Thursday, April 28, 2011

T.S. was off by one

I know April is supposed to be the cruelest month, but for my kids (and somewhat for me and J), May is shaping up to be a doozy.

On Sunday, I leave for a 3 day legal conference in Arizona.  So J, who is normally out the door by 6:30 to go to work, will have to fuck up his schedule to get the kids up and off to school and get them in the afternoons and deal with dinner and bath and bed.  Which isn't so hard - hell, I did it for a year and a half when J was working in Vail, but still, it's exhausting.

And I think the kids will have a rough time of it -- they're very used to their routine:  Mommy in the morning, Daddy after school, and then both of us for the evening.  Josie does not like that routine upset, and I can't even prepare her by explaining that I'll be gone for a few days.  At least with Zeke, I can get him ready, and he's old enough to understand that just because I'm gone doesn't mean I won't be back.  So he'll deal.

Then, 3 days after I get back, J is leaving for Australia.  For two weeks.

He needs to go home.  He really does.  His dad has been really sick for years and J hasn't been back since he took Zeke almost 3 years ago.  I can't imagine not seeing my family or my homeland for that long.  So I begrudge him nothing with this trip.

But still.  Two. Fucking. Weeks.

Like I said, I've been there, done that (though never for 2 straight weeks), so I'll be OK.  My parents are coming to visit the middle week and I've enlisted friends and family to be available for a dinner or a playdate to keep the kids distracted. 

But I think it's going to be really, really hard on them.  I fully anticipate acting out, fussing, toilet training regression.  Ugh.

At least they'll have us for 2 full weeks after J gets back before I leave again for my college reunion.  Without them.

Poor little monkeys.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Getting through

I was emailing with Lisa yesterday about life.  She had written a post about how it feels like life is just a series of fighting the same fights, worrying the same worries, getting through it, most of "it" being not particularly fun or pleasant.  I felt like it described my life to a "t."

So much of it is just a slog, getting through chores, making sure everyone is fed and bathed and cared for, and then cleaning up the endless messes.  The endless dishes.  The endless laundry.  The endless bills that, right now, seem to exceed our ability to pay them.

And then last night I found out that one of my cousins had died (he's actually my mom's first cousin, so he's once-removed from me).  He was in his 80s and had been sick for a long time, but he had actually been doing really well, so it was a bit of a surprise.  He was one of the DC cousins (as opposed to the Michigan cousins), and he was always fun to talk to.  Quick with a dirty joke or an inappropriate remark, big sports fan, smart, and far kinder and more generous than he would ever let on.  He and Zeke even shared a birthday, so there was that little connection.  I will miss him.

And his son (my second cousin) has aggressive brain cancer and probably doesn't have much longer left.

Shitty times for their family.

And there's my brother, whose middle daughter needs a heart procedure sometime soon.  She was born with a heart condition and recently had a test that the doctors weren't thrilled with.  The procedure shouldn't be a big deal, but still.  It's their kid.  And it's only a year after almost losing one of their other kids.

It's hard.

As always, there are glimmers, points of light (geez, I never thought I'd be borrowing a phrase from former Pres. Bush (H.W., not W, obvs)).  My goofy-ass children bouncing around and hugging each other on the couch.  My sweet husband.  My fledgling Beachbody business (I started getting checks after the first week - not huge ones yet, but they're growing).  The roof over my head, care of a beautiful old house that will some day be really beautiful.  My health, and in particular, my shrinking waistline.  My generous parents and my wonderful friends and family.

Lisa and I didn't solve any of the world's problems with our email exchange, or even any of our own, most probably.  But as always, it's nice to connect with an old friend.  So there's that, too.

And we just keep going.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Things to do in Denver when you're Jewish

Yesterday morning the weather was kind of crappy and cold, so rather than look to outdoor outings to entertain the kids, we decided to go to the science museum (aka "the dinosaur museum"). It's really close to where we live and we have an annual membership, so it's a good "go to" when we're looking for something to do.  Zeke and Josie love to run around, looking at the dinosaur bones, the wildlife exhibits, the bugs.  It's fun and they learn things (Zeke knows the difference between a diplodocus, a stegosaurus and a pachycephalosaurus, for example).  Plus they have this great kids' center where there are tons of "hands on" projects for the monkeys to play with, dancing, demonstration, puzzles, games, etc.

I hadn't even thought about the fact that it was Easter, other than having my annual trade-off of tasteless Easter jokes with my dad when we called in the morning to say hi.  Not my holiday, yanno?  So we were pleasantly surprised at the lack of crowds - makes it easier to keep track of short people.  And then we started noticing...characteristics.  Like the abundance of men wearing yamulkes.  The kids named "Yael" and "Isaac" and "Abe."  The moms named "Chava" (hard "ch") and Rivka.  A few stray prayer shawl fringes hanging out of shirts.

"J!"  I whispered.

"What's up?"

"I think we're here with all the other Jews in town!"

He chuckled and nodded.  "I was thinking the same thing.  We Jews need to stick together, baby!"

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

My little monkey-bean

I was bouncing Josie on the bed the other day - holding her hands to help her achieve greater height - as she giggled and smiled at me and said, "again?" every time I stopped.  I can't really do it with Zeke anymore because he's getting so big.  But Josie is still such a peanut.  The right height for her age, but definitely on the skinny side -- she might have crossed the 20 lb. mark recently, placing her solidly in the 1st percentile for her age.  So it's easy for me to rough-house with her as she squeals with glee.

As we were playing and laughing, I was thinking back to my surprise and (mild) consternation when I was pregnant with her and learned that she was a girl.  How I was kind of hoping for a boy because I already had one and felt like I "got" little boys.  How I was nervous about her growing up to be an evil teenager. 

So stupid on my part (not the evil teenager part -- that will undoubtedly play itself out and I'll just have to deal). 

Because I love her little girly tendencies.  Her love of baby dolls, for example.  She has a couple of them at home, plus there's a box of them she plays with at school, and she walks around holding Baby or sitting with it and patting its back or using a towel or a cloth napkin to swaddle Baby and then rock it from side to side.  Sometimes she'll hand Baby off, and if you're the recipient, you had better hold Baby up to your shoulder and gently and soothingly pat her on the back like you're burping her, because if you hand her back to Josie without having done it right, Josie will hand her right back for you to try again.

And she's so sweet and happy and snuggly.  She loves to sit on my lap just so, holding Baby, while we read a book or watch Elmo.  She loves to play "chase" through the house, making the loop through the front hall to the dining room through the kitchen to the living room and back to the front hall. 

It's so much fun, and so gratifying, to see her with Zeke.  They adore each other.  They bathe together every night, splashing and giggling.  He shows her his books and they stand at the front window and look out while he explains what they're looking at.  They give each other hugs while they say, "awwww" and pat each other on the back. 

He's teaching her how to talk.  "Jo-Jo, say 'flower'!"  "Flaw!"  "Say 'window'!"  "Winnow"  He goes to her classroom every day at school to check up on her, see how she's doing and give her a kiss.

After having Zeke, I always thought, "little boys are the best.  They love their mothers.  They're hilarious and sweet and wonderful."

Now I look at Josie and think, "little girls are the best.  They love their mothers.  They're hilarious and sweet and wonderful."

Maybe I'm just blessed with great kids. 

Monday, April 18, 2011


I'm coming down from the high of Passover.  Maybe a little bit of a Manischewitz buzz.  A little overstuffed with brisket, haroset, horseradish, matzoh ball soup and way more coconut macaroons than I have any business eating.

It was lovely.  My cousins and their 1 year old came over, and my high school friend Kim came over, and a good time was had by all.

Passover is my favorite holiday.  I love the themes (Freedom!  Let my people go! Next year in Jerusalem!), the food, the family chaos, the telling of the story, the ceremony.  J loves it, too ("Baby, it's my favorite holiday since I became a Jew").

I love the fact that every year, we carry on a tradition that is being carried on all over the world, and that has been carried on for thousands of years.  And I love carrying on my own family traditions.

Using the china and silver that used to be my grandparents'.
The china I inherited from my grandparents, still meticulously packed with 35-year-old pieces of foam and paper towel protecting the plates, just as my grandfather always left them.
I'm third generation Royal Danish.
Using the kiddush cup and monogrammed napkins that I got for my wedding.

Using my grandmother's matzo ball recipe (the secret is seltzer water).

Enjoying the holiday with my children, who don't really get it yet, but they will, and they will carry on the traditions as well.
Zeke, of course, isn't wearing a shirt.  The Australian wine is a nod to J.
Traditions like this are a blessing.  A mitzvah.  They link us to each other and to a greater purpose.  On days like this, I am honored to be chosen.

Wishing you all a happy Passover, blessed Easter, happy spring.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Why my house is a shit-show

Yesterday, within a span of about half an hour, Zeke:
  • tasted something I had offered him, decided he didn't like it, and "wiped" whatever it was (probably some sort of vegetable, I don't remember) off of his tongue by licking the couch;
  • went off to the bathroom fully clothed but came back naked, having left his clothing next to the toilet;
  • dumped his bucket of Mr. Potatohead parts all over the living room floor to play with them, only to abandon them when the next shiny thing caught his eye; and
  • sprayed water all over the couch in an effort to "help me clean up."
Meanwhile, in approximately the same time span, Josie:
  • ate half a cereal bar but crumbled the other half in her fists and threw the crumbs in the air;
  • took off her diaper, played for awhile, peed on the floor and then used her hands to spread the pee around;
  • took clean laundry that I had just folded out of the laundry basket and flung it around; and
  • pulled pots and pans out of the cupboard and arranged them throughout the kitchen.
Everyone with kids tells me to cherish these early years because they fly by so quickly. 

That rapid passage of time doesn't seem like such a bad thing sometimes.

Wednesday, April 06, 2011

Will work for underpants

I'm putting the kids in the car to take them to school.  As I'm buckling Josie in, I'm saying to Zeke, "come on, sweetie, hop into your seat and I'll come and strap you in."

"Where are we going, Mama?"

"We're going to school and then I'm going to work."


Josie, who is in that stage of language acquisition in which she repeats everything she hears without necessarily knowing what it means, parrots, "why?  why?  why?"

"Why do I have to go to work?"

"Yeah.  Why, Mama?"

I think for a second.  "Well, you know what money is?  What we use to buy things at the grocery store?"


"The way you get money is to do something for someone, to do some work, and then they pay you for it and give you money.  So Daddy goes to work and he gets money for the work he does, and I go to work and I get money for the work I do, and then we take that money and we use it to pay for the things in our life, like our house, our cars..."

"And food?"

"Yep, food's a big one."

"And underpants."

"Exactly.  Underpants are very important."


He goes back to looking out the window and humming to himself, satisfied that he has covered the bases.

Tuesday, April 05, 2011

The Costa Rica fund

I've mentioned more than once my fondness for exercise programs like P90X and Insanity and TurboJam and a few others, all by a fitness company called Beachbody.

I started using them about 6 years ago in preparation for my wedding.  I was getting fitted for my gown and the seamstress told me that the dress was ever-so-slightly tight around the bodice, but that if I lost 5 pounds, I wouldn't need any alterations at all.

I had been doing home exercise programs since I was in college, but I was bored with my collection.  Then I saw an ad for P90X in Esquire magazine.  The program didn't promise any quick fixes or easy weight loss -- just great results if you were committed to working incredibly hard 6 days a week for 90 days.  I liked the no-bullshit approach and the money back guarantee, so I ordered it, figuring that if I didn't like it, I could return it and get my money back.

Long story short, I rocked my wedding dress, got into the best shape of my life, and became a devoted consumer of Beachbody products.  I've used 5 of their programs and then just started a 6th, TurboFire, this morning.  I've recommended the programs to friends and relatives, who have become similarly addicted.

Now I've drunk the Kool-Aid in full.

The company has a coaching program in which you can sign up to become a coach and a rep for the company's products.  I've been thinking about doing it for a while.  There are people I've read about it who have been able to turn their coaching gig into a full-time job that allows them to work for themselves and quit their day jobs.  I don't see myself doing that, but I would like to be able to help people get in shape and at the same time, maybe make a little bit of money that I can use as a vacation/rainy day fund.

So I signed up. 

I'm not going to give a hard sell, because the products basically sell themselves.  Here's my page -- it will link you to all the information you could need about the programs, products and coaching opportunities.  After a couple of days, I'll move this post to a separate page (linked at the top of the homepage), and I'll put some links on the sidebar.  Check it out.

Monday, April 04, 2011

What a fool believes, he sees, no wise man has the power to reason away...

As I said, I'm generally not creative enough to come up with worthy April Fool's gags.  Nor do I usually even remember it is April Fool's Day until it's too late to do anything about it.

So it's nice to be included in someone else's gag.

In this case, my high school friend Mark emailed me and asked if I would be willing to participate in a blogging gag flowing from last year's awesome punking of the New York Times.

But of course, I said.

So this time the gag was not on the Times, but rather on readers eager to see the Times taken again.  Eric Turkewitz,* a New York lawyer who writes a law blog, conceived of and executed the prank, involving a series of links promising a great punking story, but never delivering.  Click here for his deconstruction of the gag.  (For reals, this time.)

Happy April, all!

* Part of the gag was that I know Eric at all -- the story about meeting him in India way back when was made up.

Friday, April 01, 2011

Punk me once, shame on you. Punk me twice...

I've always been one to admire April Fool's Day from afar.  I was never able to come up with anything clever enough to make a worthy prank, plus usually by the time I actually remember it's April Fool's Day, I'm driving home from work and it's pretty much done.

An old friend of mine pulled a great one last year, however.  He's kind of the adventurous type - I met him when my parents were still living in India and he ended up there as part of a big round-the-world trip he took on a bit of a lark

Anyway, last year he planted this story on his law blog that he had been hired as the official White House Law Blogger. I have no idea if that position actually exists, but it would be kind of awesome if it did.  Anyway, he got a bunch of his blogger friends in on the gag -- they chipped in with their comments about how they confirmed it with anonymous sources in various places. The New York Times and the Wall Street Journal both got taken, but the NYT ran the story without checking. The WSJ got a denial from the White House before posting. The NYT, after pulling down the post, then went on to  include it in an editorial about new media.

So it was kind of a big deal.  And also very funny, and embarrassing for the NYT.

But I guess some people never learn.

Because a year to the day after being totally punked in an April Fool's prank, the NYT has once again fallen victim to their own sloppy practices.

Eric tells it better than I could:

Who knew the Gray Lady was run by such a bunch of punks?