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Annice Moses, contributing blogger

Annice is an Evanston raised, vegetarian grazing, liberal, red mini van driving chick who lives with a(n almost) vegan husband, 4 nutty kids and 2 rescue dogs in the rockin' burbs of Glencoe (where the party never ends!) She has made exactly zero dollars since earning her Masters Degree in Counseling because she popped out a kid right after graduation and then couldn't figure out how to stop doing that. (Which is no doubt just silly since she volunteers at a birth control clinic in Northfield and teaches sex ed and HIV/AIDS prevention in Englewood.)

Annice is obsessed with teenagers, as she is completely comfortable being in a constant state of angst and self doubt. Her favorite regular non-paying gig is working with kids who kicked cancer's butt at One Step at a Time Camp in Lake Geneva. She gets to hang out around a campfire with awesome teens and teach them important life skills, such as how to make a mean tortilla smore and how to tell great poop jokes.

Annice got her Jew on after being sent for a year to Israel by her parents after graduating college. They were not big on her plans to be a bartender in Boston. (Understandable since her favorite college drink was "purple passion" in the 2 liter and she'd never mixed a drink in her life.) It all turned out well. She's happy in life, knows lots of Yiddish exclamations and can now make a lovely white wine sangria come summertime.

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Since I was 14 years old, I've wanted to adopt. I remember being in my room, listening to the radio. They were doing a story on the crisis with China's children and I was dumb-founded. In that moment, my dream of adoption began.

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I have an odd name. My mom wanted something unique that couldn't be nicknamed. She was probably none-too-pleased when my dad almost immediately started called me "Niecy Poo-Poo."

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When I was a kid, my across-the-street friend had a Barbie Dream House. It was amazing. It had three floors and a working elevator…and you know the best part? For a good portion of its life it lived at my house. I don't remember why or how it got there, but it made me so happy. My friend would come over and we would play with our Barbies in that house for hours and hours. I remember my "main" Barbie was blond (duh) but with short curly hair.

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Someone I know used to say whenever her phone rang, "Who could it be? All my friends are here!" That's how I feel  when I receive a new friend request on Facebook. Facebook has changed my life. When I go to my list of friends, I feel surrounded by my life— past and present.

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Clarity. It all started out with a cooking class. Well, me and our Ethiopian nanny cooking together. So, it was more of a lesson than a class, which I think ends up making more sense.

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The details: I want bagpipes at my funeral. I want to donate all my organs. I have (almost) decidedly decided to be cremated, (which will come as a tremendous surprise to my husband.) I want my children and friends to speak at my service. I want people to remember all my accomplishments and excuse all my failures. I want to be missed. Not just for a period of time, but forever.

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My college reunion. I really had to work to get there. The reunion conflicted with a Bar Mitzvah extravaganza. But I was determined to go. I left the Saturday morning service early to hop on a plane that got into Boston at 4:17 p.m. My return flight? Sunday morning 6:55 a.m. to make the Bar Mitzvah party at noon. I was nervous. I over-packed.

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"There is no tooth fairy." This statement caused a kid to cry and resurrected an old disagreement between my husband and me. But before that, we'd had a great day.

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So, I’ve been contemplating a facelift. I’m not interviewing surgeons or anything, but, well, I’m feeling...old. Last year for my 38th birthday, I bought myself one of those light-up magnifying mirrors. I believe its magnification is at 200x normal, but again, I’m feeling old, so I’m doubting my memory on the specifics.

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On October 16, 2009, my husband and I landed at O'Hare airport with our 17-month old daughter Frehiwot (Fray) Tessema. Our three boys, my parents and Mike's mom met us at the airport to meet their new sibling and grandchild.

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I really believe that my daughter Fray has no idea that we took a homeland journey to Ethiopia this past February. (Click here to read part one.) For all she knows we simply took a long ride to the park. I fanaticized we would get off the plane in Ethiopia and Fray would look around and proclaim she was home!

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I never had a bat mitzvah. Growing up, I did not belong to a synagogue. My family did nothing religiously organized. I married into a heavily community-affiliated Jewish family. I was married in their synagogue. My husband’s father was eulogized there. My children had their namings there and have attended the temple’s preschool.

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I labeled my second child an anxious baby. My background is in psychology and I get it. I know what labels can do to people. So, I of course had consciously decided when I became a mom, I was going to try very hard not to label my children. However good my intentions were, my follow through on the notion was eh.

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I was having a party. A "women only" drinks and nosh potluck party. My husband was in Utah on a hiking/biking extravaganza with some guy friends. The kids were having a sleepover at grandmas. I cleaned and organized for a week. I baked. I fretted about wine choice. But I was so excited.

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“Sure. I’ll do it.” Sometimes that’s all you need to say to open yourself to a whole new perspective. At least that’s what happened to me. I was in a staff meeting summer of 1998. I loved my job. I was hanging out with teenagers, teaching them about the ways of the world.

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I remember standing around the BBQ supervising the cooking of dinner. I cleared a small corner for my tofu. "What is that?!" I seized on the opportunity to educate and attempt to convert the impressionable youths to vegetarianism. They were game to taste, but I think it's safe to say tofu has never converted a carnivore.

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I was putting on my makeup and getting a thumbs-up review on my outfit from my husband when the phone rang. “Mrs. Moses?” “Yes?” I listened as a woman informed me that my 91-year-old grandmother had fallen and hit her head at the rehab facility where she was recovering from pneumonia.

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I’d been circling the cruise ship looking for my family before I gave up and seated myself alone with a plate of cooked carrots, egg salad, lettuce, tomato and a glass of water. I was feeling sorry for myself. I don’t like eating alone. It makes me feel sad. I also was convinced no one was looking for me, which felt even worse.

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I decided to have a yard sale. I have never done this before. When I began thinking about it, I was on a (albeit brief) cleaning rampage and found boxes and boxes full of tchotchkes. I wondered why and by whom had they been so tenderly wrapped when they would never, ever see the light of day in my house?

All Mine photo_th

Years ago, I had a contentious interaction that I will never forget. It was with a man who was involved in the Jewish community. He was speaking to a group of us who gathered monthly to discuss Jewish culture, issues, and traditions. He asked all the people who donated money to charity to raise their hands. He then asked us to again, by a show of hands, identify if we had donated to Jewish charities.

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In my mind, I have imagined standing here many times. I imagined eulogizing my grandpa, my “pop-pop,” honoring him, his life, and listing the innumerable people, places and things that were changed, influenced and impacted by him. My grandpa was in his 90s after all – and no one lives forever.

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My husband and I have talked for years about hosting someone from another country. I have fond memories of my parents doing this when I was a kid. First it was a smoking, Parisian, male (after my mom requested a non-smoking, non-Parisian, female) who fascinated me with his accent and his long romantic draws on his cigarettes. I remember my mom taking such joy in showing Christophe the city, cooking for him and talking culture, art and politics late into the night.

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One of my kids had a play date on the horizon. I entertained his reminders and countdowns for a full week until the joyful day arrived and my son announced, “I am SO excited for my play date!” and he skipped out the door to school. It got me thinking about the ease in which happiness seems to come into the heart of a child. They express an unabashed joy over the simple things.

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It was late at night. I was staring at the ceiling. My mind racing. My husband asleep. “We should take a trip with all the kids to Ethiopia. To see Fray’s family,” I said. Husband replied: “       .” Now I could pretend that I am married to a disagreeable sort of man who can only be approached with expensive, arduous travel plans while he is sleeping because of his domineering and nasty nature, but this would be wildly untrue. Rather, HE is in fact married to an impulsive, semi-inconsiderate, slightly self-centered woman who thinks nothing of starting potentially controversial conversations at 1:00 a.m.

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We landed in Addis Ababa Ethiopia around 1:30 in the morning. The airport was mostly empty save for the faces we had shared recycled air with since our transfer in Turkey. We paid our passport fee to unsmiling men and women, (who very well may have been used to the middle of the night shift but still weren’t happy about it), and gathered our 12 pieces of luggage from baggage claim.

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When my mother-in-law announced that she would be whisking our four kids off to Disney for five days, leaving my husband and me alone in the house, I was ecstatic! What would we do first with our newfound freedom? The possibilities were endless!

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I could say what happened was purposeful. That it was a social experiment. A protest against the system. I could say I was joining the legions of folks like Ben Affleck who said he will live on $1.50 a day for five days to bring attention to folks living below the poverty level via the Live Below the Line campaign.

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“She’s darker than you.” the girl said to me. She was twisting her blond hair and chewing on it while her blue eyes darted between me and my daughter. Fray was attempting cartwheels with great enthusiasm and seemed not to hear. “And what’s with her hair?” the girl blurted out loudly. “Do you wash it? Why is it so crazy?”

Dear Mom photo_th

Dear Mom, I hate camp the beds are so hard I can’t sleep the cabins r moldy the food is crap stale pasta and moldy salad there are bats in the showers and if I don’t where shower shoes I get warts I love u and if u love me you’ll rescue me from hell soon, Love BJ :’(

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I am pretty sure I am having some kind of a breakdown. It’s not a midlife crisis because I definitely plan on living way past 82, but it’s a crisis nonetheless. Basically, I’m losing my doo-doo.

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The terrible, horrible, no good, very bad question came over a dinner of noodles, salad and miso soup. The question I’d dreaded ever since I’d become a parent. “Did you hate school?” Oof. For others, the dreaded talk is the Sex 101 chat. Been there done that. No sweat. But the school question, that’s my Achilles heel.

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I just finished having an argument with my husband. Or rather, I have (mostly) finished loudly talking at my husband and he has quietly slipped out to work during my pause in thought/rant. I will admit I have a bad habit of starting ill-timed conversations.

My Jewish Journey: Or How I Came to Drink the Pickle Juice photo_th

My journey to Judaism has been complicated, and Jewish motherhood has thrown me my fair share of challenges as well.

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“Let’s pretend I was abducted by aliens. What would you tell your kids about their grandma? What would you remember about me no matter how much time went by?”

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It is impossible to be a parent and evade hypocrisy. It gets worse when your kids learn the word “hypocrisy.” And worse yet when they realize it applies to you.

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I am a firm believer that you can’t nickname yourself. It’s too self-important. However, I think it’s fair game to reference yourself in your own mind however you like, and I will admit to thinking of myself on occasion as “the teen queen.”

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When I first found out I was pregnant, I was sweet on the name Jake. I have loved that name ever since dreamy high school senior Jake Ryan discussed his growing affection for flat-chested freshman Sammy Baker Davis Junior. In my world, after “Sixteen Candles” there was nothing but love for a sweet boy named Jake.

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I’ve had a lot of help in my life. I have a very dependable husband who fills in my various deficiencies quite nicely. I have a wonderful family and friends that pinch hit for me when I’m late, lost and overwhelmed.

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“So he has dyslexia.” This is what I had surmised after an hour-long staffing of a bunch of big words and adjectives being thrown around in an effort to explain why our bright child was struggling so much with reading in school.

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I know I’m late. I’m always late. (Heck – this blog post is late.) The High Holiday blogs have long since been published and Passover matzah but a dry and pasty memory, but and still, as someone who’s always late I am OK with my writing being slightly less in the news of the moment. (And I have no interest/ability in tackling the Ebola “pandemic.”)

The Accidental Jewish Spy photo_th

Have you ever been an accidental spy? There you were, just minding your own business when suddenly, people around you start talking about you – your people – without knowing you are “one of them?”

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The airport security guy was huge, at least 6 ft. 4 in. and a good 275 pounds. When he stopped me as I went beep-free though the metal detector, I was confused.

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A Rabbi once said that a person dies two deaths: The first is when you die; the second is when people stop remembering you.

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Guilty. I was that mean mommy. You know the one all the perfect parents shield their children’s eyes from? Yup, that was me.

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I froze. There were words coming out of my mouth but I felt other-worldly – removed from my voice, my body.

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Regardless of what your family looks like gathered around the dinner table, everyone needs to be talking about this.

My Son Came Home photo_th

Three teen boys running around with saggy pants and backpacks. One of them is wearing a black hoodie -- hood up, a bandana covering the lower half of his face.



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