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

Sunday, August 31, 2008


When I was in high school I became very inspired by a group of adults in my life who were way fun to hang out with, helped me really get into being Jewish and more.

The most pivotal of these people was 32 years old. 32 became a sort of landmark for me of being a real grown-up, a fully realized happy one.

Well, here I am about to start the first week of school and feeling really good about my work preparing for it. It will be my 8th year teaching and 4th in this current school.

At the same time, I've got this great family and a house now. And at this house today I bought a bird feeder which was my final step towards getting my backyard certified as a wildlife habitat.

I had these thoughts as I was out biking, just for fun... something I have barely done since we moved here and not done at all since I was pregnant. Just got my bike fixed recently and am eager to buy a bike trailer for ND to ride in back while we do errand, enjoy being outside and get exercise at the same time.

In short, I've arrived. I love what's in my life and am grateful to Hashem for getting me here.

Labels: , , , ,

Sarah Chances

We just watched Seven Chances by Buster Keaton.

In the clip above, you just get some awesome stunt action, all actually life-threatening and performed by Buster Keaton himself of course (while staying completely in comedic character).

The story is about James Shannon who will inherit a fortune if he marries by 7 PM. He only wants to marry his true sweetheart, but his business partner puts an ad in the paper saying he'll marry whatever woman shows up at the church at 5. When 500 women show up and feel slighted at being the butt of some joke, they go after him.

So you'll have to forgive me but I must get political here. Doesn't this sound a little familiar? Very inspiring Democratic National Convention this week and here's John McCain,

"Dammit, my convention's next week. I don't want to be overshadowed by this minority candidate who won the nomination over a popular woman candidate... gotta get someone good to be my VP... hmmm, should I go Black or female... let's go woman... a woman... any woman..."

I look forward to seeing the 500 Republican women who realize what a joke this is going after him. I just doubt he can dodge the rocks so gracefully!

Labels: ,

Friday, August 29, 2008

A Case Against Reflection

Anyone who is at all aware of the existence of schools in the world should not be surprised that I have not been on here much lately.

To be fair, I was on vacation the week before this one with U. and ND and although usually I blog about them, I'm going to keep this one kind of a private happy family affair. Pictures available on request.

But this week I've hit the ground running with ND in daycare full time and me at work setting up my classroom.

This is my first time back for a full day since pregnancy. By full day I mean my contract hours are from 8 to 3:30, and I will probably get there earlier and, as I always have, leave closer to 4. Most days U. will take ND to her daycare which gives her almost 1 hour left of daycare than if I did it, but it's still about a 7-hour day for her.

People ask how I'm going to do it... both people who do it themselves and those who don't have to. I just keep saying, "I don't want to talk about it."

This is not my normal way of doing things. But I have also learned that thinking about things often is much worse than simply doing them. I do wonder the effects on ND. I did take her in myself yesterday and she didn't want to let go of me at first when we arrived. She's always happy when I pick her up, but it was hard to see her eyeing the other kids with early morning apprehension.

But there's nothing I can do about it.

Well, nothing about that specifically, I guess. I have been making an effort to be completely present with her when I can be with her. But it's not always going to work. Already once this week I got unreasonably angry with her when she ripped a book while I was trying to get some work done, but I caught myself in the moment and stepped back. (That's a GOOD time to reflect.)

I don't know how this is going to work when the workload gets bigger. I have some ideas, but I don't want to think about it. I'd rather wait until I get there.

ND has taught me a lesson about not thinking about things. Most of the time I will be leaving before she does in the morning. I always want to say goodbye as it seems to me like a betrayal not to. But one day this week when I left early, I just set her up getting her shoes on with her Dad, left the room and then disappeared. U. said she didn't cry about my leaving (although she was grumpy about getting in the car to go to school until she arrived there).

My guess is that it's not necessarily the separation that makes her cry. Her teachers say she clearly misses me during the day, looking for me now and then, but that's not what makes her cry. I think that when I say goodbye, she has to THINK about the separation, and that's too much.

If I have to slip out quietly in order to help her not cry, that's what I'll do. I don't mind so much if it's just me crying a little.

Labels: , , , ,

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Camping 2008!

When I moved out here I made a commitment with my friend, Emarcy, to go camping every summer. We did it the year I was pregnant with ND and we did it a year ago, so of course we did it again this year!

Sadly, due to many complicated circumstances, it was a very quick trip and not in the best place we've gone so far. Just one night and it was in Connecticut, a fairly crowded place with a big well-populated beach instead of quiet isolated campsites and a peaceful lake with canoes.

Still, we had a lot of fun and I loved seeing my friend. We played on the beach most of the time and ND was even brave enough to be carried into the water on my hip until the water reached HER hip. She was not happy, though, when she saw Emarcy go under the water or go off to swim. It really scared her and she shook her head back and forth. In time I guess she'll understand that that's how people swim and that it's OK.

One reason the trip was short is that Emarcy's very busy preparing to go to Japan to do Taiko drumming! So she brought along her practice drum and we played a little right before we all had to leave. So much fun. I'm already looking forward to next year.

(No, the videos still don't have sound... it's not your computer's fault.)

Labels: , , , , ,

Thursday, August 07, 2008

20 Months

ND turned twenty months old yesterday!

Twenty things about her:

1. She hugs trees with me now. "Ug! Ug!" she says then goes up, puts her arms and cheeks against it. She still usually refers to trees as "fowers" but she does repeat after me when I say, "Hug tree."

2. She has so many new words! Almost none are exactly the way the words should ultimately sound, and I can't keep track of everything... but here are a bunch she uses regularly:
fower=flower, also tree and any other shrubs or grass
Da Da=Dad
ball ball=ball
bo-bo = boo-boo (as on one's head after bumping it)
buh-bye = bug bite
the names of all the kids from camp

She also tells me long sentences about things but I have to guess what they're about.

3. She sometimes calls us by our names. U. more often than me because she hears me shouting up or down the stairs to him all the time and then repeats his name with a mischievous smile. She learned my name by listening to the other campers and their families as well as sometimes U., I guess.

4. She has a crooked sideways smile that constantly floors me. I keep thinking I'm seeing my father's father smiling at me.

5. "Terrible twos" is apparently a misnomer. My doctor confirms that it is really more like 1 and a half. I try not to complain about it too much. The main issue is that she does stomp her foot to get her way and for too long I gave in. Now I won't at all.

6. We still sleep together and I still love it. Especially when I think about how many hours I'll be away from her when the year starts again, I'm grateful to be doing up-close "nighttime parenting" as Dr. Sears calls it.

7. She loves to help me with laundry, moving clothes from washer to dryer or dryer to hampers or whatever. In an effort to save time and sanity, I no longer put laundry away in our closets most of the time, but instead hang up wrinklable clothes before they go in the dryer, and then sort the rest of the clean stuff out into individual baskets. She actually often knows whose things are whose! She won't put it in the right basket, but she will say who it belongs to.

8. The same skill applies at camp. She loves helping us out which means she stacks up the bowls after snack without being asked, AND she often gives kids their sippy cups. Yes, she knows whose are whose! What's especially remarkable about this is that several of the cups change day to day! We have many colors of cups and the lids are labeled. So a child may have green today but yellow tomorrow and still she can get it right by the end of the day!

9. So yes, she knows whose cups are whose, but that doesn't prevent her from having a little sip before handing it over.

10. She loves to run-run-run-run-run. (Yes, those are fairy wings.) And yes, she says "ruh-ruh-ruh..." as she's doing it.

11. We continue to nurse often. Another pro-breastfeeding mom asked me yesterday if I can imagine not doing it, or imagine wanting to try to wean ND. I said, "Why would I give up the most efficient and diverse tool I have? Besides being a sweet and intimate experience, if she's hungry, we nurse, annoyed by bug bites, we nurse, jealous of other kids playing with me, we nurse, sleepy, we nurse...

12. She carries a little purse now that her Savta gave her. She loves it so much that even if she falls asleep in the stroller she reaches for it. Unfortunately, when she came home last night from her babysitter's house, there was an object in the purse that doesn't belong to us. We'll just have to keep an eye on that.

13. If she hears my phone ringing or wants to hear music, she does a little dance and says, "Do do do do do," singing a little ditty until I do it with her or turn on something else.

14. She has the most AWESOME giggle.

15. I've been writing this summary throughout the week. So last night, on the actual night of the 20 month birthday, something kind of weird happened. She didn't take her afternoon nap, then fell asleep around 6 in the evening. I had to leave for a meeting/dinner with my supervisor and team from regular work in preparation for the school year. She awoke shortly after I left and apparently WOULD NOT STOP CRYING. U. called me after she'd been crying nonstop for 45 minutes. I could not leave at that point, and then when I finally did leave, I got lost on the way home. When I finally got there she'd been crying almost for 2 full hours. She felt better after I got home and we nursed and hung out a little, but then she began a tantrum for me as well. I got her a new baby doll and baby doll carrier yesterday and I didn't hold it just right for her and she threw herself on the floor. Again, the only thing that would console her as I got ready to go to bed with her was brushing her teeth, but she kept wanting more and more of that sweet toothpaste. When I said no, that it might make her tummy hurt, on the floor again screaming. Let's see how today goes. And in the future, I'll make sure to say goodbye if I'm going out.

16. She does have a mischievous side and I haven't figured out quite the formula yet for her to understand, "No!" as she usually smiles at me when I do it. If it's really serious, I've sometimes had to say it so sternly that she cries, but I don't like that either. Usually if I completely redirect her and say "no" several times consecutively, she gets it. Twice now, only twice, I've actually confined her to the pack and play for a few minutes. The first time for messing with the outlet covers, the second time for biting me repeatedly and "playfully." I leave her there for just a moment, then tell her if she wants to stay out of there, she can't do the behavior. Then we move on.

17. Everything is a phone now. Remote controls, computer mouse, and of course real phones go to her ear and she says, "ello ello." I try to avoid her doing that with real phones when they are on on as they apparently may cause brain tumors eventually!

18. Oddly enough she has started to develop certain fears she never had... dogs and water primarily. She doesn't mind dogs from a distance but doesn't like to touch them, and now our cat startles her sometimes instead of making her crack up laughing. And she doesn't like either the wading pool or bath, but does enjoy the water table. I think she'll grow out of it.

19. During camp she is very quiet. One of my assistants commented that he never hears her. I think she's just not listening hard enough because I hear her all the time, but then again, maybe not during camp so much. She's talkative with people she knows well and not as much with others. She also needs a translator sometimes.

20. Curls, beautiful curls that are becoming more blond than red now.

Labels: , , , ,

Wednesday, August 06, 2008

A Thought For Tisha B'Av

Yesterday a friend and I spoke about getting together with some other women on Tisha B'Av to sort of talk through any feelings we're having that day. (It's a day set-aside to commemorate loss and suffering in the Jewish world, a day of mourning as an entire community.) I'm excited about this. Usually I don't know how to make the day meaningful, but I think that once I'm done with Eicha and Kinnos I'd like to do this a little and then maybe U. and I will watch a movie about suffering. All this is while still entertaining ND of course and fasting, but Tisha B'Av often feels like the longest day of the year and I want it to be meaningful.

This friend and I talked about how she's having difficulty with it this year because she's been trying to be more positive in her life and now she's being asked to be more negative. (Well, that's a simplistic summary, but it serves the purpose of what I'm writing here.

I was thinking about how time, space and individuality all serve the purpose of protecting us in that all the things in the world cannot have at the same time, in the same space or to each person. Therefore, no one purpose gets all the goodness there is to be had in the world, nor does anyone suffer all of the pain in the world.

However, G-d transcends time, space and individuality and we are asked to transcend ourselves and to emulate G-d in our lives. This is true in meditation too... loving all beings and feeling the pain of others.

We are only capable of so much. This was how we are created. But it's helpful to me right now to consider that we have the safety net of what we CAN'T do as well as the example of what we CAN do to become one with all humanity at least for a moment.

Labels: , , , ,

Monday, August 04, 2008


Friday is the last day of my Backyard Camp.

(We're actually closed today because 5 of the 7 kids and one of the 2 assistants is sick.)

I've complained about camp a lot. I wish I'd gone easier on myself and allowed myself for of a summer. I'm consoled by the fact that, whatever I've done and whatever my other teacher friends have done, we're all in the same boat as August begins, feeling that creep towards the first day back at school again and the worry about what needs to be done.

But regardless of complaints, here is what I gained this summer from my 6-week Backyard Camp for 1-2 year olds.

-I had a very fun time with ND. It was structured and I got to be her teacher instead of our being bored and grumpy together. (I do know that with too much free time, I would not have been as fun of a mom for her.)

-I got to know other toddlers from our shul that I wanted to know better.

-I got to know the parents better too.

-I learned a LOT about management... business management, delegating to assistants, communicating professionally etc.

-Most teachers enjoy the summer to relax so they'll be recharged for the fall. I have been nervous about returning full-time. So this was my chance to PRACTICE getting up early and prove that I can do it. I will still need to get up one hour earlier, but I'm already in a routine where I'm ready to start the work part of my day at 8:30. I just need to adjust now so that I can leave home at about 7:40. I can do it.

-ND got a lot of practice socializing and I got to see her interact with other kids.

-I did have fun afternoons with her.

-I did make money.

-I have often wondered how things would have been if instead of returning to teaching I had started up an in-house daycare. Now I know. I think that teaching is good. I'm glad I do teaching instead.

On another note, things I'd like to do differently:

-More than anything... instead of creating a business next time (should I do this again) I'm going to figure out what I want for me and ND and provide that, then invite others to join. In other words, instead of an 8:30-1:30 business, I'll propose 3 days a week of a playgroup or something like that for as many hours as WE want. I might even do it with another parent so that we have 2 adults in charge. (Hard if we fight for territory, easy if we can share the burdens a bit more.)

-Not worry so much.

I used to think I would want to expand camp... become a director even. I think I'm more interested now in shrinking a little.

Labels: , , , , ,

Tisha B'Av Inquiry

I've got two questions:

1. How do you spend your Tisha B'Av meaningfully, particularly with a young child with you?

2. How do I ask that question on Facebook. I'm starting to actually kind of like it, and I've got a lot of Jewish friends there, but I still don't get how the thing works.

Labels: , , ,