Nov 14 2013
I’m not always the best daughter. Sometimes I’m impatient, short-tempered, bossy, and annoyed with my mother. I work hard to promptly apologize to my mother when I’ve not behaved nicely but I admit that I don’t always do that perfectly either. I may be able to make up for every prickly thing I’ve ever said or done to my mother with this post, because I would like to talk about how she prepares for holidays such as Thanksgivukkah, which happens in a few weeks.
My mom is a great cook. Her Hungarian mother was also a great cook and I bet my grandmother’s mother was a good cook too, and so on, all the way back. My mother specializes in all kinds of food but her presentation, her attention to detail, and the joy with which she cooks and serves food are also noteworthy.
Since I had my first son eight years ago, my mother has started the mini-tradition of writing up menus before holidays. This serves a dual purpose. She is a Type A list-maker and, thus, making menus satisfies her list making needs. Secondly, she likes me to consult about the menu, make changes as needed, and select which items I will be helping with. Read the rest of this entry →
Nov 12 2013
This year, for the last time until about 80,000 years from now, Thanksgiving and Hanukkah fall on the same day. Thanksgivingfully (hahaha), Hanukkah goes on for eight nights but Thanksgiving is only one. This means that for those of us who value the religious, spiritual, and cultural significance of Hanukkah, it won’t be completely engulfed by Thanksgiving. We’ll have seven more nights to sing Maoz Tsur and spin the dreidel.
However, for those of us with children raised in a day and age when Hanukkah has become synonymous with gift-giving, this coincidence becomes a problematic one. Case in point: my 5-year-old seems to think that Thanksgiving is a gift-giving holiday since he has heard that Hanukkah falls on the same day. I keep telling him it’s Hanukkah that he thinks of as a gift-giving holiday, and he looks at me like I’m insane. In his little brain, they are on the same day, and he therefore expects gifts on Thanksgiving. Hence, it’s a gift holiday. Sigh.
Why do I have a problem with my son associating Hanukkah with gift-giving? The first reason is that historically it hasn’t been associated with gifts, both in the greater Jewish population and in my family in particular. When I was growing up, my parents typically gave me new pajamas, a new wall calendar, and some collection of stationery items (pencils, note cards, erasers) as gifts. I always got at least one new dreidel for my dreidel collection. And of course, chocolate Hanukkah gelt. There may have been some years when I received a toy but my immediate association with Hanukkah when it comes to the notion of gift-giving is one of small gifts that were primarily functional and generally elicited eye-rolls and complaining from me because I thought all of that stuff was lame.
Except the Winnie the Pooh PJs I got when I was about 8. Those were awesome. Read the rest of this entry →
Nov 8 2013
This week’s most popular posts from the blogs, in case you missed them.
- Mayim Bialik: Five Surprising Things About Working on The Big Bang Theory. Mayim tell us 5 surprising things about working for The Big Bang Theory.
- I’m the One Who’s Ruined Facebook with All These Pictures of My Kid. Jen knows what it’s like to make fun of those people who non-stop post pictures of their kids all day–but now she’s one of them! Fall back, Facebook haters.
- Courageous Woman Dances to Beyonce Pre-Double Mastectomy. Deborah Cohan was going into get a double mastectomy, and to prepare for it she asked all of the medical staff to join her in a dance party to “Get Me Bodied,” by Beyonce. Deborah rules.
- The Great Fashion Debate with My 5-Year-Old Step-Daughter. Tamar recently became a step-mother to a 5-year-old and she’s finding it very hard to get her dressed properly with confidence.
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Nov 7 2013
People ask me a lot how it’s going on The Big Bang Theory this season. We are about eight episodes into the seventh season, and I barely remember what these episodes have been about!
I learn scripts week to week, and once I have to learn the next one, I pretty much forget the previous week’s. That’s just the truth.
I know I sang with Simon Helberg’s character, Wolowitz, and we sang Neil Diamond. I know this week’s episode is our –first ever!–Thanksgiving episode. I know Johnny Galecki’s character was on a boat in the season opener and he came back, and I know that I’ve had some great scenes with Jim Parsons, but I can’t quite remember what they were about!
Here are a few other surprising things about working on The Big Bang Theory that you may not know. Read the rest of this entry →
Nov 6 2013
This post in response to Tamar Fox’s blog post “The Great Fashion Debate with My 5-Year-Old Step-Daughter” that ran on Kveller yesterday.
I have tremendous respect for you as a stepmom to a 5-year-old girl. I have no experience with girls or being a stepmom, and I applaud you for all of your awesome mommying.
However. Several things jumped out at me from your post about wanting to control how she dresses that I wanted to weigh in on. Disclaimer: I come from a family of snazzy dressers. Sometimes my parents dressed super unusually, but they were really snazzy dressers always and they encouraged me to have my own style and be as funky as I wanted to be. My sons are 5 and 8 and they love clothing. They are very particular about what they wear, and they have definite ideas of what’s “snazzy” for them. I love it. I have clothes for them they only wear on Shabbat, and when we see plays or go to kids’ birthday parties, my sons are always encouraged to wear slacks and dress shirts, or “dress jeans” and dress shirts. I love clothes and I understand the importance of clothes. Even though I have boys.
So. Here are the four things that your post made me think about: Read the rest of this entry →
Nov 5 2013
As I have written about here, I have started taking my sons on approximately once-a-month family Shabbat sleepovers to religious neighborhoods in Los Angeles. We stay with friends/acquaintances who aren’t intimidated by the fact that we’re vegan, my sons bring along their little travel KidKits, and we learn about another family and how they celebrate Shabbat.
This past weekend, we had our Shabbat sleepover in a very religious neighborhood. Like even more religious than I am used to, which you would probably describe as Moderate Modern Orthodox. This was not that. Everyone was very nice and welcoming, and I didn’t feel unwelcome at all, but it was very different from what I’m used to. It was more like ultra-Orthodox. Streimels, you know, those big furry black hats. And I might have been the only woman I saw with my hair peeking out from under my tichel (headscarf), since all of the women in this neighborhood wear expensive sheitls (wigs) or hats with no hair showing.
Here are the Top 7 Things I learned this past weekend.
1. Heads Up. Some women never uncover their heads. Like ever. Meaning: they even sleep with their heads covered. There’s a whole reason, it’s not just someone misunderstanding the rules of halakha (Jewish law). The woman who described it to me is a very educated, smart, and interesting person. I had never met someone who never uncovers her head except in the shower, literally. Fascinating. Read the rest of this entry →
Nov 1 2013
This week’s most popular posts from the Kveller blogs, in case you missed them.
- Teaching My Son to Tapdance with the Help of Michael Jackson. Mayim introduced her kids to Michael Jackson through tap dancing, and now they can’t get enough of “Billie Jean.” Too cute.
- It’s Time to Get Aware of Pregnancy Induced Breast Cancer. Stephanie’s friend was diagnosed with pregnancy-induced breast cancer–which isn’t as rare as you think. In honor of breast cancer awareness month, spread the word.
- Are Smart Phones Really Poisoning My Baby’s Brain? Carol’s a tech-junkie mama. After being told she was “poisioning” her son’s mind by letting him play games on her phone, she’s rethinking his exposure to technology.
- Interview With Interesting Jews: Actress & New Mom Shiri Appleby. Jillian Scheinfeld interviewed Shiri Appleby and spoke about kvelling, working on the set of GIRLS, and being a new mama.
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I was a guest at The Jon Lovitz Comedy Club last week. We did a vodcast (like a podcast but with video; I know, I didn’t know that expression either) for his “Lovitz or Leavitz” program. It is basically an hour-long interview where we talk about literally everything you can imagine, and we try and make it funny. Mostly we succeeded. Case in point: he kept teasing me that I was an African-American Jew which is only funny if you watch it and see why.
Anyway, I have been a fan of Jon Lovitz since I was a very young aspiring actress. I’m 37, and the years he was on Saturday Night Live (1985-1990) formed some of my earliest memories of understanding and appreciating comedy. His iconic voice is etched in my brain for so many of his well-known characters, and he was part of the Phil Hartman, Mike Myers, Kevin Nealon, Dana Carvey-era of some of SNL’s truly memorable comedy of my youth.
I like the opportunity to talk to people without a “time limit” like this. Jon is a very bright guy with a sincere interest in getting interesting conversations out of guests, and he had so many questions about Attachment Parenting and Neuroscience and how I make the decisions I do in life and so on. Read the rest of this entry →
Oct 31 2013
I’m not super into Halloween in general. I guess I was as a kid, but my healthy mom wouldn’t let me eat unhealthy candy much. I have some nice memories of trick-or-treating with friends with our parents supervising, but it’s just not my thing at all. And I hate being scared. Like really hate it. Like it makes me cry.
My dislike of Halloween isn’t just because I’m traditionally inclined in the religiously Jewish way, although that may have become part of it in the past 15 years. We have so many interesting and fun and meaningful and spiritually uplifting holidays in Judaism, and we also have the outrageously cool dress-up festival of Purim in the spring, and my boys have always been so gentle and shy and scared of scary things that Halloween has never been a huge thing for any of us. Read the rest of this entry →
Oct 29 2013
As a homeschooling family, our lives tend to be very flexible, and our “unschooling” tendencies mean our schooling style is also very flexible. Many families in our community have started signing their kids up for classes now that they are older; some classes are drop-off, some classes parents stay for.
Many families I know with daughters (homeschooling and not) sign them up for a lot of “arts” classes: dance, gymnastics, voice, etc. I took ballet, tap, jazz, and gymnastics in my youth and I love encouraging artistic expression for young girls.
However, I also think it’s as important for boys to take those kinds of classes as it is for girls to take LEGO Engineering (as my older son does), and intensive nature hikes and science classes, and I decided that I would teach my sons to tap dance this year so that they get a well-rounded education in the arts. I already teach them piano, but dance is another level of music I want them to start understanding. Read the rest of this entry →