Many thoughts about the world, meditation, parenting, Judaism, pregnancy, teaching, cancer survivorship, moving from West Coast to East and more.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Bath Time


Tonight we made up the most AWESOME game during bath time.

First, I have to explain that we have some pretty cool bath toys including a Sesame Street Island with a whale scooper and a palm tree that spins when you pour water over it etc.

Tonight we had a white plastic cylinder shaped tub that used to hold baby wipes, and a plastic cup left over from dinner sometime last week when we ordered out fleishig. (We only have dairy dishes.)

So first I put the cup inside the tub and ND had fun trying to get it out. Then she held it up to me. I don't know how this happened, but for whatever reason, I grabbed it with my mouth and shook it back and forth.

Now THAT was funny.

Our daughter laughs like a dolphin. I'm not kidding. She squeals so high pitched that she sounds like Flipper.

She did it again and again and we passed the cup back and forth lots of times.

Now THAT was cool!

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Saturday, October 27, 2007

Email Addiction

My parents-in-law are visiting. As a result, since Shabbos ended, I have not checked my email. It isn't easy. I'm using U.'s computer just to do this little entry. (After all, Saturday night is my writing night, and as much as I'm enjoying this visit, I can feel in my bones that I haven't written.) But the fact that I haven't been on the computer all evening means my kitchen is clean and the garbage has been bagged up to be taken off. What does this tell you?

What would happen if I only restricted myself to using email at certain times? Could I hold myself to it? Could you? Do you?

As I finish this entry I'm just CERTAIN that something absolutely pressing and engaging is waiting for me in my email. Someone wonderful has written to me. Oh I'm sure.

But tomorrow I'm sure I'll be deleting and deleting and deleting all those emails not from that wonderful person.

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Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Etrog Basket



There is another benefit to last Sunday's event. While sitting and waiting for customers I got a lot of work done on this etrog basket and today I finished it! I started this over three years ago after Sukkot when I was living in Vancouver. I'm very slow finishing craft projects anyway, but this took especially long. Except for the stick I used to fasten it closed, the whole thing is made of lulav palms. They dry out very quickly and are too difficult to use about two months after Sukkot. So each year I've had to wait to start again. (You might notice that the top half is green around the periphery. That's because those are the freshest palms. They'll dry up and turn beige like the rest of it.)

Thanks to everyone who donated lulavim to this project. It turns out I needed far fewer than I expected, but I don't think I could have completed this just with my own.

Thanks!

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Remission Results


Well, yesterday was my remission anniversary. Naturally I'm home today with a cold and with worried memories of what it means to have a weak immune system. That's the "ongoing life" side of things.

However, we did do our event on Monday. (Click above on "remission day" to see what I'm talking about.)

The cases of products that I mentioned were bought were shipped directly to those people who purchased them. At shul we sold:

4 bottles of glass cleaner
7 bottles of all-purpose cleaner
18 bottles of laundry detergent

That's really not bad, I have to say. I'm a little disappointed that no one really dropped off their "hazardous" cleaning materials. (See our Mr. Yuk box in the photo above.) Well, not no one. My partner in this venture and I both did. And I did really feel a powerful surge of mother instinct as I took that bleach and Comet away from this home in which U and I are raising our daughter. It's just frightening to know how little control I have over all of those products at her daycare, schools etc. for years to come. Once we get recycling established in the school in which I work, I'll go after that dragon for the sake of the families who attend there.

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Saturday, October 20, 2007

Dumbledore Is Gay

I'm glad J.K. Rowling is thinking progressively and willing to think outside the box for her characters' sexuality, but this revelation doesn't bring me any new insights into Potter and I'm afraid Grindelwald (a figure from Dumbledore's past) never really made an impression on me. I hope Rowling realizes that the series is OVER and that it's time to move on. Frankly, I hope the public realizes it too.

Woah, strongly stated opinion there... I'm not going to go any further with this lest I disappoint someone with my impatience towards Harry Potter.

In other news, this is really something. I've never seen U. laugh so hard about a news article. Make sure you scroll down to view the slideshow.

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Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Missed Blog Action Day

I was hoping to do a green post for Blog Action Day. Sadly, I missed it. ND is sick and I was having trouble juggling her and my own needs and work etc. Also, I thought it was for the 16th... whatever.

So I'll make up for it here.

We're coming up to my remission day and I have not yet announced the plan for this year.

So last year I wrote about my friend D who is also a cancer survivor. He and I are both very active with our shul's green committee, and he also works with getting green cleaning supplies to hospitals as his day job.

This year, several months ago, I proposed we do something that would give back to the community. In other words... not just a cake this time.

So over the next few months we put together an idea. I have to give him the bulk of the credit because he just had the resources, the brains, the initiative and the bravery to put a lot of it together. The text below should explain it thoroughly. It's been edited to protect the rules of anonymity that I maintain on here, however arbitrary:

October is a special month.

On October 19th, 1995 and October 22nd, 2003, we, DM and AK, were each respectively declared to be in remission from cancer.

To celebrate our second chance at good health and life, we’ve decided to give back to the community and invite you to be a part of it.

Studies have shown that a major cause of disease is exposure to toxic chemicals in our everyday lives. Both of our diagnoses were very likely caused by exposures to chemicals, including those in our homes. We want to help you reduce your family’s exposure by replacing your household cleaning chemicals with healthy and effective alternatives.

On October 21st, from 8:30 AM (following minyan) until 12 noon, our shul will host a drop-off of your cleaning chemicals. Bring your old cleaning products to be disposed of safely. At that time, you will be able to purchase Greening the Cleaning® products...


So far we've had an incredible response. Some people are touched by what we're doing. Some others have pre-ordered CASES of the products we're selling. Most exciting to me is what I heard about one family in the community. The woman's father recently died of cancer and she lost her mother to cancer many years ago as well. As I understand it, they're family is really going to try to purge the yucky stuff from their house as we ask.

I'm recently struck by how many cancer fundraisers there are, but am curious how much of that money or education goes towards prevention. I think most of the time anything raised goes towards early detection or treatment, but how much are companies -- cosmetic, cleaning or otherwise -- willing to spend to ensure their products are safe for people or the environment? I've come to a point where I simply trust very few companies to consider my health (or the health of those I love) to be a true long-term priority.

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Sunday, October 14, 2007

Need To Nurse Noises

When ND was first born, crying was the only way she really communicated anything. If she needed to nurse, that was how she told me. Eventually I learned to tell the difference between a need-to-nurse cry and other cries.

Later she made more of a coughing sound. It makes sense. A cough uses the same part of the mouth and body. At least I think so.

Then not too long ago, once she really learned to giggle, she would laugh whenever she wanted to nurse. She knew she could get my attention that way. She is so CUTE when she laughs.

But our daughter is the sort who really enjoys making noise. And truthfully, we encourage it. One of our fun games is when she starts yelling really loud, sort of a tekiah, for those of you who know what that is, we do it too. She likes it and so do we. She's been experimenting with different pitches of yelling and screaming for fun. Sometimes she'll be really quite, but will open her eyes wide, raise her eyebrows and clearly be aiming for the highest pitch she can reach. Such a goofball.

So now, when she wants to nurse, she screams at the top of her voice and arches her whole body. It's not like I don't already know what she wants. I've learned to figure it out just by intuition, even before she asks sometimes. But she does like to scream, so this might as well be the chance to do it.

Maybe we should start working on our quiet skills.

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More gDiapers

Good news! The last few times gDiapers have come up in conversation, the people I have been talking to have already heard about them.

Also, they are appearing in mainstream news now. As an official gMum, I was asked to share the following news coverage on my blog.

Best of all, we just received in the mail one of the new and improved fancy gDiapers. Looking forward to actually opening up the box and trying it out. But until I finish my lesson plans tonight, the box will have to remain in our hallway...

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Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Jailbird

We're finally putting up baby gates.

She looks pitiful, doesn't she?

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Sunday, October 07, 2007

Music Together



ND and I are signed up for Music Together classes. I called completely on a whim last week and was signed up by the end of the day. I LOVE it so far. We had a make-up class last week because we've already missed several in the series, and had another one today.

The two classes had very different families attending. The make-up class on Wednesday was small and intimate with about 6 moms and babies. Today was completely full with some dads even visiting too. But I have to say, the second group was just not as playful. The moms and dads were mostly reserved and quiet, sometimes even talking to each other instead of joining in all together. I was one of a few who was probably having even more fun than the kids playing the instruments, singing and dancing. The dads were especially shy. I watched them and didn't see them sing AT ALL! What wet blankets.

One of the best parts of the class is when they bring out these huge drums for the babies and parents to sit around and beat. The teacher would play a rhythm and the parents were supposed to copy. Then the teacher tried to get someone else to do a beat for everyone else to repeat. No one volunteered, so she looked right at me and said, "You're doing well." I think she was kind of desperate for me to join in there, although she didn't show it. So I did my rhythm and the others copied.

So much fun. I hope ND grows up willing to be boisterous during settings like these when she grows up too.

Now if I can just get the Tiny Tim song we sing about this burping frog out of my head!

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Saturday, October 06, 2007

Yay Yom Tov And A Ten-Month Old Baby

It was a nice last three-day Yom Tov. I almost can't believe that tomorrow is a regular day again. After havdalah I checked my email and found a detailed one from my assistant. It was all good stuff, but I felt myself tense up about the transition back into work. I acknowledged the tension, took a step back, let myself process, and now I feel better. In the past I might have just gotten very very grumpty. Good processing, Evenewra!

Some highlights over the past three days.

1. ND may very well have taken her first steps today on her ten month birthday. In the past two or three days she's been working really hard at standing as long as she can unsupported. It's so cute to see her "climb" up something, steady herself, and then throw her arms up to balance for as long as she can. Today U. was lying on the floor and acting as a baby gate for her play area. She steadied herself against his knee, let go, and then side stepped several times. I couldn't see if she was leaning against him somehow as she did it. She looked completely unsupported to me.

2. She was also HYSTERICAL to watch last night. She had so much fun on Simchat Torah with all the dancing and singing that she didn't want to nap very much and was totally wired by evening. She was crawling all over the apartment as fast as she could (and faster than we, the exhausted parents, could keep up). At one point she sat in the middle of the living room floor and started jumping and spinning herself around as fast she could while yelling her head off. It's hard to describe exactly what it looked like. It's as though she's trying to stand up from sitting cross-legged on the ground, but of course she can't. So she just kind of wobbles around into a new position like she's filled with heavily-charged batteries. If she were on a mattress, she would be jumping up and down on it. I finally got down on the floor and imitated her and she laughed her head off. Eventually it was all too much and I swooped her up, put her to my breast and held her very tightly to slow her down. She relaxed and fell asleep very fast. I was proud that I could read her signs and take control.

3. Yesterday I said to U. "I like Simchat Torah."

"You didn't use to feel that way," he said. And he was right. (See the link to understand why.)

But this year was very different. It just gets better and better. To begin, I got to leyn Torah again. How it works is that a bunch of women, from other shuls as well as ours, go to the house of a woman who lives behind our shul. Those who asked in advance to leyn Torah get a chance to do one aliyah from Vezos Habrachah. And all the women and girls bat mitvah age and up who want an aliyah can have one. (It's done according to our Rabbi's direction with only the appropriate brachot for that situation.)

As a result, because so many women want to leyn, and so many want to have an aliyah, that we cycle through again and again. I got to read hamishi, and I was the third of three to do it. I read it twice. Do the math. That means over 30 women and girls had aliyot.

I've discovered that there are very different styles for leyning. As I listened to the two women who read my aliyah ahead of me, I got scared that I was going to do it wrong. And the truth is, I'm not sure how terribly well I did it. (As a matter of fact, I discovered after the first reading that I made a subtle error that no one corrected, and I messed up the trope on the second reading.) I really had to talk myself through it saying, "I'm good at a lot of things, but not at everything. This is not something I do often and certainly not something I spend a great deal of time on. It is not necessary to do it perfectly or the same as other people." It was scary. Good scary. The kind that reminds you that G-d made all of us human and that none of us has the right to try to be perfect. The kind that helps you accept other people too for not being exactly the way you (or I) want them to be. It was the kind of scary that is necessary to build real community.

4. The night before when we did Hakafot, we, as always, got to have a Torah on the women's side. There are many shuls that don't go for this, but ours does and that's all I want to say about that. I didn't get to hold the Torah last year because I was seven months pregnant. But this year I shifted the Ergo Baby Carrier to my back and took the Torah on my front. I danced in the middle of a circle. Several people commented on how cool it looked.

"Isn't this the way it should be?" I asked in return.

I feel proud of where I am in my observance and in where I'm headed with Torah study right now. I'd like to think I respect, appreciate and even love the Torah as much as any other person in that room, and I want to hand that love down to my daughter. Even the fact that she was so happy the night after Simchat Torah before she's even a year old seems to me proof that we're on the right track.

5. One final image to secure that last point. During the women's Torah reading, ND got hungry. We were in an all-women setting, and since there was limited space in the room, I was sitting on the floor with her in the back behind a bunch of others. So I nursed her. One friend of mine saw and smiled very broadly. It was nice to have a witness to my filling ND with nourishment and love just as the Torah experience was doing for everyone of us there.

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Wednesday, October 03, 2007

So Many Chagim!

15 minutes to go before Shmini Atzeret, then Simchat Torah and Shabbat. So many days!

Thoughts:

After Rosh Hashanah
and Yom Kippur

These remaining days
transition us
into the darkness of winter.

There is a fear there
of the darkness coming

and also exuberance
re-entering a time
of daily introspection

and somehow all
is external

through Autumn harvest
squash
rice
kale
thick hot bean soup
steaming
on a crowded
blech.

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