Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Confessions of a Marching Mouse

In December of '84, I was a marching mouse in Woodland Hills (Lawton, Oklahoma) School's presentation of "Achoo Saves Christmas." I wore a leotard and tights and had a tail made of one side of a pair of pantyhose, stuffed with newspaper. I had paper ears on a paper headband. I marched into the auditorium, sat on the steps of the stage, and sang about how "Achoo is blue, blue-be-do be do be do..." How I ended up in this play was that my alternative was sitting in the principal's office while everyone practiced.

Yesterday, I went to a different kind of show. I went to Kinneret's gan party. Kinneret, too, wore a paper costume and walked around and sang songs in a winter(?) show. But Kinneret was a candle in a Hannuka show. As I watched her, I thought about my marching mouse experience, and I actually sobbed. I mean, one of the grandmothers there had to break out a box of tissues for me. I am so glad that Kinneret was singing about how she will light up the dark and how G-d will bring the redemption, and how we won't let the Greeks keep us from learning Torah.

She will never be a marching mouse. She will always be a candle!

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Being the Video Lady

As my loyal readers know, I started SimchaVideos.com a short while ago. I make presentations/slideshows for Bar/Bat Mitzvas, weddings, trips, whatever.

Business has been slowly picking up. Today I finished up my first order. It was really exciting. The video came out great. The Bat Mitzva girl is very photogenic, so the pictures were beautiful. She chose her own song, "You'll be in My Heart" by Phil Collins, which worked really well with the pictures. I did a little playing around with the invitation to make it a part of the video. All told, it took about 4-5 hours to make the video. Those of you with calculators realize that at 150 shekels a video (introductory offer ends this week), that leaves my hourly wage at.. pathetic.

BUT..I really enjoyed working on it. I worked on it even when I had videos to watch and games to play, even though I wasn't up against that hard a deadline. So while I will be raising my prices and trying to get my process speeded up, I'm pretty happy.

Monday, November 08, 2010

Badmouthing Children

I read a personal finance blog, and the subject of being childless by choice comes up a lot. Leaving out halachic considerations, I generally think that people should only have children if they're 100% sure they want them, so I usually stay out of this discussion, but this comment really enraged me, so I figured I'd post my response:
"...mucking it up with one or more noisy, smelly, expensive, messy, self-centered ungrateful brats?"

This is what makes us parents angry at those who are childless by choice.

You were once a noisy, smelly, expensive, messy, self-centered ungrateful brat yourself, and yet here you are...

I don't mind if you say that you don't want to have children of your own because they require a lot of energy and care and time and money, but saying nasty things about children in general is just rude.

Are my children-
  • Noisy? Sometimes. 
  • Smelly? Rarely. You probably smell worse, since children's sweat is basically odorless. 
  • Expensive? Only because we have them in daycare. If I had them at home, having the two of them would cost substantially less than the cost of a car each month. 
  • Messy? Sometimes, but even my almost-2 cleans up when reminded. 
  • Self-Centered? Sometimes, but aren't we all self-centered sometimes? I certainly didn't think it showed self-centeredness when my 3.5-year-old saw me crying and patted me on the back and said "shhh. it's ok mommy" Sometimes, she's the most caring and giving child in the world. 
  • Ungrateful - Yep, they're often ungrateful, but sometimes, you give them some tiny thing and they run at you to hug you and their gratitude is worth more than a thousand "thank you" notes.
  • Brats - My kids aren't brats. Neither parent is career military. (I'm an army brat, so... that's what a brat is to me)
Go ahead and don't have children if you don't want them. If you're not fully committed to being a parent, don't do it. It'll be terrible for you and worse for the children.

But don't dare badmouth my kids. Or my choices.

Thursday, November 04, 2010

One More Thing to Say

A lot has been written about RivkA bat Yeshaya. Everything important about her has been said. She was vivacious. She always had a smile, even when she was in pain. She had incredible strength. She loved her family. Her favorite color was purple. She loved pistachio milkshakes (ok, maybe no one else mentioned that). Each of us says one thing we remember, and it gives the rest of us one more thing to hold on to.

But I didn't know her that well. I spent the day with her twice. I kept meaning to spend another day with her, but time got away from me, and then the time was up. If I could have had another day, just another hour, I would have wanted to give her one more thing.

I don't have much to give. I would have made her a milkshake again, if she was up for it, brought a bagel again, if she thought she could eat it. But what I really wanted to do was bring her my memories of my trip to Finland.

RivkA had been to the juggling convention in Israel last year, and when I told her that I was going to Finland for the juggling convention, she was one of those who lamented being too large to fit into our luggage. I said I'd tell her all about it, and I never got to.

I wrote down what I wanted to tell her. I wrote about the trip, and about the things we did. I wanted to give her as much of the experience as I possibly could, because that was the only gift RivkA wanted - more time - to be with her family more and to experience more. I couldn't give her more time with her family, but I wanted to give her one more experience.

So here's what I wrote for her.

Dear RivkA,
I still haven't had a chance to tell you about EJC (European Juggling Convention) 2010 - Joensuu, Finland.

It wasn't at all what I expected. First, I expected cold, or at least cool. Ha! That's a laugh. It was hot almost every day. One day, it got up to 40 C, breaking records. We only used the heat in our cabin one night.

The shows were interesting. I only saw a few, because - well toddler attention spans. A lot of it was this super-European art juggling which is kind of boring.
The action in the gym was more interesting. There were neat passing patterns everywhere and all kinds of cool tricks to watch.

We spent a lot of time talking to a German guy named York (Jork?) who heads a church-based juggling group in his home town. He'd come with his two teenage children and another five kids who weren't his. His daughter played accordion for our kids and he played guitar. He and Yaakov did a lot of passing. I started to learn rings. I expected it to go well, but it just didn't, so I'm still working on it. It's slow going.

We're also working on building a duo act so we can take shows. Again, slow going, but we wing it.

The campsite where we stayed was on a lake, so we went into the lake a few times. The water was SO COLD! But it was really amazing on the hot days. Ephraim was terrified of the water, but Kinneret really loved it.

I think I really enjoyed the white nights more than I would have expected to. The experience of it being midnight and still light out was just so different. The first week, I went to the campsite's office for a beer, internet, and to watch the lack of sunset. I never enjoyed beer so much.

Helsinki was filled with walking and blueberries and finding places for the kids to play. Again we were on the beach, and we enjoyed the water.

Russia, well, we got some great photos and souvenirs, and I just read a book in which the characters traveled to St. Petersburg, and it was really amazing to be able to picture the scene.

So that was our trip. And then we came home and there's no place like home.


I'm sorry I never got to say this. I'm sorrier that RivkA never got to go to a European Juggling Convention, that she won't be at the next Israeli juggling convention, that no matter how much I want to, I can't give her any more experiences or any more time.

Goodbye RivkA. I miss you.

Monday, November 01, 2010

How to Glue a Banana (an Important Parenting Skill)

Ephraim in His Rocking Chair
Each day, I pick up Kinneret at her gan (pre-school) and Ephraim at his daycare (which they also call a gan), and we walk home, except sometimes, if I don't feel well, or if I'm running late. Then, my mom helps me get the kids. One day last week, my mom helped me get the kids.

We brought them inside, and the two children sat in their rocking chairs. They asked for bananas. Ephraim said "nana" and Kinneret went along for the ride.

I made sure not to open their bananas (a cardinal sin), until they asked for help. Then I opened the bananas, and Ephraim's broke, causing tears, screams, moans. It was truly tragic. My mother and I sat there, trying to determine what to do.

Logical Mommy said "I'm sorry your banana broke, Ephraim" but the wails continued.
Logical Mommy tried again, "Eat the broken part fast Ephraim" but to no avail. He kept screaming.
And then Savta, who couldn't stop laughing whispered two magical words...(which shall soon be revealed)

Logical Mommy gave up, took the banana, took a knife, went to the cabinet, and got some magical banana glue (a.k.a. peanut butter.) and glued the banana together.

Ephraim took the banana. The tears ceased. The wails stopped. The banana-eating proceeded. Life was good.

Sometimes, you just have to glue the banana.