Thursday, October 30, 2014

Halloween musings.

Are you celebrating Halloween?  It seems to be bringing up some controversy this year.  I've written about it before, from the Jewish side of the holiday, but I've also been reading the Dear Prudence letter everywhere, and I have to say that I'm a bit disappointed with the responses.

I don't believe in leaving your neighborhood for Halloween.  Now, this is nothing to say about me not wanting to give out candy to anyone who comes to the door.  And where I live, we get a lot of kids from a neighboring area that isn't as affluent (aka Lawndale and Inglewood).  It makes no difference to me if they were from Hermosa Beach or Hawthorne.  My issues are with the fact that Halloween is a neighborhood thing.  Yes, there are reasons to leave your neighborhood, but there aren't that many in my mind.

1.  Visiting family or friends.  You, as well as everyone else, is entitled to visit anyone you want to over the holiday.  Sometimes that means Grandpa's neighborhood, or a friends.  Sure, come along.  Makes perfect sense.

2.  You live by a college.  This can totally stink for little kiddos when the neighborhood is made up mostly of college students.  They don't really do Halloween, and your kid might be all alone.  Totally get that- and not something you can change by talking to your neighbors.

3.  You live in an apartment complex.  Some of these are great.  Others, not so much.  Usually people don't trick or treat inside of an apartment complex, and if you live in a neighborhood of only apartment complexes (especially those with long hallways) it can be rough.

4. You live really rural.  I mean, farm country.  It's to hard to drive 4 miles away to each house.  That would take forever.  Then, by all means, go the nearest neighborhood.

5.  You are visiting an area known for it's festivity.  There was a guy a few blocks from my childhood home who had a full on haunted house.  Just like at X-mas where there are 'lite-up neighborhoods' the same thing happens with Halloween.  If you are headed to one of these places, that makes sense.

Reasons not to leave your neighborhood:

1. They have better candy elsewhere.  Dude- buy better candy.  If you set the bar high, they will follow.

2. It's not safe.  You are a part of your neighborhood. It would be wise to change your neighborhood, rather than abandoning it to it's difficulties.  It's just sort of backwards in my mind to abandon your own place, rather than make it better.

To me, the dangers of these additional kids in my neighborhood seem to outweigh their need for better candy.  They drive in, have their cars in idle in front of my house, then keep on driving.  I just worry about the safety, since there really isn't a need for anyone to drive during the holiday.

If someone is really worried about the safety in their own neighborhood- why not take advantage of one of these programs:
Riviera Village Trick or Treating 4-6pm
Wilson Park/Torrance Recreation 4-8pm
City of El Segundo Halloween Frolic- 4-7pm
Lomita Park Halloween- 6pm

There are all public, no cost events that have tons of candy, invite all parties and can be really enjoyable.  So, hate me if you will, but I don't really think you should go somewhere else...


Friday, October 24, 2014

Shabbat Project- Global Shabbat

Okay, I realize this post isn't exactly timely to those who may read it after noon on Friday.  Especially since it's about a once a year Shabbat opportunity- which if you aren't prepared, you may not feel like jumping aboard the bandwagon right now.

Nevertheless, I share with you the Shabbos Project.  It's an international attempt at having the whole world honor the Shabbat for one day- started in South Africa.

While I'm not 100% committed to Shabbat on Saturday (I've been doing some research into cooking that Saturday daytime meal, and trying to figure out how to not-cook but serve hot food... so not ready yet) but I didn't make any concrete plans, and I'm hopeful that we'll be able to make it a family day and stay away from the TV, the car, and maybe the internet that day.

Tonight we have guests coming over.  I'm trying out a new recipe, and trying to embrace the specialness.  I think it's a great event, and one of several over the course of the year that you can try to participate in.

The point, at least for me, is to do something a little more observant than I've done before. I'm not saying that I'll be able to do it all the time, but taking that touch of extra effort to really do something different- to honor the shabbat in a different way- that's what speaks to me.

Tonight I'm hoping for no TV or computer after dinner.  Maybe we'll play cards or a game.  Maybe we'll play pool in the garage.  Maybe we'll both just read seperate books, but maybe we'll have a chance to chat and reconnect nicely.

THis is also a great shabbat for the toddlers and kiddos. It's the story of Noah, and that's really relatable for kids. Bringing stuffed animals to the table, yes please!  It's great for Ocho, since her room is decorated as Noah's Ark!  Maybe this week you talk about the parasha, share the stories, and enjoy that as a new dimension to your Shabbat Experience.

Not ready to go this week?  Try this one on for size:  Jewish Federation Shabbat 1000

Of course, Shabbat comes every week- 52 times a year.  So maybe just lick one opportunity and try something new.  Start small, aim big!

PS- yes, the project is Orthodox.  No, I don't think that means you have to be to participate.  As with everything, take what you can in my mind.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Dinner Disasters- and then some...

Sometimes in life things just don't go your way.  Despite your best efforts the meal you are trying to make doesn't go your way.  It turns out that you've taken a delightful piece of fish and covered it in a sauce that just doesn't taste great.  Or maybe, it's worse than that, and it makes other's at the table gag with disgust.

And because you're emotional, have postpartum depression and anxiety, and that dinner was the only thing you accomplished all day- maybe you get a little upset about people not liking your dinner.  And it takes all the energy you have to walk away from the table without screaming and throwing the dinner plates.  Or maybe you do throw something...who knows?

Of course you defend your dinner.  You put time, energy, effort, thought and sweat into the meal.  Maybe you even have some skin in the game, literally, because you burned yourself.

And then, maybe it gets worse.  Maybe your precious little angel is up every hour, practically on the hour- just wanting to nibble at you. Not wanting to eat, just nibble.  And maybe the one hour that she doesn't wake you up, your own body does, because despite your defense of your dinner- it wasn't very good and your body didn't like it either.  But we'll keep that a secret just to ourselves.

And, just to throw some icing on the cake, perhaps you have nightmares about a specific conversation you had with your own mom- you know the one I'm talking about.  Where you told her that her dinner was disgusting, and that you didn't want to eat it.  Of course, you didn't have any idea how that made her you do.

At the end of it all- the sun still comes up in the morning.  The days still continue to move forward.  Your little girl tells you thank you for buying her shoes.  Your tiny girl giggles and smiles, and coos at the sound of her name.  Your husband says thank you for making this, and then cleans up after you.  And at the end of it all- the sun still comes up in the morning.  The days still continue to move forward.

So it is today, so it will be tomorrow.

Monday, October 20, 2014

Dance Class

I've just started EG in a ballet/Tap dance class for 2-3 year olds.  I wasn't sure if she was old enough, but when she has dance class at her regular school (aka daycare) she really loves it.  So I took the plunge, my first actual class with a daughter.

Somehow I feel a touch odd about it- like that a girl has to do dance, and I'm putting her into a corner filled with pink and ribbons and sparkles.  But I want her to be active, and if you saw her bruises, you might also understand that getting a little bit of grace and control over her body wouldn't be a bad thing.  Growing up Girl with tutu's isn't bad- but I'm also not against soccer, or wrestling.  It's just that dance actually seems to be something she can do at 2...

 And, if I'm honest, I'm still on the fence.  We've committed for 8 weeks, and we'll definitely get that far, but I didn't really take into account all of the little things that would come with signing up for dance class.  There's the leotard (thanks Target) the tutus (Thanks Aunt Simone and Aunt Katelin) and the ballet shoes (thanks Children's Orchard).  But let's not forget about the tap shoes.

Yes, that's right, I gave my two year old tap shoes.  I'm encouraging her to beat on the ground with shoes that make things extra noisy.  Yup, with a baby in the house.  I must be INSANE!

It took me a while to find the shoes, and they weren't cheap.  While they had them at the Children's Orchard, they didn't have them in her size.  Thanks to Payless, we were golden.  And she's thanked me for them no less than 10 times.  Which is awfully sweet and totally makes me gaga over her. Makes nursing Ocho in the store that much easier too, since I know how much she appreciates them.

So far, she's loved it.  She races away from school, wants to be in her leotard each day after class, and I've been able to say that tutu's are for Dance class, not for school (which Working Dad loves, since he's not a great tutu fan).

Have your kids taken any classes?  If I was really on top of it I'd upload a few of the pictures I have of me as a kiddo in dance class.  I just found a set of my sister taken in black and white- totally gorgeous....

Want to know more? We're taking the class at Dance 1 on Artesia.  Send me a message on facebook or e-mail me (check out the CONTACT ME page) and I'll spill the beans on how you can get involved.  Yes, boys are totally welcome!

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Happy Birthday to me!

That's right, it's my birthday.  Yup- my first birthday without my mom.  I can't believe that it's happened like this, especially since a few weeks ago I was harassing her about trying to go out of town for my birthday.  It's a big one for me, and no, I'm not going to tell you which one.

Suffice it to say, I'm a wee bit emotional about it all.  I suspect that my whole family will be emotional for our birthday's this year.  Mine seems especially hard since her death is still so fresh and painful to me.

I don't even want to think about what I'm going to do about Ocho's first birthday, or my nephew's first birthday.  Just typing that makes tears well into my eyes.

Birthdays have always been a great thing in our house- we always celebrated, no matter how old we were.  It's funny, because a lot of the families I knew, and know now, don't really celebrate. They do something small with the family, or they only invite the friends of their kiddos.  I believe that if you want people to remember your birthday, you have to tell them to.  So I've been talking about this since July....

My mom always celebrated our birthdays.  For me it was an October pool party, usually with pumpkin painting and cupcake decorating.  She was a huge fan of cupcake decorating- easy dessert and entertainment all rolled into one.  These hot October weekends made a pool party perfect.

Looking through the old pictures I've found some from my surprise party- it must have been my 16th birthday?  My sister was already at college, but came home to celebrate with me. I'm sure I'll find more birthday party pics as I keep looking.

Working Dad's family isn't so much into birthday parties- his mom keeps telling me that I should invite the number of people as the kids are old.  which is a great idea, but I love to celebrate. Any reason to get together is a good one.

It's funny, my mom used to send us cards without signing them.  She would buy us a card, then tell us to pick out our own present. 80% of the time as an adult I would buy the thing I wanted, and she would pay me back for it. Or my dad would go and get something.  Forget about wrapping paper- a total waste.  She gave me a birthday present for Susie, and I remember her telling me that she got a bag specifically for me...

Oh well, Happy Birthday.  I have a lot to be blessed about, let's just hope I can remember that as I celebrate without her.

CC BY-SA 3.0

Friday, October 17, 2014

Going to services has been ruining Shabbat

Happy Simchat Torah and Shabbat everyone!  I hope your torah dancing went well, and you're having fun celebrating the torah.  I also hope you challah is good as you get to Shabbat rest tomorrow.

Since my mom passed away we've been trying to make it to services at least every Friday so I can say the Mourner's Kaddish. For those of you who don't know, it's a prayer that is said by those in mourning.  It's sort of ironic, because it's actually a prayer that affirms your faith in G-d, rather than saying anything about the deceased, grieving, or death in anyway.  Traditionally in temple those who are in mourning, or observing yahrzeit would stand and the rest of the congregation would participate as well.  The prayer is only supposed to be said with a minyan (a Jewish quorum of 10 people) so it's also a public prayer.  Since it was my parent who passed away, I'm supposed to say it for 11 months. This is a lot of information- I might do a whole separate post on the kaddish,etc.

But, back to the main story....

I've been trying to get to temple at least on Fridays to say the kaddish.  And it's been ruining my Shabbat experience.

Typically for shabbat we enjoy our Challah, try to dress it up a bit, but honestly, it's a nice moment to be home, together, and starting to relax and de-stress from the week.  We might go for a nighttime walk, or just enjoy an extra long bath before bedtime.  We light the candles together, say the prayers, bless our babies, and just enjoy our time.

Since we've been going to Shabbat services, I don't feel like we've been as connected as a family.  Sure, it's been nice to go to services and to visit other temples, but it's sort of taken away some of our connectedness, and our connection to the holiday.

So tonight, here's to simplicity.  Here's to enjoying each other's company before we go to bed.  Here's to lighting some candles, drinking some wine, and saying some blessings.

Here's to another day of rest, because I sure could use it!

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Easy simple Charity

As we have left Yom Kippur behind us, I've been thinking a lot about how prayer,charity and repentance can affect our lives.  And while I realize that prayer and repentance are much more personal, charity is something I think all of our young need to learn about.

But what do you do with a 2- year old?  I can't take them to the park to clean-up (well, I can take them on my own, but most organizations have a minimum age of 5 years old).  So, what to do?

I use the opportunities I have on a daily basis to do some good... like buying more toothpaste for EG:

Have you heard of Amazon Smile?  It's a new program that lets you shop the regular amazon site, but allows you to send proceeds to a specific charity.  I looked for something local to Redondo Beach.  On Firefox I have it set to the Beach Cities Chabad (aka the JCC that EG goes to Daycare at).  For IE I have it set to the Redondo Beach fire department. 

Have you taken advantage of this program yet?

I've been struck by how easy it is to help out now adays.  It used to be a comittment to help your local school or community- script programs and book fairs, or going to the local shelter.  And while those things are still possible, it's now easy to stay at home and give charity through your normal activities...

Bored on the computer- try free rice.  It's like prepping for the SAT's but giving hungry people food at the same time.  Not into that one?  Try freeflour.

Or you can just go and click somewhere- check out any of these websites

As I already mentioned, shopping online can give back to charity through AmazonSmile, but there's also Recoup National, which lets you get deals on high-end brands while supporting charity. 

Just thought I would share.

Monday, October 13, 2014

Potty Training- the Sticker Chart

I've been trying to potty train EG.  If I'm honest, I think she's been ready for a while, probably before Ocho was born.  But I just wasn't ready.  I tried to potty train for the first time in April, before she turned two.  That was just a day of cleaning up poop and pee, no real progress at all.

But we did start talking.  Stating that she should go pee and poop on the potty. You ask her where she should go peepee or poopoo and the answer is right.  But it was all just talk.

I always thought that I would do the three day potty training method.  Day 1- no underwear, stay at home, etc.  Day 2- progress...

But then I tried it again and we seemed to be making progress.  And I cleaned up A LOT of poop and pee.  At least 5 times.  We spent the day just totally naked, enjoying the sun.   We started with a tutu, then moved on to nothing on bottom.

Yup- there she is half naked playing with the neighborhood kids.  I figured out fairly early that if I wanted to make clean-up easy, she could poo outside, rather than inside.

Unfortunately she wasn't feeling very well- the start of a cold and potty training was becoming a nightmare of emotions for her.  So we gave up on Saturday.  (yup, I cleaned up poop and pee over the course of a whole day just to give up 12 hours later!  Lame, but the right move).

So then I decided on the next course of action- bribery.  I've never really thought I would stoop to bribery, but when I gave it more thought I realized it wasn't such a bad idea.  That this is something she will learn, and then we'll be done with it.  Therefore it's bribery that has an end in sight.  It's a 'time honored' and proven method for how to train your children to go on the potty. 

We went to Toys R Us and she picked out a few items.  Her choices- a fire truck, a baseball bat and ball set and a book set.  I've also got tons of other gifts that people have given us that we haven't given her yet.

Since I decided on this method, out came the potty chart.

Each time she goes pee or poop on the potty she gets a sticker.  5 stickers equals one prize.  10 stickers equals a big prize (and so on, etc.).  And boy is it working! 

We've gotten 12 stickers on our chart, and we've going peepee on the potty.  And, as a special bonus for me we're using the stickers that my mom bought her.  Since I'm a scrapbooker I know I'll be putting this chart in her album, and it will be a lasting memory of one of the last gifts my mom gave her. 

Sunday, October 12, 2014

I'm Back...

or at least I'm going to try really really hard to get back to regular updates.  On topic updates to be even more specific.

I'll chalk it all up to a wonderful woman I just met- I'll call her Blog Reader #1.  Yup, you read that right.  I met someone this past Friday night while checking out Jeans and Jammies at Ner Tamid who had read my blog.  Like a sighting in the wild.  Someone not related to me who found my blog while searching the internet and read it.

WOW!  I don't think I gave it away (I was solo parenting at the time, with both EG and Ocho and trying to feed everyone) but holy moley was I excited!  I wasn't sure there was anyone out there, reading what I've been writing.

That boost of confidence has gotten me back on my feet.  Plus the fact that I have to do something- I can't just stop living life.

So, some things are in the works- Potty training thoughts, Kosher thoughts, a new challah recipe this week, and some tips for Shiva and a funeral with tiny children.

L'chaim- here's to life....

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Days of Awe

WE are currently right in the middle of the Days of Awe, between Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur.  A period of reflection, consideration. Between the beginning of the year, and the day of atonement.

Traditionally it's when everyone apologizes to those they have hurt, considers the year behind them, and what they need to do in the year ahead.

This year I am in awe:

In awe of the state of my parents home, of going through closest and dressers and private places.

In awe of my older daughter, who daily reminds me of the blessings and terribles of a two-year old.

In awe of my younger daughter, a new growing, ever changing miracle of life- a bright spot in an otherwise unhappy time.

In awe of the pain I feel, each time I think to myself that I should talk to my mom.

In awe of the fact that its been a month since she left this world, and that I don't feel like I've made any changes, or that anything has gotten better.

This time of year is always intense. If you really take Jewish thought to heart and try to apologize to everyone you need to- if you really try, then you'll be overwhelmed by your deeds and misdeeds.  Most American Jews don't take this time, but I try to.  This year, I just can't.  I can't see beyond the whole that we've seemingly fallen into.

I spent part of yesterday taking things from my house I never really thought I would- things like my drawings from when I was a child.  Notes to my mom, and the handprint I made when I was in preschool. Those things that are yours and your parents all at the same time.

May your days of awe be inspiring.  May your days of awe bring about a clarity and a focus to your life as you move towards Yom Kippur.
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...