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Jan 28 2013

What Kids’ Cartoons Teach About Intermarriage

By at 9:48 am

Elana Gartner’s piece about “adjusting” the fairy tales she tells her son and daughter reminded me of how my poor children are forced to bear the brunt of my Master’s in Media Analysis every time they watch a movie or television show.

Most recently, my 13-year-old son and I discussed how in Les Miserables, the noble revolutionaries who only care about the plight of the poor set up their barricade and destroy the poor people’s (whom they care so much about) neighborhood. Then, while said poor people are literally on their knees cleaning up the mess, the only revolutionary left goes back to his rich grandfather’s house and proceeds to celebrate his lavish wedding without a moment of irony or even self-awareness. Read the rest of this entry →

Nov 9 2012

My Kids’ First Brush with Fiddler on the Roof

By at 12:58 pm
Pre-Fiddler on the Roof costumes.

The original costumes, pre-Fiddler on the Roof.

Up until 15 minutes before we left the house to go trick-or-treating this Halloween, my 5-year-old daughter was going dressed as a medieval princess. Her biggest brother not only made her a crown with matching veil, he also whipped up jester costumes for himself and his younger brother so they could accompany her as wandering minstrels. It was all set. Photos were taken and everything.

But then, my daughter changed her mind. She no longer wished to be a princess. Now she wanted to be Tzietel from “Fiddler on the Roof.”

Well. That’s quite a thematic change, isn’t it? Read the rest of this entry →

Mar 22 2012

Prepping for Passover

By at 9:31 am

Are you ready for the matzah?

Passover. Just the word conjures up images of matzah balls, bitter horseradish, bubbe’s brisket, and days upon days of matzah-based meals (and sometimes the, errr, stomach issues that come along with it!)

So in honor of this glorious holiday, we wanted to share with you some of our favorite Passover things. We’ve got everything from the basics of the holiday to the best Passover movies to even how to survive your seder with kids. Oh, and don’t forget our recipes page and shopping guide. Enjoy, and get ready to get ready for Passover–starting the evening of Friday, April 6.

And don’t worry–there’s a lot more Passover coming your way…

Don’t Miss:

How to Prepare a Seder

How to Survive a Seder with Kids

Greatest Passover Movies

Passover Shopping Guide

Our Favorite Passover Songs

The Best Kveller Passover Recipes

Passover Survival Tips for Vegans (by Mayim Bialik)

Nov 15 2011

Mayim on the Black Carpet for the Breaking Dawn Premiere

By at 2:06 pm

Mayim Bialik at Twilight Breaking Dawn PremiereI attended the “black carpet” premiere of Breaking Dawn, the latest in the Twilight saga. Having never read any of the books and having never seen any of the previous four movies, this was an interesting evening indeed.

Here are 10 more reasons why the evening was interesting.

1) Exhaustion: I was awake since 3:30 a.m. yesterday morning, taping 30 live satellite interviews with morning shows across America. With only a 15 minute nap under my belt, I was pretty exhausted by the time the premiere rolled around. The red carpet started at 4:30. The movie started at 8. I got home at 11 in time to breastfeed Fred and fall asleep. Big day for mama.

2) Preparation: About a year ago I found the make-up/hair person I can not live without and she is really what makes me happy to go out to these events. You may not understand how important a make-up/hair person is, but I found someone who is a) not pretentious, b) quick as lightning, and c) does not hand me any BS. Many actors like to be told they always look fantastic even if they don’t. I am not that actor.

3) The car key: In the middle of all of my preparation, my husband attempted to take the boys to the park and library but could not find our only key to the car with the carseats, which was locked… This kind of thing, in case you don’t know my husband, does NOT happen to him. My husband puts the car key in the same place every day every time no exceptions thank you very much. He tore the house apart and simultaneously tried to keep the boys from flipping out since all they wanted to do was go to the park and library and not watch Mama get made up, as my older son put it, “like a girl clown.” Read the rest of this entry →

May 6 2011

Why Are Moms So Embarrassing?

By at 11:14 am

Did your mom make you cringe like mine did?

Growing up, I never realized how much I needed or appreciated my mom. I always saw her caring, helpful, and protective ways as meddling, overprotective, and overbearing, especially when I was a teenager.  It wasn’t until I had my son that I realized how much we really do need our moms, even when we don’t know it.

Looking back, although my mom always tried to help, her motherly ways were, quite frankly, embarrassing at the time.  What teenager wants their mother in the middle of everything?

Take, for the example, the time I was 16 and invited a few friends over from my B’nai B’rith youth group. When word got out that my parents’ home was the infamous Fast Times At Ridgemont High home and that the pool was the very pool that Phoebe Cates dove into, a few extra people showed up. (Admittedly, it was kind of cool to live there.) I now had over 100 of my closest “friends” come to the party. And no, I was not a popular kid, but having a famous house made it so…for one night. Instead of being angry, my mom invited everyone in (and around, since the house was not that big). She got my father involved and the two of them began clearing out our fridge and making sandwiches for everyone, because, in her words, she didn’t want anyone to leave our home hungry. Can you say embarrassing?

Or then there was my 19th birthday when I stretched the truth a bit and told my parents that my friends were taking me out for dinner and a movie. In reality, my girlfriends and I were going to hang out at the Jewish fraternity house and most likely do nothing (read: watch a bunch of lazy guys play pool or video games. The things we find amusing in college, right?) My parents were clueless as to where I was really going on my birthday – well, at least that’s what I thought until I reached the frat house.

When I walked in, there was a huge birthday cake on the table, complete with paper plates and decorations–the whole nine yards. I was amazed that my “brothers” remembered my birthday. Turns out, the cake was not from my fellow brethren, but from my mother. Yes, my mother! She had the cake delivered so that no one would forget my birthday and I wouldn’t be disappointed. I stood there flushed, matching the color of the little frosting hearts on my cake, as everyone whispered and chuckled while enjoying my cake. I felt as though there was a big “L” stamped on my forehead. Loser! Just how cool did I look now?

My mom has always been there. During the times I did not want her there, and more recently the times that I have. When I gave birth to my son, my mom was there the entire time, right outside my door. Then she stayed overnight with me, my husband and our newborn son, sleeping upright on the chair by my side. She never left the hospital–or my room, for that matter. When my husband went on the road (he’s a professional musician) shortly after my son was born, she stayed with me one night holding my son for the entire night, never putting him down, just handing him over to me when it was time to nurse, simply so that I could get some rest.

Five years later and she continues to meddle, only I understand it a little better now. Her overprotective ways don’t seem so overprotective any more, but rather natural–the way it should be. She has taught me how to be the best mom I can be, and also what to avoid so I don’t embarrass my son. And I know that when I have a cake delivered to his frat house, he will appreciate it…well, not at that moment, but someday.

So, let’s cut our moms some slack. Happy Mother’s Day!

May 4 2011

Mayim Bialik Attends Premiere of Kate Hudson’s New Movie and Survives

By at 11:53 am

Mayim Bialik at last night's premiere of Kate Hudson'e new movie, "Something Borrowed." Note Mayim's "bumpin'" hair.

Last night, Mayim Bialik attended her first real Hollywood movie premiere since Beaches in 1988. The movie? Something Borrowed with Kate Hudson  at Grauman’s Mann Chinese Theatre.

1) Make-up. I did my make-up myself at home as I do for almost all events. This make-up application is usually achieved with both of my sons playing with eye shadow brushes and thinking they are very soft and very funny to tickle each other with. I don’t tend to mind them watching me, except when they start fighting over something on the counter or trying to put on my earrings. Tonight, as I started applying make-up, there was some altercation in the living room that ended up with me applying my foundation with one hand while holding a screaming shrieking 2-and-a-half-year-old on my hip with the other hand. The foundation came out even, though, so no harm done.

2) Hair. My super close friend since junior high who we shall call by the initials “K.T.” is sort of my unofficial unpaid stylist. She picks my outfits and accessories, and she told me for this event I am to go to one of those places that does your hair for you. I did just that, barely able to be heard over the blaring Avril Lavigne they had playing. The people working there were possibly not yet 18 years old but they were very hip. The young woman assigned to do my hair asked animatedly, “Soooo… what’s the event?”

Kate Hudson, soon to join the Mom ranks...again.

“Um… premiere at Mann’s Chinese,” I grumbled.

A little too excitedly, she exclaimed, “WOW! What do you do?” I don’t care if people recognize me at all, but I didn’t want to get into my whole history that started before she was even born, so I just said, “Actor” and picked up my phone to pretend to be checking my email.

She asked what kind of hairdo I wanted from the “menu” and I wasn’t sure. They all sounded so…unnecessary. I texted K.T. who responded with the following: “Tell her big sexy Victoria’s secret hair.” Okay. Done. I watched the end of “My Best Friend’s Wedding” with subtitles (I had never seen it; I wanted him to choose Julia Roberts but oh well) and sipped a mimosa. The stylist told me that next time (argh), for some nominal fee, I can get a scalp massage with my shampooing! I said, “Oh cool!” but was really thinking, “This is enough of someone touching me already, no thank you.”

3) K.T.’s Judgment. I picked up K.T. who parked on a street in Hollywood near Grauman’s so we could carpool to the parking lot. She approved of the hair (“It’s bumpin’ on top!” she noted, acknowledging the copious back-combing done to achieve the appearance of more hair than I actually have since having two children). She approved of the make-up. “More gloss?” I asked.

“Always more gloss,” she said, as if it was the most obvious thing in the world. Right, of course.

4) Red Carpet. The carpet was blue, first of all. I was dressed in “business” attire as the invitation instructed. Most of the other women were in–yes, you guessed it: strappy sexy stretchy bright strapless mini dresses. No matter, I was happy with my Mossimo for Target dress (I forgot to open the kick pleat, but K.T. said it made my silhouette even more “teeny tiny” as she likes to say), my Club Monaco jacket (which cost more than the dress and the Mossimo stilettos put together) and my possibly-too-bright but very sweet satin clutch I got at a SWAG event from a Spanish designer. I walked the carpet assisted by my publicist’s very chill associate who I adore, and I got shouted at to “turn this way,” “face this way,” “smile more,” and “move over” plenty. I felt good and I made it to the end of the carpet without tripping once.

5) Inside The Theatre. Free popcorn (no butter, so no vegan conflict) and free Pepsi! I actually prefer Coke, but I did not resist. We found our seats after the sweet elderly usher said “Hey–aren’t you that girl from ‘What Not to Wear’?” I laughed and said, “Yes. You just made my night, sir.” I ate some popcorn and had some Pepsi and we people watched. We took pictures of each other. I didn’t see anyone famous (though Hilary Swank, John Krasinski, and Kristin Cavallari were there), but it was still fun. I left before the movie started for various reasons which are not terribly interesting. The least interesting being that I had to pump so I did that and drove home to put my boys to bed.

6) The Valet Dilemma. I was given a parking pass when I checked in at the red carpet which I presented to the valet. He told me it was not good for anything and asked for $7 for the 30 minutes I had been there. I stood my ground and told him this pass was specifically given to me to use to not pay $7 for parking. He asked his associates in Armenian what to do about me, and finally, the senior valet administrator approved me leaving without paying; my pass was apparently kosher after all.

7) The Parking Lot Security Camera Woman. I sure hope the security camera is operated by a woman, because I sort of slipped off my big girl bra right there in my car in that parking lot through the sleeve of my dress.

Jan 31 2011

Free To Not Watch Free To Be You And Me

By at 11:31 am

Ronia can now walk, pushing her stoller, all the way from the coffee shop to home–a distance of more than a mile. Happily, this affords her plenty of time to ask me the most burning question she faces, over and over again.

It’s not, “Who’s picking me up from school tomorrow?” No, the thing on Ronia’s mind is: “Do we have time to watch a movie?” And there is no question which movie, it’s nothing but Free to Be You and Me referred to by Ronia as “Free to Be of Me and You.” Or when attempting to make her case, she simply calls it, “the short one.”

I did not grow up with this video; it came out before my parents had me and while they were living pop culture-free in Alaska, but it was performed at my Jewish camp.

I demur, I stall. The video is short after all. The truth is that I am somewhat addicted to the free time created by Ronia’s  screen time. And I’m thrilled that it’s Free to Be You and Me and not anything objectionable. At the same time, the age and extreme catchiness raise conflicts for even this feminist father.

First of all, Ronia is hooked. It’s a testament to how well the makers knew their craft that they have managed to be totally compelling, even 38 years later to a child with little familiarity with the issues we raise. So blessedly ignorant of sexism was Ronia was that she insisted on changing “William wants a doll” to “Leah wants a doll,” more concerned about female representation than non-gendered play. She also watched the “Ladies First” skit repeatedly before catching on that the Lady gets eaten by tigers, and eventually lost interest.

The movie seems oddly focused on promoting cross-sex friendships, which thus far Ronia has no problem with. There is not a lot of emphasis on girls befriending each other.

Of course trans liberation was not yet on people’s radar in 1973 (though a later follow-up compilation Stories for Free Children did have a story about an androgynous child named X). So it is that the “Mommies are People” informs us gleefully that mommies can be almost anything they want but not daddies. Ronia can sing almost this whole song but thankfully skips this verse.

Tonight we have lingered so long at the coffee shop that I manage to stand firm. Ronia throws a very similiar fit to the one if we had watched it and I was turning it off. At least she did not ask for it at her anti-television Waldorf school today. She bargains for some tracks on the CD (my sister got us the box set, so we could read it as well if Ronia wanted.) The fabulous-sounding William belts out his request for a doll Ethel Merman-style, and his grandma assures his father it is all right because he will one day breed himself. Ronia stands amidst her dolls and trucks, waiting for her father who like William in the song changed many of her diapers to put her to bed.


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