Off the Dial

The Chanukah Moose

Every year it seems we decorate just a little bit more for Chanukah.  My kids love it and frankly it helps make not celebrating Christmas a little bit easier on them.  We didn’t do much before we had children – most Jewish people celebrate Chanukah as a kid’s holiday and the grown ups will often not exchange presents.  You always light the menorah and maybe have an extra, electronic one, to put in the window.

Having kids changes everything, of course, so during the long Thanksgiving weekend, we took out the Chanukah decorations box.  I like the sentimental stuff, but Slade leans to the side of silly. Last year, while I was ordering Chanukah picture frames, music and little teddy bears, he added a hat to our order.  I’m trying like crazy to find a picture of it – we got it at Oriental Trading Company, but they must have discontinued it.  It’s a really funny, cute blue cap with a felt menorah that stands up on top of it.

This year, Lea found the hat and claimed it.  There’s nothing like a six year old’s enthusiasm for the holidays.  The big hat looked so funny on her little head, with the menorah "candles" sticking up – I told her she looked like a moose.  Not just a moose, Lea replied, she was… The Chanukah Moose!  She jumped into the role, creating a voice, a run and a backstory (A little girl who loves Chanukah and loves moose.  How could her dream of combing the two be fulfulled?  In comes the Chanukah Moose! And they all live happily every after.)

We were having so much goofy fun with it, that I actually thought for a moment of taking one of those light up reindeer people put on their lawns, sticking some big moose antlers on it, and decorating it with blue and white lights.  That thought suddenly reminded me of a family in our old neighborhood.

We used to live across the street from one of these guys who would use every inch of their lawn as an electronic Christmas palette.  Light up elves, moving reindeer – you know these people.  I love Christmas lights – but this guy’s problem wasn’t his excess – it was his attitude.  Every time he saw us he would comment about "your people."  It was usually sort of benign toward us, but it was pretty creepy.  As in, "I haven’t had much of a problem with your people but it’s those (other minority race/religion, etc) you have to watch out for." 

So every December, Slade would look out on our neighbor’s electric kool aid acid quarter acre and threaten to buy an enormous electronic menorah to put in our yard, right across the street.  We moved to our new house four and a half years ago and sort of forgot the whole thing.  Until now.

That’s because he found one. An enormous blow-up menorah, like those crazy pumpkins you see on Halloween.  Or I guess the big Santas people have now.  He ordered it about two weeks ago.  I do think it’s funny, but I have to admit I’m pretty embarrassed about the idea of it perched in our yard.

Seems I need to get over that.  Last night, as I turned onto our street, there it was, larger than life on my front yard.  An eight foot tall menorah – lit up like a Christmas tree (sorry, I couldn’t resist).  Benny yelled, "Mommy look at that!"  I said something like, "Yes, your father is very silly."  But he had to be thinking of his big sister, not his father, as he yelled, "Mommy, it’s a Chanukah moose!" 

And just like that a new holiday tradition is born. 

Many Thanks

This past Friday we had the Hope Gala to benefit Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation of Charlotte.  I’m on the board and I also agreed to chair the auction for this event.  I was a little worried about asking people to donate items but it turned out to be an incredible experience.  I met so many wonderful, generous people willing to lend a hand.

We don’t really have time on Charlotte’s Morning News to thank everyone who helped, so I’m going to do it here.  I’d consider it a personal favor if you’d take the time to read this list.  These people really stepped up and helped make a difference.  Trust me, it’s not a cliche when it’s your kid you’re trying to help!

First, I have to say thanks to Abbey Willis, a JDRF staff member.  I was the auction chair but she did all the heavy lifting.  I’m only doing this again next year if Abbey comes with me!

Thanks to Joey Profeta at The Palm who donated dinner for two at that fabulous restaurant.  The person who won this item also gets their caricature on the wall, becoming part of that famous who’s who.

Thanks to the Carolina Panthers – and to Charlie Dayton who made this happen. They donated a football signed by Jake Delhomme along with an awesome experience.  Two people will get to go behind the scenes and on the sidelines with the team at training camp. 

Ruth’s Chris donated dinner for four with personal wine selection throughout dinner provided by Ashli Cohen, their special events coordinator.  Thanks, Ashli!

Diamonds Direct gave us a huge gift certificate and even gave me some spectacular jewelry to wear for the event!  Okay, I have to give it back, but it sure was fun!

Yay to my mom & dad for getting the folks at Trump National to donate a foursome at that spectacular golf course in NY. 

The Tinder Box donated a whole bunch of stuff including Jeff Katz Packs and Ballantyne Resort donated a night’s stay and a spa package (I want that!!)

My wonderful friend Karen donated a huge package of products from her HairColorExperts stores.

Izzy Justice gave us a ShortGame Bullseye golf system and here at WBT we auctioned off lunch with me and Al at 131 Main and our sister station WBTV gave us the chance to hang out with some of their on-air people, get a behind the scenes tour and watch a broadcast.

Those are just the items I procured myself – we had dozens of items and I think we raised more than $100,000 in the auction alone!  Thanks again to everyone – it was an incredible evening and we really helped the cause.

Back to School

Yesterday was my daughter’s birthday.  Her school lets parents come in and have lunch with students, and she’s been asking me to come in for a while.  Apparently a lot of schools do this now.  I never remember my mom or dad coming into our school cafeteria.  Then again, we’re much more involved in the schools than our parents ever were – but that’s a subject for another time.

We decided we would buy lunch, since that’s what Lea does every day.  When I got to her school, they showed me where to sit and wait for her class.  I was a little early so I got to watch other classes coming in and out of the cafeteria.  These are little kids, kindergarten through maybe 3rd grade.  Nothing changes.  The girls are all walking in line, giggling a little bit, but pretty calm, pretty together. The boys are jumping around, can’t sit still, whacking each other.

Lea was excited to see me – she took my hand and led me into the lunchroom.  Lea buys her lunch every day – she showed me how it’s done in the lunch line.  She got pizza, pears and a drink – I got what I thought was a chicken sandwich.  Lea entered her code in a machine at the end of the line and the computer said, "happy birthday!"  All the kids and the cafeteria staff around got excited and wished her a happy day too.  Very nice.

We sat at a quiet table – excuse me, a Quiet Table.  A color coded cup in on the tables lets you know whether you’re allowed to talk and at what volume.  I think.  I never did figure that out – a look around the room showed the cup colors didn’t match up with what was happening at the tables. 

My chicken turned out to be fish (no wonder Lea skipped it) but the pears were good.  Lea impressed me by passing on dessert – she says she only gets it on Fridays and I wasn’t about to try to change what seems like a pretty good habit.  Of course, she only ate her pears and three bites of her pizza.  She assured me she wasn’t hungry.  I made a mental note to always have a big snack ready when she gets off the school bus.

After lunch we were off to Lea’s class – I brought a book to read for her birthday and then to donate.  Albuquerque Turkey.  I highly recommend it for your Thanksgiving reading library (what, you don’t have one?)  It’s a story you sing.  To the tune of "My Darling Clementine."  Lea & I read the book to the class together and then I gave out little prizes.  We’ve decided not to bring in cupcakes for birthdays anymore so I went to the party store and got some cute little erasers, tattoos and other goofy prizes. 

Then it was back to school and studies for these hard working first graders.  Me, I’m stuck with the Turkey book song in my head.  Albuquerque is a turkey and he’s feathered and he’s fine….

Trick or Treat

So, actually not too bad last night for Halloween.

Lea was ready to go trick or treating as soon as she came home from school, of course.  We compromised by letting her eat two pieces of our candy and then get into her costume.  I convinced her to eat at least a little dinner and she was out the door!  She went with friends of ours so Slade could stay home and I could go out with Benny.  There was no way Benny could keep up with Lea and her friends.  They’re like a pack of wild animals on Halloween.. actually, more like a pack of golden retriever puppies.  Goofy and funny and falling all over each other.

Benny had no interest in getting into his costume or heading out.  I was fine with that, but of course it didn’t last.  As soon as the first group of kids rang our doorbell, the concept of the evening finally clicked.  We put on the costume and headed out the door.

Trick or treating with a 2 year old (okay, almost 3) is pretty funny.  He said Happy Halloween to just about everyone we saw and kept offering his candy to other people.  My terrific neighbors wanted to do right by him.. they all asked, "Which candy is best for him?"  Didn’t matter if he got Skittles or Snickers or a bag of sugar – he wasn’t eating any of it.  I wonder if he was the only kid in the neighborhood with a blood sugar meter in his trick or treat bag?

When we got home, I let Benny pick out one piece of candy and then, as we’d discussed, we took the bag away to "trade for a toy!"  I decided delayed gratification wasn’t the way to go so he got a new play-doh set right away.  Blood sugar right around 100 all night long – whoo-hoo!!

Lea was so excited to go through her candy and total it up.  She had 80 pieces and, you’ll recall, I promised her a quarter for every one.  Next year I need to make it a dime – the kids’ll wipe me out!  So she gets $20 to spend on toys or books this weekend.  We let her keep 5 pieces of candy to eat this week.  She has birthday cake coming on the weekend (my baby is going to be six???) so she didn’t really mind.

Slade bagged up all the candy (I have no idea where it is, I hope he gives it away today) and everyone went to bed.  Checked Benny before work this morning at 3:45am and he was 241.  Our overnight goal is 175 so that’s not as bad as it seems (daytime bg goal is 125).  Gave him some insulin and that was it for Halloween.  Next stop, Chanukah!