Friday, November 29, 2013


Have you heard of Dressember?

If you have, you may already be planning to participate.  But if you haven't, now is the time.
EG and I will be doing Dressember this year.  However, unlike in America, we are going to take a bit of an Australian approach, and treat it more like Mo'Vember and do some good for charity.

The charity we have chosen this year is the National Council of Jewish Women, Los Angeles.  The NCJW is a grassroots organization, is primarily volunteer coordinated.  It's a wonderful organization, and really harkens back to Jewish roots.  A nice side effect of Dressember, a month of Modern Orthodox living.  Just to test it out...

So, join in with us.  Wear a dress (or a skirt) every day in December.  Share your images if you want to.  We'll be sharing ours here on the blog.  Yes, you heard that right, ours.  Dresses and skirts for EG too!

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Thanksgiving- or just linner on any other day.

On this day of Thanksgiving, when we are all eating ourselves into a stupor of exhaustion, I can't help but think about what we send to school everyday for lunch.  What our children are eating on an average day, not on the day when we all stay in the kitchen slaving away over a particularly delicious, yet high in calories treat called Thanksgiving.

Our Thanksgiving is like many across the country.  A cross between lunch and dinner. Which of course makes it incredibly challenging to feed your little ones.  Our little EG usually eats at around 8am (breakfast), 10am (milk/bottle), then again at noon (lunch).  She has a small snack around 3pm, then eats dinner between 5:30-6pm.  That's it for that.  So what to do when the family Thanksgiving is at 3pm?  I'll let you know how it went.

Have you seen this story?  It's making it's way around the Facebook, but I find it particularly interesting.  As you know, EG goes to a Jewish daycare at the JCC in the Beach Cities.  Since they are an orthodox establishment, they don't allow you to send any meat in with your child's lunch or snack.  They are a dairy only establishment (makes sense with infants and formula/whole milk.)

According to the Canadian authorities, EG has never had a complete and adequate lunch since she started eating at 6 months old.  What's a mother to do?

I already have a hard time figuring out what to send EG for lunch.  Here's a snapshot of one morning's mealplan.

Of course, this covers breakfast, lunch and a snack before she comes home for dinner.  You'll also notice that EG would have been fed Ritz Crackers too.  We don't send in any complex carbs, because they routinely give her cherrios and graham crackers at school.  You know how babies are, they see one kid with something, they want it too.

Of course, that happens at home as well... EG loves to come up to you and ask for your food whenever you are eating... no matter what it is.

Glad we don't have those requirements here in the states.  I don't need that extra morning stress!

What about this?  The article makes me think exclusively about McDonalds, and I scoff to myself thinking that our dear EG hasn't eaten MickyD's more than 4 times in her entire life.  Then I think about the reality.  We went to 'The Hat' for dinner on Sunday night.  The meal consisted of a large Pastrami sandwich (with pickles and mustard) and onion rings.  Mommy and EG had water- Daddy had a soda.  I think, however, that this isn't a terrible dinner.  The pastrami isn't fried, and she didn't even eat the onion rings...

Oh, what's a mom to do...

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Challenges of a new Jewish Family

I would like to join a synagogue.  If you've been following my blog, you probably think I already belong to one.  The JCC of the beach cities.  And I suppose, in a way, you'd be right.  While I love the JCC and the daily support it gives to my daughter, I don't always believe the same things that they do.

We have differences of opinions about a large number of things.  Such as women reading from the torah.  Covering my hair and wearing skirts/dresses all the time.  Do these things drastically impact my everyday right now?   Not so much, but they will when EG gets a bit older.

So, why haven't we joined another synagogue.  We've been to Temple Menorah.  With the renovation Congregation Beth Jacob is looking stunning.

I can tell you.  Dues.  So much money put out in dues/membership fees.  We are a growing family, one with lots of expenses.  When we can barely seem to make services one day a week (and only when EG gets to run around like a crazy girl), why would I want to spend over $2000 a year for access to something I won't take advantage of.

It's a rock and a hard place.  I want a Jewish community.  I want to be committed to a temple where EG will eventually go to Hebrew School and get Bat Mitzvahed.  Can she do that at the JCC- maybe.  They have Hebrew School, but their Bat Mitzvah is not what I imagined for our daughter.  But, they don't charge me a thing to attend their services.  Some things cost extra (like some classes, and the preschool program), but on any given Friday we are welcomed.

What can we do to change it?  I'm not sure.  It seems a bit presumptious for me to think that I can go to the Temple and say that I just don't want to pay.  Surely they will look at our finances and say, you have the extra money- you just don't want to spend it.

And in some way's that's true.  In others, it's an awful lot of money for a possible connection...

Do you belong to a temple or congregation?

Monday, November 25, 2013

Pick a Parasha: Tol'Dot

What an interesting portion we've chosen this month. The story of Rebecca giving birth to her sons Esau and Jacob, their split birthright and the ensuing favoritism.  It's a popular story, but once again, I feel like in the reading I learned so many things.

Just like the last portion we looked at, Rebecca has a shared moment with G-d:

She went to inquire of the Lord, 23 and the Lord answered her,
"Two nations are in your womb,
Two separate peoples shall issue from your body;
One people shall be mightier than the other,
And the older shall serve the younger."
What a specific proclamation.  To show from the beginning of life, before either had breathed the air that one shall be mightier than the other, and the older shall serve the younger.  I can't help but wonder what I would do, given such specifics from the lord.  Is it any wonder that later down the road we find that Rebecca favors Jacob?

Isaac favored Esau because he had a taste for game; but Rebekah favored Jacob. 

There are many different interpretations of this passage.  She loved Jacob, she favored him, etc.  But how could she not when the Lord so clearly tells her that her youngest shall rule the older.

Beyond that we are once again in a story where a husband passes his wife off as a sister.  What is with these men and not taking responsibility for their families, their lives.  Not standing up and being who they are.

It seems to me that this might be a pre-curser for the big moment of the portion.  When Jacob pretends to be Esau to claim the blessing of the father.  Like father, like son?  Everyone blames Rebecca, but when your father doesn't claim his own wife, why wouldn't you think you can deceive him too?

Obviously Issac knows something isn't right.  He says point blank- you have the voice of Jacob.  He smells the clothes and feels the skin and decides to trust his other two senses over his hearing.  Rather than trust these instincts, he gives the blessing anyways.  

Poor Esau.  He comes with his stew and his father has to tell him that his blessing is already gone.  That he can't give another one, and that he's sorry.   Rebecca sends Jacob away to keep him safe, and that's the end of the story for now.  

When we say our blessing over EG on friday nights, we say may you be like Sarah, Rebecca, Rachel and Leah.  Do I really want her to be like Rebecca.  Surely there is something a miss here.  That this entire family feels so at ease and comfortable lying about who they are.  Deceiving themselves and others as if it was a drop of a hat.

Many people claim that Rebecca shows herself to be a good mother- in the end she sends away her loving son Jacob to protect 'both' her sons.  I'm not exactly sure that I buy that idea.  If she was a 'good' mother would she have directed her son to lie so brashly.  Would she have deceived her husband on his deathbed?  Or is she just following G-d's direction.  That the older will serve the younger..?

I take from this story the fact that sometimes errors aren't mistakes.  There are moments in all of our lives when we think we've made a terrible mistake.  When we make a choice that seems morally wrong.  But then, things can work out in the end.  Rebecca's morally ambigious choice leds Jacob to become the father of the Jewish people.  Leads him to great things. 

Sometimes we have to step away from our choices (ours, and our children's) and embrace the bigger picture.

Friday, November 22, 2013

Dinner.... or whatever you eat tonight

Dinner.  I think it's one of the most challenging things ever.

Coming home after a long day of work and trying to figure out what to put on the table.  Especially when everyone tells you that family meals will make or break your child's entire future!

I'm proud to say that this week, I've finally turned a corner.  I actually managed to make a dinner everynight.  Something new, something different, and mostly, something from scratch.

I figured out a few tricks to making meals happen at our house.

1. Involve the toddler with the cooking.  I've started putting her in her high chair so she can see, wheeling it into the kitchen and giving her tastes of things as I cook them.  This is especially great because it often means she gets extra vegetables.

2. Avoid snacking by eating early.  Each night this week we've been eating before 6pm.  We used to sit down for dinner just after 6pm, now we are sitting around 5:35-5:45.  Much easier to eat without being full on meaningless snacks.

3. Take a few shortcuts.  While each of these means was made at home, mostly from scratch, none of them involved much 'cooking.'  Crockpot one night, a simple stew the next, and a few made with store bought proteins (the wontons/chicken)

4.  Basic meal planning.  I don't think I'll get to the point where I'm truly specific about each individual thing, but starting out on Sunday with a few proteins in mind meant that I could swap out meals as I saw fit.

5.  I leave work at 4pm.  Leaving at 4pm means that I get home between 4:30 and 5pm, I get to pick up EG, and come home with enough time to play with her and get dinner ready.  Not a trick everyone can use, but it's definitely helped us improve our lives dramatically!

The only thing I wish I could do is figure out how to make more meals that EG can take to daycare.  Since she's in a dairy only school, none of these meals were schools worthy.  Oh well...

On Monday I wasn't feeling to hot, so I made some jazzed up ramen soup with wontons. Easy peasy!

 Nicole Lee

Tuesday I went to the store and bought a whole done chicken.  I made that with long grain rice with almonds and raisins, with fresh cooked asparagus.

On Wednesday I made this recipe:  I made it over mashed potatoes that came out of a box.

Thursday I made White bean chicken Chili.  I follow my own recipe:

2 cans northern beans or cannelli beans
4 cups chicken broth (I use better than bullion)
Cumin (around 3 tablespoons)
Green Chilis (4oz can)
Oregano (1tsp)
Cayenne pepper (1tsp)
2 onions diced
2 cloves garlic diced
Chicken (2 large breasts cut into pieces)

Saute the onions in olive oil until golden.  Add the chopped garlic at any time, making sure to keep it moving to avoid burning it. 

Add in the chicken (I cut mine with kitchen shears)

Once the chicken has started to brown, toss in the green chilis.  Add in the spices once that's all mixed together.

Let sit for a few minutes, then add in the chicken broth and the beans.  Bring to a boil, then let simmer for as long as you have before dinner.

Serve with plain yogurt or sour cream, and a touch of whatever cheese you have on hand (we used Gruyere!)  YUMMY!

Thursday, November 21, 2013

I'm already annoyed

Thanksgiving hasn't even passed, and already I am inundated by the Christmas in the Los Angeles area.

If you ask Working Dad, I will never be friends with Christmas.  I'm not anti-Christmas, but growing up in Los Angeles (where the wheather might not even be more than a touch chilly around the holidays) has made me completely against most holiday music.  Baby it's cold outside?  White Christmas?  I could go on.

I thought I had made progress when I moved to Pittsburgh.  There was snow on the ground.  It was cold.  The holiday lights meant it wasn't completely pitch black when I walked home at 5pm. 

Now that I'm back in LA, I just can't get it.  It's not cold, there's no snow, there's no need for the extra lights, and IT"S NOT EVEN THANKSGIVING YET!

So, this year I'm making change.  Any time someone on TV or the radio mentions Christmas, or plays a Christmas song before Thanksgiving, I'm changing the channel.

I can get through 25 days of the holiday.  I can't get through a month and a half.

How do you cope with the holidays?

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Mikvah choices

I find myself in an awkward position.  When I moved to the South Bay area, I moved because I was getting married.  In order to be married I wanted to go to the mikvah.  The JCC has a mikvah.  I called up, asked some questions, and was promptly informed that the mikvah wasn't for me.  That because I was an intermarried woman, they wouldn't allow me to use their mikvah.

That's my dark secret.  The place my daughter goes to school each day denied me a fundamental right of a Jewish woman.

I found a place to go to the mikvah (there is a lovely, inclusive one at the AJU) but I still can't get over the fact that the JCC refused me access to theirs.

I would like to go to the mikvah regularly.  Not necessarily because I won't hand Working Dad a plate until I go, but more because I feel strongly that it's a ritual that can bring some clarity and peace to your life.  Sometimes it's hard to be a woman.  The changes your body goes through every month (or thereabouts) can make life challenging.  Sometimes it does mean an opportunity for family expansion lost.  Other times it just means one more cycle of life is passing by.

But I believe it's nice to mark it in some way.  To take a private moment to be thankful to G-d that everything is working, that the moment has passed.  But the JCC in the South Bay said this isn't something they could offer me.

It's interesting, because I'm not exactly sure why my being intermarried has anything to do with my need to observe the ritual purity laws of the mikvah.  Turns out that going to the mikvah as a single woman can cause quite the controversy...

Only yesterday in Israel were they debating the requirements about women professing the reason for attending the mikvah, etc.  It seems to me that each time a woman chooses to take a step towards keeping a religious tradition that we should encourage that.  The issue speaks to me the same way that some parents refuse to give their children the gardasil shot, for fear that it will encourage them to have sex earlier than they would other wise like.

So, I haven't been back to the mikvah since having EG.  While the mikvah at the AJU is quite nice, it's also an expensive undertaking, and a bit out of the way for someone with a young baby.

Maybe the JCC will open their mikvah.  Until then, the ocean works :-)

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Chanukah in the South Bay

Josh Bousel
This year it seems increasingly more difficult to find the public gatherings of Chanukah.  Here's what I've found, feel free to add to the listings:

Friday, November 22:
     Chanukah festival at Temple Menorah (5:30pm) $

Sunday, November 24:
       Skirball Chanukah Festival (11am-4pm) $

Sunday, December 1:
       Manhattan Village Mall Menorah Lighting (4-6pm)

Monday, December 2:
      South Bay Galleria Menorah Lighting (5pm)
      El Segundo City Hall (5pm)

Tuesday, December 3:
      Redondo Beach Civic Center (5pm)

Wednesday, December 4:
       Plaza El Segundo (5pm)

Have a safe and happy Chanukah!

Monday, November 18, 2013

Bat Mitzvah: Bringing Baby

by angus mcdiarmid
This weekend we had the opportunity to attend our cousin's Bat Mitzvah.  This was slightly untraditional for us, since it was a havdalah service, rather than reading from the Torah.  However, it was still a meaningful and joyous occasion, one which we were thrilled to celebrate together as a family.

Bringing EG, however, had it's complications.  It was nice because it was just around the corner, but difficult because she is still very little, and unable to sit still.  Because the event was at our normal temple, EG felt extremely comfortable and confident.  Including walking up on the bimah whenever she felt like it.  While cute before the ceremony began, a bit of a problem once the Bat Mitzvah girl got started.

So, we went to the lobby.  There was an adorable 20month old boy inattendance, so EG got to make a new friend, and enjoy running around with him.

Here are some tips for enjoying the festivities with a little one:

  1. Bring the baby to the ceremony.  Most temples are equipped to handle kids.  At Saturday morning services there is often a children's component, and even if there isn't, the real purpose of the event is the ceremony.  Don't skip it.  It's important to expose your child to different environments.  If you start when they are young, they will learn more quickly about behaving during these types of events. 

  2. If you don't have family, hire a babysitter.  This was my cousin's Bat Mitzvah, so lot sof hands to help hold EG.  If it hadn't have been, I would have hired someone (a mother's helper type) to come with us, and help keep an eye on EG.  That way we could have enjoyed more of the event, and interacted with everyone.

  3. Have a designated parent.  This is similar to my wine-tasting tips, but still important. Again, it could be a different parent throughout the event.  But it's really key to have one person both designated as the 'more sober one' and the 'officially watching' one. Many of these events have an open bar, and the parties can get pretty wild, so it's important to keep an eye on the littlest.

  4. Think carefully about the party, and when to leave. There are definitely some 'ceremony' type moments at the party.  The traditional thing seems to be the candle lighting moment, and you probably don't want to miss this.  At the same time the party will eventually turn into a dance moment for the 12/13 year old crowd.  Depending on where you are/how the little is doing, it might be the right time to bow out.
Hope you enjoy your next Bat Mitzvah.  And happiness and joy to our favorite Shoshana!

Friday, November 15, 2013

Crazy days

This has been one of the craziest weeks.  We've been hit with things from all sides.  Let's start at the beginning:

I was out from work last week, and trying unsuccessfully to manage all the work chaos from home.  We had two events happening this month, and none of them were going smoothly. 

Working Dad has started the budgeting process.  If any of you are in finance at all, you know how stressful and crazy this is.  He was working hard to implement a new system (read software program) into the company before budgeting.  However, he was unsuccessful.  So, back to the old excel model we go... crazy town.

EG contracted Hand Foot and Mouth disease.  Anyone with an infant knows that this is a fairly common illness, and honestly, it's not to bad for what it could be.  She's in good spirits during the day, and napping well.  Nighttime, however, is a different screaming story.  She's been awake every few hours, and I've only managed about 3 solid hours each night.

To add to the crazy we've had a bunch of changes in events I'm working on at UCLA.   We were supposed to have an event next week, but it's totally gone crazy.  Between venue/date changes, speaker changes, etc. Then, they decide to just cancel the whole thing... grrr!

This weekend we also had a Bat Mitzvah Havdalah ceremony.  While it was lovely, sick kid plus things to do aren't exactly making things easy...

So, whats up with you?

Presents this holiday season

Have you already gotten all of your presents?  With Thanksgivukkah only a week or so away, it's a mad rush here to finish shopping, crafting, etc.

The honest truth is that I have presents for almost everyone in the family, except for little EG.  The Working Dad and I don't usually exchange presents- though this year he will be getting a very new, very expensive new DSLR camera on Black Friday. 

For EG, we've come to a sort of stall place.  I'm not exactly sure what to get my little 18month old.  We've determined that we don't like toys with electronics, or lots of sound and noise.  Not even so much because of the sound/noise- it's just that they seem very limiting to our little girl.  So what then will make a good present.

Here's the list so far:

New Shoes
New Socks
Bath toy game
Bath toy foam letters
magnetic letters for fridge
Color window blocks (if I can find them!)

So often though, for her, I feel like she gets lots of little things all the time.  And there isn't really anything that strikes me as a large gift.  She got a tricycle for her last large gift, and she ADORES it.  What can compare/be as loved as that.

Any suggestions?

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Book Review: Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mom

Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mom


This is sort of an odd book to review.  Technically it's not actually a parenting book. It sort of masquerades as one, but the reality is it's a memoir about a mother raising her daughters.  Either way, on with the review...

The book starts out with a few premises.  That tiger moms are focused on their kids educations, that sleepovers are absolutely not allowed, and that you are not your child's friend, you are a parent.

The controversial part of the story is the many times she pushes her children beyond what many of us think is good.  The story about her youngest learning a piano song, and denying her dinner, bathroom breaks, etc.

However, when I started reading, it wasn't these things that stuck in my mind.  It was the fact that she was extremely dedicated, and recognized that her two daughters were different people.  If there was a theme to the story, it was that you have to choose your battles wisely, and understand your children for who they are.

Yes, she does enforce strict rules.  She knows what she wants, and she's not afraid of the words "i hate you mom".  Which I think is a good thing.  She points out that children have a hard time getting through conflict and not doing well.  And that once we start to do well at something our natural desire to be good can often compel us to keep going, and get better.  Remember NurtureShock?  There was a whole chapter about empty praise, which included a study about tests and compared Asian parents to white parents.  White parents avoided talking about the test, or telling their kids they could do better.  This Tiger Mom isn't afraid to say "you are better than that."

My favorite story along this line is when her daughters give her cards.  She hands them right back and says no, these are not good.  You put no thought into them, and you are capable of something much better than these pieces of paper.  I love you, and I want to enjoy your work, but I won't just take what is your minor effort.  I deserve more.

She also dedicates an extreme amount of attention and work into her children's activities.  She discusses a few pages of her daughters piano music, pointing out errors and working diligently with her on each measure of music.  Not many of us commit to our children's learning in this way.  I haven't decided where I stand on that one, but it's interesting to think about this level of commitment.
What's hard for me is the concept of allowing your children their own successes and failures.  She is a working mom, so she has her own independent accomplishments.  I fear that taking this level of commitment without a personal outlet would be unhelpful for many of us.

Overall, definitely worth a read- however- don't expect tips, tricks or real parenting advice.  Just take the stories, understand the threads, and get a good laugh.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013


Buzzfeed Image
 We've talked about shopping for it, but are you embracing it at your dining room table?

Initially I was hesitant.  Honestly, I was livid.  Combine them!?!  No WAY...

But then I found out how rare this event truly is.  And how my sister will be in town for it, and it's nice to have everyone together.

Since then, we've been struggling.  It's easy to think about decor- pumpkin light, star light, pumpkin light, star light.  Cut out Jewish Starts on some gourds.  Fill your baskets with gilt... but what about the food.

Thanks BuzzFeed!  You are awesome!  Here is the menu.

Here are a few additional ideas:
Sweet Potato Latkes.  I know they say it's to hard to change the traditional, but honestly. these are good.  I am also a fan of
Zucchini Latkes.  These are delicious as well.  If you do them as appetizers, then you don't have to worry about the age-old problem of how to keep them tasting delicious when you fry them to far in advance.  Fry them up as people walk in the door.  You know how good they taste right out of the fryer... it's almost torture to have to wait for them to hit the table!

Main Course:
I'm in love with their Challah Stuffing recipe.  It would be very easy to do with olive oil or margarine... that way you could still be kosher.
I think they left out the totally necessary crescent rolls.  These don't have butter or dairy!

For Dessert try these:
Pumpkin Donuts- get a little more fried food into your Chanukah, and a bit of tradition into your Thanksgiving.

For our table (which is being hosted by my parents), we've decided to go traditional with the main dinner, then open presents and enjoy a Chanukah dessert of donuts.  Yummy....

What's your plan?

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Rosh Chodesh Classes

Hi Everyone, sorry I'm a bit late in posting this morning.  My darling little EG has been very fussy and a bit sick, so I was up from 3-5am with her.  Then off to work and now finally a moment to write down my thoughts.

I wanted to share with everyone a class series being held at the JCC of the Beach Cities, it's called Rosh Chodesh: A Reason to Celebrate.

The first class is tonight, and though it does have a cost, it's something I'm definitely interested in doing.

Anyone else up for some Jewish learning?

To RSVP, click here.  You can attend one class, or all of them.

Hope to see you there!

Monday, November 11, 2013


Wikipedia image

I've recently seen a rash of posts on the good old facebook about tardiness.  (yes, about a giraffe too, but let's move on...)

Do you think that world is becoming more and more tardy?  Is lateness an epidemic that we're try to stem the flow on?

Greg Savage thinks so.  That it's not only become an epidemic, and it's also rude, inconsiderate and a time waster for everyone. All of these things are true.  However, it seems like Mr. Savage doesn't really think about the world we live in, and why we may all be late in the first place:

"And it is not that we lead 'busy lives'. That's a given, we all do, and it's a cop out to use that as an excuse. It's simply that some people no longer even pretend that they think your time is as important as theirs. And technology makes it worse. It seems texting or emailing that you are late somehow means you are no longer late"

 Yes, I agree that texting and e-mailing that you are late is not an excuse, you are still late, still rude and just as annoying.  And yes, technology somehow makes us think that we've been excused because we 'told you.'  However, I think we need to get back to the heart of the matter.  Why are we all running late in the first place.

I know that I put to much into each day.  That I never take into account traffic, or tantrums, or any of the other little things that can throw an otherwise normal day off kilter.  Once you've had children, your time is not your own.  Then we get into the discussion about leaving enough time to allow your child to try to do things themselves.  Which you know you want to allow them to do, but rarely have the time.

I think it's critically important to teach your children about respect, which includes other people's time.  However, I also think it's important as a mom to remember to take time, slow down, and let your life unfold a bit.  Nothing can be more sad than rushing a child to the car, only to have them try to smell the roses and get yelled at for 'dawdling'.

We want to encourage our kids to explore their world, and to do so we need to allow them the time they need.  So, here's my commitment. I'm writing it down, and I encourage all of you to do the same.

I commit to planning a bit less.  To allowing EG the freedom to explore her world.  One day at a time.

Friday, November 8, 2013

Differing Parental Philosophies

I've been reading a lot of parenting books (see, here's the proof!).  As I read each of them, I'm again struck by two things:
  1. That each culture does have a similar expectation for their children, and that it can be seen, studied and reviewed.
  2. That each parent/child relationship is unique, and what works for one person/group may not work for the others.

No where is this more apparent than in the chore/expectation sector of the world.  Who does what?  How do we breakdown the items that no one gets paid for, the laundry, the dishes, the chores.  The drudgery that keeps a house running forward.

While we've already discussed chores some on this blog, I thought that this article was worth reading.  It's interesting to see just how much chores and helping out are predicated on a national level.  That the expectations of one culture is very different than another.

I'm finishing up 'Blessing of a Skinned Knee,' which focuses it's ideas on a Jewish perspective.  Hopefully it will have something nice to add to the conversation.

As EG is nearing in on 2 years old, I'm amazed at the things she's learned.  She knows where the trash can is, and she is capable of doing so much more than I think we ask of her.  It's hard though, to facilitate her being able to do things herself.

One step at a time, right?

Thursday, November 7, 2013

When is temperament established

Here on the blog I lovingly call my daughter Exuberant Girl.  I feel like she's been this way since she was very little, with her eyes wide open even in the first moments after birth.

But now I wonder if I've given her a temperament without letting her 'grow into her own'?

Our little girl has always been open to new things.  At her one month appointment she was arms up in cobra pose already, craning her neck to see what was going on in the world.  Recently, as in yesterday, she tried to climb the chainlink fence at the park- yup all  before 16 months old.

She's not afraid of virtually anything.  We went camping and she chased after the deer.  When she falls down she might cry, but then less than 60seconds later she's charging up and ready to go out and do it again.

The teachers at school tell me how social she is.  She like to run to the other kids, and whenever we go to the park she's constantly playing with the other children (even if she's 12momths and they are 8 years!)

Are these traits set in stone?  Is it true that she's really exuberant?  How was your child when they were born? 

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

7 Tips for Wine Tasting with a Toddler

The weekend of my birthday (I'm still in in 20's I swear!) we went wine tasting as a family.  Yup, my family, my sister's family and our parents all together on one crazy weekend adventure.

While we all had ups and downs (let me tell you!) I wanted to share our experience with Wine tasting with a toddler...
  1. Don't go in for the fancy nighttime meal.  There's nothing worse than spending almost $100 on the really fancy meal then not going to the really fancy meal.  Regardless of the best of intentions I can almost guarantee that after travel, the excitment of a new place, and despite the best laid plans that all hell will break loose and the night you are supposed to go to the fancy dinner you will not.  It's not inclusive, it's probably not a great meal anyways, and even if you did make it out of the house you might be worried rather than happy. 

  2. Leave to go wine tasting at nap-time.  Especially if you still have a morning nap.  Wineries are often far from each other, so this way you can drive the longest distance, let the little one sleep in the car, then have the rest of the afternoon before nap #2 to head back to base camp.  If you only have one nap, I suggest starting close by, heading out far right as naptime starts, then working your way back to base camp.  

  3. Have a designated parent.  This could be the designated driver.  Or it could be a different parent throughout the day.  But it's really key to have one person both designated as the 'more sober one' and the 'officially watching' one.  Wineries are busy places, and they serve a lot more wine to you than you might realize.  Even if neither of you are the DD, one of you needs to stay in control in case there is a toddler emergency.  Additionally, between the patio, the grass and the place where you get the tasting, it's helpful to know constantly who's officially on watch.   

  4. Visit wineries with grassy areas or patios. We went to J.Lohr, and a few other larger wineries.  As long as they had an outdoor patio- we were golden.  The problem comes in when you try to bring the kids indoors.  Where there are people waiting in line for the wine, and chochskies for them to break.  So, keep it outdoors and you are golden.

  5. Do bring LOTS of food, and stop for lunch. I'm sure you know about this advice for yourself, when drinking eat a lot.  However, it's even more important with the kiddos.  Lots of wineries have cheese to try with the wine, and on a nice weekend with a designated driver this might seem fine.  For your kids, it's a different story.  They need a meal, something related to what they normally eat, and the stability of sitting down to do it.

  6. Give them a sip if you want to.  I have absolutely no judgement here.  When we do Shabbat EG gets a sip of wine, so when we were out I gave her one or two moments.  Just be careful, since there are judgy people, and no one wants to be going to the hospital because of a broken glass (winery glassware is notoriously cheap).

  7. Rent a house/cabin if you can.  If there are cabin or house options where you are, go for it!  Rather than a hotel, which is only one room, having the extra space a cabin or house provides can be wonderful for the kids.  While you are napping off the morning drinking the kids can be running through the house, working through some of that energy

Moral of the story, just do it!  It's fun, and awesome, and a chance to enjoy being an adult while still being a parent.

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Leaving the baby behind

Have you left your child while you went out of town?  We are contemplating leaving EG for about 5 days while we go to a wedding in Miami.

I can't decide what's the right thing to do.  We've traveled with EG before and I didn't really find it to stressful.  To be honest, the most stressful part was being with my own parents...

However, this is for a wedding.  And before we get to the wedding we have some appointments that she can't attend.  She is, however, invited to the wedding.

Have you left your child for a few days?  I'm so worried that she might not know me, or love me as much when I return.  I'm sure that's silly, but there it is.  That somehow while I'm gone she will be forgetting me.  Such a silly thought.

The plan would be to take her to school like normal, then have her picked up by Grandpa.  She would spend two nights with my in-laws, then two nights with my parents before being brought back home to sleep in her own bed.

I realize it's a lot of people for her to deal with/get used to.  But at the same time, I don't know that either set of grandparents is really ready to take that much responsibility and take care of her 24-hours for 5 days.  That's a lot of time and effort.

I do think it might be easier on her, overall, if we leave her behind.  It's not just about the travel, etc, but it's the time change, the driving, all the additional details that would go into this trip.  Not to mention the enjoyment that Working Dad and I might not have if she's with us.  Though I love her dearly, I know that we will enjoy the wedding more if we are there without her.

Thoughts? Comments? 

Sunday, November 3, 2013

EG: Happy Halloween!

I got a sweet Mom!

A fun lady lion
out on the prowl
I got lots of candy
And put it in my mouth
lollipops and chocolate, turned out really nice!

Happy Halloween EG!

Friday, November 1, 2013

Pick a Parasha: Toldot

For our next installment of Pick a Parasha we will be doing: Toldot

Parashat Toldot / פרשת תולדות

I look forward to sharing more D'var Torah with you all.  With luck we will get through the whole Torah together, someday.

As a reminder, we'll explore the D'var Torah on November 25, the last Monday of the month.  Can't wait to see you all then :-)
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