Saturday, November 30, 2013

Reponse to Jerk who is being celebrated by social media re the Huffington Post

Dear Elan,

Congratulations on earning fame and Twitter followers due to your nasty exchange with a woman on an airplane. Although the post was mildly entertaining, in the end I feel a bit sickened by your behavior which was inappropriate and wrong, more so than Diane’s.  Although I hesitate to write, because it will send more people to your story, perhaps my perspective will shape how they see you and your Tweets.  

I have three big problems with you.

1. Your stunt must have stressed the flight attendants trying to get through the busiest travel season of the year. The very people you were allegedly trying to protect, you probably harmed as they wondered if they would need to ground the flight due to a passenger incident.

2. You also display unsubtle and now publicized misogyny as exampled by your description of Diane and your foul “request.” Would you have requested a male passenger to dine on the same body part?  This reeks of serious issues with women that I hope for your sake you address with a professional.

3. Your lack of compassion is troubling. Flying has become a brutal necessity as our families are farther and father apart. You have no idea what Diane’s issues are or why she was wearing a mask. You can’t change a stranger’s behavior on a flight, but you can influence your own personal reaction to her.  You could have put on headphones and ignored her. She wasn't seat encroaching. She was not even really near you on the plane. She did not deserve your attack and your now public shaming of her for publicity.

With all of the negativity in the world, there is no need for the year you have named after yourself.  You are the equivalent of a gross stampede on Black Friday. The ugliness that you are promoting is certainly not in the holiday spirit, and I hope if you fly on New Year’s Eve, your resolution will be to be kinder to everyone around you.

Sunday, November 24, 2013

A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving

When I was little, my dad used to call me his little turkey. I have no idea why.  Perhaps it’s because he grew up on a farm. However, the name was very apropos for my meltdown last week.

I live in Israel, but work at an American company. So last week, the social committee of said company hosted a Thanksgiving Dinner.  The company provided drinks, tables and chairs, and the attendees had to each bring a dish.

I was unusually excited for this event. I was happy that I would get to celebrate Thanksgiving, even though I would be missing the time with my family.

The day began like any other Saturday (Shabbat). Typically, we stay home and lounge around or go to my in laws who live about 80 minutes away.  I ate a yogurt and then worked out for an hour. Then I watched the baby, while my husband ran as I prepared lunch.  I didn’t eat very much of the lunch, because I was saving my calories for Thanksgiving Dinner.

In the afternoon, I prepared the dish that I was bringing: pumpkin casserole. I am a decent cook, but typically a terrible baker. First, I had to bake the pumpkin because there is no canned pumpkin here. After baking it, then I had to scoop it out and puree it. However, from the beginning there were already some issues. We bought enough pumpkin to quadruple the recipe, but did not have the right amount of butter.  So, I substituted applesauce and olive oil thanks to advice from a quick internet search.  Also, the recipe called for dried milk. I think that’s gross, so I wanted to use coconut milk.  But I didn’t have enough coconut milk, so we added skim milk. I do not have the greatest oven, so it’s never really clear what temperature the food is cooking at. Also, because it’s in centigrade, even a minor change is a huge temperature differentiation.  My lack of aptitude, bad decisions, the wrong ingredients and a not-so-great oven were not the best conditions to be baking.

The aluminum pan was super heavy. So Lior transported the pan on a cutting board to the oven as I assisted.

After an hour, the time allotted for it to bake, it looked like pumpkin soup, not casserole. We gave it a half an hour more, and then another 15 minutes. By then, it looked ready. Lior took it out from the oven and oh &%#@!  The pan collapsed.
This is what it should have looked like. Click here for the recipe.

Besides the intense cleanup just as we were dressed and ready to go, we lost about half the pumpkin casserole. I wasn’t mad or upset. My grandmother, when I was 9, was terribly burned by a pan collapsing that spilled hot oil on her legs. She honestly was never the same after that, although perhaps it was a symptom, not a cause. Regardless, I was just glad that no one was hurt. We decided to make lemons out of lemonade and changed the name of the dish from casserole to pumpkin pudding.

We were one of the first to arrive at the dinner.  It wasn’t really a sit down event. There was a huge table set out for food (the company provided the tables, drinks and turkeys). The company I work for has about 100 employees, and most people attended,  plus their spouses, children or plus ones. As soon as we were given the all clear, I grabbed a little plate for Maya with a taste of several items except turkey - she only has four teeth. It was bittersweet that her first Thanksgiving meal was not with my family, but this was a nice compromise.  A husband of one of the veteran teachers looked at my plate for Maya and said with a troubled face in Hebrew, “That isn’t a lot of food.”  I responded “Yes, but it’s for a baby.” His look was foreboding, but I shrugged it off, not understanding his silent prophesy.

Lior and I have a pact. He eats first, I feed Maya, and then I eat, because he eats so fast  Whatever then needs to happen with Maya, he takes care of while I eat.  So as I was feeding Maya, Lior went to get his food. He stood in line for a while and then came back to eat.  He was done eating 3000 calories in about 100 seconds. So then it was my turn. I don’t really eat baked turkey, but I was hyped up for mashed potatoes, sweet potatoes, stuffing, creamed spinach, artichoke dip, green bean casserole and whatever else was there. Many of the Israelis brought traditional Israeli food, hummus, taboule, Israeli salad, etc,  although I had no plan of eating any Middle Eastern food. After all, it was Thanksgiving Dinner.

As I approached the table, I grabbed a plate and then looked.

No food.

It was all gone.

Not a marshmallow, not a crouton, not a spinach leaf, not a green bean.

There was just a little bit of hummus that was left, mocking me.

And so, I lost it. I could feel the tears welling up and had to run to get Lior so we could go. I had to keep it together. My boss was there, the superintendent was there, my colleagues who I always plaster a smile on my face for were there.

I had to keep it together.

On my way to find Lior, I ran into a colleague. She is a Jewish Canadian immigrant to Israel who is 9 months pregnant. She saw my face and asked me what’s wrong.

“There’s no food,” I said.

“There is food,” she said. “There’s some turkey and I think I saw some hummus.”

“No, I don’t want that,” I said.

“Okay, but why do you look like you’re about to cry?” she said.

“Because it’s Thanksgiving food,” I said.

“I don’t understand,” she said. “I can bring you sweet potatoes on Monday if you want.”

A fact about Canadian Jews. Unlike most American Jews, they do not celebrate Thanksgiving. So they do not have the same attachments to the customs. I also didn’t want to go on and on about it, because she is one of the few friends I have here, and I could tell she was giving me the, "you're weirder than I thought" look.

Then I found my beloved husband and daughter. “Lior, we have to leave now,” I said.

“What’s wrong?” he said.

“I don’t want to get into it here, I need to leave,” I said.

Usually, he would be the first person to want to leave a party, but the inquisition began.

“Why?” he said.

“There’s no food,” I said.

“There’s got to be some food, let’s get you some food. There’s turkey, and I think I saw some hummus,” he said.

“I DON’T WANT HUMMUS!” I said.  “I want Thanksgiving food. I want green bean casserole. I want pumpkin pie. I want the terrible banana cake we eat every year at Thanksgiving for my brother’s birthday. I want to leave.”

“Sharna, this resembles chicken fingers,” Lior said.

He was recalling  a time when my then 3-year-old niece woke up grumpy from a nap. She asked what was for dinner, and my brother said hamburgers. She said she wanted chicken fingers and then cried for literally 45 minutes just repeating over and over “I want chicken fingers. I want chicken fingers.” He and I often joke if something bad happens, we want to know if it’s “chicken fingers” bad or as an adjective for a person acting irrationally about a situation involving food. For example, the time when I was pregnant and went to have a healthy snack of hummus and carrots only to open the hummus to find a half a teaspoon left. It was and has been the biggest fight of our marriage.

Yes, this was a chicken fingers moment so I gave him the look. You know, the universal look every wife gives to her husband when she is angry. As we walked out the door we saw the CEO, a lovely, cheerful man from Texas.

“Did you get enough to eat?” he said.

“Yes!” I said too enthusiastically. “We’ve got to go, the baby is tired.”

I rushed to the car with my Israeli husband behind me.

“Sharna, I don’t get it,” he said. “I can make you mashed potatoes if you want.”

That comment made things worse and then the tears came.  These tears were not merely about food, but about being homesick, grieving my aunt, having almost no friends here, and panicking about all of the papers I had to grade.

I put Maya to bed, squeezing her tight, and tried to get control over my emotions. However, when I put her down, I started crying again. (PS: I did not become a crier, except for rare occasions until she was born) How could I be so selfish about food when people are dying in the Philippines and children all over the world don’t have enough to eat on a daily basis?

The next day I woke up with a crying hangover. I thought to myself, I have to get it together and get in the true Thanksgiving spirit.  I packed up a bag of clothes for a donation box, signed up to donate blood, and I suggested to Lior that we invite his family over, not for Thanksgiving, but Shabbat lunch the next week. They have never all been here, and it would be nice to get everyone together.

11/12 of them could come. During lunch I realized why there’s no Thanksgiving in Israel. For many families, every Saturday lunch is Thanksgiving. (They also have their own version in September/October).

I made stuffed chicken breasts, the pumpkin casserole and curried ginger carrot soup.

We also bought wine, challah and soft drinks. But my in laws brought so much more food: salads, tuna salad, baked chicken, root vegetable, fried chicken, meatballs, and rice.

There was too much food to capture in one frame. This is every Saturday at Maya's grandmother's house.
We bought a cake and his sister made a cake to celebrate 3 family birthdays.

It was a wonderful afternoon. Maya loves her cousins. My husband was happy. And despite the language barrier, I was happy, too. (Although, I think my Hebrew is actually getting worse living here rather than better).

Maya getting a hug from her cousin who is about 10 months older than her. She is being held by her grandmother, or Savta.

So, I guess the lesson from this “A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving” is that Thanksgiving is really not about food but about family. And I miss my family, but I have a lovely extended family here, and I’m thankful that I have opportunities to enjoy being with them.  I’m also thankful for my husband and Maya, who was born a little over a month after last Thanksgiving.

Yeah, I love her more than sweet potatoes.

But man, I would kill right now for some of those American side dishes.  And although I try to be rational, sometimes I just think about that dinner and think bitterly,

“All I wanted was some f&*%@$# stuffing.”

Friday, November 8, 2013

Aunt Sharon

I am not sure has ever lived a woman who had so much capacity to love and was loved by so many. While one might examine her life and focus on her struggles, when you were with her, one on and one, you never really felt them, even though over the last few years they were so visible. You just felt tremendous love from her.

Anytime you left my aunt Sharon’s house, it was like you received a love transfusion.

As her niece, whenever I doubted anything in life, especially myself, there was always one absolute truth: my aunt Sharon loved me. She thought I was beautiful. She told me every time I saw her.

When I was with my Aunt Sharon, I was a different kid. I wasn’t the serious book nerd/tomboy. She was the aunt that did my hair, (Princess Leah style for one of my brother’s bar mitzvahs) and painted my nails. She was the only person who could get me excited about my looks and jewelry.  I spent a lot of time at her house when I was a kid. A lot. We played a ton of cards. I drew a hundreds of pictures there. I jumped on the trampoline in the basement. I played with her dogs, even though now everyone knows I don’t really like dogs.  But I always liked Aunt Sharon’s dogs. Always. I played on her piano, and she enjoyed it, and told me I could keep playing, even though she needed to rest. With my aunt I did things that I never enjoyed doing and still don’t. However, when I was with her, it was fun: garage sales and flee markets.  Her excitement and her enthusiasm got me on board.

The only things she ever criticized were my nails and hair: "Mamashayna, don't chew your nails," she would say lovingly. I have curbed the habit and when she has seen me, she always comments.  For my hair she would say, "Mamshayna, why don't you wear your hair back, you have such a beautiful face, a shayna punim."

I don’t know why this is such a strong memory, but I remember when I was a teenager, I drove her in her van. It was incredibly hard to drive. I was really too small to be driving it, but she had absolute patience and plenty of laughter as I spent 45 minutes getting out of her garage.

I will really miss all of the Yiddish that she through into every conversation.  I’ll miss her singing. I’ll miss her love of off colored jokes.

 If you had to make a list of the people my aunt loved, it would be super long, including countless friends around the country. During the last few years, she even loved the people with whom she had previously feuded.

However, the list of people who loved her would be even longer.

But there would be asterisks for super-sized love for her kids, Ruth and David, their spouses, Rob and Elizabeth, and her six grandchildren, Samantha, Allison, Noah, Zachary, Brandon and Jeremy.   She really loved her first cousins. She would talk about them all of the time. She loved my brothers and their families. She loved my husband and daughter. She loved my husband the first time she met him. It was amazing. It was just instantaneous. I am so grateful that she met him and got to see me married and with a child. I know that was important to her and made her happy and relieved.

 The people though that I think she loved the most, besides her kids, were my mom and dad, especially my mom, who she referred to as her baby sister.

 I was lucky enough to Facetime with her last week.  We chatted and she saw Maya crawling around. I talked to her this week as well.  The last time I saw her, however, was the end of July. I had been home to South Bend quite a bit during the summer, because of the move to Israel. Before I left, she said, “Shayna Rana, don’t forget about me.”  I promised her that of course I wouldn’t. Then when Lior and I got into the car with Maya, I cried because I found it unbearable that she thought that I might.

But, what I think she was saying, even subconsciously, is don’t forget about her because that would the last time I would see her, hold her hand, tell her that I love her and she tell me that she loves me. She always made me kiss her on both sides of her cheek. 

One of the hardest parts of moving to Israel was leaving my nieces and nephew.  When my niece Talia was born 16 years ago, I promised I would be the same kind of aunt that my aunt Sharon was to me.  I definitely have not reached that bar. I lived on the same street at my aunt; she was a third mother to me. Now, not only do I not live on the same street at my nieces and nephew, I live across an ocean.

But I do think that they know, or they will know, that my love for them is absolute and unconditional, and always will be.

After all, I learned from the best. 

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Another Facebook Crisis

I am over-commenting on Facebook. It’s an addiction. I can’t stop saying what I think about other’s people’s posts. I’ve always been a frequent Facebook poster and liker. Some people give me grief for that. Whatever, they can block me if they don’t like my posts.  But this over-commenting phenomenon started a couple of weeks ago when a colleague at school invited me to join an Israeli Babies group on Facebook for English speakers. 

I don’t know what’s come over me. The other day, when someone asked where they should have their three-year-old’s birthday party in Jerusalem, I made a suggestion. I have no business suggesting anything. I had never been to the kid portion of the place, nor do I have a three year old. Yes, I have two friends who I know from Facebook who have been there and seemed to like it (the pictures on Facebook looked good), but who am I to give it my seal of approval? And I think the woman is really going to go there with her child. Shit.  

 Here is a tiny picture from the web site of the birthday party place I recommended. I think those are remote control boats.

This addiction has now spread to giving advice on child rearing, of which again I have no true knowledge. Yes, I have a nine month old. However, I have not really read anything about raising a child. Occasionally I’ll ask her doctor, or a friend who is a doctor a question. Sometimes I open the email from (found out today Goldfish crackers are not a good snack choice for your child). Really though, I have no business telling any mother anything. I had a new mom friend in Chicago who basically earned her PhD reading every baby book and attending numerous classes. She can comment with some authority. She can quote sources and compare and contrasts ideology.  So, here was my advice.  

Today someone wrote that their 18 month old isn’t sleeping through the night. I decided to comment, “Maybe you should check that he is meeting his nutritional needs? It might not be that, but it’s an easy place to start.”

What the hell do I know about toddler nutrition and its correlation to sleeping? Nothing. Absolutely nothing.  Yes, I maybe, and really maybe, found a pattern in my own daughter that if she doesn’t eat enough she doesn’t sleep enough. But I don’t actually know that. It’s just a guess. 
Someone asked about the pros and cons of swaddling. Tons of people answered. I didn’t need to comment.  The original poster even wrote, “thank you everyone,” which is code for, okay, I don’t need more feedback. But I couldn’t help myself. “Team Swaddle,” I wrote, chuckling to myself as I hit enter. 

Here is my daughter, swaddled, several months ago. That little hand always got out.

This morning a woman with whom I went to college and haven’t seen in thirteen years posted that she was looking for a book to read that wasn’t serious and could hold her attention. To my overcommenting brain, this was an urgent matter. I searched my Goodreads and saw a book that I felt wasn’t too serious and could probably keep her attention. However, as I was posting I thought, well, maybe the first two chapters were a little slow. Maybe it won’t hold her attention. But I hit enter anyways! What if she hates the book? 

Will this book hold your attention?

This overzealous commenting is extending to my overposting. I wrote a very serious status update about a controversial issue that really is not my priority in life, but is very important to others. Yes, I think about it sometimes. However, why did I feel the need to use my page to comment on the issue? Just the other day, I felt the need to talk about Ramses II.  Sure, I’m a history teacher, but I’m not an Egyptologist. Yet, I was compelled to share.  

Still, the commenting is what is most out of control. This morning I made a biblical reference to my brother-in-law’s building posting about the building of his new home. Why? Why? 

This afternoon I indeed hit a new low. I now realize I need help. I commented on an article in a newspaper of a town where I haven’t lived in almost 20 years. I got in a fight with a guy named "TomThumb" who said women are selfish and if they weren't, they would stay at home and obey their husbands. I almost argued a hypothesis about why his screen name is TomThumb, but I held back.

This was my favorite book of short stories as a kid. It was the Jewish Tom Thumb named "K'Ton Ton."

So on my way home from work today, I reflected. I realized that I’m over-commenting on Facebook because I don’t have enough friends in Israel with whom I can share my (choose your favorite/most endearing/annoying trait of mine) neurotic, quirky,  dark, cynical, socially minded, historically informed, depressive, comedic, obsessive, new mother, newly married, Jewish, sports loving, therapeutic, pedagogical  comments. I am desperate for attention. Facebook is feeding that desperation like the plant feeds on blood. (Sorry, teaching The Picture of Dorian Gray - so many similes and metaphors!)

I go to school, and when anyone (except 3 teachers) asks me how I’m doing, I answer, great, good or fine. Because if my 30-something-self could tell my 20-something-self one thing it would be: in the work place, most people do not want to hear your complaints. “How are you” is to Americans as Bowing is to the Japanese. You just do it every time you see someone.

“How can you not have friends?” I have been asked. “You have a million Facebook friends!”  I do have friends in Chicago and in the U.S. But the time zone difference and my inability to text (another future blog post) have limited our interactions.  In Israel, I know people, but only one couple has really been seemingly excited to hang out with us semi consistently. What I have come to realize is that friendship is a need that I have, but my friends in Israel do not necessarily have the same needs or at least do not need them to be met by me, especially given that I don't live in Jerusalem or Tel Aviv.  My husband has almost no need for friendships. He’s perfectly happy seeing one friend once in a while and spending his time with me. 

Meanwhile, I'm finding that besides him and my daughter, the only thing that stays by my side is my Fitbit. 
 I love you too, Fitbit.

 I long for those three mile walks on Lake Shore Drive talking with a girlfriend about everything from the meaning of life to Teresa’s possible future incarceration.  I wish I were giving unsolicited advice to my younger coworkers as they glazed over their smart phones pretending to listen to me. I miss having dinner in the neighborhood with a friend criticizing other people’s lives and concluding the evening with our own self doubts and a promise to do it again soon.

Also, because of my lack of friendships, when I do make a friend, sometimes, I overdo it. One teacher at school invited my husband and me over for dinner. I was so happy after dinner that I said to her, how about next Friday at our place?  They were like, um, maybe. They have other friends! They don’t want to spend every Friday or next Friday at our place!  Or the woman in our building who befriended me. I started talking to her about all of the clutter in the stairwells and what if there is a fire, and they should do something about that. I couldn’t stop myself and I haven’t heard from her since. I don’t blame her! (Although we do have some awesome toys her daughter can play with!)

Look, I am in a great situation. I have a wonderful husband, a beautiful daughter, lovely in laws, a great place to live and a wonderful workplace. I’m hardly sacrificing, especially when you think of people who make real sacrifices for their families.  I’m living 10 minutes from the beach with a view of the Mediterranean Sea.

But man, do I miss my friends and family back home.

P.S. Thank you for reading my comments on my commenting. Please feel free to comment.

P.P.S. If this post makes you worried, don’t be. I’m doing well. The above is literary bulimia, nothing more, nothing less. Also, when I have tons of stuff to do, like cooking and grading, I prefer to blog.

P.P.S.S. If you call us now, it will be suspect. So maybe shoot for a couple of weeks.  Or you don't have to call. No need for pity. I have Lior, Maya and my Fitbit. :)

Friday, October 4, 2013

Response to Pew Research on American Judaism

My conclusion after reading the Pew Research Study on Judaism in America is that liberal Judaism slows assimilation, but cannot stop it. However, that doesn't strengthen the notion of Orthodox Judaism as the only hope for the survival of American Judaism. If Orthodox Judaism became the only Judaism in America, more people would just stop being Jewish immediately.

My biggest issues with Orthodox Judaism are its stances on women and homosexuality. These are non starters for me. Liberal Jewish movements have to make their synagogues more welcoming, engaging, relevant and educationally sound.

I believe that hospitality is the key to bringing people into a community, and this is not a strength of many liberal synagogues which are too centered on their buildings and institutional values rather than on the people who do and could potentially go there. The first Jewish guy, Abraham, was hospitable to the 3 "visitors" even though he was super old and had just been circumcised. Open your tent, be welcoming, and people will come.

Will their children? If they can find another hospitable tent, I think so.

Saturday, March 16, 2013

Feed, Sleep, Love

I’m going to talk about my life during the past 9 weeks since my daughter was born. Although I am writing about motherhood, I am not an expert and do not necessarily think you should follow anything I say in any way, shape or form. There are so many mommy bloggers who speak like their methods or experiences are gospel. I believe no such thing, but I hope nevertheless that this offers you some moderate entertainment. 
Check out my sweet socks! 

Maternity Leave
So, I’m a bit hyperactive and I was very worried that I would be bored during my maternity leave. I suggested to one of my coworkers that I would be willing to do work during the leave and know I would have plenty of time to complete various tasks. She looked at me half agreeing and half, “There’s no way in hell you are going to end up working during your maternity leave.”

Well, she was right. I have worked a tiny, tiny, tiny bit, but honestly, I have had no time whatsoever to dedicate to work. Taking care of a newborn is a full-time job. 

Your life runs on three-hour never ending cycles of feeding, changing, soothing, cleaning and once in a while sleeping.


Before I gave birth, I told everyone that I didn’t care if I breast fed or not.  I said I would try, and if it didn’t work out, so be it. However, in the end when I couldn’t, I was hysterical.  As soon as my baby was born, I was put on a regimen as follows: breast feed for 20 minutes, pump for 20 minutes, and give formula for 20 minutes  - she was a month early so she had to be fed formula, no matter what.  

Well, my milk never came in. I did this for a week, and when I brought her to the doctor I was exhausted, and she hadn’t gained enough weight. The doctor wouldn’t tell me outright to stop breast feeding, but he said, “You look miserable, she isn’t gaining weight, and if you haven’t gotten your milk in, you probably won’t.” So I talked to a lactation consultant, took some vitamins, massaged my boobs, kept up with the regimen for 3 more days, and then after looking at my minuscule supply after pumping, I threw in the towel. I needed to concentrate on getting her weight up, and I couldn’t do that and continue that schedule.

The thing was that I did care. I cried like, well a baby, I made my husband take back the pump to the hospital the second I gave up, because when I looked at it, I couldn’t stop crying.

To this day, I feel guilty that I am not breast feeding her, especially because she is having some digestions issues. But, I have for the most part gotten over it, and it helps that my husband can feed her, too.    

One long, big brain fart
I never believed the pregnant/new mom brain. I actually thought it was sexism. However, it has happened to me. I’m slowly starting to recover, but it’s been really brutal. I would say though that 99 percent of it is just from sleep deprivation. I’m a history teacher, and the other day I couldn’t remember several of the Vice Presidents’ names. I couldn’t believe it.  I thought I would catch up on my reading. It turns out the only thing I have an attention span for is reality television. If you saw my DVR right now, I wouldn’t be able to look at you in the eye.
A gift from my Aunt

Sleep deprivation
Before I had my daughter, everyone would say, “Sleep nowwwwwwwww, you won’t be able to once the baby comes.” I found this annoying, because you can’t give yourself a sleep savings account. However, I will say, as I said before, the effects of sleep deprivation have affected me physically and mentally.

I often have no idea why the hell she is crying
They say babies cry for three reasons: they are hungry, need their diapers changed or are tired. Well, I can tell you there is the fourth reason, which is a total mystery and you just have no idea and have to just bounce and sway and say shhh and pray that it stops.

Finding mommy friends helps
I have had four new moms come into my life since my daughter was born, and I am very grateful. Let’s face it. You can only talk to your friends about poop, spit up and skin rashes for so long, even with people who have children. However, if you are friends with someone else who has a little baby, you can have those conversations for hours and it relieves anxiety (and causes some too). I always thought I would have riveting conversations with my friends and not just be constantly talking about my baby. I was totally wrong. I can spend 20 minutes talking about formula and poop. There's a new Pope? Can he make my baby poop? Well, then, I don't care. 

Here are a few other tidbits I have learned over the last 9 weeks:
  •   The car seat is heavy as hell. It helps to attach it to a stroller.
  •   After pregnancy, there is a lot of bleeding. I never knew that. And it’s gross.
  •  Friends and family who said they are so excited for the baby to come and will be over all of the time to help, probably won’t. People are busy with their lives, and don’t expect more than a couple of visits.  I wish I had been a little more realistic. Just appreciate when people do come over. 
  •   When people offer to bring you food, TAKE THEM UP ON IT.
  •  It’s almost impossible to lose baby weight and get your body back like the stars do. I’m only 5 pounds away, but my body is just different. So don’t buy US Magazine that shows new moms in bikinis at the beach - unless you want to use it to line your diaper pail.
  • Not all babies poop every day.
  •  Babies don’t sleep all day.
  • The pediatrician’s office sounds like a house of horrors.
  • Feel free to say no to hand-me-downs.
  • Swaddling works.
  • Cutting their nails is really challenging but necessary. 
  •  Writing than you notes for gifts is really hard, but people want their thank you notes. The greatest gift you can give to a new mother is to say, don’t write me a thank you note. (However, to the 55 people who I just sent thank you notes to, it was my pleasure and thank you for the gift).


Shark Attack! 
I have to say, I never realized how much I would love my daughter. It’s an overwhelming amount of love that I have never felt before. I feel this weird sensation like she has always been a part of me, only I just found her. I don't know how I'm going to go back to work, I am so attached,  and that's never something I ever thought I would feel. (Nor is it an option, really.)  She has been my greatest gift in life next to my husband, who has been an amazing dad. I am very lucky and very blessed. 

Sunday, January 6, 2013

Butterflies vs. Basketballs

Today I officially entered some scary new realm of adulthood when my husband and I paid $55 for a Costco Membership.  I don’t think either of us really knows if the cost is worth it, but the other hundred thousand or so people who all seemed to converge there today must think so.

This also is my first official piece writing in the mom genre, as I am, knock on wood, soon going to be parent in the next few weeks. (If I were me 10 months ago, I would promptly stop reading right about here.)

So I sent my husband to find 500 rolls of toilet paper while I looked at baby clothes. Yesterday, I read that a baby can go through 3 outfits a day, and I have about 6 on hand (thanks Samantha and the Chacham family), partly due to procrastination and a little due to superstition.

We are also trying to take a minimalist approach to the baby. We live in a comfortable, 2 bedroom condo. However, it does not lend itself, and neither does our budget to buy everything on the Buy Buy Baby registry list.  (Traditionally, Jewish people don’t have baby showers, although today, many do).

As I searched for the clothes, I encountered a problem. We didn’t want to know the sex of our baby. We aren’t militant about it, if a doctor or nurse slipped, we wouldn’t care that much, but we don’t really care about the gender so we’re going for the surprise element. So the problem? The clothes are really gender specific not just by design, but with phrases like, “Daddy’s little lady bug.”

So then I started to think about my own gender biases. Why don’t I buy all the pink princess butterfly and the dark blue baseball truck driver onesies and put it on my kid, no matter what the gender is. What do I really care? It’s just clothes.
But I couldn’t do it. So I looked again for gender neutral clothing, and sort of found some, but I think they are actually for boys because they are blue. And then I heard a voice of an old person saying, “Why are you dressing your baby like a little boy?” But I bought them anyways. The kid needs to be dressed.

So today I bought clothes with cute monsters, ships and sea creatures on them. The one with ships says, “My Little Captain.” If I have a daughter, and she wants to be a captain of a ship, I’m totally cool with that. In fact, I’d be impressed.

The big wardrobe question will come when we do know the gender. Just go to You have two choices: baby boy or baby girl.  So will I buy the bright pink My Little Kitty Princess Fairy Gear that says “My Little Angel” or the football NFL logo black velour “Number 1 Draft Pick” onesie?  
Or will I be too tired to care?

I know, I know, this should be my biggest problem. Besides, my nieces love princesses, fairies, and Barbies, and they are awesome kids.  

But my gut just tells me that I don’t want to foist gender stereotypes on my child, at least during the first week of its life. It’s not like I’ll refuse gifts of frilly dresses or masculine shirts. But it’s just not me to buy them, at least not yet. Would I feel differently if I knew the gender? I actually don’t think so, but I could be wrong.

I’d like to end with the most ridiculous passage I read yesterday in the book “What to Expect the First Year” about getting gender neutral clothes for your baby:

“If you haven’t learned the gender of your baby through prenatal testing, don’t buy everything in yellow or green (unless you’re crazy about those colors), particularly since many infants don’t have the complexion to carry off those shades.” (Page 43, 2003 edition)

Well, if the baby can’t pull off its yellow onesie, I’ll just call “What Not to Wear” and get their advice. I’ll put their number right next to poison control.