I just can’t sit still for 2 and a half hours. That’s too long for me, guys. These days I choose my movies based on their length, not on things like storyline or plot. I’ll see anything if it’s only 93 minutes.

I’m sorry that I have become cynical about award shows like The Emmys. When I was younger, it used to seem like the actors and actresses were beautiful royalty at a really cool ball. Now it seems like 4 hours of famous people giving awards to other famous people, none of whom make their living by trying to find a cure for cancer. Also, may I add, if you are going to an awards show and you are nominated for an award, please don’t tell us you “didn’t have a speech prepared.” You are really an asshole. Sorry. But when I was a kid and I showed up to school on a day where the teacher warned us several times that there could be a pop quiz, I was ready for anything. No teacher would allow a kid to waste 5 minutes of the test shouting about how they were so surprised about this and that they had not prepared anything.

I’m sorry but I think that when Hollywood pats its back about how non-racist t.v. is these days and then they only cut to black people clapping in the audience, that’s actually pretty racist. It’s like they are saying: Hey America! Here’s a whole bunch of black people who agree that Hollywood is not racist! So to you folks back home, please look at the strategic shots of all of the people of color in this auditorium tonight. They really are here… with us!

I’m sorry that my third child has not had much of a childhood. I’m pretty sure that when my older two kids were 7 years old, we took them to see The Wiggles in Concert and to “Finding Nemo” the movie. This past week alone, I took my 7 year old to see the horror movie “The Visit” and to the sex and murder filled musical “Chicago.” His favorite song is “Bitch Better Have My Money.” I’m sorry baby boy.

Finally, I’m sorry that I’m the only one in the world who realizes that Donald Trump is living out a real life version of “The Producers.” You guys: he never intended for it to get this far. Donald wants to be a failure. You are just not getting it. It was a joke. He he keeps saying the worst, most offensive things possible on purpose. He wants to be a bomb. But his Republican supporters are just like the clueless audience in “The Producers,” singing along to “Springtime for Hitler” and giving them standing ovations every night. Please, everyone, watch the movie. You will see what I’m talking about.

Finally, I’m sorry to say, but I love Bitmojis. I do. They are less offensive to me than emojis, but I cannot explain why.

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Stagedark 2015

The highlight of the summer for a camper at Stagedoor Manor, an overnight camp in upstate New York, is parents’ weekend. Throughout each three-week session, campers audition for, are cast in, and rehearse one amazing stage production, which can be either a musical or a play. The shows are performed on a 3 day final celebration called parents’ weekend.

Family members of campers arrive from all over the world to see their actor shine on stage at Stagedoor Manor. There are roughly 14 shows put on each session, and each show performs twice during parents’ weekend. Half the shows perform a Friday matinee/Saturday evening combo and the other half performs a Friday evening/Saturday matinee duo. In addition, a small group of selected campers are asked to perform in the annual camp “Cabaret.”

This past summer was my son Sam’s 5th at Stagedoor. He was cast in a production of “The Wiz” and was also asked to perform in the Cabaret. His show was performing Friday evening and Saturday matinee. We saw the show Friday evening and then again at the Saturday matinee. Craig and I then decided to go back to our hotel to rest until we returned to camp to see the Cabaret, which didn’t start until 10:30 p.m. Most of the hotels for parents of Stagedoor campers are about 45 minutes away from camp. We knew that Craig needed a nap if he was going to make it to midnight to see Sam’s Cabaret show. (I probably needed one too, but I am completely unable to nap. I am only able to sleep at times in which people want things from me.)

On our way back to our hotel, we got a call from Sam that there had been a bad car accident just outside of the camp. A speeding car had struck an electrical pole and all of the power at Stagedoor Manor was out. The power company said that it might take hours for it to go back on. With no power, there would be no shows.

Craig and I waited out the power outage from the comfort of our hotel. We were both concerned about the situation. Craig showed his concern by immediately falling asleep. I changed into my jammies and cozy socks and lay awake. I stared at the hotel walls and ceilings and wondered about the source of all of the stains. I attempted to read a novel that I brought with me, but ended up playing on Facebook and feeling the usual pressure I put on myself to “like” everyone’s statuses and pictures.

Then I went to the lobby and stocked up on candy and ice cream. (Just in case the power went out for us… you know… 45 minutes away and nowhere near the camp.) Around 8:00 p.m., we wandered to our friends’ room down the hall to await word on the camp and the shows. Our friends were just as stressed as we were. They had stocked up on cookies and chips.

We all sat together in that Courtyard Marriott hotel room and ate and wondered…would the lights come on in time to do the shows? Would we have to drive at 11:00 p.m. to go to camp to see shows that likely wouldn’t start until midnight? Would we have to remain awake until 3 or 4 a.m.? Could any of us physically stay up that late? We were all over 40 years old, for God’s sake! We should have been asleep hours ago! And most importantly, we wondered: would we soon run out of candy and cookies? We pondered starting an online rumor that rival camp French Woods was behind the power outage. We came up with the hashtag “frenchwoodsdidit. We were so proud of our knowledge of hip things like hashtags, and then we discussed summer movie camps from the 1980s. I got up and did my “It just doesn’t matter” monologue from “Meatballs.”

Back at camp, the kids grew restless. Half of these shows had only performed once, on Friday afternoon. Many parents were unable to arrive at camp until Saturday. If the power didn’t go on, they wouldn’t get to see their child’s show at all.

For many campers, it was their last night of their final session at camp before they headed to college in the fall. There were traditional award ceremonies and special moments for graduating campers that still needed to be held that night.

At about 9:00 p.m., someone at camp found a generator and fashioned a small light onto an outdoor stage. Slowly, campers made their way up to the stage to sing a song or tell a funny story. Family members and parents found spots on the ground to sit and listen. As the night went on, the entire cast from each of the 14 shows got up onto the stage and sang a few songs or performed a few scenes.

At about 10:00 p.m., awards began to be handed out by staff members. The Cabaret performed a few acts. Senior campers gave goodbye speeches. As the night went on, they sang and danced and held hands and cried. All of this was in the dark, with one small light illuminating the stage.

The power never came back on. At midnight, all shows were canceled. We received word back at our hotel that there would be no need to come. We went back to our room and Craig right to sleep. I took an Ambien and ate more cookies.

Many people left that night very disappointed. Several parents never got a chance to see their child’s show at all that weekend. Senior campers would never be able to perform their final show on the camp stages that they had loved for so many years.
Craig and I would never get to see Sam perform in the Cabaret that he had rehearsed so hard on for three weeks.

Such is life, right? Unexpected disappointment is everywhere. Not just with missed events that we flew hundreds of miles to attend, but with people who we thought that we knew, and with a world that we used to think was safe.

During times of struggle and sadness, we can spend hours, days, or weeks at a time wandering in the dark, wondering if the light will ever come on. I sit here tonight in the dark on so many things. I wonder how life can be so unnecessary cruel, and scary and unfair for so many people that I love. I worry all the time about everyone.

I want to get up and turn on the light. I want to be able to plug in the generator, put on some music and sing. I want to be able to freely dance, even though I can’t see where I’m going.

I want to be like those who were part of Stagedark 2015, Session 2. Those people who were able to find some joy amidst massive disappointment. Those kids who chose to dance and sing and celebrate in the glow of a small light.

Looking back, I wish we had gone back to Stagedoor that night to wait out the blackout. The parents who stayed and sat and watched said it was an unbelievable experience to see such hope come from such a hopeless situation. Many said it was way better than any show they would have seen that night. The word most often used to describe it was “unforgettable.”

It’s a lot easier to hide in your hotel room and wait out the bad times. But that’s not always how we should embrace the blackout that can surround us. We need to get out of our pajamas, put down the chips and cookies, and head towards the darkness. Don’t worry, the lights will come on eventually. We might not know how long it will take. But that doesn’t mean we can’t get out there and find hope and joy amongst the sadness.

We can learn way more about the wonder and beauty of life by embracing the darkness, instead of hiding from it.



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No Words

I met her in a music class about 13 years ago.  The class was for new parents, and we were both there with our firstborns.  I thought she was great, and we became fast friends. Our husbands liked each other too, and we all spent time together as each of our families grew.  For the next several years, we celebrated life’s milestones together (we each had two more children.)  We were part of the same community of friends and our children went to preschool together. And then, slowly, time got away from us.  Our kids got older and busier. We lived in different parts of town.  Our children went to different schools and had very different interests.  Each of us led very busy lives.  And so, we had lunch when we could. We phoned and talked when time allowed.  We stayed in touch as best as we could. And then, she was diagnosed with cancer.  I heard the news and I called her. For the next 8 months, I checked on her. I spoke with her and texted her. I brought her dinner and cozy socks.  She was very sick from the chemo, and yet was just as dedicated and hard-working of a mother as the day I met her.

A few weeks ago, I realized that her son was in my daughter’s math class.  Her kids had just enrolled in our school.  My Lauren and her Jack didn’t remember each other. They didn’t know that they were preschool buddies, constantly playing together in one of our backyards or swinging together on the preschool playground. Yet here they were together again as tall, prepubescent, curious seventh graders. I meant to tell her. Every day, I wanted to text her with the news. Every day, I thought about it.  It had been a few weeks since I checked in.  I had recently sent her birthday wishes and she thanked me and told me what a wonderful birthday she had shared with her family. I meant to write back something positive and encouraging. I wanted to write something really important. And then, I got busy and I somehow just didn’t.

And then, a few days ago, she died. It was a shock to everyone in our community, even though deep down we all knew it was going to happen one day. Deep in my heart I knew. But I don’t know why I didn’t text her back.  I don’t know how I forgot, especially with all the things that I know and with all the things that I have seen.

I have seen way too much sudden death in my life so far.  My grandmother went to her doctor for her yearly checkup and was given a clean bill of health. The next week, she slumped over and died in the car on the way to Florida. A few years later, my otherwise healthy grandpa died in his sleep.  In high school, I saw a teenage friend make his very first basket at a school basketball game and then die an hour later in the locker room.  I saw friends’ siblings die in car accidents. During my freshman year of college, I saw a vibrant young friend go to sleep one night and never wake up.  I saw my friend’s father, brother and husband die from sudden and shocking deaths all within a few years of each other. She, too, died of cancer a few years later.  I saw my co-worker lose his 4-year old little boy to cancer and saw another friend bury her daughter after on her 12th birthday after a car accident that killed her on the way to her birthday party. I watched on t.v. as thousands of people left their homes on September 11 and never came home.  I have watched as good friends have had to suddenly say goodbye to their brothers, sisters, mothers, fathers, wives and husbands.  I have watched on television the anguish of parents whose children went to school one day and never came home. I have read about and have known people that have boarded airplanes that never landed.  I have seen it all.  And yet.  I forgot to text her back.

I hope that at her funeral tomorrow, I will once again remember how quickly life can change.  I hope that I will have the right words to say to comfort them, and to all of the people in our community who loved her.  I hope that I will always remind myself not to forget to say what I am thinking. I hope that I will always speak up when I see things that make me angry.  I hope that I will never be afraid to warn those that are in danger, and to fight for what I think is right.  I hope that I will be able teach my children all of the things that I want them to know. I hope that I will tell the people in my life how much I love them.  I hope that I will never again forget to check on a friend. Or to tell them a funny story. Or to say how much they mattered to me.

Because in the end, for me, it will not be the things that I did say that I will regret. It will be the things that I didn’t say.


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Sweatpants and High Heels

This school year, I have three children in three different schools. One in high school, one in middle school, and one in elementary school. We live in Arizona, where we are “proud” to be #48/50 in the nation for the quality of our public schools. (And #50 in spending per pupil!) My kids are in two completely different school districts.  Everyone here has taken advantage of the open enrollment policy here, picking and choosing which are the “least worst” schools to send our children to. We spend a lot of time in our cars driving our children to schools all over town.  (Please note: we do have neighborhood schools.  It’s just that no one who lives in their neighborhoods will go to their own school.  They go to schools in different neighborhoods.)

Often, I drive my kids to school in my pajamas. Most of the time, I am overwhelmed and stressed out when I leave the house at 7 a.m. for my one-hour morning school-drop-off-drive. I don’t brush my hair (or my teeth) I can never find my shoes. It is very, very likely that I will be driving in sweatpants and high heels.

Last year, on my way home from school drop-off, I witnessed a horrific car accident. Forgetting what I was wearing, I bolted out of the car to see if the driver was o.k. So, on the main drag of Scottsdale, Arizona, I ran down Scottsdale road, hair askew, wearing my favorite “M & M” flannel sweatpants from Target, and my high-heeled wedge sandals from Saks Fifth Avenue.

Today, I was caught in a traffic jam on the way to drop off child #3 at school. Seeing a small gap in traffic, I sped up to a hefty 35 mph in a 25 mph area several blocks from our school. I was immediately pulled over by a motorcycle police officer hiding in a bush. While blocking traffic, he explained to me that he pulled me over because I was “at the head of the line of cars” and that “I set the tone of traffic. “ Since I was going a little fast, the people behind me felt that they could do it too.

I was the traffic trend-setter, and I was setting a bad example.

After he gleefully gave me a ticket and jumped up and down yelled out “cha ching!,” to his fellow motorcycle officer hiding in the next bush, I turned to him and took a deep breath. I calmly explained to him that adults make their own decisions. If everyone jumped off a bridge, would he jump too? I drive down the expressway here four times a day and constantly see people going 95/55 right in front of me. I don’t follow suit because I have realized that it is the trendy thing to do. He again told me that I was the traffic leader, and that those speeding behind me were just doing what they were told to do subconsciously by me.

And so, today I am joyful upon learning that I have magical powers of influence. I am a trendsetter. I can make other grown adults do exactly what I am doing. Just by driving my dirt-covered dark cherry mini-van a tiny bit fast in a non-school zone, I can convince total strangers to do the same. Wow! So then it got me thinking, what else can I convince people to do? With great power comes great responsibility, right?

Well, folks, close your eyes, and please listen to me: I hereby will you all to do the following:

Voters- Please stop encouraging Donald Trump-he literally might win the Presidential race and we are all going to have to start blaming all of the world’s problems on people of Mexican descent and on women who “bleed.”

Store Owners-Stop asking me if I am in your “system-“ I’m not and I don’t want to be. I don’t want your shopping “points” and I am only going to give you a fake email address.

Parents-Please don’t let your child start college until they are old enough to drive-better yet-let them just be kids.

Police Officers who say they are patrolling school zones to help “direct traffic,” stop saying that. We know what you are doing there.

Jared Fogle-please look up Josh Duggar in the phone book. You are going to need a celebrity pal you can relate to.

Celebrities-stop breaking up. It’s making me so sad to see all of you going your separate ways. It’s heartbreaking to think that a woman who continually gets pregnant by a man who tells her over and over on national television he doesn’t want children with her can’t physically force him to stay with her for the ratings. Can anyone make it if they can’t?

Well, I’m off to go convince more strangers to copy my every move. According to the Scottsdale police, I am very, very powerful. I am mesmerizing.

Perhaps it’s the sweatpants and high heels.


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