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Archive for October, 2011

Snow! We got an uncharacteristic pre-Halloween snowstorm on Saturday. It was pretty to look at, but not so nice to drive or walk through. I know because I did both.

First I took Zoe to her friend’s Halloween party, then Brian and I walked a mile in pelting snow/slush to dinner to Stella Sera.

Today our Temple had a cute event, The Blessing of the Animals. Kids brought their dogs, cats, hamsters, and guinea pigs to be blessed by the rabbi and sung to. LOL. It was very cute.

Here is Charlotte with Rabbi Linda.

I really love our temple. It is full of interesting people and we are usually talking about interesting things. I am so happy we found it.

In the afternoon we went and looked at some houses with a realtor. I realize now it is really too early to be looking, it is just so hard not to want to see inside some of these houses. But I think I will try to stick to open houses, at least until spring.

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First things first.

This week had several firsts. Zoe and I had out first class with our new French teacher. It was very successful. I feel lucky to have found her. She is a singer too and is going to teach Zoe some French songs.

I also had my first session with my new health coach. We are working together to achieve my goals of losing weight, gaining strength and stamina, and eating healthy “whole” foods.

B had his first guitar lesson, which was actually my present to him for Father’s Day. I love that I could give him the gift of music.

Z started her first session of extracurriculars at Temple. She is doing a Mosaic class this time.

I started a class, also at Temple, about “Mindfulness in the Jewish Tradition.” That was a great class! The Dean for the Reconstruction Rabbinical College and a Biblical Scholar is teaching the class. I was so impressed with her depth of knowledge. (and it made me wish I was an expert on something/anything.)

We have also met many new people this week, several of them tonight at Temple. Zoe’s class was singing at services and all the parents from her grade gathered together to have a Shabbat dinner. We had some interesting conversations,(which is another kind of nourishment for me) and yummy food too.

And, just this morning, I colored my hair.

I am a red head now!

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Autumnal Walk

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Zoe takes a rocket science class in the woods. Today I came early to pick her up so I could take a walk through the woods. I followed a path and found a closed gate. Closed but not locked. I went through and found a small ruined structure and a stone surrounded pond. It was magical. I didn’t get to stay too long. I can’t wait to come back.

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Wissahickon Warriors

This weekend our family joined other families and kids from our Temple to remove invasive plants, Japanese Knot Weed and Devil’s Walking Stick, from the Wissahickon Woods and plant new plants in their place.  I planted some strawberry bushes and a Witch Hazel tree. Zoe planted a couple Winter Berry trees. We accomplished a lot. I really enjoy doing that kind of work. I think I get what all the fuss is about gardening, it is kind of mindless and mindful at the same time.

You can see some before and after pictures here:

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Wednesday, after Brian got home from work, we drove out to Doylestown at Mercer Museum – Fonthill Castle. The drive seemed longer than the 40 min google maps said it would take. Night fell fast and the windy country roads I thought would be more scenic than the freeway were lost to darkness.

Fonthill Castle was built between 1908 and 1912 by Henry Mercer, archaeologist, anthropologist, ceramist, scholar and antiquarian.

The Castle was his home and also housed his collection of 30,000 artifacts from pre-industrial society life.

Our Halloween event was being held after normal museum hours, so we did not get to explore the castle.

But we did get to eat authentic Pan de Muertos.

This is our Bread of the Dead with it’s legs already eaten off. (dead body bread. . . nom nom nom)

And we had skull cookies

And talked some about the differences between how religious Festival Day of the Dead and the more secular Halloween are celebrated. This candy skeleton in fancy dress is a good example.

We also each got a chance to talk about our own Halloween traditions, wherein I learned of even more cool Halloween festivals and Haunted houses in the area. And I learned of something called Hell Night or Devil’s Night, which is a night of petty vandalism and general mischief making on Oct 30th. Have you ever heard of Hell Night or Mischief Night? I am wondering if it is a geographic thing that never made it down to South Florida, where I grew up.

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Halloween Count Down

If Halloween is like my Christmas, then Philadelphia is my Little Town of Bethlehem.

Which would make Eastern State Penitentiary. . . the manger??

Eastern State Penitentiary is an 182 year old prison, It was conceptualized in Ben Franklin’s house, visited by Charles Dickens, and held Al Capone. At the time it was built it was the largest and most expensive structure in the country.

Today it is  “preserved ruin” with a museum and tour (narrated by Steve Buscemi) and, in October, it becomes one of the top 5 Haunted Houses in the country. (Rated #1 by AOL City Guide)

B, another father, and I took The Starbucks Girls to it Tuesday Night. And, it was actually pretty fabulous. It had a very high production value, with seemingly hundreds of actors, 6 different areas (The Gauntlet, Nightwatch, Lockdown, The Infirmary, The Experiment, and Breakout) each almost big enough to be their own haunted house. My favorite part was The Experiment. A creepy nurse gave us 3-D glasses and we walked through some really amazing 3-D corridors, with spiders and bones and human figures jumping out at you.

Another cool part was Nightwatch. It was completely dark, except for the light from tiny flashlights that they gave to each person. The tension was very high because there were hundreds of places “monsters” could jump out at you.

The whole thing took about 45 minutes to walk through, which was a pretty respectable amount of time. And, at the end, after many screams and lots of nervous laughter, I grabbed Brian by the hand and ran out, just as a crazed inmate jumped off of an electrified wall at me.

Zoe and her friends walk in a tight formation, hugging each other for protection, through the whole thing. And, I don’t know about the other two girls, but Zoe came into my bed that night, too scared to sleep alone. But, by the next day, she said she was over it and wasn’t scared at all anymore.
The website for Terror Behind the Walls has videos of the different areas, if you are local and want to check it out. It was definitely a fun and exciting time.

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Ben Franklin Bridge

Today we went on a field trip to the Benjamin Franklin Bridge. We had a tour guide that shared with us the history of the bridge. It was completed in 1926, and for three years, it was the world’s longest suspension bridge.

We walked across the bridge from Philadelphia to Camden, along the way we saw the Zipper Machine moving the heavy concrete barriers for the afternoon traffic.

We also so Campbell’s Field in Camden and B’s work at Comcast (tallest building in the city.) And visited Rutgers and took the Patco train back from Jersey to Philly.

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