Friday, December 27, 2013

Is Israel really a Jewish Saudi Arabia?

I've been reading a bit more about the Chief Rabbinate of Israel, and I can't help but wonder if at the end of the day Israel is a Jewish Saudi Arabia?  No, they don't make all women cover themselves from head to toe, and yes, women can travel alone, talk to anyone they want and drive their own cars.

But who's to say that a halahic state is much different than a sharia state?

It's true that in Israel there is a large secular community, and a strong social existence that flies in the face of some of the halacha... however, should you wan to get married, be buried, or have your adopted child be recognized as a Jew then see what counts.

Why all the fuss?  The Orthodox is the Chief Rabbinate of Israel, who is in charge of the spiritual and religious life of Jews in Israel, is also in charge of marriages, divorces, conversions, and determining 'who is a Jew.'

'Who is a Jew' is a particularly tricky question.  Laws for the right of return are significantly different than laws for marriage.  You can immigrate to Israel as a Jew under the right of return, and then be denied the right to marry as a Jew all in the same breath.

It's a difficult thing to discuss, because Israel has an interesting blend of secular laws, and a religious governing body.  Want to walk through some sections of old Jerusalem as a women in a tank-top?  Perhaps you should be prepared to be harrassed.

Want to drive in a car on a Saturday?  Prepare to be faced with blocked roads and streets.  Turn down the wrong block, possibly have your car stoned.

So, is it really a free state?  Can you really be non-religious?  How do we, as American Jews, understand the complex differences in status that we would face should we make aliyah?

I don't know what would happen if I were to move to Israel.  Would I be considered 'Jewish?'  I've lived my whole life Jewish.  I'm raising a Jewish family, and I've never thought about being anything other than what I am.  But do I have the documents to prove it?

Thursday, December 26, 2013

Awkward Questions other people's kids ask

A few nights ago our neighbors asked us to watch their kids so they could go Christmas shopping.  Our neighbors are wonderful people.  They embrace EG like she's their little sister, and all the kids over there tolerate her running into their games, or bringing them their shoes for the 15th time (one of her favorite tricks!).

However, when we were watching them last night, there were a number of those awkward moments.

The first was when EG wanted a 'baba.'  Though she'd already had 18oz of milk at school (I know, wowza!) she didn't have a great dinner (served a great one, didn't eat anything but tomatoes!), and has been having some really terrible diaper rash.  So, of course, I started to heat one up for her.  One of the kids asked why EG has her milk warmed.

The answer, in my mind, to why this was, is that EG was breastfed as a baby, and since the milk comes from my body, it comes out warm.  When we switched EG to cow's milk, she wanted it to be warm, just like my milk was.  But that's not what I said.  I said that she likes her milk warm, it's easier for babies to digest, and that most babies drink warm milk.  I clarified that though EG is 18months old, she still has this habit from being a baby.  But I didn't really answer the question.

I don't know how my neighbors feel about breastfeeding.  I'm also not quite sure how they would feel about me talking about my breasts with their children... no, I don't think talking about breastfeeding is gross or sexual, but I can't speak for everyone.

Moving on through the night, we were putting EG into her bath.  I've already mentioned the bad diaper rash, which made her not want to sit in the bathtub. So, out we came, and decided to go have a shower.  She's an independent little chick, so she didn't want to get carried or wrapped up in a towel.  So out she walks, naked as the day she was born.  Another awkward moment.  No, I don't think it's inappropriate for people to see an under 18month old child naked.  But at the same time, they aren't my kids... whoops!

Then we finally get EG down for bed, and the kids are all fed.  Delightful children, they even took in their own plates and offered to help clean up.  We sit down by the couch for some Mary Poppins and one of the kids asks me when we are getting the Christmas tree.

Umm... hmmm.  They know we're a Jewish family, but I also know that there parents don't know anything about Judaism.  They may have learned something in school about it, but its definitely not something they've been exposed to.  We showed them our Menorah earlier this month, gave them some driedels, and fed them some latkes.  But that's not the same thing as entering the extremely complicated discussion around Christmas trees.

These kids believe in Santa.  They know there parents get them presents, but Santa is magical.  How come EG doesn't need a tree?  What will happen with Santa. 

So I dodge the question. I don't admit that we won't have a Christmas tree.  That even if we did have a tree, it would be a 'tree of david' not a christmas tree... le sigh...  I just say that I don't think it's going to happen this year.  That we've been busy and are traveling, etc. 

Is that a cop-out?  How do you explain to an 8 and 5 year old that you are different.  Especially when you don't know where their parents stand.

Have you had awkward moments with other people's kids recently? 

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Christmas morning

Happy Christmas morning to you!  I hope you had a restful night of sleep, or perhaps you were at midnight mass, or opening presents late in to the night enjoying the songs and festive atmosphere (I think that's part of midnight mass, I may not be 100% correct on that!) Either way, Merry Christmas!

When I was growing up we didn't have any Christian family where were lived here in sunny Southern California.  And since it was CA, there wasn't any snow on the ground, or any place to go buy hot apple cider, so we had a relatively non-eventful Christmas morning.  What was eventful, though, was the fact that my Dad was home for the day.

We started off Christmas morning with my Dad's wonderful eggs with mushrooms and onions.  This is an amazing dish that I still haven't managed to get exactly right.  Somehow, his will always, always be better than mine...  Yummy.

Typically my sister had someone's house she was invited over to, but I always preferred to spend the day with my Dad.  We would go out onto the streets, which were amazingly empty. An amazing quality of clean, and fresh and free.  Yet odd and totally out of place.  Just like the picture below...

We'd drive straight down El Toro road and head for the golf course.  Of course, it was 'technically' closed, but it's impossible to really close a golf course, especially one that is connected to a public park like this one is.  It's a small, 9-hole course.  Nothing to challenging, but when you are 9, it's amazing. 

I loved to golf with my Dad.  He'd take me about every two months or so, but Christmas morning was the best.  No one waiting behind us.  No tee time we just had to make.  Just me and him and a lot of green empty space.  I didn't have to take a mulligans to keep things moving.  I could try and try again if I really wanted to.  Sometimes we'd keep score, but really it was just such as sweet, lovely time.
When we went back the next time the course was open my Dad would tell the owner that we'd come to play over Christmas morning.  He would tell us that was wonderful, and waive the fee for playing. 

Such wonderful Christmas mornings.

What does your Christmas morning look like?  Is it different than when you were a child?  

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Crafts with Kids Drawings

EG has recently fallen in love with crayons and markers.  She's finally discovered a love of coloring and drawing.  I'm honestly thrilled for her. It's such a good activity and one I know will bring her lots of joy through the years, not to mention quiet play time for mom.

Of course, at this stage her drawings are really more like scribbles, but I want to be prepared for when she becomes a more prolific drawer.  Here are a few ideas of what to do with those drawings:

1.  Send them to Operation Gratitude.  Some soldiers don't get a lot of mail, and Operation Gratitude goes above and beyond by sending a nice care package.  They include a letter in each package, and as you can see from the link, the soldier's love kids notes and drawings too.  Your little one may not be able to write a nice note, but a cute drawing or scribbles with a few words from mom works just as nicely!

2. Thank you Cards.  I love using EG's hand print on my thank you cards, and now that she's scribbling too, it's nice to have her fill in a bit on a regular card, or take one of her scribbles and mail it out.  Of course, you still have to do the writing, but I find the drawings and hand prints are really appreciated.  Plus you're teaching your little one to be thankful for what she's been given.  A good lesson that goes a LONG way!

3. Make 'adult art'This tutorial by SquashBlossom is great.  Using your kids scribbles to create an art piece of their bedroom or bathroom is a great idea.  Kudo's if yours comes out as nicely as hers did!

4. Give them another material.  It may be a touch messier, but the scribbles your child creates with pastels or charcoals will be very interesting.  It can really change the way you look at your child's art by giving them something slightly more artistic to work with than just crayons.

5. Make paper garlands. Scribble drawings can be great this time of year.  They are easily turned into snowflakes, paper garlands, or confetti for wrapping items.  It can be really cute to cut out a scribble in the shape of stars, etc, and use them to string around their room.

6. Make a changing gallery.  There are lots of ways to do this.  A string with clothespins, pants hangers, matching frames that are easy to take down, or these specially made frames that open from the front.  I've been thinking of adding something like this above EG's playspace.  It's something I don't have to worry about her destroying, and it's also something that will add a bit of color to the space.

Monday, December 23, 2013

The Art of Reading

I recently stumbled across this article in The Tablet online magainze, whose headline made me think scary thoughts, but whose actual content was less than exciting.

However, right down at the end of the article is a very scary proposition:

"a woman who took it upon herself to “childproof” Harry Potter as she read it aloud to her son, making it less scary and more respectful of authority, even changing the text so that Voldemort didn’t kill Harry’s parents."

HOLY WHAT!  Now, don't get me wrong, I believe that as a parent you have an obligation to ensure that your child is reading appropriate material.  To different people that means different things, and to some families that means no Harry Potter at all (all that magical nonense, etc.).  However, taking a book and drastically changing the story line to edit out the scary parts or the parts you don't agree with... TRAVESTY.

Can you imagine what happens to this poor child when he innocently joins a conversation about Harry Potter?  How his entire reading of the book is in fact a falsehood of lies and misunderstandings?

What does he do when he finds out that the person who lied to him, who told him the story wrong, was his own mother...?

Ouch, just incredible.

Friday, December 20, 2013

Book Review: Blessings of a Skinned Knee

The Blessings of a Skinned Knee

Probably one of the best books I read.  I borrowed it from the library, but immediately went onto and signed up to receive a copy. It's parenting wisdom from a Jewish perspective, and includes lots of Torah commentary, and specific portions to relate to.  It's broken down into chapters of 'blessings,' each of which covers something unique and different for the art of parenting.
  1. The blessing of acceptance: discovering your unique and ordinary child.  This is a wonderful chapter.  It's honestly empowering to connect with the concept that my child is both special and ordinary at the same time.  To know that in everyway possible my child is absolutely different than anyone else, and in ways that no one else ever will be... but at the same time, that it's beneath me to believe that he or she will be good at everything, all the time.  That each child has strengths and weaknesses, and the first step to helping your child succeed is to accept those.

  2. The blessing of having someone to look up to: honoring father and mother.  I didn't think I would like this chapter, but I really do.  It sort of harkens back to the commentary about being a 'Yes' mom.  You know, that Mom who says, 'yes,' you can play with the playdough on the kitchen table 30 minutes before dinner because I know when I tell you to clean it up you will.  Rather than the 'no' mom, because you'll have to ask 6 times and don't want the hassle.  Learning to respect your parents goes a lot farther than just listening to them.  She gives lots of good examples in this chapter.

  3. The blessing of a skinned knee: why G-d doesn't want you to overprotect your child.  LOVE IT!  I want to be a free spirit, and EG is already showing that she's an independent little miss.  This shares good boundaries, and the concept of 'knowing the norms.'  She says that in her neighborhood 8 year olds can walk to school together.  Whats the 'norm' of your location?

  4. The blessing of work: finding the Holy sparks in ordinary chores. We watched Mary Poppins last night, and this is 'in every job that must be done, there is an element of fun.'  However, it is also a throughly Jewish perspective.  That each day we can make choice to elevate our choices, find the Holy, or not.  That's why we pray before we eat, to elevate the holiness, and remind ourselves that we are more than just animals that need food.

  5. The blessing of longing: teaching your child an attitude of gratitude,
  6. The blessing of food: bringing moderation, celebration, and sacrifice to your table
  7. The blessing of self-control: channeling your child's Yetzer Hara.
  8. The blessing of time: teaching your child the value of the present moment 
  9. The blessings of faith and tradition: losing your fear of the G word and introducing your child to spirituality.  I loved this chapter, and it's such a great endingOne of the greatest differences I find in Christianity and Judaism is this concept that 'Jesus loves you.'  I don't really remember growing up hearing that G-d loved me, but I know that he does.  This chapter really explores the idea that we are loved, and that it's okay to show your child how much G-d does in the world.  Exploring the little things.
I didn't go into each chapter, need to leave something for you to read about, however I think this is a fantastic book.  Like I said, after getting it from the library, it's one of the ones that I went out and bought immediately.


Thursday, December 19, 2013


I've been thinking a lot about sacrifices this week.  For Working Dad and I we are back in a time period where sacrifices are necessary for and from each of us.

There are some things that I've been sacrificing for years.  To name a few, sunlight in the morning waking me up.  Creamy peanut butter.  Yes, I know what you are thinking. I should call these 'compromises' not sacrifices.  But honestly, they definitely feel like sacrifices somedays.

Then there are the things that you've started to do without noticing.  The TV shows your watching now, the way you use Olive oil instead of butter, or you've grown accustomed to a different brand of milk (1% vs non-fat).

Everyday we have to make choices.  Choices that we make to improve our lives, or change our lives, or just to get from one part of the day to the other.  And with these choices comes a sort of statement.  About the parent you are.  The friend you are.  The husband or wife you are.

I feel like this is typically the moment when people talk about all the sacrifices that go into parenting. And yes, there are a lot.  For me, right now, not being able to have both of us leave the house after 7 without arranging other care arrangements, and a night at the movie costing almost $100 (yeah babysitting!) are among the biggest complaints.  But I'm not really here to talk about that.

What I want to say is that sometimes the biggest sacrifice we make is letting our little ones or our spouses do for themselves.  My job in life is not to wait on EG.  Nor is it to wait on Working Dad.  We are in a partnership.  With EG my role right now is very, very hands-on.  I mean, she doesn't know how to blow out her nose yet... but my end goal as a parent is to create a self sufficient adult human being.

We can get into the stages of development, and how it's possibly inappropriate to call my 18 month-old a young 3 year old.  But the reality is that no matter how you look at it, she still grows up.  G-d willing to be here long after I'm gone...

So how do I do that?  Sometimes, by not making the sacrifices.  By showing her how two adults respond to each other in a loving committed relationship.  By occasionally making myself a priority- because I am responsible for myself.  Not Working Dad, not my parents, but me.

It's a challenge, but it's something I'm committed to.  Teaching EG what are the behaviors of a self-sufficient adult.  Sometimes that means waking up each morning in the dark.  And sometimes it means saying that I need a break, and I'm using butter for my eggs.

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Exuberant Girl Strikes again

This past weekend we met up with the classmates of EG for a little outside of school social time.  We walked to the local park at the appointed time, and happily were swinging when the first other kids showed up.

Shortly after child #1 came EG's favorite friend from school.  So in love is she with this other toddler, she's even named her doll after her.  Yup, call that love.  Let's call this adorable little girl M, just so we can watch the story develop.

Before Working Dad and I were married we went on a cruise to Alaska with his family.  Since we were unwed at that time, I stayed in my own cabin with one of the three soon-to-be nieces sharing every night (or so.).   I remember when we were in Skagway and running into my Mother-in-law and a soaked 5 year old R.  She had fallen into the ocean after hugging a friend so fiercely on the shoreline.  I couldn't imagine how that could happen.  Now, I see it every time we run into a friend.

Back to the playgound:

It's great to see little toddler's hug each other.  Their fierce devotion, and the smiles, and giggles.  Unless, you feel the need to call it tackling.  As in, I hug you so fiercely we both fall over.  As in, I love you so much I don't want to let go, even when you are kicking your feet go get away...

Hence ensues the chase M game.  I try hard to allow poor M, who just wants to climb the stairs, to escape from EG's clutches.  Long enough for EG to roam the playground yelling enthusiastically for M.   It works out okay for a little bit as M is usually on the top of the slide when EG finds her, so not to many crazy hugging tackles.

Then comes baby T.  At least M is a touch older than EG.  A full on toddler with mite and willpower.  Little T, not so much.  EG goes running up to her, screaming her name, and collides straight into her.

T, poor dear, bursts into tears.  It breaks my heart.  When love turns wrong. 

Of course, I don't know quite what to do about this- little EG is just trying to show her love.  I talked with Working Dad about it and he thinks I'm overreacting, but I worry that no one will want to play with EG... how will she learn to control her little emotions.

It's funny, because now that I'm writing about it, I realize that this has been a long time coming.  Her favorite thing to do when she was littler was what I called the 'butt hug' where she would hug you as you crawled away.  She loves to run into my arms, just throwing herself at me with love.  And how can you not love that?

What's so bad about hugging.  And the reality is that very shortly EG's playful pals will be able to say "No touching" or "Get off me."  So, I suppose it will all work out in the end.

Do you have an 'exuberant' child?  One who is a little rough around the social edges.  G-d love her all the same.  And of course, while we're at the park another parent comments that they wish their child was as outgoing as little EG.  The grass is always greener...

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Household Budget

Do you have a household budget? 

We've been trying to figure out what to do with our finances.  We recently met with a Financial advisor who does some work for Working Dad's grandfather.  He pointed out a lot of areas that we aren't necessarily taking advantage of.  Now that we are entering 2014, I'm thinking even more about what our finances look like, and what our family is planning to do.

Before Working Dad and I got married I kept a reasonable budget for myself.  Nothing to strict, but I always managed to have money in my account.  Get what I needed,go out when I wanted, and generally take care of everything myself.

Now that we are married, with joint finances and joint accounts, things are going relatively smoothly.  Before we were parents, we were DINKS... so we were able to 'sock' away a good chunk of change.  However, since having EG and the idea of having another one coming to mind, we've taken a good look at where we stand, and what our priorities are.

Working Dad and I are not cheap living people.  That's not to say that we spend exorbitantly, but it is to say that occasionally we go to the movies, leave EG with a babysitter and spend $65 on a single movie.  And that's not chump change.  Additionally we like to eat good food- that means both out and about, as well as in our own home. 

Since we both work, it's been easy enough to keep adding to the savings, while still managing to live nicely.  When we have baby #2, it's possible that we'll need some tweeking.

Right now our idea of a 'budget' is to just spend money how we both see fit, and check the accounts to make sure things are moving forward.  We don't spend to much on extravagant purchases without the other one's okay, but it's still a bit of a loose/free-flowing system.  We don't count our dollars, and we don't notice exactly where each penny is going.

I'm thinking it's time to change that.  How do you budget?  Who does what?  Any thoughts on how to move forward?

Monday, December 16, 2013

Doing dishes, or my least favorite chore

We try to split chores in our household.  It only makes sense, since Working Dad and I both work full time.  Tpyically this is how it breaks down:

Trash, dishes, vacuuming (robot turn on!), fireplace, EG to school, helping out

Dinner, EG lunch, EG pick-up, sweeping, laundry, diapers.

We've always had a 'he who cooks shall not clean' rule in our house, but ever since we got a dishwasher I have refused to do the dishes.  I just couldn't stand it.  I grew up in a house where you scraped off the food, and put the dish in the washer.  That's what it did- it washed the dishes.  No need to scrub, no need to rinse, just open the machine and put them inside.

Since we moved into our new house, it hasn't been so easy.  First off I'll be perfectly honest.  Compared to Working Dad I suck at loading the dishwasher.  You know how all women are chastised that they shouldn't 're-do' the work their husbands do?  Well, he used to completely refill the dishwasher, since I loaded it so poorly.  This, however, wasn't the reason I stopped doing dishes.

After we would run a cycle, nothing would come out clean.  It would make me want to cry... tears would sometimes literally come down after all the hard work we did that meant nothing...cups with film, coffee cups with rings from tea left on them.  Don't even get me started on wine glasses.

So, Working Dad took over completely.  He pre-washed all the dishes, then put them in the dishwasher.  Then he had to unload it, because that was the worst part.

I begged for a new dishwasher.  From everyone I heard that I was expecting to much... that you had to rinse and scrub your dishes before you put them in.  I ask you, what is the point of a dishwasher then?  I waste of water and time?

Finally, we figured it out... Phosphate.

Our dishwasher's hadn't changed, but the detergent we put in them had.  This week we finally ran through our costco sized packages of soap and bought this:

And WOW did it make a difference.  It smelled horrible, but the moment I opened the dishwasher it was a miracle.  Clean... it was actually clean!  The glasses didn't look grimy or frosty, just clean clear glass.

No, bubble bandit didn't pay me.  Yes, it's a touch more expensive than what we used to buy at Costco.  But yes, it's totally worth it!

Friday, December 13, 2013

Chanukah Decor

Is your house decorated for Chanukah? 

I'm having a really hard time this year, since the Christmas season is just upon us, and Chanukah is long since gone.  I didn't really get around to decorating much for Chanukah this year.   With everything going on and Thanksgiving to prep for, I didn't even get the box out of the garage until the first night of Chanukah.

Then, instead of decorating on my one 1/2 day off, I spent it cleaning said garage as a Christmas present to my husband.  I think I made the right choice, but now I'm not so sure.

Our house looks kind of sad and lonely.  I've always been into decorating for the holiday season.  Last year I covered the mantle with hanging ornaments of purple, blue and silver.  Accented with Silver mirror type candles, it just danced with festive and light.

This year, the mantle is covered with photos to be hung.  The candles are still wrapped in tissue paper from being put away last year.  The Chanukah decor is sitting haphazardly on the table.  And no, there aren't any lights decorating the outside of the house.

Are you still decked out in Chanukah glory?

Thursday, December 12, 2013

South Bay Alert: Stomach Bug

Have you caught this thing?  It's quite arrgessive, it seems to be everywhere, and is ruining the early holiday season for hunderds.

The stomach bug.  It starts with vomiting, then moves onto the other end of the digestive tract.  And it's mean... so so so mean.  When you think it's finally left you, it bite back.

It all started with Darling little EG.  So innocently.  She can't talk, so when she started throwing up the natural assumption was that it was food poisoning.  We try to be good, but who knows what that tiny human is putting in her mouth.  So, out goes all the food she touched or ate...

Turns out that the school was rampant with the bug.  5 other kids in her class alone had symptoms. Casualties included two chickens, one pot roast, and a whole lasagna into the trash for the supposed food poisoning. 

Then, it hit Working Dad.  And when it hit him, it came on full force.  At least little EG managed to have it and still smile, run to the swings and move on with her life.  Poor Working Dad was crawling from the couch to the bathroom at regular intervals.... all weekend long. The guy can't catch a break.

Then it moved to Mommy.  She thought she had avoided it- and though I didn't get the brunt of it, I got enough to spend 1.5 days out of work, and a frantic car ride stopping at every mall along the 405 freeway.

Have you gotten it? 

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Rosh Chodesh Class

Hello Ladies of the South Bay

Tonight is class two of the Rosh Chodesh Society Class taking place at the Manhattan Torah Center at 8pm.  I'll be there tonight, and would love it if you joined me.

Classes are $18 per session, and I've so far found them to be very rewarding.

Would love to see you there!

Monday, December 9, 2013

Sick Sick, oh so sick

Goodness me, just getting our heads out of the sand!  What a difficult weekend we had, with nothing going on but family sickness.

We had plans, and some really good ones at that.  Unfortunately, that was not to be.  Not only was Working Dad sick (and I mean really sick!) but it rained all day on Saturday.

What do you get when you have one sick parent, one tired parent, and an energy filled toddler stuck indoors?  I wish I could tell you that we did wonderful Pinterest activities, but we didn't.  The house was a disaster and I only increased the craziness by baking cookies with EG.  But what a fun activity that was.

We got all the ingredients out, measured them into different bowls.  Yes, she did end up tasting a touch of raw egg, but what are you going to do sometimes :-)

Overall, the weekend wasn't a total disaster.  On Sunday we felt good enough to go to the park for an hour, then out to the Mall.  I got a free mini-facial at Origins...what fun!

Hope your weekend was better than ours!

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Flying with a Toddler

The last time we flew with EG she was only 9 months old.  And I have to admit, there were moments that were hellish.  And no, I'm not exaggerating.

We flew out with the grandparents, EG and I on a totally sold Southwest flight.  I had booked EG as a lap child, both because I didn't want to pay the money, and because I thought it would be easier.  Needless to say, it was not.

G-d love both of my parents, and trust me, I certainly do, but on this plane they were not helpful.  Both of my parents are older, larger people.  Both are tall, and due to this both wanted to sit in the asile seat, which I totally understand. On the other hand, I wanted to be on the window seat, thinking that EG could look out, I could use it for support, and I would only have to worry about annoying one person, not two.

So there we are, EG and me at the window.  A perfect stranger in the middle and my mom at the aisle.  Needless to say it was not possible to let EG sit with my mother.  There was no 'passing her back and forth.'  She initially refused to nap.  We've worked very hard to teach her to sleep on her own.  (no, we don't do cry it out, but we do help her stay in her own bed...) All this meant was that sleeping in my arms on the plane was completely out of the question.

Thank G-d for my friends D&C- they had given us an amazing new toy for her birthday- a little elephant full of surprises.  This kept her gleefully entertained.  I also admit that I let her watch her first television on my kindle.  It wasn't possible to get her to sleep any other way- and this totally did the trick.

The flight home was much better with Working Dad will us, but I'm aiming high this flight.  Here's what we've done differently:

  1. Buy a Seat on the Plane. This is the single most important difference between the flight out and the flight there.  On the way home, EG could sit all comfy in her carseat.  She sleeps there regularly, so it wasn't a big deal.  I could also just strap her in, and ensure that she wasn't going to get into trouble or hurt anything.  This time around, we are doing the same.  WE're still debating about a new carseat vs her carseat, but either way, we're psyched.

  2. Flying with my husband.  Is this essential, no.  But if you aren't going with Dad, I would say to go with someone who reads your child very well.  I definitely expected my parents to be better with her, but the reality is that they don't know her like we do.  We respond before she's even figured out that we need to... They just don't have that.  Working Dad does- and I'm so glad we'll all be together. 

  3. Have a designated parent.  This is still key.  There's carry-on's and luggage, and tickets to take care of.  Having one of you designated at all times to be the EG person, in addition to monitoring who has the diaper materials can make all the difference.  For us, it's easiest to have me carry the diaper stuff, but whatever works for you.

  4. Strategic New Toys. Lots of people talk about this, and though we haven't tried it yet, I think it's going to help just like it did last time.  We've gotten her a number of new books (flip flap, or touch and feel ones) as well as a 'reusable sticker book' which has rave reviews.  She's very into drawing and writing, so we've gotten her some new triangle crayons (they can't roll away!). 

  5. Moderate use of the TV. We don't let EG watch TV yet, but I am pre-loading the kindle with some materials for her to take a look at.  I know it's not good for her, but I also know that there wasn't anything else that would have worked on the last trip.  We have Amazon prime so you can download a few things, then have them for 48hours once you start watching.  We've also gotten her a pair of headphones so she can have some lullaby music if that will help.

  6. Snack Food, plus meal food.  I hate that planes don't feed you anything anymore.  It's critical to think in advance about what type of meal you will need to have and whether you need to bring it into the airport yourself.  I advocate for both snacks and a meal, since you never know what the baby will be okay with.  Don't forget about items for you and Dad too!

  7. Consider how you are getting through the airport.  It seems strange, but deciding how to travel through the airport is huge.  Soft carriers are very popular, but we don't own one for EG's size.  There's the stroller- always a good option, but only want to bring that if you can use it on the other side.  We are probably going to opt for our large framed Kelty kids carrier.  Typically these can be gate checked just like a stroller, and they seem to make a big impact- leaving you hands free, but still allow the kid space.  No matter what, think about the luggage, the carry on's, the car seat and the restrictions of the airline. 

I'll report back when we return home. I'll also let you know how the cruise went, so here's hoping all the pre-planning does us some good!

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Do you have the December Dilemma?

I've mentioned before that we are an interfaith family.   And I've mentioned here on the blog how upset and irrational I get over there being Christmas celebrations before Thanksgiving.

It seems that each year it gets a little more difficult.  Last year it was fairly simple.  EG was very young, to young to really know what was going on.  And this year's it's pretty much the same, though she wants to help light the menorah, and dances around in circles clapping her little hands when we sing songs.  Still, I know she doesn't 'get it.'

Celebrating the holidays would be so much easier if we lived somewhere were it snowed.  At least I tell myself that.  So much of the festivities- egg nog, apple cider, snowmen and snow angels.  Even holiday lights to light up the cold winter nights, would make much more sense somewhere other than here.  It's hard to figure out how to embrace the 'holiday' season when the sun is out, and frigid means it's in the high 60's.

What does a christmas tree mean?  I used to believe that having a Christmas tree sent a message to the world.  That message was that you celebrated Christmas and were a Christian.  Now, I'm not quite sure that's correct.

There are so many ways to express yourself today.  And one of the things that I want to teach EG is that it's okay to express yourself how you want to.  Even more importantly, you shouldn't make your choices based upon what other people think of them.

So, is it possible to embrace Christmas while still being Jewish?  Will EG be confused by her Jewish identity by being exposed to Christmas in our house?  She'll be exposed to it no matter what we do.  She'll always have cousins and family who celebrate, she'll most likely live in a country that is innundated with it during this time of the year.

Can we embrace the joy, peace and love of the season, without embracing the religiousness?


Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Our December Vacation

Have you ever taken a December vacation?  This will be our first time taking one with the extended family.  I'm quite excited, but also a little thrown.  We will be taking little EG on a Holland America Cruise.

We're cruising to the Carribbean, and it's actually the exact same trip (same route, same line, different boat) that we took on our babymoon when I was pregnant with her.  So, we know the lay of the land, and are excited to get to it.

My concerns relate to how to deal with the under-2 crowd on the ship.  I know she will need to nap, and that's all fine and dandy.  The best piece of advice I've gotten for that is to bring quiet activities for in the room- someone pointed out to me that my 'usual' activities for naptime (aka cleaning and cooking) won't need to get done.  Woot!  So, I'm going to work on my needlepoint for her.

Otherwise, I'm trying to figure out the logistics.  Anyone have any tips for traveling with toddlers?  Or any ideas about what to do while we are away?

We are going to San Jose, St. Thomas, Turks & Caicos, and a private island. 

Monday, December 2, 2013

Just keep on moving...

Did you get a break this Thanksgiving?  Did you take some time to relax, be with family, and maybe put your feet up?

I, for one, am happy that Thanksgiving and Chanukah will NEVER AGAIN BE TOGETHER in my lifetime.

What a crazy and wild ride.  Not to mention the fact that it's already December.

Will you be participating in our Dressember?  I'm not going to lie- we don't have any pictures yet, because I completely forgot that it was December already.  In my mind I was going back to work in November.  So I promise, starting tomorrow, it's dresses and skirts for me and my girl :-)

But let's rewind- back to the crazy that was Thankgiving and Chanukah together.

Wednesday was lovely.  9 potatoes, 5 cousins and 2 bottles of martinelli's made the first night of Chanukah a success.  An enjoyable, impromptu get-together.  Just the right mix of fun and frivolity.

Thursday was crazy.  up fairly early, then down for Thanksgiving.  Supposed to eat at 3pm, which turned into 3:45pm- by which time EG was totally done sitting in a high chair.  Then we had thankgiving dessert, lit candles, opened presents and ate homemade desserts.  7 hours later, we finally left.

Friday was busy.  Working Dad had to work (well, he is working dad!) and then we had tickets to the Ducks Hockey game.  Follow that up with dinner with my immediate family (2 babies, 2 grandparents and 4 parents makes an interesting meal).  Presents and some confusion ensued. But EG loves her new babydoll.

Saturday was spent at home.  Except when we went to a chanukah brunch where they were 'frying' latke's like they were omelletes.  With 12 kids under 4 in attendance, a bit of a madhouse.  Then friends over for dinner, but Julia Child's chicken was FANTASTIC!

Sunday was cleaning and In-Laws.  Tidy up, leave the house, go to Grandpa's.  11 kids under 10, 15 adults, and chicken that made my stomach turn.  Crazy fun, but crazy exhausting.  Then little EG had just had enough, which made sleeping a disaster.

But here we are- December.  Only three more weeks of work, and then it's holiday time again!  We can do it!

Only a few more nights of Chanukah.  Tonight is the daycare party, not sure we are going.  Tomorrow is friends for dinner... then it's the eighth night... can't believe how quickly it comes and goes.
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