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Mar 19 2014

Mommy Fail: That Time My Toddler Locked Himself in the Car

By at 10:00 am

baby-car-keys

Today my 1-year-old locked himself inside the car. It was my biggest mommy fail to date and one I could have easily avoided if I had been paying more attention.

Jared and I had just left our weekly Baby and Me class at the synagogue where my daughter attends preschool and where Jared will go next school year. I was situating him in his car seat when another mom pulled up and asked if I wanted to meet for lunch. I said sure and she drove away as I finished tightening Jared’s seatbelt.

I knew he had slipped the keys out of my hand as I was talking; I felt it happen. Still, it didn’t fully register. Until I shut his door and instinctively patted my right coat pocket to feel for the keys. I felt he emptiness and heard the click of the locking doors at the same time. Read the rest of this entry →

Mar 17 2014

Forget the Vacuum Cleaner: 10 Things Moms Actually Need in Minivans

By at 1:42 pm

The Minivan and I have been together for a few months. We’re past the idyllic honeymoon phase, when I was constantly impressed by his self-closing doors and he could do no wrong. We’re at the point in our relationship most easily likened to that moment where you fart in front of your lover for the first time: in short, I have seen that the Minivan is not perfect. And I’m not looking for someone new, but there are things that Minivan could do to step up his game a little bit.

So if you’re reading, good folks at Honda and Toyota, this one’s for you. Add these things to the Minivan and I will be ready to make a commitment, i.e. not just the lease thing we got going on now.

1. Privacy partition.

As a mom of five, let’s forget all of my degrees and resume: I’m a chauffeur, plain and simple. Period. And being a mom chauffeur in 2014 is no longer the job of nonchalance that it was when I was a suburban kid and my mother would honk for me from blocks away. Nowadays, not only I am expected to be at least five minutes early for each and every pick up, but I am also supposed to park in a legal spot, hustle my ass to the doorstep of the activity in question, and meet my child with a manic expression of unmitigated joy. Read the rest of this entry →

Sep 25 2013

Elementary School Bumper Sticker Pride is Now a Thing

By at 9:55 am

los angeles carsAs in all parts of the country, cars in California are used as vehicles–so to speak–for brandishing school pride. Graduates of USC, UC campuses, the many Cal States, Stanford, and other places of higher education give nods to their west coast alma maters.

Yet now there’s another genre of institution affiliation symbol, one that starts much earlier than college: elementary school. And not your garden variety “My Child Is an Honor Student” genre of bumper sticker. Those are downright quaint in the context of current parenting culture.

Instead what I’m noticing around town generally falls into two categories: stickers featuring model public schools, i.e. those with high test scores and an active support network, often charters, or fancy private schools. In all honesty, I find public school pride way less irksome, and if anything, it’s often an important symbol, given the ravaged state of public education in this state. Read the rest of this entry →

Aug 6 2013

I’ve Got a Bad Case of Mommy Cabin Fever

By at 1:51 pm

baby about to cry in car seatMy intention after my daughter was born was to return to work four months later. My employer, however, had other plans and let me go while on maternity leave (citing downsizing…which yes, is apparently legal).

I never thought I wanted to be a stay-at-home mom. Somewhere in the back of my head, I kept seeing the stay-at-home mom painted as an uninspired lady who ate bonbons all day. (I have never actually seen anyone eat a bonbon no less multiple bonbons.) You’re home with a baby who can’t walk or talk…what could you possibly be doing all day?

But now, eight months into it, I realize my job is getting a crazy, irrational human to eat, sleep, and not sit in her own excrement for prolonged periods of time… all while distracting her when she cries by being a complete doofus, singing or dancing, plus trying to teach her “no,” (while allowing her to explore her environment) to be gentle, wave, the difference between a red ball and a liger, balance, and to understand the English language. And when she naps, there are clothes to be laundered, fruits and veggies to be steamed and pureed, preschools to be researched, and writing that attempts to get done. I quickly learned that this is the hardest (and most rewarding) job I’ve ever had.

And I never realized just how much time I would spend literally staying within my home.  Read the rest of this entry →

Jul 3 2013

Being A Dependent Woman

By at 11:07 am

Sarah-and-kidsEvery Monday and Tuesday at exactly 2:14 pm, my phone beeps to life with the chorus of Destiny’s Child Independent Woman.

All the women who are independent

Throw your hands up at me

I shut the alarm off, scroll through my contacts and text one of three people:

“Any chance we can get a ride home with you today?”

I hold my breath. I cringe involuntarily. My stomach tightens while I wait for a “SURE” or a “no problem” or an “absolutely” to untie the knot.

Dependent Woman.

Yes, while I am doing my best to rock it solo since my ex and I split almost two years ago, living half the week with my kids in a tiny house next to rolling fields and a ginormous sky, where I negotiate paying rent and utilities with a landlord who doesn’t speak English, where I can pay my internet bill and make money transfers over the phone, where I have finally started to create a life that kind of sort of makes sense, I still  can’t get from point aleph to point bet–something so freaking basic–without help.

Because unless I have help, it’s going to be a long walk home. Read the rest of this entry →

Jun 21 2013

Why You Should Never Leave Your Kids in the Car

By at 12:54 pm
My little guy, safe in his car seat and not alone.

My little guy, safe in his car seat and not alone.

I have dozens of childhood memories that include me and my siblings waiting in the car for our parents. Most notably, I remember us waiting at the bank and my little brother, probably preschool age, backing the car into an adjacent lot. The story is told in jest now, and my mother was most definitely a helicopter parent of her time. That’s just how it was.

But it’s 2013 and we use car seats and bike helmets and you can’t leave your kids in the car anymore. There is no “running in” anywhere and even going to the bank to deposit a check is a full blown ordeal.

I ran errands one day last week and pulled my two kids in and out of the car no less than 15 times before noon. It was 80 degrees outside and I was taking our cat to the groomer. Here I am holding a 20-pound infant who is diving out of my arms with a cat carrier in one hand and attempting to wrangle a bolting preschooler with the other. Add the diaper bag and I’m a walking circus. Once I finally got everyone loaded into the car I realized that I forgot the checkbook and the grooming salon ONLY TAKES CHECKS. Read the rest of this entry →

Jul 29 2011

Notes on Road Tripping With Kids and Without DVDs

By at 11:02 am

Our road trip didn't look like this. At all.

Maybe don’t do it.

Bring a DVD or two until your kids are in grade school and have required reading.  As I just said to a friend who suggested I write about this–and actually thinks I’d be applauded for braving several trips with two kids and without DVDs (she’s pregnant…)–of all the moms I am good friends with, I am the dimwit.

Let it be known that we didn’t consciously not bring a personal DVD player because we believe in “no t.v. for kids” (quite the contrary, but that’s a post for another time).  We didn’t bring one because we were pressed for time to buy or borrow one.  Also, let it be known that we once brought a DVD player on our first-ever roadtrip with two kids, and it worked really well for keeping the toddler entertained for one of four hours.  But somehow, the charger cord for that device was lost between our house and my in-laws’ house, and so our borrowing expensive things days are at an end.

Here are my  notes on the subject after three consecutive car trips (three weekends in a row) with a two-year-old and a 10-month-old:

Infants don’t need DVDs, but thrive on stimulation from their elder siblings who like to make farting noises and silly faces that involve sticking their chubby little fingers in their noses, mouths, and eyes simultaneously.  This is how all of our trips started out, except for the final leg home from Vermont, which began with two screaming (read: bloody murder screaming) kids, both overtired as we’d missed the “let’s leave at naptime” window, resulting in two kids who slept for three of the five hour ride home. Read the rest of this entry →

Jul 18 2011

Carmageddon: Don’t Try That in Israel

By at 6:04 pm

Israelis aren't so good at following orders. Especially at falafel stands.

Something miraculous happened this past weekend in Los Angeles. The seas did not part. There was no burning bush. But, a major highway closed down for a 10-mile stretch and the world didn’t end. In fact, nothing happened.

This past weekend, the 405 freeway (a major freeway between Los Angeles and the San Fernando Valley that most commuters take to get to work daily) shut down for almost 2 days for construction. For weeks leading up to the massive event, Angelenos were warned. “Carmageddon” was coming and there was no telling what could happen.

As it turns out, Angelenos heeded the warnings and it appeared as if everyone decided to stay home. (We did not, which is how we knew the streets were empty.

It is amazing to see how well everybody followed the rules (except for a few cyclists and joggers who were arrested for racing down the vacant freeway). But my point is that everyone else “followed the rules.” Even My 5-year-old son was aware of the situation and felt that we should stay home to “not make things worse by driving.”

As an Angeleno born to Israeli parents, I am still in awe when people follow directions. If this were to happen in Israel, people would show up on the streets just to prove that they could.  After all, in a country where standing in a line (or crowd, rather) for a falafel is difficult, how would they stay home during “Carmageddon?” I remember attending a music festival in an outdoor amphitheater in Israel as a teenager. I had my ticket in hand with assigned seating along with the thousands of others standing around me shoving to get in.

All I can remember thinking was, why is everyone pushing to get in to an amphitheatre that they have assigned seats?  It is not like the seats were going anywhere. But it was all a matter of principle or “prinseep” as much of my fellow Israelis like to call it.  Lines?  Israelis don’t stand in lines. But there is still a sense of togetherness, because everyone is pushing their way in and eventually the tourists catch on as well after being tired of waiting for the last stale falafel when just moments ago, they were next up to place their order.

So as an Angeleno native with Israeli roots and upbringing, you can imagine how shocked I was that everyone followed the rules.  Angelenos stopped what they were doing to allow the streets to be empty.  And thanks to those who left on vacation, who made it easier for us who were on a staycation.

In a city where people are often too busy worrying about themselves, it felt like a true sense of community, where everyone came together whether for selfish reasons or not (not wanting to deal with the traffic or not wanting to contribute to it). Either way, I am proud of my fellow Angelenos and my son, who insisted that “we should get out of the way, so they could do their job.”  Now if that were only true for my fellow Israelis awaiting their falafel pitas. Read the rest of this entry →

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