Monday, March 31, 2014

Earthquake Safe!

Are you earthquake safe?  If you live in sunny southern california you may be asking yourself that exact question, given the string of small to medium earthquakes in the past few weeks.  The largest to hit the area was Saturday's 5.1 centered in La Habra (good old Orange County).

While I personally didn't feel any of them (nope, not a one despite being awake for all of them), it's a good reminder to get yourself squared away in case of an emergency.

The Red Cross has a fairly comprehensive list of items you should have in your emergency kit.  And while this list is a good starting point, there are some special things to consider when getting together your emergency kit for you and your kids.

1.  Security Items:  You know what these are.  For EG (my little Linus) it's her knit blanket or two.  Whenever she feels unhappy, unwell, or generally afraid it's her blanket that she reaches for.  Add to that her friend 'Ms. Monkey' and we can be a happy camper, even in the worst of circumstances.  When you plan for your emergency kit, I recommend getting an extra of whatever item it is your child may want (paci, blanket, toy, etc.) and putting one in the kit.

2. Clothing:  When you have children in diapers, I suggest you also pack extra clothing.  They suggest that you have enough food for 2-weeks, and I suggest that you split that in half and have enough clothing for your little one for at least a week.  As you pack these items, you want to think long term and layers.  For a newborn, pack 3 month outfits, and a 6 month coat.  For EG I'll be putting in 24 month and 2T items (since those will last her until she grows quite a bit!). That way you don't have to be constantly changing out items.

3. Food:  Those emergency rations may seem great when you are thinking about shelf-life and ease of transport.  But to your picky toddler who already only wants Pizza for dinner, they aren't going to make a dent in their dietary needs.  While it's possible to rationalize with a 5 year-old about how they need to eat something, it's not quite as easy with a 2 or 3 year old.  Think about getting some canned ravioli, etc.  While you might not serve it during a regular week, things like that can make a big difference for a child.  I also recommend shelf-stable milk.  I know it seems odd, but you can even buy organic...

4. Medications:  While I'm sure you've thought about antibacterial spray and lotion, the most important thing I think you need is Tylenol.  Even the 'deluxe family first aid kit' from the Red Cross only includes Asprin.  Asprin can cause Reye's syndrome.  So, stock up on children's tylenol.  It has a shorter shelf life than the pill form, but when push comes to shove for your toddler, Tylenol is the way to go.  Don't forget your handy dopper/measurement tool too!

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Heroes for our daughters

I've been thinking a lot about the different heros my daughter might have as she grows older.  It started when EG was sick with Hand-Foot-Mouth and we realized we didn't have any movies that she could really watch.  Our kid friendly films were limited to the Sound of Music, Mary Poppins and an Ewok movie from the 80's.  All good movies, but not quite what our 20 month old might actually be interested in.

And, generally speaking, I'm not to concerned that she hasn't had exposure to much television, etc.  When she gets home from school we generally play outdoors, or in the kitchen while I make dinner.  But since she was sick, she really wanted to cuddle and was quite fussy.  Cue the moment when having something for the television might have been nice.

When we were buying movies we bought the new Disney Frozen (which neither Working Dad nor I have seen), Brave (which was technically EG's first movie in theatres at like 1 month old), Aladdin, Peter Pan and the Jungle Book.  I guess we ended up doing okay, since two of the three feature strong female characters for EG, but it got me thinking.

Recently we've had a string of highly successful movies featuring female leads.  Katniss from Hunger Games, and the upcoming Tris from Divergent to name a few.  But are these ladies really something to be modeling?

On the one hand, they do amazing things.  They are powerful and intriguing and generally self-sufficient.  On the other hand, they are written as being skinny, small, or otherwise undersized.   They aren't strong girls to start out with, they sort of come at it from an ultra-feminist perspective.

It leads me back to the Barbie conversation we had a while back.  How much does this really influence our kids?  I'm trying to think back to when I was little, and how I perceived Barbie and how I saw the role models in movies, etc.  Some of my favorite songs are from Mulan...she passes for a boy!  I just don't remember thinking to myself that I had to be skinny, or look like barbie or anyone else for that matter.  Maybe my 'hero's' were more the soccer stars and athletes than anything else.

What movies do you remember as a child?  How did they play into your thinking about heros or your role, or possibilities to do something awesome?

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Maternity Leave in California: Taking time off

Since this is baby #2, I thought I would share my wisdom with regards to Maternity Leave in California.  I find a lot of sites have various forms of mis-information.  Of course, I'm neither your HR department nor am I a lawyer, so take this with a grain of salt as well.

I'm going to classify the leave in two different ways:  Time Away from Work, and How you get Paid.  In CA, and in federal statues, there are different pieces of legislation which influence how you get away from work/time off and how you can get paid while you're off.  

Time Away from Work:

1. Pregnancy Disability Leave (PDL):  This is a stautue of CA law, and available only in the state of California to residents.  It covers 4 months (recently defined as 17 1/3 weeks) of leave for diasbility.  I start with it, because it's the one that covers almost everyone.   It covers you regardless of the amount of time you've worked for your employer (started yesterday?  No problem!).  Regardless of the number of hours or years.  Your employer only needs to have a minimum of 5 employees, so it covers a lot more people than FMLA.

This leave must be medically necessary.  It's called disability leave for a reason, which means that you have to have a doctors note and can be asked to get a certified note.  Additionally it is available as intermittent leave.  You could use it to go to the dr, do tests, etc.  The bill also says that disability can come from gestational diabetes, or other conditions of pregnancy.  If you only work 50% time, that means you'd be entitled to 34 2/3 weeks of leave, etc.

To review:
a. available to everyone with more than 5 employees (regardless of length of employment or position (aka executive)
b. Four months (17 1/3 weeks)
c. Must be medically necessary
d. Can be used intermittently for Dr. appointments, etc.
e. Covers pregnancy related disability only
f. They can't count weeks when the office is closed (aka, they close between X-mas and New years, etc.)

2. Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA):  This is a federal law which covers all the states in the US.  It is more restrictive in access, since it only applies if you've worked for your company for 1250 hours and one year.  Your employer must also have at least 50 employees in a 75-mile radius (aka, if you are the Long Beach office and the rest of the company is in San Francisco, you may be screwed). Additionally this leave applies for 12 weeks out of the year.  The company gets to define the year based upon a set of criteria.  It's typically set to start the day you request it, and defines a year as the 52 weeks following your request.  Alternatively it could be (like the UC system) a calendar year or a fiscal year.  It's critical to know how your company defines a year, since that can make a huge difference to how you get your leave.  FMLA also covers not just your pregnancy, but any additional family leave.  Say your mom is ill, etc. It does not cover same-sex domestic partners.  Also, it covers bonding time with the baby until the baby is 1 year old.  If you take bonding leave, your employer is able to require you to take it in 2 week minimum increments.

Let's review:
a. Available to those who've worked 1250 hours and been employed at least 1 year with over 50 employees
b. 12 weeks of time in a year (rolling, calendar, or fiscal year)
c. Must be medically necessary before birth, but does cover bonding time after birth
d. Can be used intermittently for Dr. appointments, etc.
e. Can be used for more than just pregnancy, must be a 'covered' family member
f. 30 days notice if possible.
e. Available for bonding until baby is 1 year old

3. California Family Rights Act (CFRA): Also only in California.  This Act is part of the Fair Housing and employment act and is a fairly interesting legal act.  It covers medical leaves for other family members (including domestic partners) but DOES NOT cover pregnancy disability.  This is critical, because this is the defining point which helps ensure that you can get time to bond with baby, even after having an extended leave before the birth.  FMLA and CFRA do overlap for other medical conditions (aka a sick mom) but they DO NOT overlap for pregnancy-related medical conditions.

Let me show you what this might mean for a vaginal live-birth during a normal pregnancy:

4 weeks pre due date you leave for disability
Baby is one week late, still on disability
Baby arrives on Saturday :-)  Yeah!
6 weeks postpartum disability
=11 weeks of FMLA leave used
CFRA kicks in
=12 weeks of baby bonding time

You can use CFRA intermittently, and this is when it's possible to take leave later in the baby's life, since you get to take it until the baby is 1 year old.  You could return to work after your 6 weeks of disability, then take the month before the baby's birthday, or some other time off as needed for baby bonding.  Since this CANNOT run concurrently with either PDL or FMLA for pregnancy related conditions, if you take no other family medical leave, then you are entitled to 12 weeks after you get off of disability.  If you request the leave, your employer can allow you to take CFRA before the baby comes based off of your request.  Though, there are other options, explained below that may be better.

To Review:
a. Available to those who've worked 1250 hours and been employed at least 1 year with over 50 employees
b. 12 weeks of time in a year (rolling, calendar, or fiscal year)
c. Does not cover pregnancy-related medical leave, but does cover bonding time after birth
d. Can be used intermittently (2 week minimum can be required, except on two occasions when they must grant a shorter leave)
e. Can be used for more than just pregnancy, must be a 'covered' family member
f. 30 days notice if possible.
g. Bonding/accommodations until baby is 1 year old

4. Fair Housing and Employment Act (FHEA):  This typically doesn't come into play for most women during their pregnancy, but should you have a really difficult pregnancy and require additional leave or medical care it's important to know your rights.  The FHEA act includes provisions for disability accommodations.  Since federal law means that pregnancy is a disability you could exhaust your PDL and FMLA, as well as use your CFRA before baby's born you may still be entitled to accommodations from FHEA.  Under FHEA accommodations can include necessary leave.  A perfect case for this is Sanchez vs. Swissport, Inc Cal. App. 4th (2013).  In the case a woman was granted both PDL and requested additional leave due to disability until the birth of her child.  The trick here is that it can't cause an un-due burden on the employer.  However since 4 months of PDL is required regardless of burden, it might be hard to prove that additional time creates a more undue burden.  But, I'm not a lawyer ;-)

Whew!  What a lot to cover.  Do you have any questions?  I can try to answer them if you do.  The links included are the actual texts of the laws, so those can be very helpful.

Next we'll cover how you get paid...

Monday, March 24, 2014

Jewishly Engaged

I read this article on Tablet this week and it really resonates with me.  More than anything I can't help but think that all families end up being associated with something.  For some it's a religion, but for others it's boy scouts (my husbands family), Dance (yeah Dance Moms!), Sports (some cousins) or travel (maybe that's us!?)...

When I married my husband we knew we would have a Jewish family.  But at the same time, my husband isn't technically Jewish.  I should probably put a 'yet' on the end of that sentence, but for me, it doesn't make any difference if it's a yet or a 'and never will be.'  His commitment to raising our family Jewish is what counts, and we show that each and every Friday we light the candles, the holidays when we have guests over, and how we interact with the world and G-d.

At the same time, when we got married Working Dad stated that he didn't want us to have our entire world arranged around a religious life.  His sister is fairly like that (though, of course, she has other things going on in their lives), but it was important to him that we be focused around something else.

I'm happy to say that the majority of parents and young kids that we spend our time with are Jewish.  Which, of course, is a by-product of sending your child to a Jewish daycare- Jewish friends.  At the same time, I don't think that there are people we aren't being friends with because of our Jewish obligations.

I told Working Dad that I had no intention of being a boy scout focused family either.

As EG gets older, and starts to request time to participate in activities, I can't help but wonder what we are going to end up being.  When I was younger I was a Jewish, Soccer-playing, theatre-going Girl Scout who traveled a lot and enjoyed camping.  I went to Jewish summer camp and Girl Scout Camp.  I went to shabbatons, marching band trips and traveled to Rome.  We went to Yosemite every Thanksgiving, and I can't seem to think that there was one thing that dominated our lives...

Did something dominate your life?  Did you have a central focus for the family?

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Hand Food Mouth

We thought we were done with crazy medical issues and to much going on.  Cue EG's moment to get sick.  Not just a little sick, but I-can't-go-to-school-for-a-week sick.

EG has been diagnosed with Hand Foot Mouth disease.  Those of you qho don't know it might immediately think that EG has Mad Cow.  Nope, totally not related.  HFM is a common viral disease that goes through toddlers.  It usually involved a fever, possibly some dietary problems (EG didn't eat/drink much, plus she had diarhea) and then evolves into a yucky rash over the (you guessed it!) hands, feet and mouth.

It's especially sucky because the sores in the mouth can be very painful for children, and definitely restrict their desires to eat/drink foods.  Of course in EG's case it could also be that I served lemon chicken for dinner last night.  Poor girl, what an awesome mommy.

This has been our first week of experience with her needing to be out all week long.  And we've learned clearly that we don't have enough support/emergency back-up to cover that situation.

My MIL has shingles right now (yes the chicken pox derivitive) so she's out for baby watching.  My Dad has standing plans M-W, with bridge, bowling and teaching a class.  So, that's not a great source either.  Add to that the fact that my parents are leaving to go out of the country next week and they aren't really in a sitting mood.

So Working Dad didn't do any work on Monday.  He also took some time off this morning to facilitate our child care arrangements.  I took half of Monday, half-day Tuesday, and all-day Wednesday.  Add to that the time I had taken on Friday afternoon to pick her up from school early, and it was quite a work-free week.

I did try to take advantage and laid out some water play for EG on Tuesday.  Our regular babysitter C took over in the afternoon, and EG had a good time dumping and playing with the 'wa-wa.'  Additionally I took EG on Wednesday to the Aquarium of the Pacific.  You may think I'm a bad mom for potentially exposing others, but we had to do something.  We have a membership, so it's cheap, easy entertainment.  And on a Wednesday at 9am we were one of about 3 kids there.  Nice!

Poor girl, at least it's almost over!

all over her mouth, poor girl...

Her feet took the longest time to heal!

Tuesday, March 18, 2014


I don't normally post a plea or a medical topic on this blog, but I'm amazed at the reports coming out about measles here in southern California.  As a mom to EG, who has her vaccine, and a pregnant mommy expecting in July, I am just aghast at the idea that my newest child will be exposed to the measles here in the US.

Not only is there an outbreak in CA, but there is also one in NYC.

I don't know where you stand on vaccines.  Honestly, I can't even believe I wrote that.  Where you stand?!  I can't believe there is a place to stand other than with protecting your child from a deadly disease that is totally preventable.

Last week my boss here at UCLA had his 1 year old son stop breathing and turn blue from his vaccines.  He was part of the 1/3000 people who have this severe reaction.   And he's fine.  Yes, he went to the hospital.  No, it wasn't fun, but does his family wish they hadn't vaccinated...?  No.  They have family from Mexico and other parts of Central America where Measles is still rampant.  According to the WHO report 330 people a DAY die of measles. 

WHO would like to see measles eliminated.  But how are we, one of the world's leading countries in terms of health access and understanding, doing to help the cause if we've allowed a previously non-existent disease to run rampant again.

Friday, March 14, 2014

PS- Happy Pie Day

How could I, as a Carnegie Mellon graduate, forget about 3.14159....

Happy Pie Day, and Shabbat Shalom!

Some rights reserved by kyz  
Laurie Danielle

When Purim met St. Patricks Day= St. Purims Weekend

My husband LOVES St. Patrick's Day.  It's one of his favorite holidays all year long.  While I understand that the origin of St.Patrick's day is the death of a member of the Catholic church, nowadays, the entire country of Ireland has embraced it as a sort of National day of Irish pride, and with that in mind, I don't have any issues celebrating it.

This year Purim and St. Patrick's Day are butting heads into each other.  While I don't think that our Sunday night Purim will change much, with St. Patty's being on Monday night that really means most of our friends will celebrate over the weekend.  To me, this smash-up makes a LOT of sense...

Mitzvah's of Purim:

1. Hear the megillah- this seems perfectly lovely and in no way contradicts any St.Patty's party.  Typically they read it very fast, and shouting/spinning groggers, etc. are all encouraged activities.

2. Give to the poor- this is a wonderful thing any day of the year, but it sort of goes hand in hand with St.Patty's.  A day of good cheer for everyone.  Tradition dictates that you should give to two different poor people, so pour some drinks and drop some dollars.

3. Eating a festive meal- do I really even need to explain that?  This should include wine/libations, meat, and be a warm meal.  I think that Corned beef and cabbage definitely fits the bill.  And traditionally made Corned beef can easily be made kosher without a thought.

Traditions of Purim:

1. Dressing costume- have you seen people around St. Patty's?  The crazy green, leprechauns, etc.  Works perfectly to throw in an Esther, a Mordichai or a Hamen...

2. Drinking- need I say more?

3. Hamentaschen- okay, these are delicious butter cookies. And though cooking and drinking aren't advised, after drinking a pint I think a nice delicious chocolate cookie is something wonderful.  Yummy!

So, enjoy this co-mingling of the holidays.  Throw some green dye at your Hamentaschen, throw some beer in with your brisket, and enjoy all that March drinking has to offer.

Israel's take on St.Purim's day...

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Purim Hamentaschen

Do you make Hamentaschen?  I've tried, several times over the years, to make something delicious that didn't end up coming out of the oven with the filling oozing out the sides..

Wait- let me back up- do you know what Hamentaschen are?  They are delicious triangle cookies with something delicious in them.  Here's one:

Photo by Grongar
Doesn't that one look just yummy!  Traditional fillings include poppy seeds, prunes, and apricots.  Typically you make a bunch then send them out as gifts to other people you know, sharing the Purim joy.

Like I said, I've tried to make them.  And while I'd like to say it's easy, for me it's been rough.  Some years I try to get creative, like Nutella filled ones.  They ended up very dry and kind of tasteless.  Then I tried the traditional route, but all I got were poppy seeds all over the house, and some not so yummy cookies.

So, this year it's time to try again. I think I say that every year.  Only this year I think that little EG might be big enough to help.  I'm not a crazy wild woman, but after dinner sometime this week I'm going to attempt to make Hamentaschen with EG.  She can help me mix, and since we'll be heading for a bath at 6:45pm anyways, any mess she gets all over herself will just go down the drain... I hope....

Here are a few resources I'm using this year:

Overtime Cook Round-up
-especially the savory ones she mentions, dinner on Tuesday anyone?
- I will also be using her tips here to try and make mine stay together!
-Her basic recipe is here, but check them all out

I think it's apropos that I'm trying to follow a new recipe this week, especially given the Parasha we have in Vayikra.  No, Leviticus doesn't much go into baking, but rather we see a specific set of rules and order to sacrifice on these pages.  Do this, then this- eat this, don't touch that, etc.  It can get a bit tiresome, but that's sort of the way it is with baking.  As Alton Brown has taught us, the science behind the baking can't be ignored. A little too much flour, not enough baking powder, all heck breaks loose with our dough.  Maybe it's the same with Vayikra- follow the story, follow G-d to understand what's right and wrong.  We don't sacrifice animals anymore, but still Vayikra shows us the way.

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Purim Parties in the South Bay

Here is the list of South Bay Purim Parties, and information I've collected.  For more information, please visit this link via JKidLA.

Congregation Ner Tamid
5721 Crestridge Road, Rancho Palos Verdes
Saturday, March 15, 2014:  6pm
Cost: Free
Features:  Megillah reading, costume parade, then showing of Star Wars original or lego version with a pizza dinner.

Temple Beth El
1435 West Seventh St, San Pedro
Saturday March 15, 2014: 6:30p.m
Cost: $25/adult, babysitting $5/child (reservations required)
Features: Cocktails, Dinner, costumes, Silent auction, opportunity drawing. ADULTS ONLY.

Congregation Tikvat Jacob
1829 N. Sepulveda Blvd., Manhattan Beach
Saturday, March 15, 2014: 7:30pm
Cost: Free
Features: Jello shots, costume contest, snacks, singing

Temple Menorah: FROZEN
1101 Camino Real, Redondo Beach
Sunday, March 16, 2014: 10am (megillah) 11:30am (carnival)
Cost: Free (tickets needed for games, foods and rides)
Features: Snow slide, Bouncers, Shows, Carnival games, entertainment. Food for purchase

Temple Akiba: 
5249 S. Sepulveda Blvd. Culver City
Sunday, March 16, 2014: 10am
Cost: Free/unknown
Features: Food, New games, prizes, Silent Auction, Costumes, megillah reading.

Stephen S. Wise Temple Purim Carnival at the Santa Monica Pier
380 Santa Monica Pier, Santa Monica
Sunday, March 16, 2014: 10am
Cost: Various ($10/food card, $40 unlimited rides)
Features: Pier games, rides, food, ocean

Mishkon Tephilo Purim Fiesta Carnival
206 Main Street, Venice
Sunday, March 16, 2014: 10:30am (Megillah) 11am (Fiesta)
Cost: $7:50/child or $5/child with donation of a can of food.  Adults are free
Features: Games, Bouncers, Music, Pinata, Prizes.  Food for purchase.

Temple Beth El
1435 West Seventh St, San Pedro
Sunday, March 15, 2014: 11am
Cost: $7/lunch ticket
Features: Purim Shpiel, costumes, games and prizes

JCC of the Beach Cities: From Behind the Mask
2108 Vail Ave, Redondo Beach
Sunday, March 16, 2014: 4pm
Cost: $20/adult, $10 child (pre-register)
Includes: Laser Tag, Full buffet dinner, Megillah Reading, Photo booth

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

R-E-S-P-E-C-T... find out what it means to me

I have a few pet peeves.  I love my daughter.  I don't mind kids on airplanes, and I honestly have no issue with you taking your two-year old to the fancy schmancy restaurant that I'm eating at.  Yes, I may have left mine at home, but you don't have to, and that's totally cool with me.  But let me tell you a thing or two about RESPECT...

1. You and your child should knock on a bathroom door.  Yes, I know it seems so much easier to just pull the handle.  Yes, I realize you can't always stop a 2 year old from looking under the door.  But YOU are an adult.  and YOU are supposed to be raising an adult.  So why are you looking for my shoes under the door?  Why are you pulling on the handle?  And for G-d's sake, once you do peek under the door or pull on the handle can't you at least tell the next person who  comes up while you are still standing there that it's occupied, so I don't have to endure the rattling of my bathroom door more than once?

2. You should not allow your 'bear' (aka growling child), to come running up to my dining table and growl at me.  Yup, you read that right.  Growling at me. At dinner.  No, I didn't make eye contact or say how cute...  I was just eating my dinner.  I understand that it's hard for kids to sit still at a restaurant sometimes.  I understand that imaginative play is fun, and enjoyable.  I encourage it.  But don't make it involve me.

3. Use the crosswalk. What are you teaching your child about running across the street...?  Yes, I realize that this is your town, you grew up here, you know it's safe.  Is that the point?  I thought the point was to teach the young person you are rearing that rules apply to all of us and that safety is something you think about consciously everyday.  Is the extra 5 minutes to walk to the crosswalk going to ruin your commute to the library or back to your car?  Just do it.

Missing you...

So I guess you can tell that I went on vacation.  And here I am, lounging away with my husband and thinking that everything on my site is good and going.  I'd set it up to post for me when I was gone before, so why should this be any different.

well, maybe it's because I accidentally set things to set in April... whoops!

So, I promise I'm still here, and more stuff will be posting soon!  YEAH!
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