Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Growing up Girl: "I Can't Do it"

Yes, that's EG's face that I superimposed on the Rosie the Riveter.  But honestly, that's how I feel!
Recently my daughter has taken up a new favorite phrase.  One that pains me to the depth of my soul, and not one she picked-up from us.  It's "I Can't Do it"

If we look back at little EG (Exuberant Girl's) history, we'll see that some of her first phrases did come from us and they included things like "I got it" and "I do it".  Throughout the blog and in the pages of her baby book are photos of her doing lots and lots of things.  I've shared the one of her climbing the ladder before 18months, and talked about her being my adventurous chick.  Last month when I took her to the aquarium she touched the sting ray, and just this weekend at the zoo she wasn't afraid of the milipede or the hedgehog.

But sometime in the past month she's picked up this phrase "I can't do it."  She's using it all the time, and everytime I hear it I try really really hard not to scream.  I asked my husband about it (yes, it's true, a lot of times when she says something I don't like it's come from him.  This includes the 'calm down' when crying phrase that I also hate) but he promised me it didn't come from him.

We're both those kind of hands-off encouragement kind of parents.  You know, the ones who let their kids take risks at the park, who rarely stop their child from trying anything unless it's overtly dangerous (the stove) or damaging to other people's property (trampling the flowers).  I don't hover, I just let her do.  I've heard other parents say "you are too little" but I don't really believe in that.

Finally I asked her teacher, and she pinpointed it in 15 seconds.  One of EG's friends at school has this saying all locked up in her little mouth.  Granted, she's older than EG, and I don't really think she means it when she says it.  It's much more likely that she's using it to get something done for her, she's a smart cookie that way.

But what about EG.  I watch her struggle with something, something I know she can do, and out of her mouth tumbles this phrase.  These words that I'm afraid will color her entire world if they get to out of hand.  I want her to know it's okay to fail- she seems to be okay with that one (as the bruises and trying again would tell me) but what about the words.  Even if her actions say she's going for it, what does it mean if her words don't?

I've tried telling her she can do it, continued to let her try long after she's come out with that phrase.  But I worry none-the-less.  It's hard growing up girl today...

We've talked about other girly issues here, here, and here...

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Jury Duty- it's finally over

I said I would come and give you a full rundown of my jury duty experience, so everyone out there can be a little more informed about the process, and what it means to be called to Jury Duty.

As we went over here, I had already shown up for my first day and was assigned to a case.  Day two took place on Tuesday, and I was the back half of 150 people.

D'oh! My first jury summons after 4 years as an LA resident Andy Sternberg cc

1. They wait for everyone to show-up.  We started almost an hour late (after 11:30am!) despite most of us being on time.  However, they wait for everyone to come before they do practically anything.  So, do your other jurors a favor- overestimate the amount of time it will take you to get there and be on time.

2. They assigned us different numbers.  We all had Juror ID numbers, but to make things simplier they gave us numbers 73-147.  I happened to be either really lucky or really unlucky and drew number 147.  Lucky in that the chances of me serving on the jury were low, since they go in order of your juror number to keep you or kick you off.  Unlucky in that it means you are the last one the judge talks to, and the last person who gets called in for questioning.  Until they get their 16 people, you aren't going anywhere.

3. The prosecution isn't allowed to talk to you.  Not in the hallway, not on the bus, not in a restaurant.  They might seem like the most unfriendly people, but don't bother to wave, because they won't acknowledge you or say hi.  That's the law.

4. There can be multiple juror selection processes.  In my case it started with a questionnaire that was basically about the death penalty.  How many times can you ask the same question more than once?  5 pages worth, it turns out.  Once we filled that out anyone who said they couldn't weigh the evidence and decide to give either a life sentence or the death penalty was out.  So, if you are in this circumstances strong emotional thoughts anti-death penalty are in your favor.

5.  The judge will not care about your excuses.  According to the judge if you are sitting there you have no excuse for getting out of jury duty.  There is no place, nor any opportunity to say things like "my due date is the same date the trial is supposed to end" or "I don't have childcare" or "my daughter has cancer."  She is assuming that if you are before her the lower jury selectioners have done their job and gotten rid of anyone with a valid complaint.  However, not speaking or understanding english well will still get you kicked off.

6. You will spend a lot of time sitting in a hallway.  Don't open the door for virtually any reason.

Jury Duty Hallway 2 cc
This hallway will probably have access to restrooms, but don't hold your breath for water, at least not at the downtown LA courthouse.  Additionally there will be tons of people shuffling through, and the court clerks don't talk very loudly, so listen-up.

7. You will be questioned by the judge, the defense and the prosecution.  The judge will likely question everyone, if only to be sure that what you wrote you actually meant.  However, the defense might only question one person, or two.  The prosecution is going to be the hardest- they are most likely going to make you feel like the weight of the world is on your shoulders.  If you are pregnant, they might make you cry (or at least they did me).

My case was a case from 1984 that was apparently being retried.  The defendant was also being his own lawyer and it was a rape and murder trial.  Honestly glad that I'm no longer on that trial, but it was an interesting experience never-the-less.

Here's to being able to write 'breastfeeding' on my future summons next year!

Have you been on jury duty?  What happened?

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Book Club: The Story of Rachel Calof

There's still time to join us at the South Bay Jewish Women's book club meeting, coming up on May 6th at 7:30pm.  We read Rachel Calof, and it's short, amazing and I would have read another 100 pages if she had written it!

Amazon Associates Link
This book was truly amazing, and regardless of whether you want to join us for the book club, I highly recommend it.  I was saddened when it was over far, far too quickly.

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

LA Pregnant Mommies!

It's Pregnancy Awareness month! 

Let me guess- you didn't even know that was a thing, did you?  Well, it is and as part of the month there is a signature event in Los Angeles.  Coming up this weekend on Sunday-

Noon to 4pm at the Writer's Bootcamp in Santa Monica.  It will feature panelists, representation by name brands and their new baby products.

I'm planning to be there- will you?

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Our Omer Calendar

Last week I talked about the Omer Calendar I was going to create for our family.  A way to visually remind us and interact with this part of the year.  I promised I would share ours, so here it is:

The whole 49 days worth hanging from the fireplace.  It was really, really easy to make.  Though I did go through an entire package of sticker numbers.  I'm sure there would be a cheaper way to make them, but this was simple and took only about an hour sitting in front of the TV relaxing.  I chose to use the paper envelopes because I thought that EG would hurt them when we opened them, but we'll see if that's true.  Perhaps I'll wish I had done the more expensive burlap bags...

Close up of the numbers and the bags.  These are sort of see-through, so you can see the cards inside, and sometimes you can see the 'treats' (I'm looking at you day 11!).

Poor number 49 barely fits in front of the fireplace.  It's definitely A LOT of days, not for the feint of heart.  While it's true that I take down the bags each day, I don't know if I'm going to reposition the bags to make them look better when I'm halfway done.  I guess we'll just wait and see...

Inside each of the bags is a little card.  One side has the prayers in Hebrew, transliteration and English.  The other side has the little thought for the day, the quote of the week and the number of days we are counting for the Omer.  It's worked out quite nicely.  You can print the cards I made by clicking on this link. They've been great, but I have to admit we haven't been so good on fulfilling the tasks/thoughts of the day.  A lot of them are rather large, with something to do and it's been a bit to much for us.  Not to mention the fact that it changes everyday, so it's hard to remember what you're supposed to be doing. 

Additionally, little EG hasn't had a single chance to be engaged.  I filled some of the bags with toys/treats to keep her engaged, but based off of Passover activities and her early 7pm bedtime she hasn't been awake when we've been doing it. 

Working Dad definitely isn't into it either.  Though last night he did try to remind me, so that was nice.  At least it's a start to doing something new...

Have you tried to follow a religious tradition or idea and had it not work quite right?  Do you count the Omer?

Monday, April 21, 2014

Jury Duty- My LA courthouse experience... so far

I received my jury summons in late March for a week in early April.  According to the summons I was supposed to register or mail back the form, then call in to see if I would actually have to go to court.

I have to be honest, I wasn't that upset to receive it.  I've never sat on a jury before, always living outside of the county that's called me up.  Not to mention that they probably had my parents address listed as my address, and they probably threw a few of them away.  (my dad always says they can't prove that you got the mail...)

This time I knew I would have to serve.  I work for a semi-government entity, in the department of Government relations.  It just didn't seem right to ignore the summons.  So I registered online, and showed up Monday for my day in court (hehe)

Here's what happened and what I learned:

1. I parked at the Walt Disney Concert Hall as instructed. This was very easy, and they clearly have a routine for the whole thing.  However, it was also VERY far from the courthouse itself.  At least a 3-4 block walk.  Good thing I gave myself extra time.

2. Checked in by my 9:30am deadline.  What a joke!  I could have easily been there by 10/10:15am and not had any problems whatsoever.  They made me fill out the form (despite registering online) and then I got to hang out.

3. Found the bathroom/checked out the snack place.  These are two places you can go without needed to sign-out of the jury assembly room.  Bathrooms are okay, prices in the snack shop are a bit higher than your local 7/11.

4. Found a comfy seat.  I would definitely steak out a piece of territory sooner rather than later.  I even put my handbag on the seat next to me to get a little extra space.

5. Good books!  Everyone comments on it, and it really is SO important.  They do have Wi-fi, which worked great, so I took a bit of advantage of that as well.

6. They finally called us for a panel.  And informed us that it was for a possible 40 day trial, and that it would start on April 22nd.  He read a list of additional exemptions and then started calling names randomly.  I was towards the bottom- which I'm hoping is a good sign for step two.

7. Being pregnant and having doctor's appointments won't get you off the long trial.  No luck on that one.  I did try though.  However, you want to know what will?  Take a look at this document which studies the Jury Selection process throughout CA.  My favorite is the chart on page 36.  Turns out the best way to get off of jury duty is to know a someone personally involved in the case.  Second best excuse, be up on the news and know facts from the case.  If neither of those work, then knowing a victim of a similar crime might be helpful or better yet knowing someone else accused of a crime works well.  Not having time, or having financial hardship- not so much. 

I'll let you know how it goes- if I get called back and what the jury selection process is like.  I know it's a felony case, that I'm one of 150 people being called back for possible selection. That makes me think my odds are good, since they only need about 15 people...

Do any of you have Jury Duty experience?

Friday, April 18, 2014

Singing in the Rain...

Or at least playing in some water....

Here is Southern California you've got to take the experiences with nature when you can get them.  I'm definitely one of those moms who believes in getting dirty.  You're only young once, so if she ruins a few pairs of pants or shirts, so what!  She grows so fast it's not like she really gets to wear anything more than once or twice as it is!

Yup, wet pants and all, but at least we had lots of fun.  That's what tennis shoes are for, right? 

Are you comfortable letting your little ones get messy?

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Our Passover Seder

Our Passover Seder seemed to be a great success!  I'm so happy that everyone was able to join us, and that all in all we had about 26 people coming to the event.

Our Passover dishes are yellow flowers with lots of green, so we definitely embraced that for the evening's event:

We had to set-up just about every table we owned, including taking the table from the outside and bringing it in.  We borrowed chairs from my in-laws, as well a high-chair from my parents to make sure that we had enough resources for everyone.  Thankfully we were also able to get a whole additional set of silverware and kosher them before the holiday.

We also had to buy an additional 4 place settings of plain white dishes- our place setting is only for 12 people, and we had 16 adults.  We served the egg soup on the table, so when people sat down the first thing they had was the egg soup.  I don't know how many people serve this as part of their meal, but it's been a tradition in my family for ever.  It's a hardboiled egg soup with salt water.  I totally love it, and it turned out that several of the kids loved it too.  Simple, yummy, and definitely traditional to start with an egg.

For the kids I used colorful napkins which I already had, and bought plastic eco-friendly plates in the right colors at Big Lots.  I had just enough kids silverware to make it work out, and I think that all the parents appreciated not having to worry about what there kids were going to do with breakables.  In the corner is our seder plate, which we bought at Target a few years ago.  It's heavy, and goes with everything, and generally I like it.  However, I'm sure over the year's I'll get the opportunity to buy something new.

Sorry this picture isn't the best, but it's what I took the night before we had everyone over.  We set-up the entrance breakfast bar with wine glasses of all sizes/shapes.  Since the event was on Tuesday night I didn't want to make anyone feel like they had to drink to much- if you look closely you can also see the small dixie cups that I got for kids and adults alike.  I also had a small bowl set-out in case anyone wanted to take on the challenge of drinking full glasses, as is tradition.  Our audience was really young, so no one drank much if any of the juice I bought.  I even bought a few sparkling juices for myself, but was so busy hosting that I didn't drink any of them!

You can also see that inside some of the wine glasses are the plague puppets that we have.  I assigned each one of the adults a plague.  While it was a good idea, in the actual telling of the story the adults needed more direction about what to do/how to participate.  Next year I'll spell it out on a little card, or maybe give the adults all the plague items to handle themselves.  You can also see our Haggadah from this year.  You can take a look at it in more detail.  I took a lot from, as well as the URJ.  The graphic images are from the Evite that I used, and something I found online- probably not for distribution, so don't try to sell my haggadah!

I gave each kid a basket.  Here's what was inside:

We had the basket, a baby Moses, some frogs, a Little People Farm animal, some sort of bug (finding just locusts was to hard!), a wild beast, some flies (for lice), some white craft balls (hail), red stickers (boils).  I had two pairs of sunglasses for darkness and a small bottle of red food dye for blood.  I didn't get a pair of glasses for every kid.  Honestly, while I'm glad I did it, it was quite the expense!

I put the really tiny items in a plastic ziplock bag so the kids didn't throw them around to early.  I think they really enjoyed them- especially the baby dolls.  Some of the kids took them home, others didn't.  I had expected them to take them as sort of gifts from the evening, but since we were done with them earlier in the evening, I don't think they thought about it.  If I was going to do it again I would still give the kids the baskets with the baby dolls, but I would hold on to the plague items and give those to the parent assigned to each plague.  That way the parents could give the items to the kids, and really interact a bit more.  At the end of the day, they really went off well.  It was great when we got to the plagues watching all the kids find their items and clutch them and show them off. The boil stickers were a HUGE hit too!

Relaxing with the youngest in the group, 10 weeks old!

Lots of Passover story books, in addition to our Haggadah.  We set-up the front room with lots of access.  You can also see a child in the far back, in front of the coloring table we had set-up.

Baby Moses also loves cats!
Almost the whole group.  I did this as a NEXT shabbat project, and they helped fund my kosher meat.

Wow- did you make it through the whole post?!  I'm impressed.  As a reward, here is the menu I served, along with the work I did leading up to the event.  The most popular items were the cauliflower side dish and the chicken with matzo stuffing. That chicken was AMAZING!.All in all a wonderful Passover event.

Of course, Passover isn't over yet.  We have a fun sorta seder coming up on Saturday, and of course we're Counting the Omer!  I promise to show pictures of my Omer counting fun next week.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Passover Tips & Tricks

So we've had our Passover seder.  25 people came over, enjoyed food, wine, singing and making a mess.  I'll post photos tomorrow, but for now I wanted to go over my 5 best tips and tricks for making any other seders you have go their best.

Family Seders (aka, not at your house/geared towards kids)
  1. This book for your toddler:  
    No, I'm not being perked, but this specific book really helped.  It's got great pictures, there's really nothing to explain.  It goes through all of the steps of the seder, so it's easy to follow along, flip through the pages as you get there, and it's got both Hebrew and English.  It's by Rite Lite, who make lots of really great items for Jewish kids.

  2. Jumping Frogs. 

    Especially if you can buy the kind that come with a game design, and have something for you to 'aim' for.  These are my absolute favorite of our frogs.  They jump really well, they are fairly easy to use and they hold up really well to kids, pets, adults and time.  It's possible to get the adults involved in this as well, but with just the little one she was able to dump them, line them up, stack them, and generally help herself to being entertained.

  3. Have a designated parent.  This could be the designated driver.  Or it could be a different parent based upon the moment.  But it's really key to have one person both designated as the 'more sober one' and the 'officially watching' one.  It's likely that a diaper change will happen at the worst time, or your child will spill their crayons all over the floor just as the soup course is coming around.  But having one of you really dedicated means that you can both enjoy those moments away a little bit more.

  4.  Coloring Cards.  I downloaded a BUNCH of options, but the ones that I ended up liking the best are these from Chabad.  The images might seem a bit dated, and they certainly were to complicated for little Exuberant Girl (EG) to do on her own, but I liked that I could give her a new one based upon what was happening in the seder, and there were a lot of pages to keep her entertained.

Seder's At Your House:
  1. Go CRAZY with the plagues.  Even before we got to the part of the service where we went through the plagues, giving all the kids plague elements definitely kept them entertained.  No, you might not be talking about the wild beasts, but they can play with the objects before you get there.  I'll show you what we gave each child in their little baskets, but I think it worked really well to keep them all engaged with at least something holiday related. 

  1.  Lots of Songs.  I downloaded a BUNCH of options, but the ones that I ended up liking the best are here.  And honestly, I didn't really need to play many of them, as they are known to the audience I was engaging with.  Each time we would sing a song, all of the kids would pay attention and really engage with us.
  1. Don't sit at the table.  This is the second year where we've avoided the table until it was actually time to eat.  It's worked out really nicely.  Sitting at a table, being strapped into a chair really limits a child's ability to engage, and with force of habit, makes them think that dinner is imminent even when it isn't.  Keeping everyone on couches or the floor and allowing the kids free movement really helped them keep their energies in check.

4.      Dramatic story-telling.  You know those people who do magical things with their words?  When you are telling the story of Passover really get into it.  It’s a dramatic story with burning bushes, evil Pharoah’s, etc.  Making eye contact, hand gestures and really being in the moment can help to show the kids how magical it is, and keep them engaged in the evening.

 I know some people will have seders on Friday, and we're also attending one on Saturday.  Hopefully these tips and tricks will help you to have the best seder you can, especially with your young ones.  Try to remind those who you are with about the reasons behind having the youngest ask the questions- everyone else might know the stories and the songs, but how are we passing that down to the next generation?  How are we ensuring that our kids have that experience and can really engage with the seder in a meaningful and appropriate way? 

Good luck, and Chag Sameach! 

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

When you thought that Passover was enough...

we begin to count the Omer!

 ספירת העומר

Sefirat HaOmer

For those of you who don't know, the second night of Passover is the starting of the Counting of the Omer.  The biblical requirement to count the omer comes from Leviticus, and dicates that you should count the 50 days between Passover and Shavuot.  While many of us think that after Passover there aren't any holidays, if you count the Omer there is something fun to do everyday!

According to the rules you are supposed to count the omer each night, starting on Tuesday, April 15th.  You should count the omer when it's nighttime (typically when there are 3 stars in the sky, or 30 minutes after sundown) and count each night until you get to 50.  You say the day of the count, and the week of the count (today is day 15, which is 2 weeks and one day) There is a prayer that's said each night as well:
Baruch atah A-donai E-loheinu Melekh Ha-olam asher kid'shanu b'mitzvotav v'tzivanu al S'firat Ha-omer.

Blessed are You, Lord our God, King of the Universe, Who has sanctified us with His commandments and commanded us to count the Omer.
If you forget to count one evening, you can still count during the day, just no saying the prayer.  However, if you forget an entire day then you are 'out for the count.'

Since no one wants to start counting the omer then have to stop because they forgot, you'll often find people setting up Omer counters during the week before Passover as well.  This is a great way to get your kids involved, and a great time to reflect on the meaning of the week.

Now, I've never counted the Omer before.  But I'm always looking for ways to more actively engage with my little EG and with our family in general.  Unfortunately I've had a hard time finding any type of interactive counter that would work with my little one.  So, I've turned to Advent calendars, and I think I'm going to set-up this type:
Or here's a mom who followed this Advent style for Chanukkah:
I think I'm going to put some sort of treat in each bag, and hopefully a little card with what to think about following one of these traditions:

Biblical Women
Traditional Omer Thoughts
Plants for the Omer

PJ Library also has some good resources for counting the Omer here.  Since this is our first time participating in the event I think we'll stick with the traditional Omer thoughts and work our way around from there.  I like the idea of focusing on something for the week, and new ways to look at that item each day.  I do plan to put some sort of treat in each bag, even though the time of the Omer is traditionally not a time for celebrations...I think it's important that while we reflect we also have something to motivate us more externally.  Hopefully a little treat will do just that.  I'll try to post pictures when it's up, and give you a report about how it goes!
If you aren't feeling very crafty, or maybe you want a little more fun you can count the 'Homer Calendar' during this time as well.  Any way you choose, maybe you'll throw a little Omer into your home this year!

Love this!  Thanks Keren Keet!

Monday, April 14, 2014

Selling your Chametz

Rabbi Jason Blog

Have you 'sold' your chamtez yet?  This was probably one of the most controversial things in our household when we were just moving in together.  Trying to explain the intricacies of what is Chametz, what is kitniyot and what we have to do with it during the holiday...confusing!

On top of all of that, we then have to deal with the prospect of not owning it.  I don't know how it happens, but it seems that we always end up stocking up on pasta before Passover.  If I was smart I'd stop buying any products in the middle of March, but somehow, that just never works out for me.

So what's a Jew to do?  Commit internet fraud, of course. 

Yes, you read that right, internet fraud.

As my lovely husband likes to point out, the sales of your Chametz online via links like these is most likely illegal and internet fraud.  What you are doing when you are submitting that form is giving the user on the other end the authority to sell your items for you.  But we all know that you have no intention of following through on the sale, right?  You don't expect some burly guys to show up with a moving truck, knock on your door and take delivery of the 'items' they just bought, do you? but I wouldn't mind if they showed up at my door!
According to the Rabbi's you are perfectly safe from a religious perspective... (a more through legal argument can be read here...) but I think the real question is how you feel about it.  Working Dad definitely thinks it's hysterical, and every year I go out of my way to avoid trying to commit Internet Fraud.  I just know he wouldn't let me hear the end of it.

Back to the point...have you sold your Chametz yet?  I usually try to talk a friendly neighbor into 'owning' it for me.  We exchange a dollar and I feel much better knowing that he could take ownership if he really wanted to.  But that can lead to some awkward conversations.  My Mother-in-Law offered to buy our Chametz this year.  I'm thinking I might take her up on it.

What are you doing?  Internet fraud, or something else?

PS- you have to sell your Chametz TODAY before a specific time... Make sure you do it this morning so as not to miss the deadline :-)

Friday, April 11, 2014

Temple Shalom Tot Shabbat

We'll be headed to the Temple Shalom in Hermosa Beach Tot Shabbat tonight.  They meet at St. Cross Church at 1818 Monterey Blvd. Hermosa Beach, CA.  The program starts at 5:30pm, and we've never been before.

Hope to see you there!

Jerusalem Connection

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Songs for Passover

As I'm getting ready for my Toddler Passover seder I've been not only cutting down and altering the text of my Haggadah, but I've also been trying to find some additional musical resources to add to the evening.


There are lots of traditional songs in the Passover seder, including Kadesh Urchatz, Ma Nishtana, Dayeinu, and Eliahu Hanavi.   And while these are great, there are also lots of new, updated and modern songs that the kids can enjoy.  Bang Bang, Lotsa Matza, and the Frogs song to name just a few.  Not from when we were kids, but still rather fun.  I'm using the Bang Bang song during the seder, and I plan to play Lotsa Matza after dinner before we get into dessert/seder part 2.  I'm planning to seat everyone at the table while we sing Dayeinu.  That way we're all entertained, we can all chat/get our kids settled without having to worry to much about interrupting the 'flow.'

Here's what will be a part of my Musical Seder celebration:
Amazon Affiliate Link
Amazon Affiliate Link

I've also downloaded a lot of the more traditional Passover songs from the Jewish Birth Network. While I love Shira Kline (I won all her CD's), her melodies are a little bit more exciting, and interactive than I wanted for the most traditional songs.  I also love the Jewish Birth Network's version of the Bang Bang Hammer song, since the kids have been learning that one at school.

I've also downloaded a few videos, just in case the kids get a bit ancy and need some private time. 

Of course, I have the old standby- Shalom Sesame.  I haven't had a chance to watch it yet, but if nothing else I'm hoping it can help me keep EG calm while I'm getting the house ready on Tuesday.

Amazon Affiliate Link

Are you having a more musical Seder?  Do you like the traditional melodies, or are you branching outside the box to explore a little more this year?

Going to the mikvah...

Well, actually, I don't think I'll be going anytime soon, but I did want to share some recently announced news about the Rabbinical Assembly Mikvah (aka the Reform Mikvah at the AJU).  I've spoken about the mikvah before, about when I immersed before getting married.  I highly recommend it. 

When I wrote about my Mikvah experience I had mentioned the AJU mikvah, but honestly it was really hard to find information.  Even just the basics like the hours it was available, the costs associated, etc.

So when I got an e-mail giving me the website of the mikvah for all to see and use, I was thrilled.

Is the website perfect, no.  The FAQ's could certainly use some beefing up...but it's a start.  It's a place with a phone number and costs and hours. 

Enjoy South Bay women- a mikvah not to far from home.

Image from the Rabbinical Assembly mikvah website

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Meeting our Doula

We've decided to hire a doula for our upcoming birth.  While we didn't have one last time, there were lots of circumstances surrounding EG's delivery that we'd like to avoid.  Namely my almost death and my epidural.

Please don't think that I'm judging anyone for getting an epidural. It was definitely the right decision for our family at the time.  Yes, I say our family.  The decision didn't just impact me, or even just me and EG.  It was a family choice and though I know I made the right one the occasional twinge of pain in my back/spine tells me it's not what I want to do again.

Holly's wonderful logo :-)
So, enter our wonderful Bradley teacher HollyShe will be our doula for our upcoming July delivery, and I can't think of anyone I'd rather have by our sides.  Our first meeting was so sweet, not only catching up since seeing each other for Bradley reunions, but chatting about what happened last time, what we want to do differently and all the emotions that come with it.

If I haven't said it before, I'll say it now.  This pregnancy has been an emotional roller coaster for me.  It's just been SO HARD to keep things on the usual line... but we're getting towards the end, and I'm excited to know that we'll have this support.

So, why a Doula?  We know we intend to give birth in the hospital, so we didn't need a medical professional.  What we needed was a voice of reason, a partner to lean on, and especially, someone with a bag full of tricks to keep things moving along.

During the birth of EG it was just Working Dad and me.  Which was lovely.  But at the end of the day there was A LOT of pressure on Working Dad.  We'd both been up for almost 48 hours before EG entered the world, and it's hard to keep motivating, keep counting and keep supporting through that exhaustion.  Hopefully with Holly at our side, we'll have the extra support we need to get through it all.

Holly is certified by DONA, and she's been at so many births- looking over her facebook she was recently helping at a VBAC that ended up taking place in a car!  Imagine that!

I'll let you know as the experience develops and give a full rundown on all the doula info.

Here's to a healthy mom, a healthy baby and everyone well at the end of it all!

Monday, April 7, 2014

What's your Exodus

As I mentioned earlier this week, I went to the JCC Rosh Chodesh cooking and passover class.  It was quite a good class (they always are!) and I really enjoyed it. 

The main tenents of the class were talking about freedom, and what it means to be free from something, so you can be free to do something else.

When I saw Kveller's 'What's Your Exodus' series, I couldn't help but think that this fits right into the mold we were talking about in class. 

I need an Exodus from my expectations.  If I could only be 'one who is happy with his portion' then I know I'd get much further in my life.  Rather than expecting that things will change, be the change.  Rather than expecting that someone else will do it- do it myself.

In order to be free enough to see to the other side of what's important- to get to my freedom to- I need to be free from all of the expectations I've put on others and myself. 

I constantly put expectations on my husband.  Making my priorities his priorities. And yes, as a married and committed couple it's definitely true to say that we should have joint priorities.  And when we are talking about the big things, that's great.  But what about the little things.  Time snuggling on the couch vs. unwinding with a video game?  Putting the dishes away in the kitchen vs. chatting on the phone with a friend?

Far too often I try to force him to have my expectations.  And it doesn't just stop with him.  As a mother it's my job to support, encourage and teach my children.  And with that comes a lot of responsibility.  EG is at that wonderful age when she can't stop exploring, but she's still malleable enough to do what we need her to.  But I need to see the world from her point of view, her level of understanding.

Yes, there are things I can expect- but I have to remember that these are MY projections onto the situation in front of me.  It's sort of like the well of goodwill.  Sometimes I have to realize that my well of good will is only as deep as I make it.  No one can make me feel bad without my permission- I have to realize that I have the power to interpret my circumstances.

It's a tall order.  It's a lot to keep in mind.  But hopefully, as we have 24 people sit down for our Passover Seder, I can remember that each of them came to join together with others.  That the only one really worried about the temperature of the soup or the chicken is me.  That the only one who thinks that the tablecloth isn't perfect, is me.  To smile, relax, and lower my expectations.

Friday, April 4, 2014

Tot Shabbat's Tonight

Merrick Jewish Center

Here's a listing of the Tot Shabbats/Family Shabbat's happening around the South Bay area tonight.

We'll be at the JCC, our usual haunt, for their Family Shabbat- hope to see you there!

JCC Beach Cities: 6pm
Features singing, a puppet show, a birthday gift if it's your month, and some light food (tuna fish, kugel, noodles, etc.) 

Temple Menorah: 5:30pm craft, 5:45 dinner, 6:30pm service
Features a different theme each week with a family craft, dinner, and then a family related service.  The service typically starts around 6:30pm and ends around 7:15pm with a dessert oneg and dancing.

Congregation Tikvat Jacob: 5:45pm
This service promises to include some special Passover songs, and treats for the kiddos. 

Thursday, April 3, 2014

DIY Haggadah

Are you making your own Hagaddah?

I've been making my own Haggadah for a few years now.  I started with one from the URJ in 2011, but in 2012 I typed up my own in word, including making the cover you see above.  Since then I've been tweaking it and making it something new.

Of course, a great starting place is  They have a bunch of 'clips' that people have uploaded that you can include in your own version.  I haven't been very succcessful at using their whole system, but I have found a few great pieces to include this year.

There are a few from "My Haggadah: I made it myself" which are more geared towards a slightly older child (say 5-7) than my under 3 crowd, but definitely good themed coloring sheets.

I started my personal Haggadah with the text from Jewish Boston's "The Wandering is Over" which they used to feature as a Word Document download.  That gave me all of the hebrew text, and a really nice format/flow.

Add to that some questions I took out of a few of the Haggadahs I own, and I think I have something going.  This year I also added a lot from Reform Judaism's Seder for young children.  I liked the songs, and plan to download them all to my Kindle to have them ready for the service.

I also bought these CD's, so I could have mood music and some other background music playing.

These are the Haggadah's we own:

And yes, we own at least a few more.  Not that I own enough of each one to have an entire seder, but I like to have a lot of resources for people to look through.  Each one has unique perspectives to share...

My family Seder on Monday will feature this Haggadah:

Which I like, and has a lot of great tid-bits.  Of course, the reality is that I'm also sort of over it.  We've used it every year for a very long time, and I don't think it really adds anything additional to the discussion anymore.  Of course, with my family there isn't much discussion.  They are always so concerned with getting to the food that we don't do much chatting.

At least I've finally gotten them to the point where we do the back part of the seder.  We'll see how that goes again this year.
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