Author: Wendy Goldman Scherer

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Working in a Magnet Factory and the Lessons That Stuck

I have always understood about working for a living. In fact, I got my first job at age five. My dad ran a magnet factory. Yes, you read that right. A magnet factory. I hear business is picking up! (yuk yuk yuk) What an attractive business! Drawn in to the magnetic field. You know, opposites attract. Yes, I’ve heard them all. My dad hired me when I was still in kindergarten. My job? To stamp manila envelopes. Small ones. Coin envelope size. Inside each was a sheet of magnutties — a sheet of scored magnetic rubber that you could break apart into 50 (or was it 100?) teeny rubber magnets. All I had to do was ink the stamper and stamp the envelopes. I distinctly remember staring at huge piles of envelopes. [pullquote]I filled in where I was needed. I busted my ass. It was hot and fast and fun. We were a team.[/pullquote] I’m not saying it was hard, but you know what it’s like — sometimes the stamp isn’t straight, sometimes some words …

I Would Probably Beat You at SET (And I Don’t Feel Bad)

Do you know the game SET? It’s a card game of visual perception that has won a ton of awards — but that’s not why I love it. I love it because…well, because I’m great at it. I’m not being conceited. It just comes easy to me; in fact, I was shocked to find it does not come naturally to everyone. I’ll elaborate, but first I want to tell you about the game. [pullquote]When I’m playing SET, I am entirely and blissfully in the moment — and I’m in it to win it (which I usually do.)[/pullquote] SET is a race to find sets of three cards where the features on each of the cards are either all the same or all different. There are four features to compare: color (red, purple or green), shape (oval, squiggle or diamond), number (one, two or three) and shading (solid, striped or outlined.) It’s an all-out competition, with no taking of turns and no element of luck — the player who finds the most sets wins. SET is …

I Can’t Unplug (And I Don’t Want To)

I may not be all that social these days, but I used to be. When my first son was born in 1995, I logged on to AOL nearly every day to talk to other moms in the “Online Mom” group. (Yes, I still have the t-shirt.) My real-life friends and family thought it was really odd that I sat on the computer and “talked” to strangers for hours. But I knew then what millions of moms know now: Misery loves company. Moms everywhere have realized that a great way to combat the loneliness and isolation of new motherhood is to go online to share experiences, get tips, ask questions and generally figure it all out. (As if anyone can figure it all out.) Flash forward to 2005. I had a busy life filled with work, friends and family, but I still found time to blog nearly every day. I read and commented on my friends’ blog posts and discovered new sites from their blog rolls. There was so much to learn and so many relationships …

TueNight Labels Wendy Goldman Scherer

I’m Sensitive about Labels. And Not The Kind You Think

I’m a sensitive person. Well, at least that’s what my mom always said. As a kid, I’d cry at the drop of a hat. And in college. And maybe even for a while longer than that. Though I’ve toughened up a bit, I still tear up at some of the oddest things, and admittedly, not that infrequently. I feel a lot. If I even think I might have hurt someone’s feelings, I get physically ill and find it nearly impossible to shake off. I am not saying this to impress you; it’s a horrific handicap. I just can’t help it. And when someone raises a voice to me – even if it’s not directed at me – I fall to pieces. It’s genetic. My mom is super sensitive, too. I remember watching her when I was little. If anyone had a harsh word, the tears would well up in her eyes. On the (very few) times that my father got angry and raised his voice, she and I both would shrink into ourselves. I truly …

The In-Laws: The Collateral Damage of Divorce

I married young. Well, young-ish. I should have listened to my grandmother (who didn’t live to see the wedding) when she told me it was a mistake. I should have listened to the voices in my head. I should have called it off before we stood under the chuppah and definitely should have called it off before the mauve-flowered brunch. But I didn’t. It was heartbreak to realize my husband had no interest in being married to me after two years. Sure there were signs. Big fat neon signs. And when he basically stopped speaking to me, I truly got the hint. He was a horrific match for me. We had nothing in common, it seemed. And that day (it was Rosh Hashanah) when he told me at the park that he hated my father and that I was just like him, it stung. Sharply. So when he asked for a divorce, I was all in. But at that moment, I didn’t think about how hard it would be to tell my parents who paid …

You Can’t Play Drums in a Dress

I was never a girly-girl. To hear my mother tell it, there were no pants tough enough to escape my wrath —  there’d be holes in the knees the first day out. She could buy Danskins or Levis. No matter. I despised sitting still.  I had to chase and run and climb. I  couldn’t help climbing that tree. I had to. Oh, that tree. It was a weeping willow. I’d climb to the second perch and it was exactly perfect for reading and hanging out.  Exactly perfect. Even now, all these years later, I can close my eyes and be in that tree. I can feel the way the branches came together to make me a nest. I can smell the fresh, leafy scent and the faint aroma from the stream down the hill. My parents let me be exactly who I was. They didn’t assign gender roles. Sure, I had Barbies, but I also played with the Erector Set and Incredible Edibles. I was not the little girl who played dress up and planned …

My Kids’ Camp Re-Entry Period

My baby, Max, is 15. Well, almost 16. When he asked to go to leadership camp for five weeks this summer, we agreed, with the caveat that he pay a portion of the tuition. After all, we all appreciate things more when we have skin in the game, right? We drove him five hours north to Lake Como, Pennsylvania, in the Pocono Mountains. He’d packed a huge duffel bag, a sleeping bag, some stamps and stationery. The teens learned how to lead meetings, how to communicate with parents and community, how to lead social action. They learned how to motivate their peers. They bonded. My son had an amazing, all encompassing and life-changing experience — so much so that he did not have time to write home. Did I mention there was no cell service? I did not hear from my child for five weeks. Five weeks! [pullquote]The camp smell is definitely not a smell that translates to home. It needs to be eradicated.[/pullquote] It was a little odd being so out of touch, I …

Creating Quality Time With My Son and a Power Sander

I love junk. I like old stuff. Interesting shapes. Putting together odd combinations and using items for something other than what they were intended to be used for. I was also an obsessive flea marketer and garage saler before it was considered stylish. (Is it considered stylish?) I was an upcycler before upcycle was a word. My husband, Andrew, is an enabler like no other. He humors me on early weekend drives while we follow signs to the next sale or as I pull out my phone to scope them out using iGarageSale and Garage Sale Rover. My teenage sons? They tolerate it. Sometimes. My oldest son just finished his freshman year of college. He’s an art major. He’s quiet and he likes his solitude. But I really wanted to figure out a way to spend time with him — something that involved a shared goal. And then it came to me! This kid has the best taste. He’s always decorating his future home in his head, and I am often the delighted recipient of …

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Chef Dad: How My Husband Won My Heart and My Kids’ Stomachs

  On our third date, Andrew cooked me an incredible dinner: leg of lamb, roasted asparagus and crispy potatoes. It was truly impressive. Years later, he told me that he learned to cook because it was a good dating move. I might have felt played, but I like eating well just a tad too much. So, I not only let him cook for me regularly, I married him. Fast forward to when our first son was 3 ½  years old. He went to a preschool friend’s house for a play date and stayed for dinner. (If you’re thinking woo hoo, what a break for Wendy, think again. We had a 1 ½ year old and an infant at home.) I picked Davis, my oldest son, up at about 7:00 pm and, as always, he was full of stories! What a great reporter he was. So, chat, chat, chat… and then, “Mom. Guess what? It was so weird at Daniel’s house.” “Really, what was weird?” (You can only imagine where my thoughts were headed.) “When we …

How Working in Fast Food Prepared Me for Life on a Slippery Floor

I have worked as long as I can remember. As a young girl, I used to pull dandelions for my mom at a penny a piece (I only realized as an adult that my parents were paying us to stay out of the house), and I swept the floors and stamped coin envelopes at my family’s magnet factory. It was awesome growing up around all those magnets, but the highlight was the huge piles of flattened packing boxes my brother, sister and I used to climb onto and lounge on. So, maybe we played a little more than we worked. My first real job was in fast food. I worked at Gino’s and for those of you outside the mid-Atlantic region, Gino’s was a regional chain co-owned and named for Gino Marchetti of Baltimore Colts fame. They had the Kentucky Fried Chicken rights around here so (close your eyes and imagine this), KFC and burgers in one place.  I know. Dreamy. At 17 years old, when I retired from my Gino’s career, I had already …