Friday, February 21, 2014

More chores coming, July 2014

I've been thinking a lot about all the ways that life will change for us when Baby #2 shows up.  There are the obvious ones, more diapers to change, another mouth to feed, back to breastfeeding clothes... but then there are all the little ways in which I know that we'll be affected.

More toys everywhere.  Another bedroom to keep clean (if Working Dad gets his way on room arrangements) and lots more laundry to do.  And I can't help but think that most of this will fall on my shoulders.

Image Source
While I know that Working Dad won't be working the week we bring home the new baby, I know that by week 3 he will be back at the grindstone.  I also know that darling EG will be in summer day camp (read daycare/school) full time until at least the end of August, so hopefully that will also give me some time to figure out how to balance new baby with crazy 2-year old.

However, I worry.  I worry a lot.  No, it's not good for me, but I don't really know what to do to stop it.

Already I feel like we have a hard time trying to feel balanced about things. Numerous studies show that overall there probably isn't much difference in the amount of time we spend doing things.  Its just that at the end of the day, I'm multitasking while Working Dad is doing one thing.

Take dinner last night.  Yes, it started late.  I didn't pick-up EG until 5pm, and then when we got home there were kids playing outside so of course EG doesn't want to go inside the house so Mommy can make dinner, she wants to play with the balls.   And despite some of these kids being in their teenage years, I still had to be outside, because they were playing in the street and EG is just as likely to run towards to car after the ball rather than away from it (all worry aside, she's actually really good about the street.  Yesterday I told her she had to stay on the side walk, and when the ball rolled into the gutter she got down on her hands and knees, crawled to the edge of the sidewalk to get the ball, technically staying on the sidewalk.  Smart girl...)

But by the time I convinced her to go inside it was almost 5:30pm.  So, we started dinner late.  Then EG decides she wants to have nothing in the world besides being in my arms, and cuddling under my chin. Cute, yes.  Convienent, no.

In walks Working Dad, who manages to take her for about 5 minutes so I can get some chopping done.  But back she comes.  So there I am making dinner (two pans on to cook, the kettle, stirring, pouring, measuring) and there she is in my arms.  So, yes, I do think I did more.

But in reality we spent the same amount of time working with EG, and working in our home... just doing it differently.

He did the dishes, he cleaned the pots and tidied the kitchen.  While he was doing that I was putting EG to bed, and then I sat at the computer to print photos for EG's scrapbook.  Is that my hobby?  yes.  Do I think it helps/effects EG?  Yes.  While I'm doing that I'm doing the the diapers for her.

I know that the primary thing to make things work is to be clear about your expectations.  I learned that with Working Dad long ago.  As long as I tempered my expectations for what he could realistically do, things worked out pretty well.  But still, it's frustrating to try to find a balance.

How do you find a balance?  How did that change after baby #2?  Any advice?

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Finding an Online Jewish Community

If you've looked through my other posts you see that I tend to reference a lot.  It's a great site, and I think it's a really great place for Jewish thoughts, and more.  However, it's not the only Jewish site on the interwebs.

Some of my other favorites include:
- this is a great site, I find it to be fairly religious, but not to crazy

JewishBoston, my source for Passover hagaddot each year!
 - I don't have their video, but I often find that their explanations are decent.
My Jewish Learning
Jewish Homeschool Blog
Joy of Kosher

Then, sometimes I find a site that just isn't for me.  While I keep it on the radar, is definitely not geared towards my kind of person.  Take this recent article which talks about things you should do during your pregnancy.  Well, as we know, I don't do most of these.  I told you all about my pregnancy well before I was showing to the people in my office.  I don't eat totally kosher except Passover, and don't think I could start while being pregnant. 

However, I do love a few of the thoughts.  Spirtual development is big for me right now.  I'm in a monthly class that I totally love, and would love to invest more time in my spiritual life.  Since the new year we've been doing fairly well in meeting our religious goals, and it's nice to see this time as a chance to really explore more.  This blog has certainly helped with that too.

Emotional health has been a big one for me this pregnancy.  I've found it such a challenge to get through things without stressing, and with EG at home, I'm stressing a lot.  I can go from feeling so fragile I burst into tears, to saying something nasty for no reason at all... really quite ridiculous.  But I am trying.  I can't watch some of the shows I used to (sorry Walking Dead) and I certainly can't see scary movies right now...

So, no matter where you find that inspiration, take it and run with it.  It can be hard to find an online Jewish Community (especially since so many bloggers out there have a christian bent) but I always try to stay invested.

Have any other Jewish resources I should check out?

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Thinking about the beginning

Baby #2's little tiny feet!

 As I'm moving further into being pregnant with my second little one, I can't help but think about the beginning days with my dear wonderful EG.  Both the trauma and the wonder of it all.

I don't think I've told my whole birth story anywhere in writing, but it was a little hairy.  Everything was fine and dandy (well, at least it was moving along okay) until just after EG was born.  At 2:50pm EG entered this world- bushy hair of head first.  Around 3:00pm the midwife was pulling on my placenta cord and it detached from the placenta- which was still firmly in place inside of me.  So, she went in after it.  Mind you, I didn't really pay that much attention to all of this.  Despite my goals of a natural birth, I ended up having an epidural around 7am that morning.  (something I will NOT be repeating again!)

Sometime after the midwife left and I told my husband I felt like a crime scene... yup- covered in blood and just so totally disgusting.  I got cleaned up and we moved over to the maternity ward.  What happened next is where things get a little traumatic.  Throughout the night I continued to bleed.  Not just a little, a lot.

When they took my blood in the morning at 6am my hemoglobin was at a 7.  Later at 9am it was at a 4.  So, in came the doctor with bags of blood to transfuse into me.  It took until noon to have the blood delivered.   In the meantime, I'm woozy, dizzy, and can't even hold EG let alone feed her because I'm not stable enough to hold my daughter.  Come 3pm and I'm sitting on the toilet when another gush of blood comes out.  5pm I'm rushed to surgery for a D&C.  By 8pm I'm back in my room- totally wiped.

The next morning I'm transferred to the intensive cardio wing because I'm having bad reactions to the blood.  EG can't come with me so every 3 hours I'm allowed 15 minutes to be with my new daughter.  Around 3am they decide that she's not doing well, so into the NICU she goes.  What a traumatic time it was.

Of course, then finally on Monday morning we drove home.  What a lovely time that was.  Being at home with EG.  Finally being able to feel like a family and just be together.  His parents came to the house about an hour or so after we got there, helped get dinner together and just check in and make sure we transitioned okay.  But being home, I remember being amazed.

EG and I had a rough start with breastfeeding, taking until the following Wednesday to really get things figured out.  Add to that her Jaundice, and it was a difficult first few days.  But still, amazing to be at home, to see her tiny toes.

What do we do with two kids?  How can I enjoy that immediate bonding and amazing time with our new child with EG there?  Thoughts?  How did you bring home baby #2?

Sunday, February 16, 2014

EG: Moments in Motherhood

I haven't done one of these in a while, but seeing this picture sent home in the school newsletter let me know exactly the kind of Exuberant girl I'm raising:

Yup, she's climbing the ladders in the parks and she's barely 18 months old.  This girl isn't afraid of anything- least of all cute pink overalls at the park!

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Responding to childhood tears

I try to read Kveller fairly regularly, and though I don't always find something interest, this post really stuck out to me.  It's about saying 'You're OK' to our kids when they cry, to soothe their tears and help them move on.

She makes an excellent point about emotional maturity and how we respond/teach our children to deal with their fears, scares and frustrations.  I'm afraid that we are definitely guilty of the 'your're ok' talk with EG.  However, I think we take it one step further and replace the words with food sometimes.

I'll give you an example:

Last night was a rough night.  EG had a terrible night the night before, waking up soaking wet with a crazy poopy diaper.  This is very uncharacteristic for her, pooping at night is definitely a sign of trouble.  After clean-up and cuddle time she tried to settle, but 2 hours later just ended up in bed with me.  So, it was no wonder that when 6:15pm rolled around last night (before her 7pm bedtime) she was at the end of her rope.  We all know how sleep deprivation of the tiny compounds into big problems.

I've got her in the bath and she's refusing to sit down.  She chose a bath over a shower, but now, she wants nothing to do with it.  I struggle for a bit with her, as tears are streaming down her face.  Of course I care, but I also don't want to get wet and don't want her to slip in the bathtub.  I pull her out, cover her with a towel and  yell out the door to Working Dad "I need M-I-L-K" because I know that will fix her tears.

But why?  She didn't ask for a baba.  She wasn't screaming for milk, just for comfort from her tiredness and her unhappiness.  Yet my solution was to give her food.  Yes, she did need milk (she'd only had 6 oz that day, and no cheese) but that's sort of besides the point.

It's like how this weekend when Working Dad left the house to help his sister move, and EG had burst into tears, his answer was to give her some Challah.  Now, we know she loves Challah.  And it was 10am, a typical snack moment for her.  Her breakfast had been eggs, fruit and turkey bacon, so it's not like she'd had to many grains or carbs.  But again... that's not the point.

I partly regretted that EG stopped nursing because I know that it can be such a comfort to a toddler.  But now I worry about our tendency to comfort her with food.  I'm not a particular comfort eater, though I definitely can get into a mode sometimes.  Working Dad is more of a comfort drinker, nothing excessive, but he reaches for a beer when he's stressed.

I know that comfort eating can definitely have an impact on her as she grows. Will these really young tendencies carry through?

What do you think?  Do you tell your toddler they will be 'ok'?  How are you managing the difficulty of teaching them to express/know their feelings?  I found this from Vanderbilt- maybe it's time I educate myself and Working Dad on helping EG express herself and know whats happening for her.  Especially with baby #2 on the way, I'm sure the world will only get easier the more she can understand.  

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Women of the Wall

Wikipedia Image
Have you heard about the Women of the Wall?   What about Women for the Wall?  I don't know how you feel about women praying tallit, or tefilin, or what your beliefs are about the Western Wall.  I can make some guesses, but I'd like to believe that this blog can be a space for all types of people raising Jewish children.  So, I won't go into any type of debate about whether they should be there, or the halahic aspects of women reading torah.

But I will say that this they had a shabbat that was significant.  That women gathered together to pray at the Western Wall in droves.  A debate that has been raging through generations.

I've been to the Western Wall.  I've prayed my silent prayers, and participated in a havdalah there as well.  My first time was when I was 11 years old.  I remember walking up, touching it, finding it most interesting that the top and the bottom were different colors and textures (where people can touch and where they can't reach).  I remember being with my mom and sister, and thinking slightly sadly about my father, who was all alone on the other side.  I remember turning around and walking away, slightly more excited about the beautiful golden lions we had passed on the way down here, and whether I could climb on top of his back on the way back up the stairs.

The second time was when I was 26 years old.  I went to Israel as part of Birthright, and as a large group we visited the wall. We were a large group, people I had just met a few days before.  No clear idea of what to do, where to go, how to make the experience meaningful.  More engaged with taking pictures, then praying.  I remember the soldiers, and the people. 

The last time was also when I was 26 years old.  This time I remember thinking very intently about the experience.  I remember being very specific to ensure my arms were covered, my head was covered.  I remember walking up to the wall, then walking away without turning my back.  I remember feeling connected to something bigger, and moved by the stones.  I enjoyed the quiet of shabbat.  I joined a havdalah and spent the evening engaged in Israel as it can only be on a Saturday night after sundown.

I think the wall is an important Jewish symbol.  I think that being at the wall can be a profound experience.  I hope that someday you say 'next year in Jerusalem' at Passover- and that you really go.

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Pick a Parsha: Ki Tisa, Exodus 30:11–34:35

Parasha Ki Tisa Framed Art

By Artist Michal Meron
I've sort of fallen off of the Pick a Parsha bandwagon, so I'd like to remedy that right now.  No, I haven't given you all a chance to read along with me, but when I got this in my inbox, I couldn't help but think about the parenting implications behind the story of the golden calf.

Go ahead and read the commentary, I'll wait....

Okay, do you see what I see?  Or at least what this commentary suggests to me.  When we go and fine the actual parsha here,  we start with the making of the temple space, and provisions for who does what, etc.  So many commentaries focus on which one happened first.  I think, as a modern reader of modern literature, we can take the writing and place it in it's proper context.  First we are with G-d and Moses, up on the mountain.  The author takes us through their conversation, since it is taking place with Moses right now.

Then we move back down the mountain to the people.  They have no idea of what G-d and Moses are talking about.  They are worried about where Moses is.  So, they turn to what they know, as the commentary tells us.  They were used to rule under Pharaoh, who is like a G-d.  They took what was in front of them, Moses, and made him like a G-d as well.  When he disappears, they need something to replace him.

So what is the story of parenting that I see so clearly.  I hope that many of us see the moral of leading and following. Certainly we wish that out children could have acted differently, gone away from the 'mob mentality' and stayed true to G-d.  And that is a good moral.  The one I see has more to do with how we deal with our children.

When our children are newborns we are their world.  Our newborns need so little more than us.  One could argue they need nothing more than the love and comfort of their parents.  We give them so much that it takes them several months to realize that they are truly separate and independent human beings. 

So when I read Ki Tisa, I see that these 'children' are so dependent on an adult authority figure that in the absence of the 'parent' they can't see clearly to the right decision.  In the world of helicopter parenting today, it can be so easy to create a child who depends upon us. 

This weekend EG got a Little Tykes climbing toy with a slide.  The ladder up to it is hard for her to understand, and she constantly yelled 'help, help.'  But my job as a parent isn't just to pick her up and put her next to the slide.  It's to create an independent adult who, in my absence, can climb the ladder herself. 

So it's true about all our parenting.  Our ending goal is to create children who can independently sort through right and wrong, understand their surroundings, cope and adapt.  Otherwise, we risk having our children cling to whats around them.  And perhaps for us, it won't be the High Priest Aaron.  It will be the drugs, or the gangs or who knows what else.

Monday, February 10, 2014

Practices of Pregnancy

Practices of Motherhood

What an amazing concept.  To define what are your basic practices of motherhood.  It's hard to do I think, to determine what, among everything else are your priorities for your children.  For yourself.  About how, when everything seems like it's at the wits end, you can come back to something and focus (well, hopefully some focus).

Being a mother is a complicated job.  It puts you in the position of being seriously responsible.  Yes, you are probably a responsible adult.  But somehow the responsibility of paying the electricity and teaching your child to read just don't match up.

What are my practices of motherhood... I'm not sure I know yet.  I've been a mother a bit over a year, and yet every day I learn something new. To get here, I thought back to my pregnancy.  What were my practices then, and how do those translate.

The practice of acceptable risk:  Knowing that each choice I make is no longer just for my body, but for hers as well.  That there are choices to make everyday with things that used to be simple. Like turkey sandwiches, and soft boiled eggs.  And that I can make these choices using the brains G-d gave me.  And that there are levels, at least for me, of acceptable risk. 

The practice of not thinking about it too soon: this strategy allows us to take each moment as it came.  To revel in the joy of the newness.  Of my body, of the changes.  To wait and consider before putting the entirety of Babies R Us on the registry.  Not stressing when I don't feel the baby the same week as my sister, and knowing that my body changes the way that it does to make my babies.  Not anyone else's babies.

The practice of following the law:  Fiercely.  Especially when it comes to car seats, and dates when one can drink.  The thing is that here at my job I can take a lot of time off.  However, I believe it the spirit of the law. That includes the spirit of FMLA leave and CFRA leave.  Someday I'll write down all that I've learned about those laws, especially for what they mean here in CA.

The practice of forgiveness:  Some nights I'm just tired.  Not a little tired, exhausted.  I can't focus, and I can't seem to be the best mother.  That also means that I need to forgive myself my inabilities.  It's tough to be growing one human and chasing after another.  Some days it's glorious, and others, just let it roll.  Some days I walk really far, others, I barely make dinner.  And that's okay.

The practice of knowledgeable intervention: I generally like doctors, but I also believe that my body is doing what it's naturally supposed to do.  Since I've shared the story of EG's birth, I do believe in medical intervention.  But at the same time I know that in today's world or medical malpractice doctors tend to be over cautious and lean towards using medical interventions.  I believe it's my job as a mother, and since this is my body, to know what my options are, and learn about what is happening to me.

What would be your practices of pregnancy?  Are there things you strive to remember and do?

Friday, February 7, 2014

Our Toddler Shabbat

I know I've already talked on this blog about how we attend Tot Shabbat's in the South Bay area.  Hopefully in the next few months we'll be able to take advantage of a few additional temples in the area, and really expand our Shul Shopping.

Going to Tot Shabbat is wonderful.  However, I think it's important to remember that Shabbat is a holiday that centers on the home.  It's an occasion and a moment for us all to rest, relax and step away from the daily grind.

But how do you do that when you have a busy, busy week?  How do you do that when you have an unpredictable toddler running around?  As you can see from Kveller here, it's not always easy, with kids of any age.

Start small...

We like to accomplish a few things in our home on Fridays:

1. Light the candles.  We light one candle for each member of the family (including one for the July baby...)  We use tea light holders and simple tea lights from Ikea.  No worrying about whether the candles will fall out, just simple things that you can grab anywhere.  I lite them with a gas lighter, rather than strike a match- that way I can hold on to EG while I light them. 

2. Say some prayers.  We usually do the prayers over candles, wine and challah. We've been trying to bless our children too, but sometimes it's easier to remember than others. We don't care if we sing them, say them, English or Hebrew.  As long as we're blessing what's in front of us, it's a contribution to the holiness of the evening.

3. Be grateful.  We ask each member of the family to say one thing they are grateful for.  No judging each other's contributions.  Sometimes its something simple, like standing here together.  Other times it's something random, like Amoxicillian to make us healthy.  We try to cultivate a moment of peace and gratitude for life.

4.  Eat Challah/Bread.  We get challah from EG's school.  Before we had that I used to order it from my local college's Challah for Hunger project.  Before that I would buy two challah rolls from Noah's bakery, which I walked to at lunch.  Sometimes we don't get challah. Since it's being delivered by EG's school, if she doesn't go or there isn't school we forget.  But it's the food we always try to eat on Fridays.  No, we don't always eat a big meal.  No we don't always even manage to sit at the table together and eat all together. But we can share challah.

5. Larger celebration once a month.  We try to make it to Tot Shabbat.  Since they serve food it's really easy.  But we don't always manage.  If not we try to have guests over for dinner, that's fun, but more stressful. 

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Body Image Barbie

[Image: Barbie via Flickr user Tracheotomy Bob]
 Did you play with Barbie Dolls when you were a child?  I remember that Barbies were more my sister's thing, in fact her closet is still full of their clothes and dolls and carrying cases (her closet at home anyways). 

I recently read this article about the proportions of the Barbie doll and whether that is contributing to an unhealthy body image for girls.  Mattel says that it's not about that.  It's about the fact that Barbie needs to be able to handle tiny clothes that fit her well.  And, more importantly, a Barbie bought today should still be able to fit most of the clothes that you and your mom had from 55 years ago.  That's an argument I definitely understand.

However, the article features this image:

I think the best way to explain this image is here.   Which led me to the Healthy is the New Skinny website, which is actually kind of interesting (though Model focused, not kid focused...)

But back to the point.  And yes, I realize we've already talked about this here on the blog.  But still, it's a lot to take in.  Now that I'm preggo with number 2, and there are lots of other women at EG's school who are also expecting number 2, I've seen these ladies compare their baby bump to mine.  Saying things like 'how far along are you, you are so small', etc. etc.

When did we learn to compare ourselves to others?  When did we learn that what is normal for her, has to be normal for me.

Now I understand that you'll want to complain that Barbie is a national symbol.  She's in everyone's home, etc.  But I can't ever remember a moment when I thought that I should look like Barbie.  I'm sure when I became a teenager (long after my legitimate play with Barbie days were over), I might have had that thought.  Come across a Barbie and looked at her in her perfect outfits and thought 'how crazy'.  But did I do that at 5 years old?   They say the target market for Barbie dolls is 3-12 years.  I'd say that 12 years old is a bit old for a Barbie nowadays, but I'll let you know when EG gets there.

Still, harping on Barbie with 'fact sheets' like this? 

Are Barbie dolls going to be part of the Mommy wars?  Like breastfeeding vs bottles, or co-sleeping vs the crib? 

Do you let your daughter play with them?  Is there something magical about doing what you did as a kid with her too?  Or are you worried about the message your sending?

Monday, February 3, 2014

Boss of My Body

I've appreciated Mayim Bialik for quite a while now.  I love her on Big Bang, she's a graduate of UCLA (where I work), and I love that she's open about being a non-observant Jew turned modern orthodox.  Her writing on Kveller dosen't always interest me, but this time, I'm totally in love.

I have serious issues with people who expect my children to hug and kiss them every time they see them.  The sad part is, my parents believe that it's their right as grandparents to demand and receive a hug and a kiss each time they see my child.   I, however, believe that it's my daughters choice to kiss, to hug, to engage physically with anyone.  She's the boss of her body.

 I went to a seminar by Pattie Fitzgerald at the JCC one night.  I had the youngest child by far, and honestly there were lots of things she talked about that EG really isn't ready for yet.  But the thing that stood with me was that EG is the boss of her own body.  I'd been feeling really awkward dealing with my own parents and their demands upon EG.  That she say hello, goodbye, let them take her from my arms.  She's my child, and sometimes she just wants to be held by Mama.  And that's okay.

Now don't get me wrong, I believe that my daughter will kiss, hug and engage with her grandparents and others.  In fact, if you remember, I have a little aggressive hugger.  She loves to hug other children to the point of making them and herself fall to the ground.  But there was a time when she didn't go running up to my parents for a hug.  For two weeks after she was babysat by my in-laws she didn't even want to be in a room alone with them.

I do expect my daughter to respectfully say hello to new people.  I do expect her to make eye contact, acknowledge someone else in the room, and thoughtfully engage with people.  I don't expect that to include physical touching that she isn't instigating. 

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