Dear Society,

my 4

As you go about your business and relate with people, families, groups, please kindly think before you speak. Do I mean to say this so harshly? Maybe. It occurs to me, that as a culture, there has long been some traditional hardwiring when it comes to the rule of family. Husband, wife, and 2.3 kids have long been the accepted norm. Over time, many of you have even acknowledged the single mom who has one or more kids. Single Dad’s exist too, holding custody of children in a post-Kramer vs. Kramer world.

However my fellow creatures of the good ol’ U.S. of A., please be aware of the ‘rainbow-banner year’ 2015 has been for human rights. (Such naches this year has brought.) Yes, did you notice I didn’t say just LGBT rights? Small thinking must stop. The word ‘family’ is now fascinating and complex. Prejudice and discrimination must stop. It’s time to believe that all lives matter. #HumanityMatters.

You’ve recognized different religions marrying. You’ve accepted bi-racial couples. Let love win.

In June of 2015, Edie Windsor and Jim Obergefell braved SCOTUS and won, making same sex marriage a right nationwide, citing the 14th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution. Talk about a Mensch on a Bench! Our mass shpilkes had ended! In a momentous 5-4 ruling, 5 mensch’s struck down the U.S. ban, stating that this ‘liberty will no longer be denied.’ Surely it is a mitzvah for all humanity when love wins.

my 3

Marriage licenses were issued all over the country to same sex fagele’s. Registries and calls to the caterers rang throughout the land. In this same year, more than 450 elected officials served as openly fagele. The transgendered community became visible as Laverne Cox posed nude for photographer, Norman Jean Roy and Vanity Fair magazine led with “Call me Caitlyn.” Kneidlach or not, #HumanityMatters.

With all of this positive change, hear my spiel. Families in your line of vision may appear different from what you are used to — and this difference is good and beautiful and long overdue.

Two dads and their children may eat in a restaurant, shop in a store, walk in a park, play at the playground or catch the new Star Wars flick. Do not have the chutzpah to think (with your outside voice) that one of the adults is the dad and one is the brother, the uncle, the friend, or the grandfather. Don’t assume alte kocker when one parent looks older than the other.

Two moms and their children may eat in a restaurant, shop in a store, walk in a park, play at the playground or catch the new Star Wars flick. Do not have the chutzpah to think (with your outside voice) that one of the adults is the mom and one is the sister, the aunt, the friend or the grandmother. Don’t assume alte kocker when one parent looks older than the other. (Please read this: I am not the Bubbeh, I am Mommy.) Vai is mir.

my two

Because you know what happens when you assume

And guess what, our families are just like yours. Except maybe, sometimes, we work harder than most to birth our kinder.

So please, I beg of you, open your minds to new things, new ideas, and new families, even a bissel. It’s mashuggeh not to. If you can’t, you can kish’m tuchas. Poo. Poo. Poo.

If you can, l’Chaim.

And remember, #humanitymatters.

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Linky Live a la agent spitback!
Linky Live a la agent spitback!

It’s Bedtime, by Santa

bed 2

Dear Big, mostly Little

It’s Santa you see

To talk about something not so great

Can it be?

 

By day you are both so mighty, so strong

I was hoping this nightfall report was all wrong

By watching, I noticed the shtick and the struggles

For Ema and Mommy who only want snuggles

 

bed 1

Those 8 crazy nights flew by without a tussle

But Santa you know, has so much more muscle

My powers cover the actions of naughty and nice

You may just get gornisht; you’re rollin’ the dice

 

By mail I’ve read of the things on your lists

Your chutzpah dear kinder must cease and desist

Something must change when you climb into that bed

A time filled with shpilkes and unneeded dread

 

Please know shaineh maidels, that I’ve got your number

After brushing and flossing and primping for slumber

When the last pages of book is read and completed

Your Mommies, the neighbors, are all quite depleted

 

Kicking and screaming is never okay

It’s a shandeh especially at this time of the day

You must stop the geshrei-ing and crying you see

And drinking so much that you just have to pee

bed 3

I know you’re not hungry; your belly is fine

Your eyes do not hurt; oh jeez, stop that whine!

Even boogers need rest at the end of the day

So leave them alone in your nose, okay?

 

Life in the Manor was quiet, serene

Before you two pishers came on to the scene

From now on kinderlech, no more meshugener making

Or your tchatchkes and presents will be mine for the taking

 

Be little mensches, close your eyes and gey schluffen

Leave the rumpus behind and there’ll be no more noodgin’

Nod off, conk out, cop some z’s, that’s my wish

Bubelah’s please, tuches ahfen tish!

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Frugal Schmugal

from Luka
from Luka

The holidays are headed our way, no bones about it. While I do not care to keep track of how many shopping days are left until Christmas, I do know all too well, how many days left until payday. And that is just an icky, new feeling that I must get used to. We managed through those eight crazy nights of Hanukkah; I suppose the big red-suited man will let us fly by too.

from Neko
from Neko

Please, do not for one moment feel bad about us! We are doing the very best we can right now, and I know we are not alone. Tough times, tough measures surround us all. We are very grateful for what we have, and more importantly, who we have surrounding us with love, joy and support both during the holidays, and year round.

Thankfully, Little and Big don’t really ask for a lot. They never have. We are just in ‘Living Lean’ mode, and with that, will come a special frugality to the season that should not be misconstrued as ‘Grinchism.’ We got through it last year, and I guess that means we should be even better at it by this year? This year, the Mrs. and me have not even argued about a budget. We both know its bubkes.

The boys, with Santa
The boys, with Santa

I love the holidays, as viewed through the eyes of Little and Big. I grew up on latkes and menorahs – a jelly donut was a big deal for my Big and me. Of course, a purple tree, blinking lights, ornaments…it’s a huge WOW!

On Christmas Eve, Toffey will spend the night. We will make egg-free cookies for Santa (sorry big guy, Little is allergic) together – a few for him, a few for us. A ‘nice nosh.’ We will sup together. And we will all wake up early in our jammies, and see the surprises that Santa has left for us after his magnificent voyage across the world.

Here at the Manor, luckily men have been outside working on all the chimneys in our building for the past several weeks. I expounded on all the ‘white lying’ of the season by telling the girls that they are readying them for Santa, his elves and the reindeer. Yes, this haimish’a Yid buys in. I hear the bells ringing on the polar express and love the look on their little joyous faces on Christmas morning.

Here is what I don’t so much love:

  • The lack of sleep – in fact, my sleep bank may very well mirror my…well, you know
  • We have less charitable giving to offer this year
  • We cannot yet get the girls, us, an addition to the family in the form of a new pug. We are so very grief-stricken by the tremendous loss of Atticus and Eli.

Here’s what I do love:

  • My kids get to celebrate both Chanukah and Christmas, so the magic of the white haired man rocks in this house
  • When I asked them what they got last year from Santa, they had no idea – but they did remember the experiences we made together and the joy of the people we shared them with
  • Toffey is making a beautiful tradition with us on Christmas Eve, and he swears up and down, and sideways too, that he never, ever sees or hears Santa come in at night with our haul

So, frugal schmugal. We do the very best we can. We make memories, not bills. We enjoy the time-shared.

Wishing all of you, the very best of the holiday season!

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Oy Vey, It’s Nutcracker Day!

Nut 1a

Way back in September, when school first started and the chaos of a summer’s day turned just a tad bit more orderly, after school ballet began for Little and Big. What also started was The Nutcracker practice. It seemed crazy to be hearing the ‘Dum da-da-Dum-Dum-Dum-Dum-Dah,’ when just moments before we were splashing in the pool and schvitzing on a walk in the woods. The color of the summer still glowed, like the tans on the wee ones (despite massive amounts of sunscreen applied thick as spackle). And tonight, in the blink of just one eye, is the first performance.

nut 4a

As old Saint Nick is setting his Google maps ready for the minyan of reindeer led by sir Rudolph himself, we prep for several dress rehearsals, a school show, and two ticket-wielding performances.

 

This is serious stuff for Little and Big; and a gargantuan effort for Ema, who packs snacks, waters, books, crayons, toys and and schleps 4 days a week to pull this off. Despite the mishegas of after school extracurriculars, this show brings the discipline of every Sunday afternoon until now.

 

See the big deal is, that hoNut 3aused under the roof of the (dance school) Wissahicken Dance Academy, is a non-profit organization called the International Ballet Exchange (IBE). Professional dancers of the Donetsk Ballet of Ukraine come to the US to perform each year, with and beside my Little and Big! I’m kvelling as I type! My wee ones on stage with the big Ukrainian machers…pinch me!

 

It’s a meshuggeneh time around here. Two moms and two girls clearly get our panties in a bit of a bunch as show time nears. Hairdryers blow. Curling irons curl. Outfits are laid out, and usually argued about. Friends, family, mishpocheh gather outside the theatre. Butterflies dance in our tummies (it’s just us Moms with the kishkas twirling – the girls know no fear or performance anxiety).

nut 2a

And tonight at 6:30 pm, as the lights dim, the curtains rise and the music begins; you will see the naches on my face as I grin from ear to ear for both acts. While my littles perform, with the littles of others and the bigs of the Ukraine, my world is just about perfect.

 

 

 

 

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Sisterhood / Shvesters

Sis 1

As two moms with two girls, sisterhood is an important topic in our household. I watch Little and Big as they play, fight, hug, quarrel, dance, bicker, collaborate, mimic, accidentally draw blood, purposefully love, and magical things happen inside my heart. Things I never thought I could possibly know or understand until mommyhood happened. I think about my relationship with my sister, where I am Little and she is Big, and my heart fills with delight, love and naches from childhood through to present day.

 

The two things I can proudly give my mom credit for, and were drilled into my head as a wee one: (1) Shvesters should always love and protect each other, (2) Education is very, very important.

 

My sister is almost four years older than me and we were pretty, pretty, pretty (say as Larry David would) opposite as kids go. I now fondly recall episodes of our lives that were endearing, loving, and truthfully, downright frightening. Like the time where I was forced to sing Michelle ma belle (yes, from the Beatles) to a visitor of our neighbors, so that he would show us his wooden leg. I did, and he did. My Big was pleased and I didn’t get beat up. Win-win.

 

Another time, didn’t work out so well. I don’t even remember the request, but the outcome left fresh bicycle treads over my stomach. Yep, she rode her two-wheeler right over top of me! Crushed my kishkas for no reason that comes to memory.

Sis 3

I learned early that being a tattletale would not work out well for me. The damages that would ensue from Big were not worth the punishment she would get from my role as informant.

 

When she was old enough to be in charge, rather than the secret sheriff that had ruleSis 2, we would pleasantly smile as my parents left the house for a Saturday night on the town. As I heard the door keys lock, I would run like the wind to my bedroom and lock the door. Safety.

 

And there were times where her kindness shone so bright. Like when she put her arm around me at the funeral of my Nanny during high school, and assured me we would be okay. I still remember that touch, as if it were yesterday. Her assurance so genuine, I had to believe.

 

Being 4 years apart was tough. We had different friends, different ideas of fun, and a totally different way of being on the planet. She was rebellious, athletic, attractive, funny and smart. Big ‘leaned in’ well before Sheryl Sandberg’s bestseller. I was quiet (I’m fairly certain I did not speak until my thirties), absorbing, zaftig, nerdy (before nerdy was cool), smart and artistic. In my teens I had an uncanny resemblance to a young River Phoenix. Not necessarily a good thing for a young girl, but you get what you get and make do.

Sis 5

I can vividly recall a time in our kitchen, where Big caused some sort of major upset to our mother and received an abrupt, hard, right-handed slap in the face. With the chutzpah Big carried so well, she slapped our mom right back, turned, and left the room. Stunning. It was the kind of scene that happened on Dynasty between rival matriarchs, Linda Evans and Joan Collins. That made for an interesting evening when Daddy came home. I stayed the keen observer in the family, silent and soaking it all in, being ever the good girl.

 

I always knew my sister was a wonderful person, even as a young, bruised and tattered nudnik of a kid. She had tons of friends, fans and energy. She knew how to have fun, seek support from outside and had fearlessness worthy of applause. She would sneak out at night when the parents were long asleep, and I would let her back in when I heard the slight tap on my bedroom window. All unspoken. I quite envied her brazen qualities. My role was to keeper of the peace. Dangerous in a very different way and worthy of posts yet to come.

 

Suffice to say, our differences growing up left for not much getting along. “Shvesters, Shvesters,” was always cried in the background. I remember when she left for college. I thought my black-and-blue arms were up for some relief and the drama in the house would calm. One day, my parents awarded me with plane tickets to spend the weekend with her at college. Shvesters…surely this couldn’t be true? Why couldn’t they foresee the outcome? Didn’t they know we had nothing in common? Could they see me schvitzing at the thought of this tsuris-ridden adventure? That I may be left at the airport until the plane ride home? Was this some form of punishment? What did I do to deserve such a fate?

 

And it was during that very weekend, when our relationship grew like the heart of the Grinch. I was welcomed. We talked. I was introduced to her friends. Parties. Fun. Shown a good time and treated as an equal, rather than a pesky sidekick related merely by blood. And it was from that day forward that our bond formed and grew.

Sis 4

Big went on to marry the man she met at college. He is a true mensch. They had two wonderful boys who are now magnificent young men. All four of them deepen my life, our lives, in ways that words cannot begin to touch. Despite all the mishegas that happened in our family, here are three words that I may not say very often, but surely ring true in this instance. When it comes to shvesters, “Mom was right.”

 

As I am writing this, my Little and Big waken and walk out, hand in hand. Being closer in age, friendship comes easy. They are playmates by birthright. My heart does the love dance at the sight of them. They politely ask for one TV show, and then run off to play in their room when the show ends. The joy they see in each other is spectacular. Big cares for Little like a wannabe mom. Little provokes, cajoles, cavorts and acts ever the clown. Together they dance the Nutcracker, invent games and tinker. And they do fight. No candy-coating here. But a good 98% of the time, they are shvesters and this is one happy mishpocheh.

 

This post is for my shvester, Aud-o, Steve-o, Ben and Max. And my hope is that my Little and Big can keep as wonderful a love as my sister and I hold dear.

 

I am one lucky sister.
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What a night for a good dream

dream 2
What a night for a good dream
a good night to work out my shit
I’ve been rollin’ in tsuris
I think my subconsciousness can handle it
And even if daytime’s been hard to toll
It’s one of those nights to tuck in and roll
close the lids and let the movie begin
figure it out and try rememberin’
Dream 1
I was havin’ a good dream
dreamt for all four hours of eve
the mishegas was all solved for
Mazel Tov’s were handed out to me
And even if days have had my kishkas in knots
at least at night I don’t have to plotz
I’m less ferklempt and more a yiddisher kop
The dreck is gone, no pain and have a pug pup
(whistling interlude)
And I can be sure that if I dream a bit
this alte kocker can be an alrightnick
My bubela’s won’t be screamin’, “Oy vey!”
we’ll get by yet another day
dream 3
What a night for a good dream
the dreck is one and we’re all okay
our problems are bubkes
we can shmooze and sing and play all day
(whistling interlude)
special thanks to the Lovin’ Spoonfuls and for the ability to somehow
channel my inner Aunt Frieda

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linky 2-5-16
TY linky 2-5-16

The Post Do-Over Days

The days that follow a ‘do-over’ hold unnecessary stress for all of the family. The pain gonif strikes on its own schedule. Azoy. Time was carved out and stolen. It does not come back easily. We stay cautiously optimistic, not knowing when the thief returns…

Sunday 2

“Mommy, are you better?” Four little words. Oh how to answer these sweet little faces. Super Mommy powers to the rescue. Grab your land legs, “Of course sweeties!”Sunday 3

Little, Big, Ema and me need some fun.

A nice day. Crisp, autumn air.

A babbling brook. Discoveries abound.

Crunching leaves underfoot. Running over bridges.

Peeping in windows. Making believe. Making it real.

Bumping into fellow Miquon tots.

Sunday 1Jumping across the creek rocks. Slipping into the cold water.

Oops! Giggling, then freezing. No fear here.

A time like no other.

Beautifully, fantastically brought to you by mother earth.

Guilt free. Gelt free. Frugally fantastic.

What’s not to love?

Little, Big, Ema and I had fun.

Hey pain, “Gay kocken affin yom!

 

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