Sunday, March 11, 2018

As St. Patrick's Day approaches, I thought it only fitting to repeat one of my favorite posts!

Melissa vs. The Leprechaun 

For my daughter Melissa, St. Patrick's Day marks the anniversary of her "terrifying" encounter with a leprechaun.  Step back in time with me, if you will, to March 17, 2007.  When the aptly-named third grade teacher Miss Green (I am not kidding) read stories about these fabled, feisty Irish fairies to her young charges, Melissa and her friend Sarah became determined to actually catch one of these mischievous munchkins.  Even though leprechauns have outwitted generations of trap-setting Irishmen, two  nine year old girls were convinced that they, and they alone, would succeed!

Melissa and Sarah spent hours developing a comprehensive trap-setting plan.  Step one involved a St. Patrick's Day eve sleepover, for surely that would be the best day for a leprechaun to be caught in the act.  Our house became the designated leprechaun lure, with Melissa's bedroom setting the stage for the over-the-top trap!

As Sarah and Melissa approached the task at hand, they decided the best way to trap a leprechaun would be to turn the bedroom into a "little green man" resort and spa.  Steaming hot water helped to transform a soup bowl into a soothing leprechaun hot tub.  Construction paper and green crayons invited the leprechaun to express his creativity, while green confetti and Lucky Charms cereal set the celebratory mood.  Barbie dolls were dressed in their Sunday best as they sat ready and waiting for the leprechaun to invite them to play, and of course, gold coins aplenty (the chocolate version) were strategically placed in a bowl in the middle of the floor.

As the girls put the finishing touches on the trap, they started having second thoughts about their devious plan.  Suddenly, it seemed like trapping the little guy would not be a very nice thing to do. But still, they didn't want their hard work to go to waste.  That's when Melissa and Sarah crafted a new plan. If the leprechaun came, he would not have to worry about being duped by two nine-year old girls. Instead, the girls would simply observe him at play while they pretended to be asleep.

With all of the wheels in motion, the only task that remained was to climb into bed and wait.

And wait.

And wait.

And wait.

And while they waited, excitement turned to trepidation, trepidation turned to fear, then fear turned to terror.

What if the leprechaun became evil?

Would he attack them?

Were they safe?


In the meantime, the "leprechaun" waited and waited and waited for the girls to fall asleep so "he" could sneak in undetected and check into the resort and spa.  The "leprechaun", who in reality stood 5' 5" tall, had long brown hair, and answered to the name of "mom", slowly tiptoed into Melissa's room. The girls moved ever so slightly, perhaps sensing a presence.  Mom froze, waiting until both girls were silent and still.  Then mom tipped over the water, tossed the barbies around, stole most of the gold coins, and used the green crayon to write a note of thanks for the fun.

In the morning, the girls woke up and were absolutely astounded by the site!  The leprechaun had come and played in the bedroom and made a mess and left them a note, AND THEY SLEPT RIGHT THROUGH THE ENTIRE THING!

As for the leprechaun (AKA - Mom) instead of placing the newly found "gold" in the pot at the end of the rainbow, she stuffed the coins were into the bottom of a sock drawer, never to be seen again...or so she thought.
~ ~ ~

About a year later, I asked Melissa to help me with the laundry.  I folded the socks, while she put them away.

"Mom, why are there gold coins in Daddy's sock drawer?"

Uh oh.

Danger!  Danger!  Think fast!  Think fast!

"Well, the leprechaun must have put them there to hide them from you."

"Oh, ok. That makes sense."

I heaved a sign of relief.  My naive little daughter actually believed me!

Or so I thought.

A few days later as we struggled through the nightly ritual of brushing of her long, knot-infested hair, she asked the question I had been dreading.

"Mom, are you really the leprechaun?"

Uh oh.

"What?  No, of course not!"

"Really Mom, it's ok, you can tell me the truth, I won't be mad."

"Seriously sweety, I am not the leprechaun."

"Really Mom, I won't be mad, I promise."

"Alright sweety, you're right.  It was me," came my guilty admission.  "I was really the leprechaun, it was me who snuck into your room in the middle of the night."




So much for Melissa's promise of not getting mad.

Oh well.  Since I had already blown my cover, I decided to also come clean about the tooth fairy and Santa Clause.  Being Jewish, the latter didn't bother her quite so much, but I made her promise not to spill the beans to her friends who still believed in St. Nick.  Even though I had spoiled the fun, Melissa's friends still deserved to enjoy a few more moments of childhood innocence.

In trying to bring to life to my baby girl's imagination, I had donned an alter ego, only to lose her trust once my secret was revealed.  If I could, I would become the leprechaun every year, even when she is married with kids of her own.  I want her to relish in those childhood fantasies where the existence of little green men is never questioned, and fairies really do exchange teeth for treasure.  For all too soon, reality takes hold and childhood evolves into a grown up world, devoid of fantasy and wonder.

~ ~ ~

This year as St. Patrick's Day approaches, Melissa and Sarah, now college sophomores - albeit in different states - are both home for spring break. They plan to spend quality time together, and I'm sure they'll flash back to that day, so many years ago, when two 9-year old girls truly believed they had a visit from a Leprechaun!

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If you are from Israel, please email me at to tell me how you heard about my blog.

Thursday, February 15, 2018

Proposal to Reduce the Number of Deaths and Injuries from Mass Casualty Incidents

It's the same cycle.

1. Innocent people die in a mass casualty incident.
2. Politicians send their thoughts and prayers.
3. The news media shows horrific video from the scene of the crime.
4. People express their outrage through social media posts.
5. Advocates for common sense gun control and advocates for gun rights get into
heated debate.
6. A couple weeks go by, people go back to their routine.
7. No action is taken.
8. All too soon, it happens again, and the cycle is repeated.

In the meantime, nothing is done to stop the senseless injury and death of countless innocent people.


Through my proposal, I hope to change apathy into action by recommending we finally do something about the epidemic of mass casualty incidents in the United States. And, my recommendations do not call for a ban against guns.

Discover common ground
The first proposed step is to bring people on both sides of the gun debate together who have one thing in common, none of them want to see innocent people die from a gunshot wound.

1. Implement a Mass Casualty Incident Task Force made up of the following:

  • Federal, state, and local legislators representing republicans, democrats, and independents
  • Gun rights advocates, including thos who sell guns
  • Advocates for commone sense gun control
  • Law enforcement officials at the federal, state, and local level
  • Mental health professionals
  • Physicians and nurses specializing in emergency medicine
  • First responders
  • Educators
  • Domestic violence prevention experts
  • IT professionals
  • Marketing professionals
  • Representatives from Facebook, Twitter, and other social media companies
2. Commision a non-partisan, objective study of mass casualty incidents 
    over the past 10 years, identifying common themes, including:

  • Demographics of the offenders and victims (age, gender, race, religion, etc)
  • Type of weapons used (guns, knives, bomb, vehicle)
  • Location of the incident (school, business, mall, park, concert, movie theater, church)
  • Past history of violence and/or criminal activity among the offenders
  • Warning signs, such as threats made against family members, neighbors, or employers; social media posts; or stock piling of weapons
  • Motive for the offense, such as anger at a romantic partner, a former employer, or school; hatred against a specific demographic; or terrorism
3. Commission a non-partisan, objective study to determine if there is a correlation between the incidence of injury and death due to gunshot wounds and state laws on gun purchases.

4. Create a task force of law enforcement professionals at the local, state, and federal level to implement strategies to deal with illegal gun trafficking.

5. Create a toll-free, anonymous hotline to encourage people to report potential threats of violence. Similar to the "If you see something say something" campaign. For example, if someone hears a friend, neighbor, or coworker talk about shooting someone or blowng up a building, take it seriously and anonymously report it. Or, if someone receives personal threats to their safety from someone they know, take it seriously and report it.

6. Respond to these reports by monitoring the potential offender's actions; obtaining a warrant to search the offenders home, vehicle, emails, and social media posts; and alerting the offender's family, friends, and coworkers.

7. Create a public safety campaign to promote the hotline using TV, radio, print, and social media.

8. Implement and enforce laws that make it a felony to threaten someone with violence.

9. Develop training tools to teach people how to respond if they are involved in a mass casualty incident. (hide, flight, or flee)

10. Develop a gun safety curriculum to be used in high schools and colleges to teach students how to safely handle a gun.

11. Conduct a non-partisan, objective study of the current crimnal background check system in place to prevent certain people from purchasing a weapon. Is the system outdated? Does it provide accurate data? Are there system breakdowns due to computer or human error?

12. Work with the military to ensure all offenses committed by members of the military are included in the national background check database.

13. Enact a federal law preventing those who have been convicted of domestic violence from owning a gun. (Federal law already prevents them from purchasing a gun, if they are convicted of domestic violence they should be forced to surrender guns they already own.)

14. Work with domestic violence prevention and mental health professionals to identify warning sign behaviors that could lead someone to cause a mass casualty incident.

15. Implement a public safety campaign to educate people about these warning signs.

16. Work with law enforcement, mental health professionals, and legislators to determine a way to monitor and/or prevent gun purchases made by those who are in menta health treatment due to threats of harm against themselves or others.

17. Require social media companies such as Facebook and Twitter to monitor social media posts of their users and report posts that contain threats against others.

18. Allow law enforcements officials to obtain a warrant to search a potential offender's home based on threats made on social media.

19. Educate first responders and emergency room physicians and nurses on responding to a mass casualty incident.

20. Determine the feasibility and effectiveness of specific ideas by gathering data from smaller pilot studies conducted at the state and local level (instead of rejecting ideas out of fear, emotion, or intuition)

All ideas are appreciated. Please share your feedback in the comments section below, and please feel free to share this post with others who want to save innocent lives.

Sunday, January 7, 2018

When Your Husband Attempts Vehicular Homicide

My home state of New Jersey is known for its famous seashore, as well as dozens of historic villages that boast tree-lined main streets and small town charm. While state residents flock to the beach during the summer months, it is the autumn season where these quaint small towns come to life. Such was the case when my husband Bob and I took my parents to the northern New Jersey town of Chester, with our two-year old daughter Melissa (now 20) in tow.

We enjoyed a sun-drenched October day exploring Chester's quaint business district, and after a delicious lunch topped off with the requisite scoop of ice cream, we were ready to head back home. Bob took his rightful place behind the wheel, while my father accompanied him in the front passenger seat. I placed our purchases in the trunk, secured Melissa in her car seat, then wedged myself into the middle of the back seat to make room for my mother.

That's when Bob tried to get away with vehicular homicide.

Allow me to explain. As my poor mother attempted to get into the car, Bob attempted to drive away. Seems that he had incorrectly assumed that all members of his cargo were safely seated and secured. Alas, t'was not the case, as Bob soon found out, thanks to the combined ear piercing screams of my mother, father, and me.

He slammed his foot on the brake, and my mother, although a bit shaken, safely climbed into the back seat. As we went on our way, he sheepishly promised to never, ever attempt vehicular homicide again. A promise he kept for 18 years.

Until last month.

Bob, Melissa, and I were heading south on the New Jersey Turnpike, enroute home after a pleasant afternoon with my sister-in-law Kristie and niece Kaeli. As is typically the case with the Weinsteins, we needed to "take care of business" -  so Bob dutifully made a pit stop at one of the Turnpike's crowded rest stops. Only problem, we were held hostage by bone chilling, single digit cold and wind that had gripped the state, and most of the country for that matter, for days.

Bob parked as close as possible, we wrapped ourselves in hats, scarves, and gloves, then braved the elements so we could complete our quest. After we had "taken care of business", my sweet husband wanted to spare his wife and daughter the weather's fury by offering to pull the car up to the front door for us.

Before getting in, Melissa and I decided to switch seats. For the remainder of the journey, she'd take the front passenger side, while I'd settle into the back.

As promised, Bob faithfully positioned our chariot within a stone's throw of where we stood. Melissa jumped into the front as I opened the door to get into the back. But before sitting down, I had to over come one small problem. You see, because of some long-standing medical issues, I use a seat cushion during long car drives. But to my horror, my precious seat cushion still remained in the front.

At this point in my story I should remind you of the bone chilling cold and wind. I should also remind you of the crowds that decided to stop at the rest stop at the exact same time, crowds that were now in their cars, impatiently lined up behind my hubby, waiting for him to drive away.

In his desire to get us out of this predicament as soon as possible, Bob grabbed my cushion and threw it to me. Only problem.....he threw it to the other side of the back seat.

Now imagine if you will, the following scene.

The car door remained open. I still had both feet on the ground as I leaned over to reach across the back seat for my cushion. In the meantime, those impatient drivers began maneuvering their way around our car.

That's when Bob attempted to drive away.

Yes, that's right. While I had half my body in, and half my body out of the car, that's when Bob attempted to drive away.

Seems that he had, once again, incorrectly assumed that all members of his cargo were safely seated and secured.

In the next fraction of a second, I mentally gauged my options:
1. Say nothing, and allow the vehicle's forward momentum to force me to tumble onto the hard asphault of the rest stop parking lot, where I would, undoubtedly, be run over by one or all of the impatient drivers lined up behind us.
2. Dive head first into the car.
3. Scream for Bob to stop as if my life depended on it - because it did!

I chose option 3.

The sound that erupted from my mouth could be heard across the parking lot, into surrounding counties, and throughout the state of New Jersey. Heck, my gutteral scream for mercy could be heard by the astronaunts orbiting the Earth on the international space station.

Fortunately, I chose the correct option. Bob stopped the car, saving me from my perceived horrible fate. As we continued on our journey, my "sympathetic" husband and daughter struggled to repress their I struggled to repress my sobs.

Gradually, my tears gave way to uncontrollable giggles, as I had to admit that I might have over-reacted just a wee bit.

In the meantime, my husband sheepishly promised, once more,  to never, ever attempt vehicular homicide again.

We'll see how long he keeps his promise this time.

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Monday, January 1, 2018

Watching Movies with Melissa

I snuggled in my warm bed, my daughter Melissa by my side, as layer upon layer of blankets kept the cold at bay. We turned our focus to the TV, where images of Austria's glorious mountains came slowly into view, and a young Julie Andrews sang out those lyrics made famous in the 5 plus decades since its first airing.

"The hills are alive, with the sound of music".

My husband Bob, given the choice of watching football or the Von Trapp Family's frolicks  for the 574th time, shockingly chose the ball game. But that was fine for my daughter and me! We were comfy, we were cozy, we were singing along.

Life was good.

It would be the first of many movies we would enjoy together during her all too short winter break. The fall semester of her sophomore year at American University had ended, the spring  semester would start soon enough. But during her break, as New Jersey (and most of the country) was caught in the grip of unprecedented cold, we stayed home, snuggled, and turned on the tube.

Most of the movies we had seen before.

Many many times before.

Yet watching them with Melissa felt like welcoming in old friends.

Some, like Frozen were Disney classics, while others, like Will Ferrell's Elf, were a holiday tradition. Some, like Pitch Perfect, I enjoyed for the first time. While others, like Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, I have watched every time it airs, since it feeds my obsession with the boy wizard.

Watching movies with my girl seemed the perfect way to end what I describe as a year of count downs. You see, throughout 2017, I spent the months, weeks, days, and hours counting down the months, weeks, days, and hours until I would see her again.

It began in January with counting down the months, weeks, days, and hours until Melissa came home for spring break.

Next came the count down until my birthday in April when we visited Washington, DC to see Melissa, our daughter Jessica, son-in-law Brian, and grandson Miles.

Then I started the count down until spring semester ended in May.

Then came summer, and the count downs came to a welcome halt.

But time sure didn't.

Those warm, humid evenings taking neighborhood walks with my girl soon gave way to our new normal with Melissa back in her college dorm.

And the count downs started again.

Count downs until our October visit.

Count downs until Thanksgiving.

Count downs until the end of the fall semester.

Then my baby came home....and the count downs once again, came to a welcome halt.

But once again, time sure didn't.

I don't want to count down the five days until we pack up the car with what will seem like all of her worldly possessions.

I don't want to count down the five days until we leave her at her college dorm.

I don't want to count down the five days until we return to our new normal. Where Bob watches sports and I cuddle in my bed watching movies.  Without my girl.

But nevertheless, here I go again. Two months, one week, 23 hours until spring break.....when the count downs come to a welcome stop, once again.

If you like my blog, please let me know if the comments section below.

PS - if you live in Israel, please email me at and tell me how you heard about my blog.