Friday, November 29, 2013

A Lightweight Festival

I haven't been writing but I've been super busy doing just about everything else. And with the holiday season in full bloom, I've even set aside time to be thankful for all that I have and to think about how I can add light to this world.

Of course, I think I deserve a light-bringing medal for the two children I have. But I could probably do some other great stuff too.

To be honest, I am having some issues with this holiday. In the original Chanukah story, one small jug of oil, enough to burn a candle for just one day, lasted an entire eight days! Hear that? The same small bit of oil used up over e...i...g...h...t l...o...n...g days.

Let's talk about the modern day Chanukah story. Google "Exxon Oil Spill" for the complete details. 'Cause folks? That's pretty much the amount of oil that is being used over these eight artery-clogging days. Are we trying to make the miracle one about surviving the latke and donut intake? I must be missing something.

And the money. Oh my. We discussed rights and liberties in my classroom this week. And a student stood up and said, "Children have the right to receive Chanukah gelt." I couldn't get past the sputtering stage to teach her a life-impacting lesson.

Remind me again what the purpose of Chanukah gelt is? I always thought it was about rewarding our children for their efforts in learning. Forgive me if I missed the memo on creating pretentiousness as the ultimate goal. My daughter received a quarter on the first night of Chanukah. And frankly, she was devastated when she came to learn that there was no wrapper, the coin could not open, and that adults think real money is better than chocolate. The next night she got both a chocolate one and a real one. (And the fact that she hinted to not being my friend anymore unless the aforementioned happened, had nothing to do with it.)

I'm just trying make Chanukah fun. And educational. And heart healthy.

The holiday of Chanukah is one of triumph of the weak over the mighty. The victory of light in the face of darkness. As a mother I am aiming for the victory of remaining calm when anger is so close and easy, and finding ways to raise and praise my children even when Time Out is so tempting. And trust me, it's tempting.

I am also going to redefine for my children what exactly makes me proud. For example, when you tell me that you didn't do something insane, dear daughters, that doesn't make me proud. Mostly it just frightens me.

"Mommy, I took off my sheet all by myself. And I didn't cut it, or rip it, or ruin it. You're so proud, right? Right?!"

Wrong. Wrong!! Actually, WAIT! I'm very glad that you didn't destroy an innocent sheet, but I'm also freaking out a bit over here. Is it really a struggle for you not to cut up everything in sight? You know what? Let's just move on. We've been through worse.

Wishing a Happy Festival of Lights to all! And may it also be a Lightweight Festival.


Tuesday, November 19, 2013

After the Birthday Post

Chaya woke up early on Tuesday.

She looked at her mommy and asked, "Is it my birthday yet?"

"No Chaya," said her mommy, "First we have to clean the house."

So Chaya helped her mommy dust...and vacuum...and wash the floor.

"Is it my birthday yet?" asked Chaya.

"No Chaya," said her mommy, "Your birthday was yesterday. We have 364 days to go. Thanks for cleaning."

I'd like to take a moment and congratulate myself on PATIENTLY lasting all the days and hours and minutes from last birthday until this one. I don't think I'd feel half as old as I do if she hadn't reminded me every single second that we were inching closer and closer to the big day.

Happy fourth birthday to my beautiful daughter, the first to make me a Mommy. (And even though sometimes she tells me that she wishes she would have made me someone else, I know that she loves me too.)

Thank you  for being adorable, bright₂, creative, devious, energetic, funny, giggly, helpful, idealistic, jovial₁₀, kindhearted₁₁, loving₁₂, magical₁₃, noisy₁₄, outrageous₁₅, pensive₁₆, questioning₁₇, resourceful₁₈, silly₁₉, teenage-ish₂₀, unique₂₁, vivacious₂₂, witty₂₃, xanthic₂₄, yummy₂₅, and zippy₂₆!

In summary, MAZAL TOV to a beautiful little girl who is so much like her mother =)

Keep reaching for the stars Chaya! Or the balloons! Whatever you're going for, never give up.

We love you so much!

₁ I'm pretty confident that comes from my side of the family.
₂ Naturally.
₃ Like figuring out that if you slurp up Cheerios just using your tongue, your hands are free for coloring at the breakfast table. Or on the breakfast table.
₄ You've been following the blog thus far. This requires no additional explanation.
₅ Keeps me in shape. Sort of.
₆ I love your funny knock knock jokes! They will never get old.
₇ And thanks for always laughing at my jokes. 
₈ It's always such a pleasure when you help me sweep your sister the floor.
₉ I love the way you ask for cupcakes every single day.
₁₀ Always up for a party. Day, night...don't matter.
₁₁ So proud when you share your toys with all of us.
₁₂ And it melts my heart when you shower your baby sister with hugs and kisses.
₁₃ Our house becomes a palace without so much as a snap of your fingers. Girl, you put Mary Poppins to shame.
₁₄ Our table becomes a drum set just as quickly. Pots and pans are always a great addition.
₁₅ When we go grocery shopping in your dress up clothes and flamboyant makeup. Good for you!
₁₆ I love to watch you think. I should really use that time to prepare my answers. 
₁₇ All day, every day. I hope you never lose your love of learning!
₁₈ You are a master at coming up with solutions! Let's not use your drawers as a snack holder again, kay?
₁₉ Winter clothes in the middle of July? Balancing balls on your head? Bring it on!
₂₀ Hey, I was nice enough not to start off with attitude or throw PMSish in the middle. 
₂₁ You're the only on of YOU! There isn't another in the whole wide world who can do the things you do...
₂₂ You love life, you love to laugh, you love your friends and you love school! 
₂₃ Yes, dear, I know you have an answer for everything. I'm afraid that comes from me :)
₂₄ Go Google it yourself. She was jaundice as a newborn. It starts with X and it works. 
₂₅ You really are, even though I always wonder why we say we want to eat our kids.
₂₆ I've said it before in so many ways but this is you: always on the GO!

Friday, November 15, 2013


Somewhere in the world there is a book called "Things So Embarrassing You Shouldn't Publicize Them." And in that book is the following entry:

Once upon a time there was a mother who got bronchitis. Mothers aren't supposed to get sick. But this one did. This mother felt so sick on Friday afternoon that she wasn't able to give her children a bath. The children asked to be bathed. One even cried. She insisted that her hair smelled bad and needed to be washed. The Mother suggested perfume to mask the smell, but only because the smell didn't even exist.

Dolce&Gabbana, making kids happy since 1985.

But that totally fictional story took place last week. This week is going to be much different. Not because Mommy is ready to run a marathon, but because Mommy's brain is finally unfogged enough to realize that baths are a good idea.

Recently I was a part of an online discussion in which one friend of mine asked how often kids should be bathed. Most of the other mothers responded that obviously every kid is bathed every night. So I did a little research and came up with the following fascinating statistic:

80% of things posted online are a stretch of truth. Basically, we're all a little more Motherly than we'd like to admit. The reasons for the, uh, exaggerations among Those With Kids include not wanting to disappoint their own mothers (does that last forever?) and mothers not wanting to be judged by friends who are mothers themselves.

So why do we keep asking each other all these questions? I think it must be because we are ingrained, as children, to ask ask ask ask ask ask ask ask ask.

My oh-so-soon-to-be four-year old has graduated from simply asking me WHY (repeatedly, with a staggering increase in vocal intensity) to asking questions that require more thinking than I am usually interested in attempting.

How come you went to school when you were sick and I have to stay home when I am sick? 

How come you didn't let me come to your wedding? Did you leave me with a babysitter? I DON'T WANT A BABYSITTER!!

Why can't you give me a big sister? My friend has one. I want a big sister. Could that also be my birthday present? I really just need a big sister for the bus.

Why did you call me a love bug if bugs are ewy?

But Mommy....whyyyyyyyyyyyyyy?

Granted, I could simply tell her that I feel worse for her teachers than I do for my students, remind her that she wasn't born yet at my wedding, give her a quick lesson on Family Biology, and explain to her just how clingy love bugs are. But somehow I think that would just get me a tried-and-true, super whiny WHY?

There are all sorts of WHY questions. Some worse than others. My girls already know that some WHYs from me are really a suggestion for them to come up with a really believable story for their latest misdemeanor. These usually start with, "WHY IN THE WORLD?" and "Why? WHY? What were you thinking?" I don't know why I'm asking for insight into their logical deductions. I should know better by now.

The other WHYs from me are super focused. And usually warn my big girl that I'm going to sit and come up with various ways of asking the exact same questions (hey, props to me for not simply repeating the same thing over and over again) to find out what, if anything, she has learned in school. "Well, why did he do that?" "Can you remember why that happened?" "Why would that happen?" "Why did he decide that?" "Helllooo, why are pretending that your toys are more interesting than my pop quiz?" I'm gonna need to learn to lighten up before she gets into serious school or I'll be getting the WHY calls from her teachers.

Update on the WHYS from my girls: not all send me hunting down the nearest exit sign (which, by the way, is the same as the entrance sign and so I never quite make it far.)

"Want to know why I love you Mommy? Should I tell you why? Because you are six years old, and 'cause you are so cute, and 'cause you are my yum-bum, and 'cause you share your makeup with me (Guys, I can explain!), and 'cause you play with me and color with me, and 'cause you smile at me, and did I eat lunch already? 'Cause my stomach feels like it has space for food right over here."

And that's my cue.

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

The Jumping Advisory

Today's post is going to be dedicated to my downstairs neighbors. Not just because they are amazing, but because Chaya has developed a recent obsession with jumping and I cannot seem to redirect her energies. I have 6 jumpable mattresses in the house, one trampoline on the porch, and one room that doesn't actually touch the downstairs apartment. It's like she doesn't even know.

She NEEDS to jump right here, in the living room, on everyone's head.

We have practiced soft jumping, tip toeing, jumping on mats, and, you know, actual SITTING...but those have been vetoed.

To be fair, it isn't actually her fault. She has told me on numerous occasions that her shoes and the floor alternate forcing her to jump. And to jump hard. Can I blame her for not being able to stand up to the floor?

I am thankful that my children have energy and that they are eager to explore, even though sometimes that exploration means let's see what will happen if we destroy this delicate looking thing or I'm gonna try to pick you up, Rivka, okay? And then you try to climb on the counter and get me the crackers. And then I'll share one with you. 

I had a friend over the other day and she was horrified when she saw me sitting on the floor doing absolutely nothing while my little one was climbing up on the dollhouse roof to reach the window sill to people watch through the window. She recommended that perhaps I should put my daughter in Time Out every time that she climbs until she learns that climbing in unacceptable. But...what?

Is climbing one of those things that are unacceptable? I know it would be best to teach her to keep it at the park and am therefore accepting all volunteers who would like to bring her there and watch her climb. But so long as (a)  it's cold outside, (b)  it's before noon, (c) dinner is not yet made, (d) my school work has not been completed, and (e) I'm feeling lazy, I'm gonna let her climb the walls in this very house.

With that in mind, here is next week's schedule:

Sunday - Climbing*
Monday - Climbing*
Tuesday - Climbing*
Wednesday - Climbing*
Thursday - Climbing*
Friday - Climbing*
Saturday - Climbing*

*and jumping. Never forget the jumping.

This story got me thinking about some of the worst advice I have ever received. So I asked around to hear the worst advice that other mothers got and narrowed down my Top Ten Terrifically Stupid Words of Advice :

1. Put a drop-full of wine into your baby's bottle before bed. It's not too much alcohol and it will help him sleep through the night. Sounds like an awesome introduction for his future AA meeting. 

2. The best way to toilet train your child is to have them drink only soda: it will make them incredibly thirsty AND have to go a lot. I mean hey, what's the harm in a little dehydration every now and then, right?

3. If the baby won't finish her bottle, add some sugar. OR, and this is way out there, just spill it out because she's probably not hungry.

4. Don't stay out too long in the heat because your breast milk (nope, not the pumped kind) will spoil.  I have no words.

5. Push down on both sides of your baby's gums to help the tooth pop out. Sure, because it's just like popping a pimple which is also, oh wait, NOT recommended. 

6. The only way your child will understand that heat is dangerous is if you put their hands into something hot. It will give them a tiny burn but a lesson for life. Call me when you're teaching road safety so that I can have ACS on hand.

7. If your child bites another child, force them to put their own hand in their mouth and then clamp their teeth on it, hard. They'll never bite anyone again. Yup, you just come along with #6 please. 

8. If you see that your newborn is crying a lot, it means that you are giving in too often. Leave them once or twice a day to cry it out; this will teach them that they can't always have their way. Funny, 'cause I was under the impression that babies cry on account of they can't yet speak. So maybe your baby just needs something. Like your attention.

9. Wear extra layers during pregnancy to keep the baby warm. As an added plus, you might overheat and pass out and then  you can get a free tour of the Maternity Ward at the hospital! And free juice!

10.  Mash bananas and rub them around the newborn baby's eyes to get rid of the "eye junk." Oh dear. Does that work with the baby jar kind or am I gonna have to mash my own?

I think we can all agree that the best place to find advice is probably from a stranger online who keeps a blog.

And that inviting the downstairs neighbors up to join in the jumping makes everyone happy.