Not bad for a fat girl


Throwback Thursday – Tech Toys

apple_mac128I know it’s late, and it may not even be Thursday anymore where you are, but I had to get this off my chest. I miss the old days of technology. There. I said it. Maybe it’s only because my expectations were so much lower then, and maybe it’s because I’m currently having fits because my phone and my computer don’t want to play nicely together (and I HAVE to get those pictures off the phone!), but it seems like tech wasn’t as overwhelming back in the day.

Here are a few tech blasts from the past that you may remember (if you’re as old as I am).

1. The old daisy wheel printer. Remember carefully tearing the sides off the paper before you handed in your assignments?

2. The first little Macs. Oh my, were those groundbreaking. I remember a friend had one in college, and it was totally radical. I mean, it had like six fonts and everything!dysentery

3. Printing out pictures with computer characters. My brother had a young lady pinned to his wall that was created entirely out of keyboard characters. Geek.

4. Flip phones. I loved mine. I kind of miss it, even if it wasn’t smart.

5. The original Oregon Trail game for the old Apple computers that seemed to be in almost elementary school in the country. A whole generation of kids wound their way westward and tried to survive the digital versions of  hardships the pioneers faced.

What do you miss? Dad’s Betamax? Your Tamagotchi? How about the old 8 track player in your brother’s van? I’d love to hear some of your memories from years gone by. Pong anyone?


A Fat Fighting Fork?


Image from the HAPIfork website

Straight from the, “I never saw that coming,” file- let me introduce you to the HAPIfork. You’ve never seen anything quite like it.

It’s an eating utensil!

No! It’s a data input device!!

No!!  It’s a behavior modification tool!!!

Truth be told, I think it’s all of those things. It’s almost like a fork with a brain and an attitude, on a mission to save the world from fatties like me (and maybe you too).

From what I gathered from my quick visit to their website, this thing is designed to make you a amore mindful eater. If you eat too fast, you’re gonna get it. Get what? Some sort of response from the fork. The website makes it sound like it’ll vibrate or something, but what I’m imagining is a zap to the tongue.

Now let me put in the disclaimer that I haven’t used this fork (at around a hundred dollars I have no plans to, either) so I don’t know exactly what kind of feedback it gives, but clearly it does something. The only thing I want my fork to do is get food from my plate to my mouth in a reasonably efficient manner.

Can you imagine life with this fork?

1. Set the table with your HAPIfork (which resembles an overgrown toddler utensil).

2. Eat carefully, trying not to piss off the fork so as not to incur its wrath.

3. Disassemble said fork for cleaning.

4. Take the “brains” portion of the fork to the computer to download data.

5. Reassemble the fork so it’s ready for the next time you want to play fork roulette.

No thanks. I’m perfectly capable of showering myself with guilt, should I choose. I don’t need an expensive, inconvenient utensil to do it for me.


Throwback Thursday – Dinnertime

There is something to be said for Mom’s home cooking, even if your mom isn’t the world’s best cook. Now I’m not saying my mom isn’t a good cook, but she does have an aversion to spices, and as far as I know, butter has never seen the inside of  her kitchen. Be that as it may, there are some family dinners that I recall from my childhood with a certain amount of nostalgia.

1. Shabbat dinner. This is the traditional Friday night sabbath meal that Jews the world over share. At our house it usually consisted of a piece of pan fried halibut (coated in Italian style breadcrumbs) served with carrot sticks and a baked potato. The potato was always topped with chip dip (sour cream and onion, of course). It was a long time before I realized that putting chip dip on a baked potato was considered weird by the rest of the world. It’s delicious.

416+9iv1itL2. Baked chicken breast. My mother would sprinkle Lawry’s Seasoned Salt all over chicken breasts, then bake them. Since this was the only time anything with any type of seasoning was ever served, it seemed like a real treat.

3. Meatloaf and mashed potatoes. My mom made fantastic mashed potatoes, even if they were made with margarine. The meatloaf was pretty good too, when my mother stuck to the tried and true method. The various experiments with green peppers, oats, and Campbell’s alphabet soup weren’t as well received.

4. Dry, grey-brown roast beef. ‘Nuf said.

5. Dry, grey-brown steak. See number 4.

6. Hamburgers. These were small and pretty tasty. They were generally pan fried. They weren’t as grey as the other beef dishes.

7. Spaghetti with meatballs. No complaints here, it was quite tasty.

8. Liver and onions. My father loved it. My brother and I ate something else, probably cereal. Fortunately my mom didn’t make it often. I don’t think she liked it either.

What did your family eat when you were growing up?


What Does the Ray Rice Situation Have to Do With My Son?

I’m all about having fun. Sweetness and light and creativity and reading and writing and playing all have important places in my life. I like having a good time. Fun is my friend. That’s why I don’t want to write about this topic. At all. But I feel like I have to.

I don’t pretend to have all the facts on this particular incident. I don’t pretend to know what was going on before the now infamous elevator assault. I can’t imagine all that has gone on since. I do know that this NFL player assaulted his then fiancee (now wife) and it was caught on video. stop-domestic-violenceHe knocked her unconscious, then apparently dragged her out of the elevator. I haven’t seen the video for myself, and have no intention of viewing it. I don’t need to see it. I don’t want to see it. I get it without the video evidence.

The really sad thing is that people hurt other people all the time. The people they hurt most tend to be the ones closest to them- their partners, their children, even their parents. Assaults like this take place every day in every state across this country, and I imagine in most other parts of the world. This situation just happens to involve a high profile professional athlete, so we’ve heard about it. Add in the video for major shock value, and now you can’t turn on the tv or radio without catching some commentary on the incident.

This assault, and its handling by the NFL, has become big news. Again, this is but one brutal act among far too many to count, but this one has made headlines. As such, I can’t ignore it. Why? Because I am the mother to a sports loving teenage son.

My son is more interested in stats and information than in actually watching games, which is fine with me, but it means that he knows a lot of facts and figures about most of the players in the league. He knows what these guys can do and have done, at least in regards to the game. He also knows tons of random trivia about them. He can tell you about their college days, their injuries, and their endorsement deals. In some instances he can even tell you about their criminal records. That’s crazy.

Professional athletes get a lot of media exposure, for better or for worse. Their actions influence others, particularly young men who wish to emulate them. Certainly there are many fine role models in the ranks of professional athletes, but they don’t tend to get the same exposure as the players who break the law. Too often if someone is a good player, their other flaws are overlooked. What a horrible message to send to young people. Be as awful a human being as you want, as long as you have a highly sought after marketable skill. Your employer will look the other way, as long as you don’t do anything TOO awful. Of course that’s not reality for most of us, and frankly most of us wouldn’t want it that way. Who would our coworkers be? Would we feel safe at work?

That brings me to another question. Why is this man’s employer the one to decide what happens as a result of his actions? Why has the criminal justice system not taken this situation a bit more seriously? Oh sure, she was at fault too, I’m told. She even said so.

Now I’m not an expert, but isn’t that what often happens in domestic violence situations? Don’t people (usually women) accept responsibility for causing abuse in many instances? Isn’t knocking someone unconscious a problem even if they did make you upset?  In my world, yes, it’s a huge problem.

How does this situation affect my son? Well, it means that he and I will continue our dialogue on what it means to be human and to have relationships with others. We will revisit the territories of respect and boundaries and right and wrong. We’ll postulate reasons why someone might stay with an abuser (an unthinkable situation in his mind), and brainstorm some possible alternatives. And once again we’ll talk about the fact that love and violence should never live in the same house.

I hate that this situation happened, but I’m glad it reopened difficult conversations, both in my house, and outside of it. May all the people who are living in abusive situations find the strength and means to find safety and help, and may those who misuse their power for harm instead of good find a new way of being that shares love and beauty, not fear and anger.


Greeking Out


I’m astounded and amused and also happy to report that the article 10 Essential School Supplies That Money Can’t Buy has now appeared on at least SIX websites in Greek (oh, and one besides this one in English). I find that peculiar, since I don’t speak a word of the language, unless”Opa!” counts. I’m really not sure how it happened, but it did, and frankly I kind of dig it.

Now I want to go to Greece and meet the wonderful people who were in charge of putting my words, translated into Greek of course, on their websites. Only problem is, I don’t know who they are or how to find them. As a matter of fact, I’m not even really sure they’re in Greece. I choose to believe they are, but really, who knows?

Still, in my fantasy mind they live in villas and estates in Greece, but for all I know they could be visiting their websites from their living rooms in Pittsburgh or San Antonio, or Des Moines.  I’m sticking with Greece for now, though, because that way my mind can take an international holiday. Opa!


Apparently Greek Kids Need School Supplies Too

Imagine my puzzlement when I checked out my blog statistics yesterday and saw a spike in interest from readers in Greece. I also noticed that there were several people who came to visit from a website I had never heard of, brightsideofmom.gr , so I went to visit it. Now imagine my surprise when I saw this, a darling little girl under a title that I can’t read (other than the number 10 of course) and what looks like a byline with my name. Wow. I suppose this is my 10 School Supplies article. In Greek. Cool. Except that I don’t speak a word of Greek, so I have no clue what it actually says. I hope it isn’t awful.

10 εφόδια για το σχολείο που δεν αγοράζονται

10 εφόδια για το σχολείο που δεν αγοράζονται

Της Heidi Weinmann

Να ‘μαστε πάλι εδώ: επιστροφή στα θρανία. Διδάσκω πάνω από δεκαετία, αλλά ακόμα αγχώνομαι αυτή την εποχή. Είναι τόσες πολλές οι ετοιμασίες που πρέπει να γίνουν.

Οι γονείς προετοιμάζονται κι αυτοί για τη νέα σχολική χρονιά, οπότε και με ρωτούν πολύ συχνά για τα πράγματα που θα χρειαστούν τα παιδιά τους. Τρέμουν περιμένοντας ν’ ακούσουν μια τεράστια λίστα και οπλίζονται με θάρρος για την απαραίτητη πολυέξοδη και πιεστική έξοδο για ψώνια. Μην ανησυχείτε όμως, δεν υπάρχει τέτοια λίστα (στη δικιά μου τάξη).

Στο μεγαλύτερο μέρος της καριέρας μου δίδασκα σε σχολείο με πολύ φτωχά παιδιά, όπου και μας απαγόρευαν να ζητήσουμε από τους γονείς το παραμικρό για τα παιδιά τους. Το παραμικρό. Έμαθα πώς να παίρνω το ελάχιστο μπάτζετ που είχα και να το ξεχειλώνω όσο πήγαινε. Έμαθα να κάνω οικονομία και να αυτοσχεδιάζω. Αν το παιδί σας χρειάζεται κάτι, πιθανότατα το έχω ήδη.

Σίγουρα είναι ωραίο να έχουν καινούργια τετράδια και μολύβια, αλλά αυτά τα πράγματα δεν βοηθούν πραγματικά τα παιδιά να επιτύχουν. Αυτά που πραγματικά χρειάζονται δεν πωλούνται στα πολυκαταστήματα. Να τα εφόδια που θα ήθελα να έχουν όλα τα παιδιά κάθε μέρα μαζί τους στο σχολείο: 10 εφόδια για το σχολείο που δεν αγοράζονται

1. Ισχυρή αντίληψη του εαυτού τους. Βλέπω τόσο πολλά παιδιά που δεν έχουν αυτοπεποίθηση και άλλα που είναι υπερβολικά σίγουρα για τον εαυτό τους, χωρίς πραγματικά να κατανοούν ποια είναι στην πραγματικότητα ή ποια είναι τα αληθινά τους ταλέντα.

2. Καλοταϊσμένο σώμα. Προσπαθήστε να μην αφήνετε το παιδί σας να φέρνει ή να καταναλώνει στο σχολείο ζαχαρώδη ροφήματα και πατατάκια, γαριδάκια και μπισκότα.

3. Σώμα ξεκούραστο και γυμνασμένο. Πολύ συχνά τα παιδιά είναι κουρασμένα στο σχολείο επειδή αργούν να κοιμηθούν το βράδυ. Σας παρακαλώ, επιβάλετε μια λογική ώρα ύπνου. Αν το παιδί σας δεν κοιμάται καλά, σκεφτείτε την πιθανότητα να το απομακρύνετε από κάθε λογής οθόνες, ελέγξτε τι τρώει και τι πίνει και βεβαιωθείτε ότι όλοι σας ασκείστε. Ιδίως τα παιδιά έχουν μεγάλη ανάγκη να κινούνται!

4. Τη γνώση ότι κάποιος στο σπίτι νοιάζεται. Τα παιδιά έχουν ανάγκη να ξέρουν ότι νοιάζεστε όχι μόνο για τα ίδια αλλά και για το τι κάνουν και για την πρόοδό τους. Έχουν ανάγκη να ξέρουν ότι θα είστε περήφανοι γι’ αυτά όταν τα πάνε καλά και ότι θα ανησυχήσετε όταν δυσκολεύονται. Έχουν επίσης ανάγκη να ξέρουν ότι θα σας απογοητεύσουν όταν κάνουν κακές επιλογές.

5. Χρόνο για να κάνουν όσα πρέπει να κάνουν. Τα παιδιά έχουν συχνά πολύ φορτωμένο πρόγραμμα. Πρέπει να πάνε στους προσκόπους, σε μαθήματα μουσικής, αθλήματα, κατηχητικό και άλλα. Συχνά δεν μετέχουν μόνο στις δικές τους δραστηριότητες, αλλά πρέπει να κάθονται να περιμένουν και τ’ αδέρφια τους να κάνουν τις δικές τους. Τρέχουν πάνω κάτω σ’ ολόκληρη την πόλη και γυρίζουν σπίτι αργά. Δεν έχουν χρόνο να διαβάσουν φυσική ή να κάνουν την εργασία τους στα μαθηματικά ή να τελειώσουν την έκθεσή τους. Καταλήγουν να στρεσάρονται και να μένουν πίσω. Δεν βάζω πολλές εργασίες για το σπίτι, αλλά αυτές που βάζω θέλω να γίνονται σωστά. Σας παρακαλώ, επιτρέψτε στο παιδί σας να το κάνει αυτό.

6. Αίσθηση του χιούμορ. Τα παιδιά είναι αστεία. Η ζωή είναι αστεία. Η ικανότητα να βρίσκεις το χιούμορ στην καθημερινή ζωή μπορεί να καλλιεργηθεί. Χαλαρώστε λίγο και αφήστε το παιδί σας να κάνει το ίδιο.

7. Επιμονή. Η ανθρώπινη φύση μάς κάνει να θέλουμε να αποφύγουμε αυτό που είναι δύσκολο, εξού και είμαι ακόμα υπέρβαρη. Η επιτυχία έρχεται όταν υπερνικάμε αυτή την επιθυμία και επιμένουμε να κάνουμε κάτι που μπορεί να μη μας αρέσει ιδιαίτερα. Έχουμε μια γενιά παιδιών που μεγαλώνουν σε έναν ψηφιακό κόσμο και περνούν πολλές ώρες κοιτάζοντας οθόνες οι οποίες ανταποκρίνονται άμεσα και αλλάζουν συνεχώς ήχους και εικόνες. Πολλά από αυτά τα παιδιά δυσκολεύονται να διαβάσουν για ένα δεκάλεπτο ή να γράψουν για πέντε λεπτά. Αν ένα πρόβλημα στα μαθηματικά είναι δύσκολο, συχνά δηλώνουν ηττημένα μέσα σε ένα λεπτό. Κυριολεκτικά. Θέλουν να τα παρατήσουν και να κάνουν κάτι άλλο. Το θέμα είναι ότι στη ζωή δεν υπάρχει πάντα κάτι να μας διασκεδάζει, και για να μπορέσουν να γίνουν παραγωγικοί πολίτες πρέπει να μάθουν να επιμένουν και να ολοκληρώνουν τις δουλειές τους. Αυτό χρειάζεται εξάσκηση. Πολλή εξάσκηση.

8. Ενσυναίσθηση. Τα παιδιά που καταφέρνουν να μπουν στη θέση του άλλου είναι πολύ καλή παρέα, οπότε μακροπρόθεσμα αυτό το υπέροχο χαρακτηριστικό δεν είναι μόνο ευεργετικό για τους άλλους αλλά και για το ίδιο το παιδί. Αυτά τα παιδιά τα αναζητούν οι άλλοι γιατί τους κάνουν να νιώθουν καλά και το κάνουν με έναν τρόπο που δεν είναι χειριστικός ή ιδιοτελής.

9. Την κατανόηση ότι όλοι έχουν κάτι να προσφέρουν. Όταν μπορούμε να δούμε τη συμβολή κάθε ανθρώπου ξεχωριστά και να κατανοήσουμε τα δικά μας δυνατά σημεία, γινόμαστε μια δυνατή και παραγωγική ομάδα.

10. Αγάπη για τη ζωή. Για κάποιους η ζωή είναι πολύ σκληρή. Οικογένειες διαλύονται. Γονείς πεθαίνουν. Οι άνθρωποι σε πληγώνουν. Τα παιδιά αρρωσταίνουν. Πολλά άσχημα μπορούν να συμβούν και δυστυχώς πολλοί μαθητές μου το ξέρουν αυτό από πρώτο χέρι. Όσοι αγαπούν τη ζωή συνέρχονται πολύ πιο γρήγορα. Μπολιάστε το παιδί σας με αγάπη για τη ζωή. Βρείτε και μοιραστείτε την ομορφιά μαζί του. Πείτε του πόσο το αγαπάτε. Περάστε χρόνο μαζί. Μιλήστε του. Μοιραστείτε ήσυχες στιγμές καθώς και στιγμές ανοησίας. Γιορτάστε την κάθε μέρα. Τι δώρο θα ήταν αυτό για το παιδί σας!
Ναι, λοιπόν, γονείς, βάλτε στις σάκες φρεσκοξυσμένα μολύβια και ντοσιέ με τους πιο μοντέρνους ποπ σταρ, αλλά μη γεμίσετε μόνο τις σάκες, γεμίστε και την καρδιά και το πνεύμα των παιδιών σας.

Πείτε τους πόσο δυνατά είναι και πόσο περήφανοι είστε που είσαστε οι γονείς τους.

Πείτε τους ότι περιμένετε να δίνουν τον καλύτερο εαυτό τους και να κάνουν το καλύτερο που μπορούν, αλλά και ότι είναι εντάξει αν τα κάνουν θάλασσα γιατί θα τα αγαπάτε έτσι κι αλλιώς.

Εξηγήστε τους ότι το σχολείο δεν είναι πάντα εύκολο και δεν έχει πάντα πλάκα, αλλά είναι δώρο, και ότι θα το εκτιμήσουν όταν μεγαλώσουν. Πάνω απ’ όλα, δώστε τους να καταλάβουν ότι τα αγαπάτε.

Πάντα να τους δείχνετε ότι τα αγαπάτε.
Heidi Weinmann είναι συγγραφέας, εκπαιδευτικός και μητέρα. Γράφει στο μπλογκ www.bulgingbuttons.wordpress.com.



Ten Books and Then Ten More

The ten book challenge has been going around Facebook.  I already gave my ten books answer there, but a quick little list didn’t seem to do those books justice. If you’ve missed it, the idea is to write down the titles of ten books that have stayed with you in some way. They don’t necessarily have to be the ten best books you’ve ever read, or your ten favorite books. You’re supposed to list ten that come to mind quickly.

I’ve really enjoyed reading the lists that have been generated as a result of this challenge, and I’m taking note of titles that keep popping up. My original list (done quickly, as the challenge requested) is as follows:

blog-catcher1. The Catcher in the Rye, JD Salinger

I wrote my first huge term paper on this book, and spent a lot of time thinking about Holden Caulfied and his life.

51WbBVkQIvL._AA160_2. My Brother Sam is Dead, James Lincoln Collier and Christopher Collier

I read this book in the sixth grade, and it was the first book that I literally couldn’t put down. I read until the middle of the night to finish it.

notebook3. The Notebook (not the movie!!!) , Nicholas Sparks

I sat down on the couch one rainy Saturday afternoon and cried my eyes out.

51awk-hn9WL._AA160_4. Little Women, Lousia May Alcott

I read this at summer camp when I was about 12 during the daily enforced 30 minute silent “rest” time after lunch.

51XU9RLFpqL._AA160_5. The Art of Hearing Heartbeats, Jan-Phillipp Sendker

This is possibly the most beautifully written and haunting book I’ve read.

41qsZrtLIDL._AA160_6. The Time Traveler’s Wife , Audrey Niffenegger

The time travel and the fully dimensional characters have intrigued and stayed with me.

41bOj-am1RL._AA160_7. The Hunger Games Trilogy, Suzanne Collins

I was right there with Katniss every step of the way. A glorious, exhilarating read.

51gqwQetEVL._AA160_8. The Little House on the Prairie series, Laura Ingalls Wilder

My second grade teacher read us the first book, and I was hooked. I saved my money and bought the whole series, which still has a place of honor on my bookshelf.

51lIcxDk-iL._AA160_9. My Side of the Mountain, Jean Craighead George

I read this one in fifth grade and was completely taken into Sam’s world. The setting description is phenomenal.

41CPynRRVxL._AA160_10. The Deep End of the Ocean, Jacquelyn Mitchard

A mystery, a family story, and an all around wonderful book. A book that makes you question what you would do.


As I’ve read other lists, I keep thinking about more books that have stayed with me, and I’d like to add an additional ten. I hope you’ll indulge me.


517geWVdGHL._AA160_11. The Boy in the Striped Pajamas, John Boyne

A Holocaust story that is incredibly personal and different from so many others. Impossible not to be moved.


61O0HDgMA6L._AA160_12. My Orange Duffel Bag, Sam Bracken

A memoir of struggle and triumph done is a graphic, almost scrapbook style.


41fCMKw8UjL._AA160_13.  The Art of Racing in the Rain, Garth Stein

So many lessons in this one, and a beautiful dog too.


51zY7Dut3-L._AA160_14. People of the Book, Geraldine Brooks

This is a huge story, done so carefully and beautifully as it takes you though history to a modern mystery. Stunning writing.


51YuPuZ0efL._AA160_15. Chains, Laurie Halse Anderson

Slavery in New York City at the dawn of the American Revolution. Laurie Halse Anderson is an incredible writer, and her historical fiction, in particular, is genius.


51NZp-TJSwL._AA160_16. Teach Like Your Hair’s On Fire, Rafe Esquith

An inspiring book about doing much with little for kids who have almost nothing.


51GeYQZ1LFL._AA160_17. The Accidental Tourist, Anne Tyler

A quirky love story with characters who you feel like you know.


51PoQ8xw5IL._AA160_18. Saving Dinner, Leanne Ely

Ok, I don’t know if cookbooks count, but this one has so many great recipes in it, I had to include it. It’s my go-to cookbook.


A1tUz9sGIiL19. The Official Preppy Handbook, Lisa Birnbach

Sure, it’s silly. But what a terrific little book, full of humor and wit and prep lore and wisdom.


41D9P3BZSWL._AA160_20. The Five People You Meet in Heaven, Mitch Albom

Lessons to learn in a beautifully written story. Stunning.


Please share your list with me in the comments. Writers are readers, after all, so let’s share the book love.


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