Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Growing Up Girl: #YesAllWomen

With the tragedies in Isla Vista this past weekend an enduring moment seems to be a twitter-feed labeled #YesAllWomen.

I'm sure you haven't managed to avoid the coverage of the story, but a brief rundown amounts to a 22 year old boy feeling slighted by all women because he is still a virgin in college.  Therefore he murders his roommates, and then takes to the streets and kills murders several more people.

I typically try to avoid hearing/reading/listening to all the coverage about gory and violent things on the internet.  I know people who live in and around UCSB, and working at UCLA has certainly made it part of our day as we returned to work.

Beyond the obvious tragedy, I've been shocked by the #YesAllWomen hashtag feed.  First that women felt the need to create a place to respond to this tragedy in this way, and show the world how prevalent these ideas are.  But beyond that, the worry that someday my own daughter might be posting to that hashtag about her own experiences.

I was a virgin until I was with Working Dad.  No, that doesn't mean I was a virgin when I got married, but I've only ever been with the man I married- the father to my children, and the light of my soul.  I honestly do believe that he is my B'Sheret, and the person that I am ultimately tied to.

But before I was with him there were lots of guys I dated.  And lots of guys who wanted to do things with me that I didn't want.  There was a moment in my life when I experienced a physical act that I didn't consent to.  I wasn't raped, but I was definitely sexually assaulted.  And it was horrible.  And I remember the reactions of friends and family members being less than ideal.  Except Working Dad.  He was there for me- as he was countless times throughout my life, and as he will be countless more times throughout my life.

Reading through the hashtag makes me nervous.

About Growing Up Girl in today's society.  How do I protect my little EG from these horrible ideas?  That she would be better off yelling 'Fire' if she needs help rather than help (@Carrie K.)  That giving out a fake phone number or telling someone she has a boyfriend are good lies to help protect herself (@katekilla & @JBRylah)

I didn't tell these men before I dated them that I was saving myself for marriage.  I didn't think I was.  I didn't tell them that we could go out on dates, and make-out and get close, and that they would never 'close the deal.'

I remember one boy telling me that he hated me because he got an STD test for me because I said that we definitely wouldn't be having sex if I didn't know both he and I had clean bills of health.  Did that mean I was going to sleep with him?  I didn't think so, but being prepared isn't a bad thing...

I certainly didn't think that the boy I got the herpes vaccine for was the one.  But I got the vaccine anyways, because I didn't want to be worried about it if the time came (it didn't.)  I didn't blame him for the pain, nor did I feel pent-up anger and frustration when it was actually he who ended it.  I finished the shots and was thankful that I was protected against one more STD and cervical cancer.

So what do I do about my little 2-year old?  Turn her into a liar?  I always told my parents the truth, sometimes regardless of how they would feel about it.  I never lied about spending the night at a boys place- these were choices I made, and I thought it was better to be on the 'up and up' rather than going behind their backs. 

How do I teach her that it's okay to reject someone?  That it's okay to say 'I'm not interested' without worrying about a stalker or a rampaging murderer?

Maybe I'm worrying about it too soon, but how do you help a 2 year old turn into a teenager who turns into an adult?

I want my sassy little girl to be empowered.  To have grit.  To know that her views, and her feelings matter, and that she doesn't have to be afraid- whether it's 2am or it's 4:30 in the afternoon. 

Of course, I used to call my Dad from Pittsburgh at 2am on the walk home.  Somehow I was comforted that he was there with me.  In my lame brain I thought if something happened he would be able to call 911 (which is actually totally ludicrous!)  I took part in my campuses semester safety walks, where the Dean of Students and the Head of Facilities would walk with interested students around the campus and give let us give inputs about where new lights and emergency telephones should  be.  I was proactive.

What do I do when she moves from pretending to do something, to actually doing it?  To setting her free in the world?

See my other posts in this series:  Growing up Girl: I can't do it, Growing Up Girl

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Shavuot: Ramblings on the Ten Commandments

Shavuot is coming up next week, and we've discussed some ways of celebrating it, and the importance of the election right before it starts, but now it's time we dig into the meat of the story.

What is Shavuot?  The literal answer is the giving of the Ten Commandments at Mt.Sinai to all the Jewish people. 

One of the things I love most about Jewish holidays is that they always encourage study and contemplation.  And this year is no different.  Study leading up to Shavuot, and our attempt at taking part in the counting of the Omer has led to me looking at things in a new light, and yes, this rambling post about it...

This year I learned a lot of new things about Shavuot.  Did you know it's said that all Jewish souls (yup, every single one, convert or not, born yet or not) were there at Mt. Sinai to hear and witness the giving of the ten commandments.

When you look at the ten commandments as written they are beautiful statements about our responsibility to ourselves.  They don't talk about our rights, but our responsibilities to others.  Do not murder, do not steal, do not commit idolatry.  As those of us with youngins know, the only thing we can be responsible for is ourselves.  Our responses to others, our minds and our actions.  This starts with G-d.  With the ten commandments showing us that despite everything else going on in the world, we are responsible only for ourselves.

It's interesting to note that the first commandment doesn't read as a commandment at all.  I am the Lord Your G-d, who brought you out of the land of Egypt.  That doesn't seem to be commanding me to do anything at all. 

This year I've come to a new understanding of the first commandment- a point of reference upon which to build all the other commandments.  Depending upon where you stand in your faith (and believe me, I realize this could be a different answer today than yesterday) the belief of G-d as an almighty and legitimate force upon which you should rest your shoulders can be daunting.  I haven't seen any major miracles in my life- maybe you have been blessed differently.  But by starting out referring to a miracle that G-d did that was witnessed by millions of people you start listening with a different ear.

The first step then, in the 10 commandments, is to acknowledge the awesomeness, the power and the authority to command. 

Have you looked at the ten commandments in a new way this year?  Has somethings sparked your interest that didn't seem as relevant last year.

Friday, May 23, 2014

Pregnancy #2

I've been thinking about writing this post for a very long time, but it didn't seem like it would be interesting to anyone.  However, chatting with a friend over the weekend as well as my doula has convinced me that it's time to open-up and share.

This pregnancy has been really hard on me and Working Dad.

I don't say that lightly, nor do I think that pregnancies aren't hard.  But this pregnancy has been different.  There are lots of things that change and are annoying/difficult when you are pregnant.  From your abs splitting (mine have) to headaches and backaches and everything in between.

And then there are real problems.

One of those real problems that people don't talk about enough is pre-natal anxiety/depression.

And it's what I'm suffering from right now.

It's been really hard to admit that there is a larger problem.  And that it's something that is beyond my control.  Right from the beginning we knew that this pregnancy was different.  I didn't have a lot of the physical problems that I had with EG.  I wasn't as nauseous, I didn't have almost any issues eating and cooking food, and I didn't throw-up as much.  On the flipside though, I was an emotional roller coaster.

I've always been a person who feels things on the tips of my sleeves.  That lays it all out there, and goes from crying to fine in about 3 minutes flat.  I had a lot of emotions when EG stopped breastfeeding (especially since it was so sudden) but I worked through those feelings. Something about this was different.  I would get into a mood and not be able to get out of it.  I would spend all day being angry, or sad, or despondent with the slightest of provocation.

It seemed to start that way the moment I found out I was pregnant.  Not only did my body seem to change instantly (good bye short lived regular t-shirts and bras, hello larger sized maternity items!), but it seemed like I instantly went from regular me, to someone else- someone crazy.

When I was pregnant with EG I had some emotional meltdowns.  We refer to one incident as the 'pizza/Thanksgiving' event.  After Thanksgiving dinner I needed pizza.  So badly that I ended up in a fit of tears in the middle of the kitchen floor bawling...

But this time, it seemed like these moments were not the outliers, but rather the norm.  Chatting with my doctor (who I totally love!) as he tried to reassure me that all of this was totally normal.  And some of it is. There are new hormones, changing emotions, and lots and lots of things going on.  Add in a toddler, a full-time job, and you've got a lot on your plate.

Then came our doctor's appointment in February.  It had been a really rough month.  I wasn't sleeping, I had unusual bruises on my legs and felt like everything was tension.  Things continued to seem like they were spiraling out of control, and when I arrived at my doctors office I was practically bawling already.  We chatted for a few moments, he took a look at me and a look at my numbers and decided I needed a two-week break from work.  Luckily Working Dad and I had already had similar thoughts and I had booked myself a week of vacation for a mommy/daddy babymoon already.

Luckily for me getting rid of the stress of work did wonders for me.  By Thursday (my appointment was on Monday) I was sleeping through the night again.  After my vacation things were looking up, and I seemed to be better balanced, and better at balancing all the demands I needed to get through.  Then came the end of April.  Work had been cooking up a storm with 7 events in a one month timespan.  I found myself back on the edge-three times in two weeks I was hysterical. 

One day I remember being so angry at Working Dad, when he did nothing really wrong.  He had said he would get up with EG, but he didn't, and I did.  We had a lovely morning, but when Working Dad finally got out of bed something happened.  I was angry beyond myself.  I remember sitting in the bathroom, bawling my eyes out and being in a bear hug by Working Dad.  Poor EG cuddling up to her parents, asking Mommy if she's okay. 


So, another two weeks off that just concluded a few weeks ago.  And thankfully I've been able to find some balance.  But it's getting harder.  Each day is a minor struggle, and each day is a minor victory. 

I'm lucky in that my doctor is talking with me seriously, and though he's a little to quick to push the medications for my mind (I don't have any qualms against it if you need them, but I think I'm better at balancing with talking/exercise/time) at least he acknowledges the problem.  He's given me some resources, and I've been taking advantage of what's available to me through my employer as well.

My doula has also been wonderful.  Talking with her about the issues, and about how Working Dad and I can partner together to get through things, that's been great.  She's also helped me shed light on why it might getting worse- the impending birth and my negative birth experience with EG.

But it is time for more people to talk about it.  So here I am, standing up and saying that pregnancy isn't all rosy.  I love my daughter and I love the baby inside of me, but that doesn't change the fact that depression/anxiety is a real thing.  I hope you don't have these issues, but if you do, know you aren't alone.

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Shavuot: New twists on Traditions

Shavuot is coming up, the commemoration of the giving of the Torah at Mt. Sinai.

Typically people celebrate Shavuot with several customs:  Eating dairy food, studying torah all night, and reading the story of Ruth.  While all of these are wonderful ideas, perhaps its time to modernize our approach and really figure out how to involve the kiddos into the celebrations.

Eating Dairy Food (and no, we're not part of the Drink Milk campaign ;-): 
The traditional foods include blintzes, cheesecake and ice cream parties, and I'm not saying don't do those things if that hits the spot.  However, with a little ingenuity we can turn our dairy treat into something fun and interactive too (and healthy!)

Yogurt Cups/Bar:
I did this at EG's first birthday and it was a big hit!  It's super easy to put together, just put out different kinds of Yogurt (vanilla and greek are my favorites!) and some simple toppings for people to put in their cups.  AlwaysOrderDessert has some great varieties if you want to make something totally different too.
Gilit from Shoes-Off-Please (Jewish Blogger!) had one at her daughter's party!
Ice Cream:
I know, I said that was traditional and we're talking about ways to be a bit non-traditional.  But in addition to what you eat, there's how you make it.  We own this Ice Cream Ball, and it's a blast!  It takes a bit to get it going (salt, ice, etc.) but it's a great way to keep the kiddos involved in the process.
Amazon Affiliate Link

Studying Torah:
While your kids may not be up for a full reading of the Torah, it can definitely be fun to switch up the nightly routine on the night of June 3rd and read some bible stories.  As a Jewish mother it can sometimes be hard to find traditional bible stories that aren't changed or altered or Christian in nature.  Here are a few that we own or have read that are wonderful for reading on Shavuot:

TEN GOOD RULES: This book is wonderful for our younger kids, from about 2-5.  The rules are simple and short, with counting as an extra fun part of the book.  The pictures are also simple to follow along and engaging.  And no, it's not 'do not commit adultery', it's 'Married people should love each other.'  Simple, easy and true to the Ten Commandments at it's core.
Amazon Affiliate Link
Classic Bible Stories for Jewish Children:  I like this book, but it's honestly too mature for EG.  It's geared more towards 4-8 year olds, those that can really sit through a story without many pictures.  But it's definitely got all the traditional/classic stories in it and without any additional references you may not want.

Amazon Affiliate Link
The Littlest Mountain:  This is a great story about why G-d chose Mt.Sinai over other mountains and follows a traditional midrash story in the telling of the tale.  It's got great pictures, a traditional Jewish storyline and definitely follows the storyline on Shavuot being the holiday at Sinai.

Amazon Affiliate Link
The story of Ruth:
Quick review for those of you who forgot:  Ruth is married, her husband dies and she decides to stick with her mother-in-law who is traveling back to Israel.  Ruth is the first 'convert' in that she forsakes her families religion to go to Israel.  While there she takes care of her Mother-in-Law by gathering food, etc. and eventually marries a man there.  Ruth's descendants include King David. 
This is EG's Hebrew name and so it's got a bit of connection for the family.

Unfortunately I haven't been able to find a decent story about Ruth that's kiddo appropriate.  However, I think it's also nice to focus on what Ruth did, and ways to incorporate that into your life.

This is a great excuse to have a playdate or two!  Introducing our kids to sharing and playing with others really reflects on what Ruth did.  Take a journey to the park to simulate the trip Ruth took with her Mother-in-Law Naomi...

While every child has toys they adore, they equally have toys that aren't their favorite.  I'm a huge fan of toy rotation, but I also believe that kids need to learn to let go early and often.  Maybe your child is old enough/big enough to pick out some toys for needy boys and girls.  If that's too much, maybe bring some to Grandma's house to play with while you're there...?  I'm hoping to get EG to 'give' some toys to B2, so that's something to consider as well.

How are you celebrating Shavuot?  Have you even thought about it yet with all the days between now and then?

I'll be back next week with some deeper thoughts on what Shavuot means to parenting, and how to embrace the 10 commandments in your own life.

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Teaching Emotional Intelligence

I think we've really hit this moment with EG- where she's old enough to understand that she doesn't like things, and feels sad and angry and disappointed, but not old enough to figure out the differences between those feelings.

And as she grows into this beautiful and amazing girl there have been a few moments that have given me pause.  We've talked about the 'I Can't do it' phase, which she still seems to be settling out of.  But what's become worrisome to me now is her response to other people's tears- 'Calm Down' and I think we're heading down a dangerous path.

So what is emotional or social intelligence?  Sounds like something fancy, but it's actually quite simple.  Someone's ability to manage their own emotions and relate to other's emotions.  And, if I'm honest, EG is doing fairly well on the managing her own emotions.  Her tantrums are mild, she usually shares her toys, and typically understands when explained why something can/can't happen. 

They say that emotional/social intelligence starts at this young age- and starts with helping your child identify their own emotions and to empathize with their feelings.  This is something I think we struggle with a little bit.  When EG starts crying because Mommy or Daddy is leaving, the natural thing to think and say is 'you're okay...' but in reality all we're doing when we say that is devaluing her emotions.  She doesn't think she's okay.  She's sad and hurt that Mommy/Daddy are leaving.  As an adult, empathizing with that feeling and helping her identify it can be really challenging- especially if you're leaving her with a babysitter or grandparent.

At this age a lot of Emotional Intelligence relates to how kids interact around toys.  Since we don't advocate 'sharing' in our household we're a bit ahead of the curve in that realm.  We advocate waiting your turn, and taking things in turn.  However, in order to help EG understand her emotions and feelings we need to be taking it one step further- verbalizing what she might be feeling while she's waiting.  "I know it's disappointing to wait for your turn, do you want to X while you wait"

Of course, it's easy to say, and hard to accomplish.

Last night we had one of EG's friends over for a playdate.  She came home from school with us, and her and EG played around through dinner when her Dad came to pick her up.  And sometimes we did well, and other times we didn't. 

One of the things that worked well was letting EG choose what to start with, since it was her house.  I used this to effectively head off a possessive ownership of carseats and highchairs.  Since they are both EG's by letting her decide which one she wanted to use, she felt good about her friend being in the other.

I continually used terms about taking turns, and helped to promote equality by finding another baby dolly, baby blanket, push cart, etc. 

But at the end of the day, I'm trying to raise a responsible adult.  Not a teenager who needs me to referee.

I'm hoping that in the months to come we take advantage of those less heated moments.  When EG is scared of the vaccum or a dog.  Taking the time to acknowledge her feelings, help explain them to her, and help her move past them if possible.  Showing her the vacuum, helping her pet the dog, and when she cries because Mommy or Daddy is leaving, hopefully someone will say "I know you are feeling sad that M/D went away.  Where ever they are, they are always your Mommy/Daddy and always love you." 

When EG does feel mad or angry that someone takes something, I'm hoping to teach her to stand up for herself.  To express to the person she's mad at directly her feelings of anger, or hurt, or rejection.  But, one day at a time...

How are you teaching your child emotional/social intelligence?  Is it working? 

I found a few resources on the interwebs that seem helpful:  here, and here.  Let's just hope that I can remember them in the moment.

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Review: KidSpace Museum Pasadena

This past weekend we went out to Pasadena to visit the Kidspace Museum.  It's located in the Rose bowl area, situated in a lovely area of Parking Lot I.

While EG had a lot of fun while we visited the museum, I definitely didn't feel like it was worth the high price of admission.  While I'm glad it wasn't a movie, paying $11 for admission to this location didn't exactly seem worth it for the 1.5 hours we spent there.  At least with a movie it would have been about 2 -2.5 hours. 

However, that being said, EG really did have a lot of fun.  She's a total water baby, and the weekend was a hot one.  Right when you walk in they have a few water exhibits, just water fountains out of the floor in a large area.  It was partially shaded, and while waiting for our friends I left EG and Working Dad there to run to the restroom (ah pregnancy!).  I get back and EG is SOAKED through her dress.

Luckily we had packed for a swimming adventure that was postponed earlier in the weekend, so we had EG's bathing suit at the ready!  She was totally soaked in minutes.

And that seemed to be par for the course...there were TONS of kids running around in their bathing suits that day.

But let's back up, because once EG was soaked and our friends arrived we headed out into the sun at the 'Physics Forest'

This was a whole area full of about 10 - 12 different little activities for the kids.  While they all related to some sort of interesting math and physics problem, none of the notions were really that accessible to our toddlers.  They enjoyed watching the balls move, and running around the bridges, but many of the activities we had to do for them.  We worked 'together' to pull strings, and make bells ring, but definitely not to accessible at this age.

However, it was an interesting space, and the explanations were very interesting.  Probably the place that got the most attention was the 'roller coaster.'  This area (pictured below) had balls you could drop down the different tubes, etc.  There were some parents who had made something very cool, and EG loved being held up to drop her balls and see them go.  She even added a piece to a smaller tube section.

We moved on after a bit, since the thing I was most excited about seeing was the arroyo.  And boy was it worth it.  Honestly, it might have been worth the price of admission all by itself!  (Okay, not really, but it was very, very cool!)

At the top they had a little structure that had 'rain' falling from it.  It simulated the water cycle and the kids absolutely adored it.  Walking under the water and seeing it start and stop was so interesting.  My favorite part was the moving of the creek over the rocks.  EG intially made Working Dad hold her hand as she climbed down, but then I convinced her that she could do it herself using her hands and her feet.  It was tons of fun to watch her, and a really memorable moment, with me remembering all the different creeks/crossings I've climbed in during my young life.

She ran around in her regular diaper, and I definitely wouldn't encourage anyone to drink the water, since there were lots of toddlers.  But we had tons of fun watching her play with people and with the water buckets.  She was having so much fun that we almost failed to notice how cold she was getting.  Being soaking wet made her quite cold, and at the end her teeth were chattering.

We got her dressed and headed out for lunch.

From KidSpace Museum site
From KidSpace Museum website

 What would I do differently?  I would definitely enter the park as early as possible.  With a noonish naptime, we didn't get to play that much.  We entered just before 11am, and with the high cost I wish we had more time there.

We didn't even go inside the building, which houses an ant farm and a climbing tower.  Just to much fun in the sun and the water.

I would also bring our own lunch, since it was naptime when we left and the Rose Bowl is far away from any type of restaurant or dining location EG fell asleep before we got anywhere for food.  We didn't want to wake her up, since she is a sleepy girl, and that meant that she didn't eat lunch until about 2pm.  Not a huge deal, but definitely better to BYOL.

If we lived in the area I would get a family membership.  It's expensive ($189) for a year, but I could definitely see us making the most out of it with $33 per visit for all three of us.

Have you been to Kidspace Museum?  What other children's museums have you been to and liked?

Monday, May 19, 2014

June 3rd- A day of Obligations

I hope that everyone enjoyed their Lag B'Omer celebrations, no matter how you marked the occasion.  Maybe you ate a smore for me :-)

Coming up in the next few weeks is what the Omer count has been all about- Shavuot, the giving of the Torah at Mt. Sinai.  While I'll go further into some ideas about how to celebrate Shavuot, as well as some additional thoughts about how to make the 10 commandments relevant to you and your kids, there is another important thing happening literally the same day:  Primary Elections in California.

I'm not sure where you live, and since this isn't a political blog, I won't go into all the CA issues you might encounter on your election ballot.  This is only a reminder that in addition to our obligation of Shavuot that night, as Americans and as Jews we should participate in our electoral process. 

There are many halahic ideas and rhetoric about voting from a Jewish perspective, in fact there is an entire Wikipedia article on the 'Jewish View on political involvement'.

This year, however, the start of Shavuot falls on the same day as voting.  What's a working woman to do?  Legally speaking employers are required to give you two-hours of leave to accommodate voting if your schedule would not otherwise allow you to access the polls while they are open.  This seems great, but many of the polling spots around the region are open early and late- often from 7am-7pm. (till 8pm in Los Angeles County).  I know my office typically thinks that due to these late hours, any worker leaving at 5pm has more than enough time to vote.

You can still register to vote by mail  through May 27th, and this might be a great option for you.  That way you don't have to worry about getting ready for Shavuot and voting the same evening/day.

Since Shavuot candle-lighting doesn't start until 7:40ish (Redondo Beach location) I think I'll have enough time to pick-up EG from school, run over to vote and still make it back before candle lighting.

Not registered to vote?  You can still register and vote in the upcoming June election if you get your registration done/postmarked TODAY! 

Don't know where to vote?  Look it up here in LA County.

See you at the ballot box!

Friday, May 16, 2014

Photo Sessions

I've been talking a lot about trying to capture and put order to all of the photos I have for EG when she was little, especially now that B2 is on the way.  One of the things that I wished we had done differently was to take Maternity Photos.  When I was pregnant with EG I thought that I would take a monthly photo, but I was never good at taking photos of myself, and convincing Working Dad was like trying to find a needle in a haystack.

When we got to a week before delivery I realized I didn't have almost any photos of me pregnant.  Yes, we went on our Babymoon, which was awesome, but all of those photos were from February, with EG being delivered in late June.  Not exactly the height of bellydom for me. I also had two baby showers, so there are photos from that event, but they aren't the same as deliberately taking a photo of the belly. 

So, into the backyard we went to take a few snapshots:

Are these really quality shots- heck no!  I'm practically blurry in both of them.  And don't you LOVE that hairband on my arm.  I didn't do my hair, I just basically wore what I had on, and we went back to the yard.  If you look in the photo above you can see the dark square of dust/rust that was from the umbrella stand we moved after we took a few photos.

I felt horribly awkward, trying to capture these images.  Don't get me wrong, I'm really glad that we took them- at least they are something.  But it's not exactly what I would have been going for.

This time on the Babymoon we took a few moments to take a few photos:

This one is my favorite- it's so much more natural than what we took with EG.  We were waiting for the sun to set, and Working Dad grabbed this shot.  I'm sure I was touching my belly deliberately, but the clothing, the setting, the angle, it makes me much happier.  Of course, it also makes me realize I have my father's nose, but hey, I still think it's a nice shot.

This time around I'm pregnant with a toddler- and she'll be turning two just before this baby comes on the scene (G-d willing!).  We usually take our family portrait sessions in the summer around her birthday, so we'll be planning to do that again.  This year I'm going to think even harder about what everyone wears.  I wasn't thrilled with my outfit last year, though EG looked adorable.  

And since I'll be crazy preggo, I'm sure that we'll take a few preggo shots too!  Why not kill two birds with one stone...

Did you take maternity portraits?  What did you wear?  Would you do it differently next time?

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Rialto and the ADL: Controversy in the News

There have been a few interesting pieces floating around the world in the last few weeks about antisemitism and the Holocaust.  Among these are the Rialto homework assignment, and the recently released ADL Global study.

To bring everyone onto the same page, the Rialto assignment involved a critical thinking project that asked the students to look at different provided documents, and determine if they believed the Holocaust happened, or if it was a political scheme designed to influence people.  They provided articles from, and a website called biblebelievers.  There has been a lot of response to this assignment, including some very unfortunate people leaving hate messages for teachers.  And, of course, a backlash against the superintendent, a Mohammad Islam.

This was followed up this week by the release of the Anti-Defamation Leagues release of their survey on antisemitism.  It had some unfortunate news, basically amounting to the fact that 25% of the people in the world think that negative stereotypes are true about Jews (including things like: Jews have too much power/control, Jews think they are better, etc.)  An alarming percentage of people had never heard of the Holocaust (35%) and the surprising fact that in Muslim countries (called MENA on the survey) more educated people are more likely to harbor anti-Semitic feelings.

I had really been trying to avoid talking about this on the blog, because I typically try to focus on things going on in our household, on the calendar, or things related to being a parent.  However, I think it's reached the point (especially with these two coming up so closely together) where I should at least acknowledge the controversy.

It's a hard spot to be in.  Being Jewish can be a tough road sometimes.  I've felt that personally on more than one occasion, including being told in an Orange County Mall that I was going to hell for not believing in Jesus Christ.

It's hard sometimes to know that I'm bringing up my daughter and future children in a world that won't always accept them.  That they will be forced to face negative thoughts about them, before someone even meets them.

I do, however, want to clearly say that I think there are two different things happening here. 

In Rialto I really do believe that it was an attempt to allow our students to flex their critical thinking muscles and craft an argumentative essay.  It's hard to craft an argumentative essay about something that no one argues or cares about.  However, I've decided it would have been better for them to use landing on the moon as the subject.  There weren't 6 million people killed during that event, and there are certainly enough skeptics to make it an interesting discussion.  The problem with the assignment is that there's no way to know if the students got past the erroneous knowledge provided by the sources, and calling anything a 'credible' source when it denies the Holocaust is another issue.

Then we come to the ADL survey.  I'm highly dismayed by the number of people who believe these stereotypes, but have absolutely no personal knowledge or interaction with Jews at all.  Additionally only 54% of respondents had heard of the Holocaust, and of those who had heard of it an alarming 32% believe it was a myth or exaggerated. 

One of the Rabbi's in the South Bay community pointed out as a positive that there aren't any Jews living where these people typically have such emotions.  And while I can see that point, I'm more concerned that they have such strong opinions about something they know nothing about.  Additionally it seems that there aren't any real ways to change their opinions in person, since it's not likely some Jews will move to any of these places.

Even in The Americas 19% of people believe one or more of the stereotypes, which I think is extremely high.  And it gets even trickier because the stereotype most believed is that Jews have a higher loyalty/affinity to Israel than to the state they live in.  This is a controversial thought, and a really tough thing to think about. 

The second most believed stereotype in The Americas is that we talk to much about the Holocaust- especially interesting given the recent Rialto event, and the worldwide view on the Holocaust.  Interesting Catch-22 to be involved in.  We talk about it too much, but only 33% of the world is aware of it...

Did you read up on any of these stories?  Do any of them make you worried about raising a Jew? 

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Re-do's and Do New for Baby #2

There have been a lot of people having a B2 around my world, and I thought I would share some of the things we're excited to be doing come round 2, and some of the things we've learned along the way to do differently. 

AGAIN- Angel Care Video Monitor:  We're planning to move over EG's monitor to the new babies room.  It has all the features we want in a monitor, from ensuring that B2 is breathing, to showing us the room temperature.  It also includes a wonderful VOX feature, which we use constantly.  It helps ensure that we hear what we need to hear, but not what we don't.  We got the free cord cover kit that fixes the recent recall issue, which I wasn't honestly too concerned about anyways...

Do NEW- Two Pads from AngelCare: We've heard that you can get a second pad and an adapter to make them work together.  With darling EG we stopped using the sensor part when she was still fairly young due to false alarms and her wiggly little squirmy self.  This time I'm working with Angelcare directly to get the second pad.  They were so helpful when our video screen stopped working, and I've loved their customer service.

Alex Hung cc
 AGAIN- Arms Reach Co-Sleeper:  I love, love loved having EG at arms reach during the night, and it made it really easy to breastfeed throughout the night.  I would be lying if I said she peacefully slept the whole night in the co-sleeper (it's possible that she never did) but having that extra space besides the bed really made the bed feel safer, with more space than without it.  I didn't have to worry about her rolling out of bed, because the co-sleeper was there.  It fits perfectly between the wall and our bed, so we'll be setting it up again.

Do New- Sound Machine: We got one for our room, and one for EG's room and we think they've been a big hit in keeping the house moving along.  I even managed to do some construction in the guest/kids bathroom while EG was sleeping thanks to this guy.  He's crazy small, so he's easy to bring with us on trips, and offers a range of noises.  You turn the base and the top to adjust the way it sounds, and since it's literally air moving around, it doesn't become monotonous the way a recorded sound can.
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Again- Baby Bjorn:  Working Dad and I both loved carrying around EG in the Baby Bjorn.  We'd often take long walks to dinner while EG would nap in the carrier.  We'd eat, walk home, and she'd wake up for her evening marathon nursing session.  She liked facing forward, I liked how easy and secure I felt with her strapped away.

Do New- Lillebaby:  This isn't a huge necessity, but with the Baby Bjorn I felt that she started to get to heavy at about 15lbs.  My back really started to strain, so it was limited to Daddy carrying her around.  Now I'll have two littles to worry about, and since I got the Lillebaby EG has been LOVING being carried around in it.  She asks to go in Mommy's backpack... Working Dad has the Kelty kids carrier, which is great for hiking and longer days, but sometimes she just wants to be held.  This way I have an option that supports my back better when B2 gets to be bigger.  I chose the Lillebaby because it allows me to wear the baby in just about every direction.

Lillebaby Amazon Link

Again- BumGenius Cloth Diapers: We still have quite the stash of EG's cloth diapers, and she still uses them at school.  I like how easy they are, and that they have a wide range of colors, etc.  When she's wearing them I don't feel like she needs a diaper cover under a dress- in fact the picture of her with my Dad from a few days ago is a BumGenius diaper and a shirt.  However, it would be a lie to say they have been wonderful since she's been on real food, and that she never leaks out of them.  I had to have BG replace almost all of them before the end of year one, and since we're nearing the end of year two, I've thrown out at least tow.

Do New- GroVia Hybrid Diapers:  My Sister-in-Law has some of these for her newest addition, and seeing them in action makes me want to add them to my 'stash.'  What I'm most excited about are the snap-in liners and the fact that there is a lining all the way to the edge with fabric.  The updated version of BumGenius has exposed PUL inside, and I don't like that.  Additionally I can bleach/soak the liners more and still have covers for the baby, especially when dealing with solid poop. I also love the idea of using a throwaway liner.  We put EG in disposables overnight (which we'll do with B2 as well) but this makes travel that little bit easier too!

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So that's what we're thinking so far.  Any thoughts on things you would have done differently, or are planning to do differently for baby #2?

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

An evolution in Sleeping

Now that EG is older we've enjoyed a sort of blossoming of our lives as adults.  She's old enough now where she understands who people are, willingly stays with Grandma and Grandpa and is much more flexible when it comes to bedtime.

I've mentioned before how wonderful EG is at sleeping, and though I don't want this to be either a bragging post, or a post that comes off as complaining about something most people would love to have in a heartbeat, it's been a difficult journey for us as parents to have such a good sleeper as a child.

When EG was first born we used to play the 'don't shake the baby' game to wake her up to eat.  Otherwise she'd snooze right through and the doctors were monitoring her weight pretty closely.

We called this her baby sunbathing pose- which worked very well when she had the billirubin blanket on.  This cradle was made by Working Dad's Grandpa for his daughter.  It's a wonderful family heirloom, and all the kids have slept it in.  EG loved to sleep in it for the first few months of her life...

When she started sleeping through the night it was wonderful, but she definitely started to commit herself to a bedtime, and any wavering away from that would create a tearful, cranky and anxious child.  Horrible problem, I know, but since EG was about 9 months old we've been unable to leave the house after 7pm and have consistently left events early to accommodate our little's early bedtime. When we were on our cruise in December one of us (okay, Working Dad) spent at least an hour and half in our cabin each day while she took her nap.  She napped beautifully in the pack-n-play, but it's still a pain when she wants to be in her own bed...

I know, I know, such a hard problem to have...

But this post isn't about the last few months. This post is about how now that EG is nearing 2 years old her flexibilty has increased to the point where we didn't leave a wedding until after 7:45pm.  Last night she went home to my parents house to sleep, transfered to the car for a drive, and then still slept through.

It's amazing to be able to feel like you can go out to events, have dinner after 5:30pm, and just generally be more active in life again. Of course, with great flexibility comes great responsibility...

There are definitely still days when at 6:45pm she's asking for 'night night' and bed.  And if we do too much for a few days we'll feel the brunt of that over stimulation for at least a night or two.  Then we end up with the same tired, cranky child who also doesn't listen very well.

Oh well, I'll enjoy the freedom while I have it before B2 arrives.  Once B2 is here, I think we'll be staying close to home.  In the meantime, anyone want to go out this weekend...? 

Monday, May 12, 2014

Return To Work

This morning I dragged myself out of bed at 6am to get ready for my return to work.  And now that my day is over, I think I might be finally ready to talk about it.

The strangest thing about going into work this morning wasn't getting up at 6am.  And it wasn't fighting traffic to get home.  Rather, it was heading into work feeling like I was wearing a big huge sign that said "I'm unreliable."

Now, don't get me wrong, I know I had legitimate reasons to be out of the office.  I know my doctor recommended that I take the time off, it was a good thing for me to do, and I don't regret it.  However, coming back in and not being able to say definitely that I'm better, or that I won't be needing to leave again without much notice is really really hard.

I've always prided myself on being someone who solves problems.  With a background in theatre and stage management, you're the first to show up and the last to go home.  Thinking that in the past few weeks with Jury Duty, then FMLA leave that no one has any idea when I'll be at my desk just kills me.

That's not to say that my supervisor is upset with me, or not supportive.  It's just so hard when you feel like you are trying to do it all, and do it well, and then have to shuffle your responsibilities onto someone else.

Especially since I've only been on this job for 6 months or so.

However, there were nice perks to being at the office today.  I took a nice lunch where I actually ate a decent amount of lunch food that was appropriate for the day.

I didn't clean up anyone's poop or pee.

I had a few minutes of me time walking to and from the office, and I even did a bit of reading on my way to lunch.

Have you returned to work after an absence?  How did you handle being back in the hot seat?

Friday, May 9, 2014

Lag B'Omer

If you've been counting along with your Omer count, you've realized that we're getting to the middle of our count, and we've just about hit the downward slide. Once we hit the downward slide, we'll be coming upon a holiday known as Lag B'Omer.

Traditionally celebrated with bonfires, it's sort of like the first holiday of the summer.  It marks the 33rd Day of the Omer count, and is a sort of step away from the more traditional stoicism of the count.  In reality, it's an odd sort-of-holiday.  It doesn't have any references in the Torah, it's unclear what, exactly, it's marking.  But I say any chance to use my fire and make some S'mores is alright by me!

This year the Chabad of the Beach Cities is hosting a BBQ bonfire at Valley park on May 18th.  Since the event is on a Sunday, it's a nice opportunity to get out and have some fun.

If you want something larger, this might be just the ticket:

This is a Jewish Unity project, and a great festival of Jewish pride in the Los Angeles area.  It's sure to be TONS of fun, and lots of excitement.  It's definitely a more religious celebration (coordinated and hosted by Chabads) but it should be fun for everyone.   Plus a visit to the Pico area is always a good time for food, shopping and adventures.

But let's imagine for a moment that you are tired.  That this mother's day weekend actually took a lot of planning, and you want to settle in for a relaxing day.  I say, plan yourself a nice picnic and take it down to the beach, or the park.

A few ideas to get you started:

Design Megillah Picnic

Some suggestions from Joy of Kosher:

Are you going to do anything for Lag B'Omer?  Anything suddenly pop into mind?

Thursday, May 8, 2014

Bedroom for B2

Now that my sister has come and gone we've started to really turn our attention to the new babies room.  We're going with a Noah's Ark theme, since Working Dad's grandmother collected them, and we have about 6 or 8 that we can display.  I like the theme, it works well in our house, and sort of compliments EG's Hot Air Balloon theme. 

Here's the mood board I created.  This is my first time creating one, so don't judge me to harshly:

I've already bought the wallpaper, which is Element by Graham and Brown.  It wasn't too expensive, and we'll be mounting it horizontally to make it like an ocean wave.  I'm planning to mount all the arks around the water, with the animals inside.  There will be at least two that the children can play with, most likely a playmobile wooden one, then there are a few puzzely wooden ones from Grandma's collection.

We're using the crib we have from EG's room, once we get her toddler bed.  She's not crawling out of the bed yet, so we're planning to put in the toddler bed and try taking naps on it before moving over for nightime.

The dresser is the big piece that I haven't found yet.  The one in the mood board is from Pottery Barn and is over $1000, so I don't think we'll get that one.  I've been looking on Craigslist, and hope to find one cheaply.  I'm planning to do magnetic paint on the end sides, and maybe do a rainbow in the middle of the closet space.  The closet in the babies room has lots of storage and things that can't move, so I'm pretty much planning to block it off.

I love these bamboo blinds.  I think I can use them decoratively, and then add a total light blocking curtain behind them.  This image is from Young House Love.  I also LOVED their little octopus hanging item- I picked that up from Target.

The only thing I haven't been able to buy/find is the rocking chair I want.  The one in this image is from Target's Eddie Bauer line, but they don't make it anymore.  They sell one by Little Castle, but I don't really like it and it's really expensive.

Oh well- what do you think about B2's room?  I'll update you as we make some progress!

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Project Life Album Making

I already talked about the wonderful first year baby book that I've started (and almost finished!) for EG.  The giveaway is still open through Thursday, so feel free to enter that still.

However, even with all those wonderful pages, there are still plenty of things that I didn't get to include in that book.  Not all the holidays were represented (no 4th of july!) and anyways it only goes through year one with holidays or stories. 

I've been a scrapbooker for quite some time.  I did my first book when I was in high school, and have even made gifts of books for my parents and my sister.  However, since having EG it's been really hard to continue to scrapbook.  It tends to take a lot of time, a lot of space and a lot of materials to get things done.  We have a tiny house, and though I had the guest bedroom as my office/crafting space I was never in it.  Once EG goes to bed there is laundry and dishes, not to mention a few minutes/hours with Working Dad before hitting the hay. 

Enter Project Life by Becky Higgins.   It's a scrapbooking/journaling/album system that works without you cutting photos, and is super easy to use.  So far, I've found it to be incredible, and I wanted to share with you a few of the pages that I've worked on.

The books are bit larger than the typical 12x12 size, but they fit 12x12 pages as well.
I only bought all the items two weeks ago, and have only spent 1-2 hours a night for about 5 nights on everything you see here.  That tells you how quickly you can work on a Project Life album.  I was initially really hesitant to use the system, because I didn't think that I would be able to add all the personality and the items that are special to me (in scrapbooking I keep everything from ticket stubs to maps and use those in my books) but I've found myself able to include lots of the things I used to in my regular books.

I started with my baby showers.  Even though these are in EG's first year book, there were tons more photos, and momentos that didn't fit.  I had them slipped inbetween the pages of the Pearhead book, but anytime that she or anyone else wanted to look through it was worried these items would get lost.  This whole page took me about 5 minutes.

The system is simple. It's a big binder, a few page protectors (she has like 12 different styles) a 'core kit' of little note cards and your photos:
 There are other companies that produce items that fit inside the pockets as well, and I've really enjoyed some of the products by WeR Memory keepers. They sell the little cards and a lot of them are really, really neat. 

As you can see below it's still easy to include items that you've collected.   I cut up some of my cards, included whole cards in a 5x7 little sleeve, and the list of who gave me what in an 8x11 sleeve. 

I used a regular scrapbooking page to add some of the cards we received.  You can pull out the page and open each of the cards, so we can always see what people said about the coming baby. 

Journaling is a big thing in Project Life.  I love that they make the cards nice and easy to write on, but I don't love my handwriting.  I'm going to have to get better at my penmanship, but I know that when EG is older, she won't care what my handwriting looked like- she'll just care that I wrote so much down!
The larger 4x6 cards some with cute sayings on them, or are more like title pages like on the top left.  They make it really easy to add cute and meaningful sentiments and just round out the images. 

When I was making this album I had bought myself the baby girl package by both We R Memory and by Becky Higgins (she calls them project packs I think), and it's so nice and easy to add the details.  They have little cards that say everything from "1 month" to "I Heart Tummy Time" and everything in between. 

I was able to add in my birth plan, and EG's hospital bracelet to the mix as well.  I've kept all these items, I might as well use them!  I also have her first hat and her baby blanket that she was wrapped up in.  I might make a box for her items, but I could also cut a scrap of the blanket and put it in one of the pocket folders they have. 

I hope seeing how easy this is has inspired you to take the jump.  It's versatile, easy, and a nice compromise between scrapbooking and traditional albums.  I also love that none of the pictures have been touched or hurt, they aren't stuck to anything, so you don't have to worry about not being able to remove them.  It would be so easy to take out any photos that get damaged, or to take them out to make copies of them.

Now that I've started, I'm hoping to finish and get 'current' before the baby comes.  I've got at least 5-6 other albums that I want to work on (here's to getting all our wedding into a scrapbook!) but at least I'll feel good about moving forward.  That's one of the things that Project Life is so great about- less guilt!  Just put them in the sleeves, add a few cards, jot a quick note and you are done.

Once I get current I plan to print once a month and work forwards. 

Do any of you use Project Life?  Do you do more traditional scrapbooking?  The only thing I haven't figured out is what to do once B2 gets here.  Do I make two books, one for each kiddo?  Hmmmm...

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

By Force or By Bribe?

This weekend we had an interesting parenting moment that I still haven't quite processed.  As EG is getting older, we're having to start disciplining her and getting her response from our requests.  Generally speaking she does very, very well.  Once I've used a sort of time out:

"EG please bring your backpack inside"
"EG I will ask you one more time, please bring your backpack inside."
Sit her on the bench in the entryway:
"Okay, you can sit here until you go and pick-up your backpack and bring it inside"
"I go outside, backpack"

Simple, effective and totally worth the effort.  Usually our I believe in giving choices, always careful that they are all options that I'm okay with:

"EG we won't be buying that item.  You can give it to the sales clerk, to Mommy or put it back where you found it."

Typically she chooses to give it to the sales clerk, and I politely explain that we don't want this item.  Sometimes she gets a little mad and lashes out a bit with hitting, but I grab her hand and explain that I know she's upset and disappointed, but that hitting is never okay.  It lasts about 5 seconds and generally we're okay.  The picture above was taken after I told her we were leaving, and she wanted to play on the slide. I explained that we needed to get home to Daddy, we couldn't play on the slide, but if she wanted to she could walk up the stairs and back down them on her way to the gate.  A good compromise- as you can see from the joy on her face.

Our typical response to her tantrums (on the floor, crying/screaming) are to ignore them.  We've been doing this since she was about 15months old, so it's definitely gotten across that these incidents don't get her what she wants.

But what do you do when you really don't have a choice?  When you absolutely have to have your child do what you need them to do right this second.  And no, I'm not talking about walking down the aisle as a flower girl.

I mentioned in the flower girl post that we put a bit of make-up on EG's face.  Earlier that day she had tripped and had a full-face run-in with the edge of her crib.  I tried to put Ice on it, but she didn't want it, and I thought everything was fine.  Fast forward about an hour or so and Working Dad gets a chance to see her.  He's really upset and thinks its possible she might have a concussion or some other type of injury and feels like we really, really, really need to get some ice on her head.

So, he explains to her that she needs the ice.  She resists.  He holds her hands down and forces the ice on her head.  She's screaming and crying and I'm desperately resisting the need to say "is this really necessary" because I know he wouldn't be doing it to her if he didn't think it was absolutely necessary. 

When we've been to the doctor we've occasionally had to restrain EG.  They need to look in her ears, etc.  But generally we've gotten good cooperation out of her, and we have enough time to think through a few options before we physically restrain her.

This weekend she asked for her blanket, and I took her on my lap to try to calm her a little.  Her little voice crying, struggling and saying "no daddy, no daddy, no" just about broke my heart.  We put on her first movie (first time we deliberately let her watch something) "FROZEN" but even that wasn't enough to distract her. 

Eventually I suggested that maybe she could lay down on daddy's lap and on the ice that way, so she would get the ice on her eye, but possibly be more comfortable.  That worked, watching the movie, having her blanket and laying down.  And I'm so thankful I thought of it!  But I'm not thrilled with the idea that our way of getting her to do what we needed was to force her into it.  There will come a time when we won't be able to force her- when she's old enough to run away, or hit back and really mean it.  And I want to teach her that she's the boss of her body, so do I really know if she needs ice better than she does?

I'm still trying to process what happened, and how we might do better next time.  I realize that what will help is her getting older- therefore knowing what a concussion is, and other words we might use to convince her how serious it is and how important it is to get the ice on her head.  But what about now...?

What do you do when you absolutely must have your child do something they don't want to?

Monday, May 5, 2014

Flower Girl Tips and Tricks

This past weekend EG was a flower girl for the first time.  While at the end of the day it went really well, there were a lot of little things that I might do a bit differently next time.  If you have a budding flower girl, here are a few things to keep in mind:

1. Go to the rehearsal.  We didn't attend the rehearsal.  It was an hours drive from our house, and took place during naptime for our little one.  However, in retrospect, it was really stressful on me not to know what she was supposed to do, and where she was supposed to be.  I also think it would have been a touch easier on her, though, honestly, she did wonderfully.

 2. Do snack first, then get dressed.  This is pretty basic, but a good rule of thumb to remember.  Most kids this age get a kick out of nakie time anyways, so it's nice to give them that time.  Then, it's easier to get them into the dress you need them to be in, since they've been hanging out eating for a bit.  Also, don't be afraid of hairspray and make-up.  Yup, there is Make-up on my non-quite-two-year-old. She ran right into her crib side chasing after her cousin that morning, and a HUGE bruise wouldn't have gone well with the outfit.... oh well, she didn't mind the 'lotion.'

3. Lots of Running around before ceremony/serious time.  Again, seems obvious, but sometimes its' hard to let them have that time.  Both EG and her cousin J enjoyed running, tag, and just hanging out before they needed to get lined up and ready.  We waited as long as possible to make them get serious and get organized. 

Running in the halls and playing tag around Aunt B, my sister.  It was cute, but it also let them have some fun, and relax a but before they needed to do anything to serious.

EG loves to play hide and seek now.  She says that we can't find her... Who's that?

Working Dad was also part of the wedding party, which made it a bit harder on me to get things going, since he left for the day around 11am, and we didn't have to get there until 2:30pm.  Then during the wedding he was obviously walking down the aisle when he was supposed to, and that meant I had to watch and coordinate everything for EG.  At the end of the day, they did great and it was nice to have them so adorably coordinated.

3. If possible, have other kids they know as part of the wedding party. There were two other kids in the wedding party, but EG didn't know dear Lily until the day of the wedding.  While it would have been nice to have them meet at the rehearsal, it worked out okay because she had Cousin J to play with and be comfortable with through the whole day.

4. Give them something to hold/hang on to.  This is really up to the bride/groom, but I really recommend giving them something to have in their hands.  It worked well to have EG hold onto Lily's hand as she walked down to the aisle, and the basket for the rest of the way.  Cousin J had a great sign (which was a tad bit large for a tiny two-year-old) but it gave him something to concentrate on.
Cousin J had this big sign to carry, and he did a REALLY great job getting it down the aisle.  He then went straight over to Mommy and Daddy and sat down.  I will admit that the Happy Tot Pumpkin/Chocolate cookies helped too!

Lily led the way down the aisle- worked brilliantly!

Lily was great with EG, she just led the way perfectly, and our girls matched so nicely.  She was a bit concerned about doing her duty to throw the flowers, but luckily EG let her drop her hand and she still made it down the aisle.  All those people, I was definitely concerned she would stop in the middle and worry- should have known she'd be a pro!  Love the groom at the end of the aisle.  He's such a wonderful addition to the family, and I can't wait until they start having kiddos (no pressure!).  I feel a little bad that I got in the photographer's shots, but I was really concerned she would stop and turn around!

She got to the end of the aisle, and dumped all her flowers and her basket upside down.  It was actually quite adorable.  And instead of coming to Mommy or Daddy, she ran straight back over to Lily to walk away.  I couldn't have planned it better even with a rehearsal!

 5. Remember to still enjoy the affair!  It can be really stressful to be trying to make sure that your kid does the right thing, and doesn't ruin the wedding. That feels like A LOT of pressure.  But remember, kids are kids.  They do unpredictable things, and as long as the couple gets married, the goal of the day is completed.  It's not often that everyone gets dressed-up fancy, there's a chance to dance a boogie and have a little fun, so try to get in some smiles!

 Would my doctor love this shot?  Heck no, but sometimes you just want the little to have a little fun!

Photo taking at the wedding, since we all looked so fancy as it was.  Cousin J wasn't being the easiest during these moments, but ironically he's totally much cuter than poor EG, who was just so, so so tired.  I'm glad we got this family shot though, it's not often my sister and I get together!

Pregnant belly bumps- we are both due in July, only a week apart from each other.  What fun it was to see each other, and get the chance for some sister shots too!
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