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Mar 28 2013

Counting the Omer, Counting the Milestones

By at 1:39 pm

pile of legos“Dear God, how many hours until bedtime?” I mutter from my prone position on the playroom floor as Legos bounce off of my head.

And how long have I been doing this, anyway? I’m home with the kids today, and my husband left for work at 7:30, so it’s been eight hours (not all of them involved being pummeled by Legos, but still). Now the Legos are hitting me in the arm as my toddler flings them into the air, his giggles piercing the torpid afternoon. Let’s see…if there are no major meltdowns, I can reasonably expect to get both kids into bed by 8:30, so I’ve got five more hours to go. Five more hours is doable, right? Five is a lot less than eight, so clearly I’ve reached the downhill part of my day. No problem, I think. I’m golden. I’m coasting. I’m… oh, for crying out loud, can’t they make Legos out of something softer? Read the rest of this entry →

Jun 4 2012

The Case of the Missing Bar Mitzvah

By at 12:42 pm

Almost three years ago, when my oldest son was only 10, I received an e-mail from our temple’s Hebrew School, which he was then attending, informing me that it was time to put his bar mitzvah date down on their calendar.

I responded with what I thought was the perfect, Jewish reaction, “Oy, we should all live so long.” (Let the record show that the above response was only in my head. I sent the temple a more dispassionately worded answer, merely declining the opportunity.)

I was informed that, should I fail at committing to a particular date almost three years down the road on the spot, I risked it BECOMING UNAVAILABLE. Read the rest of this entry →

Oct 10 2011

My Son’s First Birthday

By at 9:42 am

This morning when we went downstairs for breakfast, my husband announced to everyone, “It’s my son’s first birthday!” This seemed like a huge turnaround in his attitude from just a week ago. As Aiven’s first birthday approached, Alex begrudged much of my preparations. To him, it wasn’t worth it to make a big deal about his birthday since he wasn’t going to remember it anyway. Also, since money’s tight right now, he felt that it would be better spent on other things or kept in reserve. A few days ago, in a moment of frustration, I blurted out that Aiven’s birthday was as much about me as it was about him.  It was an epiphany for my husband and myself.

Aiven’s birthday is my birthday, too.  One year ago today, I was reborn.  I will never again be the same person I was before.  I have progressed emotionally and spiritually.  I have learned to be patient with my child (still learning patience with my husband), come to terms with my new body, and seen the world through the eyes of a newborn.  I have received smiles and kisses that are truly priceless, and I have continued to work towards becoming more selfless (I grew up an only child myself, so things like sharing don’t always come easy to me.)

It is a milestone for both of us.

For Aiven, it is about celebrating his first year of life.  He has progressed developmentally at a rate I still cannot fathom.  He took his first steps at 9 months (and can now toddle towards danger in the blink of an eye), self-weaned at 11 months, and every day seems to learn more stupid pet tricks (kisses, hands up, gimme five, tongue out).  Last but not least, he has survived one year living with crazy parents who schlepped him to five different countries and I don’t know how many different hotel rooms, and the smile that appeared on his face at 6 weeks is still there. Read the rest of this entry →

Sep 14 2011

Back on the Bar Mitzvah Circuit

By at 12:30 pm

The last time I attended a bar or bat mitzvah celebration, the deejay blasted “Ice, Ice Baby” in between “The Electric Slide” and “Hava Nagila,” and my friends and I raced around the party collecting materials to make a memory glass. Not much has changed about the synagogue service in the two decades since I attended a bar/bat mitzvah, but the after-party sure looks a whole lot different.

I found this out over the weekend when I attended the b’nai mitzvah of my husband’s cousin’s kids (they’re 14 months apart and decided to have a joint celebration). They rocked their prayers and speeches and were more than ready to release the stress of it all at a nighttime bash at the W Hotel in Dallas.

The first thing I noticed is that the music was really loud. The second thing I noticed is that I am apparently now old. But the biggest observation I made is that the party has become about the kids, not the adults. Aside from an open bar, there wasn’t much for adults, and in fact, not many who weren’t family or very close friends were there. Gone, it appears, are the days of inviting teachers, friends’ parents, etc. Teens chowing down on sliders, chicken fingers, and fries far outnumbered the grownups carrying plates of veggies out to the quieter reception room.

I know that a lot of people are against having big, expensive parties for their kids. My own parents took me on a bar/bat mitzvah tour to Israel in lieu of making me a lavish event. They felt I would remember that a lot longer than I would a dance party. (I can’t say for sure if they were right because I didn’t have a party to compare it to, but I do remember that trip to Israel as if I went on it yesterday.) But I don’t think there’s anything wrong with a celebration of the hard work and milestone that was met as long as the focus remains steadfast on what it all means rather than what it means for getting presents.

And if you’re going to make a party for your child, making it about your child is the way to go. Isn’t it?

Sep 1 2011

Hitting Milestones, Are You Looking For the Right Ones?

By at 2:01 pm

Between birth and bar mitzvah, our kids go through a million changes and achievements.

And not surprisingly, we parents get a little obsessed about milestones. There are the typical ones that get all the press—rolling over, sitting up, starting solids, crawling, walking and talking. It’s always exciting to see your baby become less of a poop machine and more of a little human, but in my experience, most of the major milestones are seriously overrated.

Think about it. The baby can roll over, and all of a sudden you’re worried about SIDS. She starts eating solids, which means you need to start making (or in my case, buying) all those nasty little purees, and then you get to worry about whether or not baby is eating her vegetables. Don’t forget about the clean-up after every meal—not just the table, but the floor, the walls, the baby, and the baby’s diapers, which are now shockingly stinky. Once they start crawling, if you take your eyes off of them even for a minute they’re poised to fall down the stairs, , and even though it’s helpful when they can communicate, once they start talking, sometimes you just wish they would, well, stop.

Read the rest of this entry →


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