Monthly Archives: December 2008

Challenge Week Three: Sitting around on my ass

I cannot get much exercise because Lilah shouldn’t be out in the cold air right now.  Nonetheless, I lost half a pound last week.  How about you?  If you aren’t losing weight, try to remember that the babe eating ice cream every night is beating you. How’s that for motivation?

In other news, I am shouting out to No Strings Attached Toys,  a small, earth-friendly company.  I had trouble with my order and didn’t hear back for a few days despite two emails.  I went ahead and re-ordered, and got this email:

“Your order has been received and will be delivered guaranteed no later than December 24.  We had some inventory confusion which caused your delay.  We actually ran out of the Lace & Trace Farm but since you had such a difficult time getting in touch with us, we found a way to get one to you in time for Christmas.  Please accept my sincere apologies for our lack of customer service.”

I had not complained or anything.  You don’t get that kind of service at Amazon!

Back to the trenches

I have so much to tell you about, including but not limited to biting, nighttime potty training, homeless people and pears, rolling over, birth control, MP3 players, hugging, and sleep.

However, what I really need to do is make some revisions on the book. I’m reworking those old bugaboos — the beginning and the end (insert big sigh).  And, those of you who have been around for awhile know that book always trumps blogging.  So, I may not have all that many new posts over the next week or two (except one more on Christmas trees that I already wrote).  Or, maybe I will.  You never know.

And I may not be leaving comments at your places, although I might just be reading quietly during 3 AM feedings.

But, y’all know I’ll be back as soon as I get the revisions in line.  Send me good writing vibes, dudes.

If only Tinkerbell had shown up in his bedroom…

            It’s Saturday morning.  Lilah is still not 100% and probably oughtn’t be out and about, so my breasts and I will be staying put all day.  With much grumbling on his part, J is taking the boys to the synagogue for Tot Shabbat, which is a new program once a month.  We haven’t been yet, but as far as I can tell, it is religion disguised as singing and craft projects.

            I am putting the finishing touches on two-year-old Benjamin.  “Where going?” he wants to know.

            “Daddy’s taking you and Zachary to Tot Shabbat,” I tell him.

            “Yeah!” he assents enthusiastically.  “Going Tot Shabbat.  Michael’s house.”  Although the child is fully capable of grammatical sentences, when he is telling a long story, sometimes he opts out of certain essential parts of speech.  I ask what he means.  “Going Tot Shabbat Michael-Xander’s house eat in restaurant!

            “Um, well, let’s just start with Tot Shabbat, OK?”

            I get them all out the door and sit down to feed Lilah, who during her hospitalization has gotten into the habit of sleeping in my arms.  She is dozing on and off an hour and a half later when J calls.

            “We’re going over to Michael and Xander’s house for a little while.”

            “Oh, good,” I reply.  “Ben was just saying this morning he wanted to go there.”

            Another hour passes and I hear from my husband again.  Clearly, he is still at our friends’ house.  “Are you eating lunch there?”

            “No,” he says.  “But do you mind if I take then to Souplantation for lunch?”

            I need to make it very clear that not only have we never been to Tot Shabbat, we have also never combined a trip to the synagogue with a visit to our friends, nor a visit to their house with lunch at a snazzy all-you-can-eat salad bar.  Somehow, though, the day panned out just as Benjamin had fantasized it would be.

            The Rabbi playing his guitar, a play date, and unlimited peas.  My toddler’s ideal morning.

Givin’ them something to rebel against

            “I’m jealous,” Zachary announced to his father.  He is our first child, so we have made the mistake of teaching a four-year-old the word “jealous,” an error we will attempt to avoid repeating with the other two.  He definitely overuses that term.  He continued: “All the Gesher girls get to wear nail polish.”  Gesher is the class above his, and he has become quite the hot item with the five-year-old girls.  “Why don’t I get to wear nail polish?”

            Now, there are a couple of ways J could have answered this.  He could have informed his child that rules vary in each house and life is unfair.  However, Zach has already figured this out, as we unfairly refuse to buy him things that everyone else has.  J also could have parroted what I always say about dresses, which is that he is welcome to wear one to school is he would really like, but he is likely to be teased.  He actually has no interest in wearing one, having decided that he is a boy and boys don’t wear dresses, but he does think this is an unfair rule imposed arbitrarily upon his gender.  (One that, I suspect, he would enforce nonetheless were his brother to wear a dress.)

            J and I have never talked about nail polish.  We have talked about the makeup and ear piercing rules, which, although they largely fall to me, we agree upon.  Children do not wear makeup or earrings, so when you are an adult, you may have those things.  Bar/Bat Mitzvah age, in other words, because we have no hope of making them wait till legal adulthood.  We have avoided being asked about makeup and earrings because I rarely wear them and J never does.  Nor do I wear nail polish, but apparently I am no longer the child’s standard of feminine beauty.

            “In this house,” J replied, “you cannot wear nail polish until you are thirteen.”  I suspect that means we’ll be hearing about the unfair rules for the next nine years, but I don’t care.  Makeup and nail polish are sexualizing items, used mostly (although of course not exclusively) by women to demonstrate their sexual attractiveness.  I think they are completely inappropriate on little girls, and around here we don’t discriminate on the basis of race, sexual orientation, or gender.  The rules in this house apply to everyone.

            Later, J told me the story, and I was delighted that, without even discussing it, we were on the same page.  “You can also tell him,” I added, “that nail polish has toxic chemicals that we don’t put on our bodies.”

            Dude was way ahead of me.  “I told him that, too.”

            And that, ladies and gentlemen, is why I love my husband.  It’s a good thing I do, because in a few years, the kids are all going to hate us.

It’s never too early in the day for a science lesson

            The boy only eats carbohydrates.  OK, maybe I am exaggerating.  Every now and then, he’ll eat a (dry) turkey sandwich.  Once a week, he’ll eat half a hamburger.  And he is more than willing to take in calcium, as long as it comes in a frozen form and is heavily disguised with sugar.

            Otherwise, the boy is on the anti-Atkins diet.

            Yet he never gets sick.  In two years, he has not once missed school, because if he absolutely MUST get conjunctivitis, he gets it over school breaks.  If a cold is going around, he usually skips over all the symptoms and goes straight for the post-cold cough, which lingers on him just like everyone else.

            “Why the fuck doesn’t he ever get sick?” I asked my best friend.  “He brings it home and gives it to the others, but Zach, himself, never gets sick.”

            “Neither do you,” she pointed out.  Oh, yeah.  I mean, I do get colds, but I don’t get them like other people do.  My nose runs, I cough, but I am not flat out on my back, and I run through them much faster than others.  I like to think I metabolize them faster.

            When Lilah had her recent illness, I asked the pediatrician why, exactly, it seemed that her brother manages to bring home this crap to her, but he stays healthy.  “Benjamin is the one who eats everything, why is Zachary always healthy?  Is there a lot of Vitamin C in bread?”

            “Some people have Super Immune systems,” she told me.  “Their bodies have a lot of the cells that attach infection.  Women who are like that have a hard time getting pregnant.”  Um, really?  “Their bodies attack the embryo as a foreign substance.”

            Seriously?  Because I had a hard time getting pregnant.  The first two times.  The third time, of course, my body had figured out that those little cells were supposed to stay put.

            “Is that why Zachary has such a strong reaction to immunizations?” I wondered.

            “Probably,” was the reply.  “Kids who have a Super Immune system will fight off the vaccine better.  Especially a flu vaccine.”  Like, say, get an arm swollen to three times its normal size?  That explains a lot.


Quick Question

My real post is below, but I need a bit of advice.  I have signed up to buy a gift for a girl on a reservation in South Dakota who apparently won’t be getting much this year.  She also needs socks and hats and mittens, which obviously have to be WARM.  Any suggestions on a website where I can order warm socks, hat, and mittens for a 13 year old girl?  All I can think is Lands End and LL Bean.

Go below for my real post for the day.

Ass out of you and me

            Awhile back, someone asked how I can consider myself Jewish without believing in God.  Indulge me, please, while I respond.

            I am a secular Jew, which means that I am ethnically Jewish but not necessarily religiously.  Note that I do not say “racially” Jewish.  Race is about biology, and Judaism is NOT a race.  That kind of thinking led to some nasty behavior in Germany in the last century.  While Judaism is not a race, it is most surely an ethnicity, much like Italian-American or African-American is an ethnicity.  (To add to the confusion, there is a racial component to African-American ethnicity, in that African-Americans are usually black, but not all black people are African-American.  This is just a road I don’t want to go down.)  As an ethnic group, Jews share many elements of cultural history.  A large part of that culture is synagogue-related, as the shul is the center of the community life.  So, a secular Jew may go to services to be a part of the tradition, the community, the history, and the values of Jewish life without actually believing she is talking to a higher power.  Perforce, there is a lot of crossover between the ethnic elements of Judaism and the religious elements.

            This distinction is clear to most modern (non-orthodox) Jews, but it may seem confusing to outsiders.  After all, there is no such thing as an ethnic or secular Christian, right?

            Or is there?

            Many of you responded to my post about Christmas by saying you are not Christian but you celebrate the holiday.  I would wager, however, that those who feel this way are of Christian descent.  People whose families are historically Christian and who enjoy the traditions and history of the holiday while not subscribing to the religious aspects.  That is to say, secular Christians.

            Ethnic Christianity is so pervasive in this country that it has come to be seen as the default, the absence of ethnicity.  It is seen as a neutral state of Americaness, as in, “I am an atheist, but I celebrate Christmas because it is an American holiday.”  Well, no, it is not an American holiday, it is a Christian one that has both religious and secular aspects.  The vast majority of Americans are either religious or ethnic Christians, so much so that their ethnicity disappears and they become a sort of baseline.  Those who are not Christian at all are then seen as having this different religion plopped on top of that neutrality, which is why people often see a Jew or a Muslim as “ethnic,” but do not see a WASP as such.

            I imagine there will be those who are offended by this concept.  Non-believers will be annoyed at being called Christian, while believers will feel it cheapens their faith.  But, as long as people are going to insist that upon Christmas being both a secular and a religious holiday, there is no other way to look at it.

            That being said, let me clarify a few things.  I do not dislike Christmas and am always honored when invited to join in with a friend’s celebration.  I don’t mind hearing about how much others love Christmas, as long as it is not the only topic of conversation in December.  I like Christmas decorations on houses, just not in publicly funded places like schools, although when I taught at a Catholic university I had no issues with it.  I totally get why everything is closed on Christmas, although it is a bit annoying.

            What I don’t like is the assumption that everyone celebrates Christmas, which then marks those of us who don’t as aberrations.  I don’t like the term “the holidays” because it is a euphemism for Christmas; if you are going to talk about Christmas, call a spade a spade.  I don’t like being treated as though my ethnicity is abnormal, which is exactly what you are doing when you claim Christmas is American.

            You cannot assume everyone is married or married to someone of the opposite sex.  You cannot assume every woman wants children.  You cannot assume all mothers have a choice whether or not to work.  And you cannot assume that everyone celebrates Christmas, just by virtue of being American.