Thursday, April 29, 2010

Thursday miscellany

Feeling kind of disjointed and off today.  Could be any of the following:
  • The nature of springtime in Denver, which is totally schizophrenic.  Yesterday it was 80 degrees and unbelievably beautiful - blue skies, balmy breeze.  When I woke up this morning, it was snowing.  Now it's just kind of drizzling and overcast.  A friend of mine quipped that Denver really doesn't experience spring -- it's more like winter and summer duking it out for a couple of months.  That is an astoundingly astute description of what April is like in this city.  
  • I'm tired.  Josie is having an odd stretch.  It might be teething or a growth spurt (or both).  But she isn't sleeping or eating like she normally does and is a little bit fussy (which, by normal baby standards, isn't much, but it's so unlike her).  So I've been up the last three nights at 3 a.m. to give her a bottle.  At least Zeke is making up for it by being astoundingly cute and well-behaved.  He's sleeping in his own bed.  He's using the potty more and more.  He's having great days at school where he plays nicely with his friends.  He's happy and fun to be with.
  • The fucking Capitals.  Grr.  Congratulations on being the first #1 seed to blow a 3-1 series lead in the history of the NHL playoffs, guys.  Jesus.
But there are things to be happy about as well.
  • I started a new workout program a couple of weeks ago.  In addition to the workouts being really fun, I'm seeing results.  Meaning I won't be the chubby girl at the high school reunion who has to go on an on about how she's still trying to lose the baby weight (and yes, Sophie, it's looking like I'll be able to go -- yay!).  
  • More importantly, Emma is going home from the rehab center tomorrow.  This is blowing my mind.  The accident was only 6 weeks ago.  She literally almost died.  Had she been hit an inch further over here or a centimeter further over there, she could have been dead or severely impaired for the rest of her life.  And she's only been doing hardcore rehab for a little over a week.  But in that time, she's gone from being in a wheelchair to walking with a cane to barely needing the cane at all anymore.  She's working really hard to regain the use of her right arm and hand, and she's doing astoundingly well.  She'll still need to continue with rehab for a while, but she doesn't need to do it on an in-patient basis. What a stud she is.
So, as you can see, I'm sort of all over the place today.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

I get my kicks where I can

My Grandma Anne - my dad's mom - used to be a great artist.  She doesn't do any art anymore, but before she became physically infirm she was a terrific painter.  And she always had great taste - beautiful furniture, paintings, jewelry.

A few years ago when we were in Michigan for a family shindig for Leo's 90th birthday, she gave me this incredible gold necklace that was made up of links of dancing figures.  It's a beautiful and unique piece, a work of art, really.

As a true artist, my grandma loved the human form.  And if you look closely, you can see it well-displayed on the necklace.  When I wear it, I'm wearing a chain of naked people.  With little hand-shaped gold penises.

Quite impressive gold penises (that's a side shot below).

Dancing, flopping gold penises.

I invariably get compliments on how lovely the necklace is.  And I chuckle to myself and thing, "yes, especially if you're into jewelry porn."

Monday, April 26, 2010


I saw a comedian do a bit a few years back -- I think it was Chris Rock -- about the racial stereotypes of Jews and Asians being smart and good at business.  His point was, what's so terrible about a stereotype like that?  Wouldn't it be great if someone saw a black person on the street and didn't think they were a criminal or from the 'hood, but rather automatically assumed that they were an intelligent business owner?

I thought of that this past weekend when I was waiting in line at the ticket office at Coors Field to swap out Friday's rain-check for tickets to Saturday's game.  Jason and his brother Simon were waiting off to the side with the kids, and Zeke was running around and going back and forth between Jason and me, being silly and playing and practicing saying "excuse me" as he barreled through the crowds.

At one point he came to me and held up his arms to be picked up, so I reached down and pulled him up onto my hip.  We stood there chatting for a minute.  Zeke was looking around and flirting with the people standing around us, as he is wont to do.

The ticket window we were in line for was being manned by a late-30-ish, thin, light-skinned African American guy.  As Zeke was scanning the crowd, he looked toward the ticket window and when he saw the guy behind the window, his eyes got really big.

"Mama!  Mama!  It's Obama!  Look, Mama!  Obama!"

I don't think the guy behind the window heard him (there were still a bunch of people ahead of us in line), but the people standing near us cracked up.

And I was thinking to myself, "does it make my kid a racist if he assumes that every light-skinned black man he sees is the President of the United States?"*

*In his defense, he doesn't do this with darker-skinned black men, only men that actually do look like President Obama.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Four years ago today

Jason and I were legally married in Australia in December 2005, but we did a second wedding in Atlanta four years ago today (i.e., 5 months after the first one). We did the second one so that our families could each be able to participate in a wedding ceremony for us, because most of my family and friends couldn't afford to go to Oz for the first wedding, and most of Jason's family and friends couldn't come to the States for the second.*

The first wedding was fun, but a bit of a whirlwind, and I was naturally stressed out and a bit freaked out by the prospect of getting married. The second wedding was far less emotionally charged for me because I was already married, so it was just a chance to celebrate with my family and friends and bask in the Jewish wedding traditions that my tribe has been following for thousands of years. I tried to work in as many personal touches as I could think of.

My wonderful parents both walk me down the "aisle" to the huppah. I carried yellow roses, the same flowers my mother carried at her wedding.

We had a huppah at the Australia wedding, but we made it at the last minute out of some lumber and a piece of lace we bought at a fabric store. The huppah at the Atlanta wedding was made from a Jewish prayer shawl that had belonged to my great-grandfather Julius.

We stand under the huppah, as our rabbi-for-a-day, my friend Karen, leads the ceremony. She speaks Hebrew and recited all the Hebrew prayers and blessings for us

Also, we worked in all of the chief aspects of the Jewish wedding ceremony, including the recitation of the ketubah (marriage contract), the Kiddushin (blessings of betrothal over wine), and the Sheva Brachot (Seven Blessings), in Hebrew.
Signing the ketubah (marriage contract)

Reading our marital obligations (from the ketubah) to each other

Blessings over wine

I circled Jason 7 times when I entered the huppah, representing the building of the walls of our new world together (similar to the world being built in 7 days).

My friend Andrea read a portion of Walt Whitman's "Song of the Open Road," a nod to living a life of adventure, as Jason and I always try to do. Then Jason broke the glass, which represented (to us) not only the remembrance of the suffering of others, but also a breaking of ties with the past and the creation of a new family - we no longer belong just to our parents, but also now to each other.

Then we went to the reception hall, I changed into a dancing dress, and we enjoyed Southern cuisine (including fried green tomatoes - yum), danced to the music of a Cuban band, and enjoyed the time with our family and friends.

Jason and I took rhumba lessons to learn our first dance, which was to the song "Besame Mucho"

I teach Emma the basic mambo step, and she and I dance with Jason. She and I will dance together again, I'm sure of it.
My maternal grandparents (seated), Ruth and Leo, and the inspirations for Josie's middle name (Ruby Lee) - the lady standing behind them is their friend (and mine) Melba, one of my favorite people in the world. She is still alive, but her health is not great these days.**

The scene on the dance floor

We had cake. Our cake toppers were male and female surfers, of course.

It's been a crazy 4 years (well, 4 1/2, really). We've been from Atlanta to Hawaii to Denver, our financial fortunes have been up and down, and there have been times -- many times -- when I feel like I would give anything to be single and childless again. But the rituals and the ceremony of that day four years ago meant something, and still do. We are bound together forever now, not just by our children, but by the shared experiences of our life together and, without question, love for each other, for better or for worse.

*There were a few troupers who made it to both: My friends David and Michele and Malinda, and my parents, were at the Australia wedding. Jason's dad and grandmother were at the Atlanta wedding, and his step-brother Dean came over for it but had to fly back before the wedding date because his mother (Jason's ex-stepmother) died.
**Melba died about a week and a half after I wrote this post. She was a powerhouse of a woman and I will miss her dearly and admire her and strive to emulate her always.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Aussie Word of the Day: Let's call the whole thing off, or, my life as a Gershwin song

The Accent Wars are beginning in earnest.

You will recall that I recently was taken aback, and a bit freaked out, when Zeke used Jason's Aussie pronunciation of the word "weird," so that it sounded like "weeeeed." And his "dog" sounds like "doog" and "car" is "caaah."

Jason 3, Wendy 0.

But as I am the one who does most of the reading of stories to the monkeys, I'm starting to gain ground.

Zeke has this board book about life on the farm (and I love how it's called "My First Farm Board Book," as if there are sure to be other farm board books in one's future). It's got lots of pictures of everything from farm animals to tractors and tools to different kinds of produce. There's a whole page with pictures of lettuce and strawberries and apples and peppers and other fruits and veggies, in varying amounts, so that in addition to learning the names of the various foods, kids can work on their counting skills as well.

So from this book (because God knows he would never actually eat a vegetable*), Zeke has learned what a tomato is, and, more importantly, that the word is pronounced "to-MAY-toe."

The other night, Zeke was jumping around on the couch (naked, natch), when he spied his farm book on the shelf and decided he needed to read it RIGHT NOW. So he went and grabbed it and took it over to Jason, and they proceeded to go through the pictures, naming and counting and having a good time.

I was reading a magazine and not paying much attention (except to get a face-full of naked toddler ass when Zeke felt the need to crawl over me to go hug Jason's brother, who is visiting for a couple of weeks, before returning to Jason and the farm book). Then I heard this hilarious exchange:
Zeke: Daddy, what's that?

Jason: Those are to-MAH-toes.

Zeke: (laughing hysterically) Not to-MAH-toes! To-MAY-toes! They're to-MAY-toes, Daddy!

Jason: To-MAH-toes.

Zeke: TO-MAY-TOES! Hahahaha! Daddy's silly!
Indeed, son.  Indeed.  Come back from the Dark Side...

*Yeah, yeah, I know that tomatoes are technically fruits, but to Zeke, they are grouped with foods like broccoli and green beans, i.e., the kind he won't eat.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Don't call DFCS

We have a history in my family of enthusiastic and creative rough-housing. When Josh and I were really little (before Sam was born), we came up with increasingly violent games to play with my dad. We'd pile pillows against the wall at the head of his bed, and he would get in a crouched down position (with his head toward the pillows). We would sit on the small of his back, and then he would straighten his legs and send us flying into the pillows/wall. This was called Being The Machine, as in, "Daddy! Be The Machine! Be The Machine! Again, again!!" There was also The Helicopter, where he would get on all fours on the bed and we would climb on his back like he was a horse and then he would spin and buck around until we got thrown off. The Helicopter-Chair was another iteration.

But Jason has my childhood games beat by a mile. He has all kinds of insane stories about the stuff he and his brothers used to do, often involving careening down steep hills on skateboards with nail-studded pieces of wood dragging behind them to make sparks on the road -- that sort of thing. Suffice it to say that it's a miracle he made it to adulthood.

I am not a nervous mother and it doesn't bother me when Jason throws Zeke around like he was made of foam. There is much flipping on the couch and bouncing on the bed and throwing from one surface to another, and all the while Zeke screams with laughter and giggles and says "again! again!!"

Every once in a while, they come up with something that makes me wince and scrunch my eyes shut. Until I can't help but start laughing.

They've actually been doing the "kicking the beanbag while Zeke lies on top of it" trick for awhile. Last night they came up with a way of doing it so that Zeke flies from the beanbag to the couch. I find it utterly hilarious, in spite of myself.

Friday, April 02, 2010

The long and winding road

I'm here in Boston, at the hospital with Emma.  She spoke for the first time last night, which is awesome, and has been much more responsive, both verbally and nonverbally.  Her first utterance was to ask her mother, "what happened to me?"

Seeing her has been both wonderful and daunting, emotionally.  Wonderful because the outlook is positive.  The doctors are incredibly encouraged by her progress of the last 48 hours -- one of the neurologists deemed it "spectacular."  And another doctor, doing the rounds, explained that she has given us cause to be optimistic.

But all I can think is how frustrating this must be for her.  To wake up in the hospital, with arms restrained, a wall of medicines next to the bed, and people coming in at all hours to poke and prod and ask things like, "can you stick out your tongue?"  Her progress is terrific, but she is still barely speaking and is easily tired and has difficulty moving her right side.  She has people hovering over her, strangers coming in to bathe her, strangers coming in to give her basic commands.  I'm sure it gets annoying as all hell.  She will undoubtedly require extensive rehabilitation, which, for a driven honors student who not only excelled in school but in multiple sports, will be tedious and difficult at times.  I wish I could take it all on myself, so she doesn't have to suffer through it.

But today, as I stood by her bed holding her hand and giving her water, I told her about a surf trip in December that I'm trying to plan with some of the cousins.  "It's going to be sick.  Amazing surf in an awesome beach house.  I'm going to try to convince your parents to let you come with us, if you're up to it by then."

She gave me a raised eyebrow look, like, "hell, yes!"  She's a really good surfer.

I feel like we're getting her back, a teeny, tiny piece at a time.