Tuesday, October 21, 2014


After seven years it's time for me to say goodbye to Blogger as my blog host. I've redesigned my website using Wix and my blog is hosted over there now. Go to www.susielubell.com and click on the blog tab. See you there!

Sunday, October 5, 2014

The Big One-Oh


Hey kiddo,

Ten. Years.
Today you are ten years old. Today I am ten years older than I was when you were born. 
We have been doing this thing, me and you, for a DECADE. Non stop. It's the longest job I've ever held. And the worst paid. Still, it has its benefits. Like sometimes you still let me hug you. Thanks. And you always sign out of your Google account and close your tabs on my computer. Thoughtful. The truth is you are still very much my little boy just as you are also really growing into your own person. Still as captivated by cell phones as you were when you were a toddler, but coming to terms with the fact that you may end up the last person in your class to actually own one. That's the breaks. Your parents are cheap and old fashioned. And we think kids should communicate by speaking. Or writing. With a quill. You'll thank us later. Or not. We don't care.

Your curiosity about the world continues to amaze and delight. And by the world I mean the World Wide Web. To such an extent that after months of talking about creating your own website and being a site administrator and owning your own server, you decided to make it happen by hacking into your school's website, making yourself the administrator, hacking into the school district's mainframe, creating a new preschool and appointing yourself administrator of that website too. Success! Then we got a call from your teacher who in fact loves you but was concerned that you were turning into the Girl with the Dragon Tatoo. She kept calling you a donkey on the phone which I found to be very insulting until I realized she was saying the word for serious, not donkey. Hebrew. And it was indeed serious. We even had to meet with the principal. But Aba and I knew that your intent was not malicious. You just wanted to be in charge of the Matrix. I get it. For months you had been pestering us about creating an "eshkol", which to me sounded a lot like a grapefruit, which in fact means a cluster of interrelated websites and that's exactly what you did. So we were secretly proud of your gumption. And since you were so mortified once you understood the gravity, or as I like to say, the donkeyness, of your actions and nearly gave yourself an ulcer and took away your own screen time for a month, that seemed like enough punishment.

But this year your obsession with computers has also yielded a new and highly entertaining hobby. Card tricks. Since the beginning of the summer you have learned dozens of card tricks, like upwards of a hundred (!) and now thanks to the 24 inch Magic Mat (think giant black mouse pad) brought by Grandma on her recent visit from America, you slide and flip cards like a pro. And most of the tricks are downright fantastic. No one can figure them out. I know you're just following the videos you see on You Tube but Aba and I like to think its helping you to build stellar math skills not to mention outstanding fine motor skills. We're also hoping you start doing shows for little kids' birthday parties so you can start earning your keep. From there it's The Ellen Show and then Vegas. The future is bright.

There may also be a glimmer of hope for your relationship with your sister. The bickering continues but I have witnessed several instances that might resemble something related to or associated with camaraderie. You should consider that even though she's younger than you and probably will always be smaller than you, if she keeps up with her judo, she will one day throw you down. And then you'll have no one to saw in half for your Vegas act. And your brother, whose main interests include sitting on your head and playing 52 pick up, is indeed your biggest fan even though you spend much of your time trying to get him off you. It's true that little sisters and brothers can be pests, but it's mainly because they idolize you. And occasionally because you're being a punk.

My birthday wish is for you to take pride in and enjoy whatever you do this year whether its playing piano, riding your bike, participating in Scouts, learning card tricks, writing for the school newspaper, putting your clothes in the hamper. All of it! Be kind to yourself and the people you love. And know that no matter what, no matter how many government websites you take down, you are loved and adored by your family and friends. And by all the kids in the preschool that you invented.

Mieces to pieces,

Monday, September 29, 2014

The Last Four Months


Hi. It's me. Susie.

The last four months have been difficult. For many reasons. And whereas difficulty and stress once made me want to express and communicate and share and storytell, now it makes me quiet. That may be a sign of maturity. Or depression. There have been good times. Proper laughing big smile silly dancing chocolate good times. But mostly stress and concern and overwhelm. And I am sick of it.

We moved. We bought a house last December and it was finished in June and we moved into it. So with the exception of five glorious child-free days in Berlin with Mr. Rosen, we spent all of May packing. Ourselves. We didn't hire anyone and that was a mistake and if we ever move again which I never will so help me lord almighty (that's not true. We will probably move a few more times because I love to suffer) I will hire someone. A bunch of people. I will hire a staff of specialists to help me do it. I will hire a box guy and bubble wrap guy and a guy to move heavy things and a guy to move light things and a guy to supervise all of my guys. I will do the opposite of what we did which was haul all of our boxes in our Mazda 5 and all of our furniture tied to the top of it. Only a mile away but still. Schlepping your refrigerator and your sofa and your armoir on the top of a car is dumb. Almost as dumb as climbing on top of your car when you are eight months pregnant to adjust the mountain bike that fell over when you pulled into a parking spot at Anthropologie under a low hanging tree.

But we did it. We moved the whole place ourselves. From a place with a garage to a place without a garage which means finding space indoors for all the crap that really has no business being indoors. Like bike tires. And a table saw. Whatever. But we barely had a week to unpack before...

The war.

And then there was a war. And every single person lost their shit. People stopped making any sense at all and I went on defense. People called the war a genocide and I felt compelled to point out that the population of Gaza has been growing steadily in the double digits for decades. People said that the Palestinian people never really existed anyway but I thought they should know that these were actually the people living here before the Jews moved back in the early 1900s. People said the war wasn't fair because we had a defense system that worked really well and we should have also built one for Gaza. Um, that was the most ridiculous thing I'd ever heard until I heard people say Palestinian moms want their children to die for the cause. And then I was done. People spewed their hatred and misconceptions and lies on social media platforms the world over like they'd been waiting for years for just the right reason. And this was it.

But we eeked out a decent, even pretty good, summer. My kids slept in our our secure room all of July and August. We didn't go to the beach because they were bombing the beach. We didn't spend time at their grandparents house because they were bombing the city where they live. We listened for sirens and even now, a month later, my three year hears the phantom wailing and asks if we need to lie down. We still managed to have fun and having to stay close to home made us do less and that was just fine. And sleeping all together was like one long slumber party. Friends who were supposed to come cancelled. Unexpected visitors did come! We even took a family vacation to Slovenia which was magical and wonderful and we prayed the cease fire that began when we left would stick for our return. It didn't.

And all this time I kept quiet. The few times I posted something that made any kind of sense to me, someone else, mainly folks I didn't even know, felt compelled to set me straight. So I shut down. Because none of it mattered. There were no more facts. Only stories.

And then it was over. Just like that. People were protesting all around the world against Israelis and Jews and Hamas and the war and the media and then it was over and every one went about their business even as ISIS mass killings and starvation tactics and beheadings were just revving up. I guess every one was sick of protesting by then (she said while trying to retrieve her eyeballs from the back of her head). We all breathed. The kids went back to school. And it was as though nothing happened. Except something big had happened and I'm still experiencing a kind of loss. But there was no time to process or get back into any kind of routine because then Grandma came for two weeks and we ran around mad trying to find plants for the house and frame pictures for the house and buy hooks for the house and fix things that broke when we moved and still be home in time to get the kids from school and take them to the dentist and take them to judo and make dinner and piano and make lunch and scouts and buy groceries and do the laundry and do the laundry and do the laundry. And while it was fun and wonderful and its own kind of therapy, it was exhausting.

And now it's high holidays and I'm hosting and cooking and cleaning and getting together and making plans and it feels a little bit like choking. I need to SLOW DOWN. I need to stop rushing. I need to walk. And enjoy. And breathe in the autumn air. I need time to myself. I need to take inventory. I need to refill where I've been depleted. I need to paint. I need to garden. I need to take pictures again and share and express and communicate. Because it's been four months. And that's a long time to stay quiet.

Thursday, July 31, 2014


Idan, age 3

Dear Tiny Tush McFlat Foot,

I'm two months late in writing you for your birthday. Two months ago we were in the midst of moving to our new home and the insanity sort of hasn't let up. But don't worry. On the day of your birthday we were surrounded by friends and family who came to help us bless our new home and I was reminded of when you were born.  On that very day we sold our house in California which opened up the real possibility that we would move to Israel. The day you were born began a new era and so we called you Idan (era in Hebrew) after your great grandmother Edythe. And we gave you a second name, Hillel, after your great grandmother Helen. It was our great wish for you and for the world that your being here would somehow usher in the era of Hillel, the great and wise rabbi who is known for expressing the golden rule or what I call reciprocal kindness: "That which is hateful to you, do not do to your fellow. That is the whole Torah; the rest is the explanation; go and learn."

I'm afraid, Babu, we haven't much figured that one out. You see, once we got the house set up and things were starting to settle down for us in our new place, the war started. We're fighting with Hamas. Again. And I haven't felt much like writing. It appears neither side has learned to treat the other as he would want to be treated. It seems so simple really but people feel a lot of hatred in their hearts for all the bad things that have happened to their families over the last hundred years. So we live on an endless loop of he did it / no, he did it and it's mine / no it's mine. Over and over again. It's like when you fight with your brother and sister, only like a zillion times worse. And with bombs. And scary tunnels.

But life continues despite it all. You still spend your days with Yulia, goddess of all caregivers. And you made a best friend this year. Her name is Omer and I hope you stay best friends for a super long time because I like her mom a lot and that's important. This year was a big year for you for so many reasons. You stopped wearing diapers! Kid, I can't thank you enough for that. You started sleeping in your big bed! Now you even have your own room! Although that was sort of short-lived since once the sirens started everyone moved into the secure room. We like to think of it as a summer slumber party.

You've become quite the conversationalist in the last few months, especially for someone who barely spoke until about a year ago. Your speech is often peppered with kaki and poo poo and pee pee  which doesn't much surprise me since my speech is peppered with crap and shit and pissed off. I especially like when you tell a story by saying the same sentence four times in four different intonations. Maybe you should pick up Mandarin, since you already speak Hebrew, English and Russian. (spasibo Yulia). You really are an expert at the art of narrative. And you've been able to express yourself and your concerns clearly during these tough times. Like after we were at the pool with all of our friends and two sirens went off. We ran over to the wall by the bathrooms and layed down flat like we're trained to do. I put my hand over your head and realized your own hands were covering your head. Then you and I talked about the weeeoooweeeooo for a while in various intonations. It's depressing that you're only three and already know how to duck and cover.

We have a cousin serving in Gaza now. He's your third cousin on your Grandpa Stanley's side. I met him when he was about your age when I first came to Israel. He has a twin who is thankfully already out of the army. I remember him as a beautiful, crazy, little boy just like you and now he's a soldier fighting an awful war. A war we could have avoided had the leaders on both sides made better choices over the decades. But now the war seems entirely unavoidable.

I wonder if we'll still be on the loop, fighting the same wars, in fifteen years when it's your turn to wear a uniform.  We're all fairly certain that your brother will be designing Iron Dome 2.0 and safely managing it's operation from behind a computer screen but I'm not sure about you. You were quite dovish in your twos, but now that you're three you've become fairly combatant. Only time will tell. For now I look at your beautiful, healthy little three year old body, so strong and agile and full of life and I thank God everyday that you inherited Grandpa Stanley's flat feet which hopefully disqualifies you from a range of combat positions. It's kind of sick but these are the things I think about.

I hope the big boys out there can end this war soon so no one else has to get hurt. Maybe they need to spend some time at Yulia's to learn about sharing and taking turns and compromise and not hitting or biting and saying nice things. We could probably all use a refresher.

all my love to you sunshine,

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Unconscious Coupling. It's also a thing.

Regards from Jerusalem

Hi Gwyn,

It's been so long since I last wrote and now I see that we have kind of drifted from our shared destiny. We were so parallel for so long, what with both of us losing our dads to cancer and marrying foreigners and having our kids at the same time while maintaining our astonishingly successful careers. Well I have a pretty good reason for not being in touch since I decided to have another baby and then we moved to Israel. So it's been hectic.

But I see you've been busy too. Snapping your body back to its prepubescent state and starring in a few movies. And then all the singing and dancing around in Glee. I bet that's fun. I'm doing a lot of that too, but in my living room. Not on television. And no one's paying me. But it's still fun.

Listen, I was really sorry to hear about your divorce, er rather your Conscious Uncoupling or decoupling or unraveling or whatever you're calling it. I totally get it. Kids are older. You and Chris want different things. Mid-life crisis and all that. It's not easy. My husband and I have had our ups and downs too but we are sticking it out for now. We're calling this stage of our marriage Unconscious Coupling actually. You might have heard of it. I mean there aren't any studies written about it or anything but it's a very real phenomenon. It's when you're so exhausted because of all the kids and meals and grocery shopping and the cleaning and the working and making ends meet and schlepping and hosting and laundry that you fall asleep having sex. Am I right? Or when you are both so tired after you put the kids to bed, that you just sit on the couch and finger through Facebook updates together and let your eyes glaze over. Like. Like. Share. Like. Oh Like! Like! Like! Right there! Yes! Liiiiiike....It's not the most romantic, but it requires very little bandwidth. Uncoupling isn't really an option for us anyway since I'm a ketubah designer. Bad for business. Branding issue.You know what I'm talking about.

Anyway, famous people can really count anniversaries like dog years. By Hollywood standards you guys have been married for like 70 years so don't let it get you down. You done good.

And now that you're available, you should know I have a really adorable brother who is a non-famous surfer and lives in Mexico. Maybe you need to hunker down with a regular nobody like Julia Roberts did. I'll send you his email if you're interested. Then we can finally get our kids together for that long overdue double playdate...

All the best,

Monday, March 10, 2014

The magic had been inside her all along

The story goes like this: There was once a little girl who spent most of her time playing outside, climbing trees, inventing games, exploring her world and delighting in the endless reaches of her imagination. She knew she was magical.

And then the girl got a little older and started to compare herself to everyone else and the more she did that, the less she could access her own unique spark, until she all but forgot she was magical in the first place. And it took many years for her to realize that the magic had been inside her all along. That she had unique gifts to share with the world and stories to tell that were completely her own. She was only required to be her most authentic self and the magic would once again reveal itself in mysterious and wonderful ways.

This illustration which I created for my seven-year-old daughter had been in my mind for quite a while before I was able to finally get her down on paper. But the minute I did, another kind of magic unfolded. Suddenly women near and far, friends I had known as a child and not spoken with in twenty years, people I didn't even know, reached out to tell me how they'd been touched by this little girl in a tree. How the words spoke to them. How they had once felt like the girl and hoped to feel that way again. How the message was one they wanted to impart on their own daughters.

At first I was surprised but then it all made perfect sense. I had put aside my drawing insecurities (I have those) and without fear or hesitation, I shared my gift and the magic swirled. Here's to encouraging the little girls in our lives to be true and brave and embrace their magnificent gifts!

Of course, I couldn't create a piece for my daughter and not make something for the boys. I thought about all of the images out there directed at boys with a focus on power and bravery and physical strength. But boys are so much more than the Spiderman costumes they wear every day to preschool for a year. They are bounding energy and big plans. They are soulful, kinetic creatures with wild imaginations. And with that in mind I created Super Boy who is inventive, curious, enterprising and thoughtful and still able to leap tall buildings in a single bound.

Magic Girl and Super Boy are available in print and poster sizes in my ETSY shop. Or buy both and receive a special "sibling" discount. Plus, through March 14th, you can use the code SUPERMAGIC at checkout to get an additional 25% off your entire purchase on ETSY.

P.S. And did you know that repeat customers get 20% off every future purchase? The discount code can be found on the the thank you card packaged with your prints. If you have lost the card or never noticed the discount, please email me or message me on Facebook and I will send you a reminder.

Saturday, February 15, 2014

Lucky Seven

Dearest Sugar Bee,

It was your birthday yesterday and I fell in love with you again. We were out in the desert with friends and you were your beautiful, lively self. Enjoying your family and friends and the sunshine and the wacky antelope ranch where we stayed. You said you wanted to stay there for a whole week. We spent a lot of time holding hands and swinging in a hammock and talking about life. I gave you your number seven charm to wear around your neck this year. The charm that I wore when I was seven and Grandma wore and Aunt Lenore too. The charm that Grammy brought into our lives. Lucky seven. And how lucky we are.

Flashback a week and we are fighting about homework. Again. You are giving me that look. Slack jawed, tongue forward, rolled eyes, wobbling your head like you work in the Main Bazaar. How do you even know how to do that? There are like three Indians who live in Israel. And I want to kill you. I feel my chest tighten and I want to shriek that I can't stand you. That I don't understand why you treat me the way you do. Why only me? I try to diffuse your frustration and anger. I'm pretty good at that. I've had a lot of practice. Plus I know reading is hard but you've come so far! You can't hear me because you are too far gone. I excuse myself from homework and give myself a time out in my bedroom and hold my head in my hands until the anger dissipates. When you calm down you knock on my door and we hug. You give me the picture you drew of us together. I smile and thank you and add it to the pile. We continue to work, you finish your homework and peace is restored to our home.

And so it goes Sugar Bee. Two steps forward, one step back. Which of course mostly refers to my own progress in navigating our relationship. You are forging ahead as best you can and you are magnificent. You are strong and loving and confident and curious and wild and silly and expressive. You are finding your stride and it is beautiful to watch.

But we clash, as do mothers and daughters. And it reminds me of clashes I used to have with Grandma. And that's hard too. A friend of mine with a four year old asked me what was the deal with her "teenager" and I gave her a knowing smile. I told her it eases up with time. And it does. I can see that. Our clashes are fewer and further between. We no longer fight about the "bumps" in your high ponytail. Getting dressed in the morning is a non-issue (school uniforms help). We do that funny thing now when we feel a fight starting we put up our fists and make our meanest faces. And then we laugh. But sometimes the fury comes on so fast that we miss our window and it gets ugly.

It's all okay though, you know why Sugar Bee? Because you are still just seven. You are not a teenager. You just play at it sometimes and play is good. You are still just seven, I remind myself. It's been a year of big changes, like every year, but you still play with dolls and you still like unicorns and rainbows and Strawberry Shortcake and Rainbow Loom and drawing and dancing in front of the mirror and snuggling and pretty hairbands and climbing trees and hiking and Ivy and Bean and Hello Kitty and Legos and riding bikes and baking. And you love Judo. What would we do without Judo? You have great friends who still like to play house and build forts and hold hands with you at school. You have one brother who thinks even your farts are magical and another brother, who, despite his constant teasing and antagonism, admits he can't live without you. And you have two parents who often find themselves staring at you and wondering how such an astonishing creature came from them. In fact you are surrounded by love and admiration going back generations and you know it. You feel it. So something is going right.

And as we swing in the hammock together and watch the clouds move through the blue sky on your seventh birthday at the Antelope Ranch, my chest tightens with love this time and I know it is all passing so quickly.  And you know that I love you.