Yiddisheh Momma Feels the Christmas Magic!

This is the emmes truth ( I swear, this is true… poo-poo). On the days leading into the Nutcracker performances, I did not know if my little family was going to make it. My Mrs., she had been schlepping (hauling @ss all over creation, the maideleh’s (our sweet girls) all over the place. Dress rehearsal here, performances there… Were the bags packed? Did they have their ballet shoes? What about the special red ones? Extra tights? Hair bag? Makeup? Snacks? Water? Oh, the waterworks… tears flowed like geysers. Moses, he would have had some rough time if he had to part our personal familial ocean… He was the guy who parted the red sea, right? The stress. Tension. Where on earth were my frailech kinder (light and joyful children)? I couldn’t wait for them to leave already.  We were all a mess. Insanity alone, it would have been a welcomed friend to this meshuggah (crazy) way of living.

From top left, Little getting ready before the show, soldiers, those damned bobby pins, dancer for the Chinese segment

When they finally left (I’m sorry, I love you all to the moon and back), I grabbed my boychik, Gatsby, cuddled him tightly in a fetal position on our sofa, and burst into tears. Tidal waves. Tsunamis. Remember Holly Hunter in, Broadcast News? That was me. Scheduled, routine, bawling and blubbering. A total, inescapable breakdown.

Some 15 odd minutes later, I dried my prolific puddle and looked around our fairly new home. WTF? We weren’t robbed. We weren’t tossed by the feds? We’ve been ‘Nutcracker-ed.’ A bare refrigerator and laundry taller than me which is not saying much, I suppose. Tchaikovsky had no idea when he created his masterful score that one day, my life would be farshtunkeneh (a crazed, chaotic mess).

Nu? In times of stress, this momma vacuums. It’s not wine, and certainly, it’s not chocolate. There is no glamour, but it is aerobic, efficient and usually very necessary. Just ask my Mrs. She has even found me vacuuming outdoors nope, not a shop vac to be found on multiple occasion(s). On, in, or around our sofa alone, I found, recovered, hoovered, at a minimum, 3,497 bobby pins. Yes, I counted. Really. Heading toward the loo, another 317. Stairs? Don’t ask. If these pins had value, I would be swimming in riches! Dancers need (hair) buns. Ergo, the bobby pin glut.

Many hours later, and after a necessary shower, I was ready to leave for the show. Our house, me, I had regained some small sense of order. The Mrs. reported that the kinder, they had a great dress rehearsal. Then all the ballerinas and their respective tightly wound caregivers went out for burrito bowls from Chipotle to nourish their dancin’ feet.

From left, Big as Nutcracker doll, party girl, getting ready for the Russian dance, $#@! bobby pins…

I did my mandatory voluntary ushing job and then made my way in the dark to our seats. My heart, beating to the Dum-da-da-dum-dum, dum-dum-dum of the music. Before long, my face would hurt from smiling. This may be my purest form of kvelling (boasting and gushing) Big, she comes out on stage first with two other dancing, party girls, friends. Her smile, lichticheh (lit-up, radiant) She is so frailecheh (happy) on stage, in costume and dancing. She is free as a bird. 

Little, she marches out in her group.  They are soldiers who fight the dreaded mice. I make a note to talk to the head of the dance school about the guns; Oh, and I verbalized it a bissel (little). I mean, right?

She looks out at the audience and makes a smirk like only she can. I laugh out loud and radiate happiness okay, so that was a hot flash. She puts up quite a fight with her dancing mouse partner. That’s a shana punim (beautiful face) with a simper no less.

Big, aside from a party girl, she is also the Nutcracker doll and a dancer in the Russian scene.

These sweet kinder, they have been practicing since September. They are dancing alongside professionals — The Donetsk Ballet, from Ukraine. Folg mikh a gayng! That’s no small task! Someone pinch me already!

It’s a week later, and I am still hearing Tchaikovsky music. I can still see every move my maideleh’s (sweet babies) made on the stage(s). I can be found smiling, beaming with full on myofascial pain — practically lockjaw.

Oh, this Yiddisheh momma is feeling the Christmas spirit like never before. Wishing all of you who celebrate, a very, Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year. Nachas (joy from others accomplishments, like your dancing kinder) and mitzvahs for all and to all a good night!

Yiddish Proverb:

When you teach your daughter, you teach your daughter’s daughter. Ven ir lernen deyn tokhter, ir lernen deyn tokhter tokhter.

Zie gezunt! Be in good health.

 

Some great folks I like to share with….

On the first night of…

On the eighth crazy night, when the Menorah was ablaze with the miracle of Hanukkah… Oy, we should only make it to the eighth night! Nu, at least they make good birthday candles too.

On the first night of Hanukkah, my kinder, they said to me, “When will we go get our Christmas tree?”

On the second night of Hanukkah, the maideleh’s, they asked for Santa, so I asked my Mrs.,  “Please! Pass me more Mylanta?”

On the third night of Hanukkah, this came from the mouth of my Little, “What’s with those latkes burning on the griddle?”

On the fourth night of Hanukkah, Big, she said outright, “This is what happens for eight crazy nights?

By the fifth night of Hanukkah, the menorah was buried on the shelf. Mensch on the Bench has nothing over that meshuggeneh elf!

By the sixth night of Hanukkah, we did homework and gai schluffin; the mention of dreidel sent the kinder a-runnin’

By the seventh night of Hanukkah, our Christmas stockings were all lined up. Hanukkah, jeez… why am I dreying my kup?

By the eighth night of Hanukkah, clearly not going as planned. Us Jews, we must schmooze and do a total re-brand.

So for all who may attempt the menorah with delight, have fun, nosh on latkes, and to all a good night.

Yiddish proverb:

If grandma had a beard, she would be grandpa. Oyb di bobe volt gehat a bord, volt zi geven a zeyde.

That’s Hanukkah in a Christmas world. All is good.

A bei gezunt! In good health!

Some great folks I like to share with…

Invisibility

Yiddish Proverb:

How many will listen to the truth when you tell them? Vi file veln hern tsu dem ams ven ir zogn zey?

Truth time.

My Mrs. and me, we did not meet at a book club. Yes, we read To Kill A Mockingbird by Harper Lee, and yes, we loved it (in fact this is a book everyone should read, especially today). We even convinced our friends to name their first daughter Scout, and our first pug was named Atticus Finch. If at some point in our lifetime together, we told you that this is how we met, I am sorry. We weren’t quite healthy enough to speak our truth. Thankfully, we are now well over the stigma and only want to help where we can.

Here is our real story: About one million years ago, or at least a couple or so decades ago, we both arrived at our first meeting for women with eating disorders. We were at one of the very top treatment centers, The Renfrew Center, in the suburbs of Philadelphia. As the young therapist unlocked the door and turned on the lights, not one of us in the group made eye contact. We scuttled about uncomfortably searching for a seat that could somehow feel safe. Everyone stared at the floor. No one made a sound. Occasionally, one could hear a belly growl or the sounds of digestion. If pins were to drop, we would have heard them. And after what felt like hours of bone-chilling silence at a call for introductions, the person who is now my Mrs., she said, “Oh, okay. I’ll go first.” 

Slowly, painfully, we made our way around the room. Not one of us admitted sickness. Not one of us ‘needed’ to be there. The very long, often unbearable road to health and wellness had begun. 

You might say, Lisalah, why now? Why are you telling us this? The answer, as always, is in the eyes of my Big and my Little. We want desperately for them to hold on to the joys of childhood and develop a strong foundation of self-confidence, self-worth, and self-esteem. We are trying to raise our maidelehs (sweet girls) to be brave and mighty, rebel girls as they grow up in this harsh, misogynistic world. We also want them to become women who have a healthy relationship with food. Imagine that! Eating, breaking bread, a nice nosh, all such an important part of our life in terms of sustenance, social interaction, nurturing, and sensuality.

To the caregivers of all of the beautiful kinder that are out there, please know that children, they have ears that hear what you, relatives, friends, teachers, coaches, say, even whisper. With social media, unhealthy messages are persistent for vulnerable children and adults. Know, be on the lookout, be prepared. Catch it early. Eating disorders are one of the mental illnesses that have a 20% mortality rate. That is too high. I vividly remember that day in 1983 when Karen Carpenter lost her battle to anorexia nervosa. Understand that you have an ally in me. No stigma. No judgment.

Today in America, over 30 million people of all ages and genders are suffering from an eating disorder. Suffering — that is a kind word for it. As a person in full recovery, this stat, which is on the rise, makes me so profoundly sad. I know the loneliness and sorrow that fills their people-pleasing, loving hearts and souls. I know the pain and overwhelming lack of self-worth that comes from seeking invisibility first hand.

I write about this today for three reasons:

First, so many people, caregivers, parents, and patients all, live in denial. It’s easy to look away, and say, “Nope, not me.” “Not my kid.” “They’ll grow out of this.” If you suspect your child has an eating disorder, learn about eating disorders. Educate yourself to what may be ahead. Talk to your child openly with compassion and empathy. Listen. Love. DO NOT make your talk about appearance. If you say something like, “…you are nothing but skin and bones…” you can easily validate that they are on the right path. This disease, and it is a disease, affects the mind too. Emphasize to them that it is not their fault.

Second, the holidays are fast approaching. Group meals, big meals, family gatherings will feel threatening, frightening to the eating disordered person. They will avoid it at all costs. They will feign sickness, volunteer, say they are eating with friends, all in an effort to avoid the Festivus you are so eagerly awaiting.

Third, you must act compassionately and quickly. Your silence can be deadly. My eating disorder was a cry for help, screaming as loudly as I could scream — a young woman with no voice.

Here are some important things to look for in your child/friend/neighbor:

  • Any weight changes, up or down
  • Differences in eating patterns, like avoiding family meals, or an inability to eat with others
  • Pushing food around the plate; excessive use of condiments; you may even notice the family pet gaining weight
  • New dietary regimes like vegetarianism; fear of certain foods, obsessions with other foods
  • A dramatic increase in physical activity and exercise
  • Going to the bathroom immediately after a meal; spending a long time in the bathroom
  • Missing food that may be hidden away for another time, or eaten when alone
  • Mood and social activity changes
  • Distorted sense of body image; wearing big or baggy clothing
  • Thinning or brittle hair
  • Digestion or bowel issues
  • Abnormal blood counts
  • Low blood pressure
  • Dehydration
  • Insomnia
  • Tooth and gum problems (often times the dentist is the first to notice)
  • Fine hair growth over the body

If you see these symptoms in your kinder, offer your compassionate heart. Be a loving, nurturing part of the journey. The causes of eating disorders, as the layers of an onion, are so complex. Genetics, environmental, psychological and cultural issues all come into play. Emphasis on diet, looks and body shape only add to the dangerous mix of complex behavioral issues lurking in our society.

I had an eating disorder from the age of thirteen. I sought help, at 32. A lot of damage was done in between those years. It was an excruciating battle to overcome what I believed was ‘my very best friend.’ No number on the scale ever offered satisfaction. Tied in with anorexia, as it oftentimes is, was a major depression. I desperately wanted my outline to get smaller, lighter until it, until I, disappeared. Nothing less than that would be deemed a success.

I had an ‘entire team of people’ trying to help me, help myself. I had a therapist, medical doctor, nutritionist, and psychiatrist, all specializing in my illness. I even spent several months outpatient at a clinic. I called it ‘food camp’ and ‘my unfortunate incarceration.’ At 35, I had to re-learn how to feed myself. When I had to use the bathroom, I had to leave the door wide open and sing the entire time I was in there.

I had never really tasted a food, any food until I was 40. Yes, you read that correctly! The Mrs., and me, we went on a bike trip through Tuscany. We were both finally healthy and happy — new foods and flavors danced in my mouth in a way I had never experienced. Nu? So this is what people have been talking about?

Over time, a great deal of damage has been done to my body. I have had multiple painful gum surgeries to stop the gum recession in my mouth from acid reflux caused by not eating and from throwing up. Too much diet soda led to kidney stones. Malnutrition and missing periods for years at a time led to infertility and brought on early osteopenia and osteoporosis. I even have bone loss in my mouth and jaw.

I am so very grateful I figured out, with a great deal of help, that I was worth the fight. We are proof that this awful disease can be overcome successfully.

Yiddish Proverb:

Love is sweet but it’s nice to have bread with it. Lib iz zis ober es iz feyn tsu hobn broyt mit im.

 

 

 

Happy New Year, from the Jewish Atheist!

The Jewish Holidays… whenever the kinder (kids) ask about them, usually, historically, the answer is, “Some group of people hated us [Jews], so we ran, and through some miraculous, super-hero-like mumbo-jumbo maneuvers, we made it, we survived, and so, we ate!” Ess a bissel. Eat a little! Nu? Jewish history in a nutshell.

Please know if you are new to this site, or even if you are a regular I love you both I may throw in some beautiful, robust Yiddish language to better turn a phrase, and yes, I was raised Jewish, I do have serious doubts about all organized religion the man behind the curtain, and tend to live more on the side of humanism. But this is not the slippery slope we are headed down on this day. Don’t get me started…

L’Shana Tova. Rosh Hashana. Happy New Year! This, I can revel in! For Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur, is a time of reflection usually with a nice brisket, some noodle kugel, and apples, all drenched in the sweetness of honey, creativity, thoughtfulness, and questioning about any and every thing around. Well, that is just another day around here. This is behavior (hopefully) we all do every day, as people on this planet. This process of inquiry and self-examination is what goes on in my head each night as I lay in bed, thinking over the day, and listening to the soft hum of the maideleh’s gay shluffen (sweet girls sleeping). 

No question, I’ve been reflective, and that reflection quite coincidentally has led up to this holiday, this New Year.  Tsuris (troubles)? We all have our fair share. Time? We are all racing against the clock of inevitability. Some days the tick-tock is louder than others. Some days, it is rather deafening.

Yiddish Proverb:

In a quarrel, leave the door open for reconciliation. Az da krigst zikh, krig zikh azoi du zolst zikh kennen iberbeten.

I am an adult most, well, a good majority of the time and I am in control of my thoughts, my behaviors, my actions. So, to continue in my daily efforts to lead a life of compassion, empathy, and mindfulness, and to raise good kinder who are always listening, always watching and learning, I made a very big move to change things. To heal.

Hi Mom and Dad,
It’s been a long time, and I want you both to know that I have been thinking about you and hope you are well. Today’s world is filled with so much chaos – thought perhaps we could all use a little peace. Peace is good.
xo
L
And I hit send. In a very short time after, I received this:
Dear Lisa,   We too have been thinking about you on a daily basis for a long time.  Mom got up this morning and told me she had a dream about you last night. She does not remember the dream-all she remembers is she hugged you.  Yes, it has been too long. Let’s not waste any more precious time. We love you.  Mom and Dad
The ganseh mishpocheh (the whole family) has grown. The gift of nachas (joy). ❤
Yiddish Proverb:
When things go right, you become rich. Ven es gait gleich, vert men reich.
A bie gezunt. As long as you’re healthy… And, go call your mother!

The puzzle that is time

Where does the time go… 24/7 is our new normal? Oy, fraig nisht (don’t ask). Eighty-one years is the average age of life on this planet in the U.S. its probably much less with mrt at the helm to live. If you’re a man, you get an average of 78.7 years. How many heartbeats? How do we spend our time? What makes us happy? What constitutes a life well lived? These answers change from person to person, and I have been doing a lot of mulling this over of late. So much so, my head hurts (se tit meer vay der kop).

Everyone’s road is different. Life, it is filled with zillions of invisible tugs of war, pulling and tugging at us — some good, some not so much. Sometimes we fly through tsuris (trouble) with ease, other times, we need more agility — extra adeptness, newfound compassion, empathy.

Can we get balance among the commotion? When do we know what feels good and what hurts, pains us? What about ethics, morals, values, pain, conflict, money, love, empathy, gratitude, compassion…is there a pattern? There is no manual, I do know that…

If our time is finite, we probably should handle it with care. Even when our email is full and voicemail is no longer accepting messages If our energy is fixed, we should do our best to expend it wisely. If we crave healing, we should actively seek restoration. If we desire love, let the heart sing. Can we afford to bargain at this table? I don’t think so… and yet I know I have danced along the ledge. I was young, pained, not yet so wise… So what? (Iz nu?) 

Tseitn derlaibt! Oh, the times we have lived to see! 

May there be many more tomorrows for us all…

Shvesters

My recipe (note, I’m no cook!):

  • Do work that is meaningful
  • Follow your heart
  • Always, always, always, be kind to others
  • Live out loud

 

Are you living your life well?  It’s never too late to change things up a bit. Tell me how you do it?

 

The week that was… different

Spring break and we have been counting the days to our trip to see my mishpocheh (family). We’ve had four Nor’easters in 3 weeks, snow up to my tuchas (tush, derriere) and all too much tsuris (troubles, stress, woe) filling our minds. The thought of 80-degree weather, sunshine, swimming, and laughing my ass off with my shvester (sister) until we literally wet ourselves was naturally the stuff of dreams… like unicorns, L.O.L surprise dolls, and glitter falling from the sky. And the kinder (my girls), they love seeing their Aunt, Uncle, and Cousins more than anything!

A blast from the past! From the top, schvoger, shvester, me, little, big

T minus two days, and the fever, she burns through my Little. A temperature of almost 104She had complained of a tummy ache, and like all good Jewish-atheist momma’s, I told her to sit on the potty. She has had so much junk food of late, a good poo would be a relief like it would for all of us. She tried, my madelah (sweet girl). We watch The Greatest Showman on the telly.

This is my magical cocktail, keeping me safe. TY Ilaria! Notice how my cup is marked — no sharing with the sickies — my glass, half-full

T minus one day, fever sticking around like gum underneath the table in a diner. Lethargy and skin as pale as fine porcelain said porcelain will play a role very soon. We plan, we pack, we share the news of germs and we try to stay positive. We watch The Greatest Showman, then we snuggle off to bed, my Little wrapped tightly in my arms. A few tired hours pass and we all awaken to a fountain of vomit. Nothing really says love more than getting thrown up on, and only worrying about the helpless, unhappy, scared little patient in your arms. We clean her up. Big, she helps us to change the sheets and blankets. The Mrs. presses the ‘sanitize’ button on the wash cycle.

There is a strange calm in the air, with a scent none too pleasant. Little, she fell fast and hard to sleep, again tucked close by my side. I could hear the soft crying moans from Big, realizing that we wouldn’t be taking that big ol’ jet airliner in a few hours time. Tears roll down my cheeks, silently. At 4 am I text my shvester, our friend who was to stay with Gatsby. We are a no go. Ix-nay on this oliday-hay.

Has the world ended? No. Are we grateful that we only have a petite passing pathogen that will eventually vanish? Of course. Are we all desperately disappointed? Big time.

Day of. I let all three of my girls sleep. I promise my Big that we will find a way to make it fun. That we will take turns taking her out of the sickly house and have some well-earned fun. I speak several times with my mishpocheh. My schvoger (bro-in-law), he punches frantically in the keyboard to see if we can squeeze out different dates of travel, salvage our trip. We have teary-eyed FaceTime calls. So many plans they had in store for us! Vey iz mir. (oh my effing G). 

Gatsby, so happy

Little, she cries for my Mrs. to stay with her, so Big and I make our way into the world. We have a nice nosh (little something to eat) at Starbucks. And head to the movies in a gray, teary day. We see A Wrinkle In Time. The woman at the ticket sales booth is 803 years old if she is a minute. In the past, she has given me the senior rate, to my dismay. Today, she again rings us up, 1 senior, 1 child. I feel the dark cloud above, rather than reveling in the 8 dollar savings. f*ck it and enjoy the show with your daughter

We had a lovely afternoon and decided Little, she would have been afraid in this movie. We bring home a vast array of popsicles (they used to call them poppa-sicles) for the sick one, in hopes of getting her to eat/drink. We learn of the day spent in (and close to) the porcelain seat, now the excrement exodus from the southern region. Oy. This reaffirms our tough decision. We watch The Greatest Showman. 

Little finally wakes up with no fever and no symptoms. We convince her of just one more day indoors. The 24 hour, fever free rule — to keep the rest of humanity safe.

photo by my Mrs., hair by my Little

Her hair has begun to form dreadlocks. We all fear the brushing of that mop. The Mrs., she starts round one, and Big, me and Gatsby head out the door to explore our new ‘hood. We walk for an hour, in hopes of better hair days. We have such a good time! Gatsby is loving the spring and leaving pee-mail messaging around for all his new friends.

We open the front door to a geshrei (shriek, loud, unearthly Jamie Lee Curtis in Halloween cry). At least another hour goes by, and I am summoned so Big can get out’a dodge with the Mrs. Armed with a brush, conditioner, and really bad TV, I sit with my muse. It will be 4:45pm before I claim victory. Her head, like a BP oil spill, finally combs through. We did it.

Later that night, we watch The Greatest Showman. Who knew our spring break, our circus, would also be our groundhog day. Aud-o, Steve-o, Max, Vic, we love and miss you all so much.

Yiddish Proverb:

A mensch tracht un Got lacht. Man plans and God laughs.

 

From The Greatest Showman:

‘Cause we’re dreaming with our eyes wide open.

So come alive!

And of course, a bei gesunt. As long as you’re healthy! Stop by tonight! The Greatest Showman, 8pm.

That’s it. Period.

Guess what… this a not a political rant or a thumbs down to the tsuris (troubles) our world is facing due to mrt kind of passive aggressive of me, eh?. This is a girls story. My Big, she is growing up. Born not ten minutes ago, yet my shana maideleh (sweet little girl) is soon to enter double digits. She is gaining wisdom, confidence, curiosity and her own personal identity, wrapped in a blanket of kindness and love. Oy, here I am kvelling (enthusiastically bursting with love and pride), again…

Big and Little, so grown up!

I should probably show a Georgia O’Keefe painting right about now because I am going there… Periods. Girls are getting them. There is chatter. We have chatted. And we are doing everything we can to keep it positive, normal and free of shame as we begin to prepare for this milestone gallstone kidney stone. She’s got two moms — this should be a walk in the park for us, right?

But I gotta say, she just learned to ride a bicycle. Am I ready for the menstrual cycle?

Which of course got me thinking about my own very strange, first-period experience. It was the Saturday of labor day weekend, 1976 and I was thirteen. We lived in south Florida and it was hotter than hell in a sauna on those particular September days. School had begun in August and I had welcomed the 3 days off. The Jerry Lewis Labor Day Telethon played on every TV in our house. I went to pee, and there it was – the small red blot. It was more of a dot than a blot. Definitely a dot. I was rattled I wanted to write, ‘mortified’ but you’ll soon see, my father’s name is Morty. Some of my friends had already gotten their periods, so I knew time was not on my side. I read Judy Blume’s, Are you there God, It’s me, Margaret, a few times by now.  I just did not want it to happen. Gay avek (get lost, go away)!

So I very inconspicuously left that bathroom, and quietly went into my room with Buttons, our poodle, and my closest confidant. I closed the door and sat on the floor quickly putting my legs up on my bed. I went vertical, in what I now know was a yogic shoulder stand. I was upside down. Dammit, I was going to send this period back where it came from… Surely if I stayed this way, there was no way for the ‘flow’ of Aunt Flo to wind its way, well, down. Why had no one else tried this? I was brilliant! Buttons agreed.

Day 1: After the initial spatter, I was fine. Feeling positive that I had this entire situation well under control, laughing with Jerry Lewis. Buttons, she was just happy we were staying in the air conditioning. Day 2: Coasting. Not even Dexter could find any blood spatter. I stayed on the phone, watched the telethon, Buttons at my upside-down, side. Day 3: WTF What happened to physics? How could this happen to me? I was in a shoulder stand for three solid days! I was as invested in this endeavor as Jerry was in raising money. I had to do something. I had to call my mom… Ugh!

They were at the tennis club. This was all pre-smartphones. I picked up my princess phone and dialed the club. Max, who manned the front desk and was 90-years-old if he was a minute, answered the phone. He paged my mom. Yes, called her by name over the loudspeaker and told her she had a call. Kill me now, before she picks up. A bolt of lightning. Divine intervention. Thankfully her doubles match was over and I wasn’t too much of a burden. I told her I didn’t feel so good and could she please come home. That was all I said.

Inside Red Canna, 1919 Georgia O’Keefe (c). I had to put it in…

Instantly, she screamed across the entire restaurant, “Morty! Lisala got her period! Let’s go!” They came home, my father teased me incessantly and my mother handed me a futon-sized bedroll and called it a maxi pad. She said, “You know everything, right?” I mumbled, “of course I do” and slinked, head down, in shame, into the bathroom where this nightmare began. She added, “Be careful of the sheets at night, from behind the locked bathroom door.

Later, on that dreadful night, they took me out to dinner an alleged celebration at The Rascal House where they embarrassed me by telling everyone in line, the waitress, the guy who brought the pickles, the other guy who cleared the dishes, the cashier, that I just got my period. Wasn’t it bad enough that everyone could tell I had a mattress between my legs? I prayed for invisibility well before Harry Potter had the cloak.

Needless to say, things got way worse before they ever got better, and there will be more stories, to share, I am sure. And I never wore white pants again.

Who doesn’t love a nice carousel ride

Last week, I was invited with my Big to go with her to Diana Circle. It’s like the happy, hippy, feminist version of Girl Scouts no judgment here, no cookies to sell either. They are an empowering, safe, and inclusive group that celebrates modern young girls as they experience their own, unique rites of passage. In a world filled with mixed messages, misogyny, double standards, a stunning amount of sexual harassment, and thankfully, oceans of #strongwomen in #pinkpussyhats marching the earth, I am so very grateful to Tara R. and her spiritual girl-guidance. She helps us to help our kinder (kids) embrace life, take the bullshit by the horns and grow up to be strong, healthy, and proud women.

At the previous gathering, one of the older girls got her first period and she was celebrated in a beautiful and moving way. The Mrs. and me, we are trying our very best to do right by our kinder. May they never be shamed for their bodies or their natural bodily functions. May they embrace the challenges of growing up as their uniquely beautiful selves free from adolescent misery and filled with love, connectedness, and honesty. A way I never knew was possible until a decade or so of therapy.

And friends, I leave you with this Yiddish Proverb:

No one knows whose shoe pinches except the person who walks in it. Keyner veys nit vemen der shuckh kvetsht, nor der vos geyt in im.

Nu? What’s your first-period story? Share with us and we all become a bissel (little) closer. Here’s to #mightygirls becoming #strongwomen!

      

      

      

Eat a little, ess a bissel!

Normally, I say to my Gatsby, “Ess a bissel eppis, tatelleh,” (eat a little something, my darling boy. Then I feed him his 5,6,7 times a day nosh (meal). I always thought nothing is too good for my boy, until this happened! Oy vey…

Big is wrapping the injured hand of Millie, while our cute, but very guilty Gatsby, looks on… Millie, she smiles like all Wellie Wishers do!

Camille and Willa, American Girl Wellie Wishers, arrived from dear friends for Channukah for Big and Little. Nachas! (Joy!) Clearly, they love them! They take them everywhere and play with them non-stop. As a review, 10 stars out of 5! These dolls are a perfect size, easy to play with, less fear about ruining their well-coifed hairdo’s, and a lot lighter on the ‘wallet inflicted pain’ than their taller cohorts command. (This review is my own. I am not paid for my opinion. I should only, one day, be so lucky! Pooh, pooh)

One minute we are playing ‘Simon-says’, and the next minute, Camille (nick-named Millie) goes from 10-fingers-perfect to nine-OMG! One furry bruder (brother), guilty with his ‘jaws in the finger jar!’ Chicken bones are very nice, but the fresh, full-flavored fingers of a new Wellie doll, dee-lish! I look, I run, I scream, “DROP IT!” Out pops a very little, doll finger.

One minute we are playing ‘Simon-says’, and the next minute, Camille (nick-named Millie) goes from 10-fingers-perfect to nine-OMG! One furry bruder (brother), guilty with his ‘jaws in the finger jar!’ Actual size, less than 3/8 of an inch.

We recovered the damaged doll digit and somehow managed to save the injured soul of my Big, who did everything possible to successfully keep her emotions in check. I promised her I would soon perform a much-needed fingerectomy on dear Millie. I would reattach the pummeled pointer with the very best of my Jewish-doctor abilities. She knows I am a well-trained tinkerer, I fix things. I will make Millie whole.

Yiddish proverb:

When I am eating, everyone can go to hell! Ven ich ess, ch’ ob ich alles in dread.

Gatsby, he thinks, his only crime is getting caught! Lucky for him, he is so darned cute.

Caught, finger in mouth

Wishing everyone all the best the holiday season has to offer! Health, happiness, and prosperity! ❤

  

On Sunday it was summer

Without some outdoor play, they are both like vilda chayas (wild animals).

      

  

Busy, Shmizzy: Eat Together for a Better World

Folks, it’s time for a post update. We still fearlessly, tirelessly, endlessly march on, supping together in hopes of a higher purpose. Manners are hard to come by here at the Manor. This week I see that mac-n-cheese is still perceived and approached as finger food. Opposable thumbs do not impress our small humans. The Mrs., and me, our voices continue to make no sound at all to our giggly little, pierced ears who nosh (eat a little) during this very important nutritional act of derring-do. My glass, it stays half full yes, they spilled again, but I am using the metaphor now

and this is how we eat noodles
and this is how we eat noodles, in stereo with Cousin Max, at a restaurant no less, in public… Oy!

I’m always telling suggesting to the Mrs. about the importance of sitting down together to ess a bissel (eat a little). How we need to dine with the full mishpocheh (family). Studies by big machers (hot shots) like scholars and doctors all laud the big meal get together as the solution to practically all that plagues the planet (don’t get me started, oy vey iz mir).

Jointly sitting and supping brings benefits to the body, brain and overall ‘mini-mojo’ of our kinder (kids). A nice nosh (proper meal) together makes for little Epicureans that become ‘epi-curious’ eaters who will choose more fruits and veggies, and pick less fried foods and sugary beverages. If mealtime is conquered correctly, the consuming kinder (children) are less likely to kvell (be happy) over a ‘happy meal’ that is loaded with tasty toxins, added fats, oils and who the hell knows what other unsavory ingredients. They won’t hunger for the little tchotchkes (small, unnecessary plastic toys), that promote future gluttony and materialism. They will be less likely to become obese. That alone equals a healthier lifestyle with fewer illnesses. Kaynahorah (to ward off evils — like the big C, heart disease and stroke), all this magic with one familial sit down a day?

Wait! There’s more. Those same above-mentioned mavens add that clever conversation over a nice meal boosts vocabulary for our kinder (kids), which makes for stronger, happier readers. Nu? If you can survive manage regular family mealtimes as the kinder mature, higher test scores, better grades and overall academic performance are in your future.

Add an avocado to the meal, and you win top honors in Nobel nutrition.

Well, it is obvious that no maven of any sort has observed the goings on at our little corner of the dining room here at the Manor. The Mrs. and me, we do our best to offer nightly variations of healthy, overly expensive organic suppers while trying to stick to our frugalista rice and beans every night still ways. With you, I must be honest, dinners hock mier en chinikeh (drives me bat-shit crazy). Etiquette and decorum have left the building by this witching hour!

Things usually start smoothly. The girls, they clean up a bit and set the table when we beg, plead and bribe. They help bring out our food (beans and rice). We all sit, and the Mrs. and I, we ask open-ended questions like a job interview to try to get them to respond speak with us. They sit with their knees up, spread eagle (vey iz mir), and have clearly left their listening ears in the ‘OFF’ position. They seem to have their own form of communication that is specifically designed to exclude us. They use their fingers instead of utensils even for soup. In fact, just last night, I was prompted to wax eloquent on the beauty of our opposable thumbs and how they separate us from the animal kingdom in hopes they would just pick up a g-damned fork or a spoon and eat like humans.

Little, she has a tendency to lick random and incredibly disgusting things WTF. She gets up from the table an average of  267 times per meal. She may need more water, go use the bathroom, want something better to eat, have an undeniable urge to dance, jump on the trampoline, or simply incite an enormous giggle-fest with Big. And I won’t kid you when I say it, she ‘toots like a trumpeter’ at the table. My madelah (sweet little girl)!

Big, she started with the whole knees up posture. She may use a fork for a moment or two, then she will quickly resort to her more primal instincts and pick up everything with her fingers, especially condiments. She can tell a story or two during dinner, and get up to act it out, share via interpretive dance, or become totally taken in by the mishegas (craziness) of Little. This leaves the Mrs. and me sitting table-side for what must be days, weeks, months hours, getting all cobwebby, and stiff-jointed, waiting for her to finish the feast.

And mittendrinnen (in the middle of everything), Gatsby, will jump into any temporarily vacated seat, and make a quick and successful quest for any food sitting idle.

Gatsby, on the prowl
Gatsby, on the prowl

The shvesters (sisters) behavior has the Mrs. and me chugging the Apple Cider Vinegar (an excellent indigestion remedy) nightly, straight from the bottle. It’s a mitzvah (good deed) we don’t drink enough or at all!

Lo and behold, we will endure these rituals because we have put our trust in the big macher alrightniks (good people).

Charlotte, she will weave her nightly web around us. We make this sacrifice night after night with the promise that our girls will not engage in high-risk behaviors like smoking, drugs or sex ever, ever, ever. They won’t have depressed or suicidal thoughts. They will avoid bullies at school and online. They will be self-confident and self-loving and avoid eating disorders.

They will be strong, mighty girls who can lean in at any table. And they will have empathy and compassion, because each night, we do our best to make it through another make your own burrito bowl.

I wonder if there are any studies of what happens to us mom’s as we suffer go through this phase?

A bei gezunt (Live and be well).

 

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The Children’s Book I read often, as an Adult

Zen Shorts, By Jon J Muth

“Michael! There’s a bear outside!”  

Nu? Is this some opening line? The book, is Zen Shorts, by Jon J Muth. The bear, Stillwater, a giant panda that has appeared in the backyard of Karl, Michael, and Addy, much to Karl’s surprise. Stillwater (very Gatsby-esque) is wise, kind, and what I envision as an animal equivalent to the great Buddha. As the mensch (filled with wisdom and always takes the high road) of a Panda relates with each of kinder (children), a different and appropriate Zen tale is shared.

The first thing I love so much about this particular book is the illustrations. Beautifully simple, yet exquisite watercolor illustrations accompany each interaction of Stillwater and the kinder. The lighting and transparency of the moment in time displayed perfectly paints the puzzles and problems that we all, as humans on this very planet, face daily. Each Zen narrative Stillwater shares is shown with the stunning, yet elegant strokes of Japanese ink paintings. Re-examine your thoughts, habits, longings, ideas, and fears as this giant bear divvies out the possibility of new insight.

As Stillwater gifts each kinder (child) with an ancient anecdote (Zen meditation), I believe he strikes a chord that will resonate with all of us, and certainly touches me with every read.

To be clear, as I know it, Zen (literally, a Japanese word for meditation) is not a religion, faith or doctrine. It comes free of dogma and one need not believe in anything (kind of like this Yiddisheh mama) to practice, or even read this enchanting tale. It is so simple, that it is excruciatingly difficult for me to explain. One must throw away all thoughts of intellect to experience Zen. Sit quietly, free your mind and allow for your own self-discovery to begin. Zen is not at all about moral teachings; it is filled with how to think, and even more so, how not to think (turn off that cruel, inner voice. What voice? Exactly!).

Many a night I offer to read this book to my shana madalehs (sweet girls) in the hopes of passing along these freeing ism’s, especially today, in this world we inhabit. And just as often, I place this book in my backpack as I head off to work, to read again during a quiet nosh (nibbles of food) at lunchtime. It greatly helps me in resetting the disturbances of daily news alerts and chaotic headlines that incorporate ‘life as we now know it.’ 

I love and treasure this book.  I have gifted it to children of all ages.

Stillwater brings me solace, entertains my Little and my Big, and hopefully provides a foundation in ‘thought process’ that will help guide them through the mundane,  the shock-filled stories, and everything in between that composes the many stories of our lives.

As a disclaimer, no one has asked me to review this book. I was not paid or given a thing for this post. However, Stillwater has proven time and again, to be priceless. I simply wanted to share him with all of you.

Peaceful coexistence, Gatsby, and our Stillwater

Even for bad luck, one needs luck. Tsum shlimazel muz men oich mazel hoben.

This review is my own, I just wanted to share this very special book with you.  If you have something you would like me to review, just reach out! I am happy to help always.

 

      

      

    

When your Therapy Dog needs Therapy

Sit, my boy. Talk to me, bubbeleh (little darling one)

Anyone who regularly reads this space knows about Gatsby, our stunning rescue dog we adopted. He immediately filled our hearts with furry, snuggly, puppy love. Gatsby, he is a special being. While we rescued him, he certainly recaptured our ‘dog-loving’ hearts right back. He is our little boychik (sweet boy) who has brought us all such nachas (pride and gratification, usually through one’s kinder (children)) and expanded our family in a very healthy way.

He is the most amazing dog for us all… and, pretty early on, we realized our zeiseh punim (sweet faced) man suffered from terrible bouts of anxiety and tsuris (grief, heartache). He is a neurotic ‘Vincent van Gogh – Woody Allen – Adele’ wrapped inside (in our case) women’s best friend.  His early months on the planet had left him traumatized – and with no canine fidget spinners in sight, we experienced some tough behaviors together.  Horrible separation anxiety, excessive chewing, leash reactiveness at the sight of any dog or cat, over-zealous obsession (OCD) with squirrels, birds, noises, and lights in the parking lot… you name it, and he felt it! He was farshluggineh (shaken, mixed up) and a bit, well, meshuggeneh (crazy)

Did you hear that? I heard something… Did you hear that?

We tried training, and this boy, our four legged smarty pants, could sit, give a paw, high five and lie down (My Mrs., she homeschooled him)! We added in rescue remedy, a tight fitting ThunderShirt, DAP (dog appeasing pheromones), calming canine music, exhaustive walks – and bubkes (nothing), no change in our meshuggeneh (crazy) mutt.

Our therapy dog, he needs therapy. You all already know I’m a mess, ergo, I blog for catharsis! Now my boy, we need to help him! He is proof that stress and anxiety knows no discrimination: rich, poor, man, woman, old, young, sick, healthy, feline or canine!

I was beginning to think our little man of the house needed a little chemistry to help him along. All he wants to do is please us, yet he is plagued with such shpilkes (anxiety). Oy vey!

My Mrs., she took him to the vet to talk about this new wrinkle in his care. At first, they were a bit skeptical. Then they witnessed him going batshit bonkers over a painting of a dog on the wall. Next, it became difficult to take blood – his fur was flying at the thought of being at the vet’s office. He was shrekn (terrorized with fear) and the doc, she saw what we knew. She put a muzzle on my poor boychik’s face and carried on with the exam. We left with some Trazadone to calm him and a prescription for Prozac.

The Trazadone worked wonders. He would calm, without being at all lethargic. We needed this while the Prozac built up in his system. About a month in, he is doing much better. He still prefers we stay together (as do we) and never leave him behind. He still barks outside, but he is not inconsolable. We can deflect behaviors. Riding in the car is greatly improved.

Our glass is half full. Thank you momma’s – I feel so much better.

I share this with you all because, much like 2-legged people, sometimes our 4-legged friends need a little help. I did some research and found that about 30% of dogs exhibit some form of canine anxiety. Like any of my other kinder, we will do whatever it takes to take care of him. Our CVS fills the prescription with a pseudo-affordable generic. When his Rx is ready, they call out, “Gatsby!” Medication is not always the answer, but in our case, we are grateful for such a solution.

Not everyone the dogs bark at is a thief. Nit yederer oif vemen hunt bilen iz a ganev.

also:

Who finds a faithful friend, finds a treasure. Vas finds a gatray fraynd, finds a autsr.

We have found a treasure indeed!

      

      

    

 

What’s the difference?

Each and every one of us is beautifully different. That alone is worthy of celebration.

Bei mir bis du sheyn. To me you’re beautiful. 

      

     

Turns out, I’m insanely jealous

This Yiddisheh mama has a major confession to make. I’ve been holding this one in, so bear with me. It comes from a lifetime ago. You SAHM’s, like my Mrs., oh how I want to be you. Let me schmear (spread) some broad, sweeping caveats, loudly and clearly, that you, by far, have the single hardest job on the planet. 

Dem, ikh visn. This, I know.

You may find me to be the schmegeggy (doofus, idiot). Hours suck. Pay worse. Days are ongoing and relentless. Sleep? Vos iz dos? (What is that?) Tantrums, bickering, and ‘hangry’ (tired and hungry) whining. The driving, the traffic, the geshrei-ing (yelling).  There are enough scattered organic food scraps strewn across the car to easily feed a small city to enrage me. I am aware of the mistreatment and abuse you encounter. Selective deafness. Your voice sounds like the adults on any episode of Charlie Brown — Whaa whaa whaaa whaaaa whaaa… And, like the air they breathe, they take you for granted daily, hurling sweaters, trash, already-chewed gum, back-packs, boogers from their noses that they don’t ever pick, and whatever that was, that was stuck on the bottom of their boots at you on their way to play. Ewww. Disgusterous. The spills, messes, laundry, groceries and constant wardrobe changes. The lack of privacy and ‘me time.’ The lack of adult conversation. I feel your pain when a craft, carefully chosen with thoughtfulness and love, causes utter unhappiness, and you experience the ‘epic mom fail.’ Oy vey iz mir (OMG).

It’s this momma’s mishegas (craziness) for which I yearn. Who’s meshuggah (nuts) here? I know it’s me. I’m in awe of you and your daily sacrifices. I value you in ways society always overlooks. You have the charge of building little human beings that are kind and empathic in a world that is not.

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Oh the quotes I remember

Ich hob dir lieb! I love you!
Ich hob dir lieb! I love you!

You know, sometimes, forgetting, it’s a good thing. Not when you are searching your brain for a missing word mid-sentence, or for the name of the person quickly approaching with open arms. Then, it’s a little scary — am I already an Alta cocker (old fart) losing my marbles? Oy vey. Some memories, good or bad, come rushing back at you with a smell, a sound, a familiar face, a feeling in your gut (shpilkes), or reading a great post about a national movement to battle body image for young girls.

Please know , that this post was inspired by Allison at Mad House Mom. She wrote an amazing post, Be Real (istic) in early February that dislodged the floodgates that fed (that is some effing pun) my inner voice as a kid. Hell, this voice was feeding me well into my thirties before I started fighting back. Before I wanted to fight back. And it was some battle.

If you are a woman in this world, chances are pretty damned good that you have had a bout of feeling a bit ‘less than’ throughout your life. If you grew up as a people-pleasing perfectionist, that sponged up all the dysfunction in a family to make it all seem okay, well let’s just say, that really sucks that is meshugenah (crazy) making.

Having mr t in the big office, bragging about ‘grabbing women by their ‘pussies’ (this has happened to me) after popping a few tic-tac’s; suddenly earning 21.4 cents less per dollar isn’t your biggest worry. How do I parent and protect my girls, my babies from what can be a cruel world?

Here are just a few doozies that broke the damn dam for me:

“Both girls, they’re too fat. I’ll allow two cookies a year. One on Christmas, and one on Easter.”  Our pediatrician said this to my mother with my shvester (sister) and me in the room when I was 5, maybe 6 years old. The age of my Little. A doctor really said that in 1969.

“Lisa, come here. Look in the mirror with me. When you put your legs together, you should be able to see three perfect diamonds. This is a problem.” My mother, she brought me into her ‘dressing room’ in the summer of 1974. I was wearing my, “I’m Lisa. Fly me.” t-shirt. You baby-boomers may remember this overtly sexist campaign from Delta, that actually sold the allure of the flight attendants as an absurd, racy extension of the actual airline. I had on my favorite matching yellow shorts. I saw no diamonds in that room, wall-to-wall mirrors, showing every possible angle of ‘diamondlessness.’

1979, said to my parents by a person I had never met, as we stood in line at the Rascal House for dinner: “I had no idea you had another daughter, Morty? I only knew about your sports all star!” Then my mother interjected in a very faint whisper, after looking from side to side to make sure no one of stature was listening, Lisa likes to paint. She’s an artist.” Insert shame here.

Lisala, you're cheeks are a little chubby, no?
Lisala, you’re cheeks are a little chubby, no?

 “I apologize, my daughter is wearing her glasses today, and I just   don’t know why? Then under her breath, she looked directly at me and sneered, Why would you do this to me?”  Mom again.  We were meeting for dinner, maybe 1987-88? For the record, I was at least 25 years old, my glasses were brand spankin’ new and my eyes were irritated from a flight from Philadelphia to Miami earlier that day. She spent the rest of that evening with her back to me. Never once looking at me or speaking to me during the entire meal. 

“Don’t you ever share food with her again, she has cancer. You’ll catch it. When you go to the bathroom, in her house, don’t sit on the seat. In fact, try not to go at all.” 1986, mom again. We were  in NYC and I took a bite of dessert from my most favorite aunt   in the entire world. At this point, she should have been pleased   I took a bite of anything at all. I would go days at a time eating absolutely nothing. Seeking invisibility and gauging my worth  by the numbers on the scale.

“Lesbians, like Martina (Navratilova), have a genetic mutation, just like retarded people. That’s why she is gay. It’s the mutation.  And, she is obviously the man in the relationship.” This gem, also from my mother, was declared over dinner at the TGI Friday’s in the Princeton Market Fair, NJ. Circa 1992-ish. ‘Dear old dad’ went on to pontificate about how she (Martina) disgusted him, and he couldn’t even watch her play tennis. Don’t you worry Martina, I defended you from this incompetence.

These couple of quotes, just the tips of the iceberg that tried to sink me like the Titanic. My dear friends, don’t you for one second be sad for me. I am alive and well, living and loving a life free of toxicity. My Mrs. and me, we met at a group for women with eating disorders. Good luck / bad luck. We worked through our shit hard in therapy before having little ones.

We do our best and bend over backward to raise our shana maidelehs (sweet girls) with love, respect, and self-esteem in a world that tries too hard to steal it from them. They will never hear what I heard or be subject to the pernicious parental spiel (empty jabber, talk) that formed my invalidating inner voice.

We want for them to learn to love themselves first and foremost. To know they are loved by us, no matter who they are, what they do or how they look. They will understand the value of being a good person on the planet, helping others and living a life with empathy and a strong voice. They will learn how to take their space and own it. We will not let them succumb to the vile sexist and misogynistic messages of the media, or mr t. That the ‘P’ word (perfect) only sets you up to fail.

We want to build their house on a strong foundation, ready to weather the storms that blow in and out of our lives. Mighty girls become brave women.

I wish that I could have pain instead of you my child. Mir zol zayn far dir, mayn kind.

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UPDATE: The Rule of Kind

Silly shvesters
Silly shvesters

A Kinder Kinder 

I thought now a good time to provide you all with some good, hard data anecdotal evidence on how we are doing as a family, with our one, single, solitary family rule: BE KIND. Some of you may recall this inspired post meant to get our little mishpocheh (family) out from under the tiny terroristic grip of Big and Little’s mood swings, urges and tantrums and back to the matriarchal quasi-control of the mamelehs (me and the Mrs.).

It was mid-August. It was the best of times. It was the worst of times. We were feeling the worst of the heat, reeling from the weariness of endless pool days and we had hit the ceiling on late night movies. The kinderlech (kids) and the Mrs. had become nocturnal. By the time I joyfully strolled up the Manor steps after a hard days work, it was batshit crazy with a capital BAT all hell had broken loose. We had grown accustomed to our tsuris (troubles). It was pure mishegas (insanity and chaos).

Dos leben iz vi kinderhemdel—kurts un bash. Life is like a child’s undershirt—short and soiled.

Shvesters and goodies
Shvesters and sugar

Be Kind. How f@cking hard is that to do? I knew we could do it. I believed. The first coupla’ weeks were exhausting and awful filled with tears, apologies and repetition of our golden rule. Be Kind. Be Kind. Be Kind. Be Kind. Be Kind. Be Kind. Be Kind.

Siri, How long until something basic, simplistic, and all encompassing becomes a damned habit?

It’s a shondah (pity) how my Little and Big, such sweet little maidelahs (girls), put each other through fisticuffs, scuffles, scrapes and screeches. Glass shattering screams, pushes, slaps and hair pulling. (It’s almost as if they had watched old reruns of Dynasty from the ’80’s?) I cried me a river. So did the nextdoorikeh’s (neighbors).

Time went on, as it does. We stuck to our one rule. Be Kind. Be Kind. Be Kind. Be Kind. Be Kind. Be Kind. Be Kind. Patience. We had such effing patience! We were so very, very virtuous with all of our patience. And then, it started. 

  • Listening ears, they listened
  • We heard ‘Please’ and ‘Thank You’ fairly consistently
  • ‘I’m sorry’ flowed from their tiny little mouths appropriately and sincerely
  • Random acts of kindness happened without begging, yelling, nudging, cajoling any parental prodding
  • When Little ate all of her marshmallows before the hot chocolate was ready, Big happily handed her a handful of hers
  • When Big cried about not wanting to take a shower, Little volunteered to take one with her
  • They shared
  • If one was in need, the other helped
  • When one hurts, the other says, Vu tut dir vai (where does it hurt)?
  • If we said clean your room, they did it together

It was working. Be Kind. Be Kind. Be Kind. Slowly and steadily our kinder (children) began to treat each other as if we were not behind the walls of the Manor, but as if we were in public and on their best behavior! They began to give one another the benefit of the doubt. My little bubbelah’s (term of endearment) were becoming menches (good, respected people) to one another. Loving shvesters (sisters), friends.

Shvesters plotting
Shvesters plotting

Now, I do not for one minute want you to think that we are all hotsy-totsy and blissful over here. We still have plenty of our moments. We will always have work to do and we still can be kinder, gentler, nicer and more empathetic. But so far, dos gefelt mir (this pleases me) very much! I’m kvelling (oozing with pride)!

Be Kind. Zeit gezunt (Be healthy)!

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Bedtime, in 4 hours or less

It somehow energizes them...
It somehow energizes them…

I know, you’ve been thinking, Lisala, it’s been so long since you shared your parenting perceptions and insights. Sure, a nice rant, a beautiful pic, sweet tender mishpocheh (family) moments. Today, we revisit bedtime. How on earth do you get the kinder to gai shluffin (the kids to go to sleep)? Well my readers, I offer you our thoughtful child rearing insights, in the form of a song. Hum along if you like, to the tune of Let It Be, you know, by the Beatles:

 

When I find myself in need of slumber

Trying to act sensibly

The whole world feels chaotic, fretfully

Retiring Big and Little takes too long

I doze off first expectantly

The kinder, they’re nocturnal, devilry

Empathy, empathy

Empathy, come and see

What, like our bed is the only bed on earth?

Their own room is so beautiful; come and see

 

I wake up to the sound of squealing,

Maidelahs have taken all control

The Mrs. voice is loudly fuming, testily

I muster up some words of wisdom

Pleading with veracity

Yet my babble is not in sentences, regrettably

Remedy, remedy

Remedy, eventually

We need a two bedroom like we need a luch in kop (hole in the head)?

They’ll sleep in their own bedroom, eventually

 

My Mrs., she chortles at my jabber

The kinder loudly laugh and giggle

Reveling in my senseless banter, splendidly

Minutes have slowly ticked to hours

Empty threats thrown about with leniency

We’re a helpless parent fail, professedly

Sleeplessly, sleeplessly

Sleeplessly, hopefully

Other kids go the fuck to sleep without such a gantseh megillah (long drawn out story)

Tomorrow night will be so much better, hopefully

 

Sleeplessly, sleeplessly

Sleeplessly, hopefully

Other kids go the fuck to sleep without such a gantseh megillah (long drawn out story)

Tomorrow night will be so much better, hopefully

 

Well, you know what they say:

Der shlof iz der bester dokter. Sleep is the best doctor.

Is there a doctor in the house? Oy vey iz mir.

 

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Spinach!

This vision of real life is brought to you by Big. No spinach was injured (or eaten) during this display. Big, oh how I love you my bubbelah (sweet girl)!

Spinach! I don't like spinach!
Spinach! I don’t like spinach!
It's not fair!
It’s not fair!

*Es nisht di khale far a moitse. Don’t eat the challah before you’ve made the blessing. (*McKay and Gabe, this is for you!)

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Wordless Wednesdays: In the ‘hood

Slowwwww

Moo

clay

Baa

Dont grow up

friends shadow

Pinkberry

My goal...
My goal…I should only be so good!

Far kinder tsereist men a velt. For your children’s sake you would tear the world apart.

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The Rule of Kind

teeny, tiny terrorists disguised as dainty, delightful maidelehs (sweet little girls)
Do not be taken in by the glitter and glee. These are cute, covert, teeny, tiny terrorists disguised as dainty, delightful maidelehs (sweet little girls) that rob us of our sanity ❤

By midsummer, things were getting a bit unsteady around the Manor. When I’d get home from work, the Mrs., she would have ‘the look.’ You know the one. It’s mostly in the eyes, but her face, oy vey; it gets so ashen and screams of defeat. It’s as if her pupils’ turn into little waving white flags, I give! Uncle! Calgon, take me away!” (Note: if you are not living life as a baby boomer, Calgon was marketed to females only as the answer to life’s woes in the form of a bubble bath). It’s a strong tell for me that the Littles had spent yet another day as tiny behavioral terrorists, ignoring all forms of vocal messaging from the mother ship until things got bat-shit crazy. Tears have fallen from all six eyes, Gatsby hides under the bed, and then, only then, do apologies abound from two miniature mouths.

Life without the chaos routine of school and all it’s afternoon extracurricular activities was affecting us all. The Mrs. and me, we needed to lay down the law. While not outnumbered, and still holding a slight edge in altitude, we needed some household rules. Over dinner, a purely shpilkes (anxiety, ants in the pants kind of feeling) producing activity referred to in a past post, I broached the topic of developing martial law some guidelines to help us all through sanity our cohabitation. I needed ‘buy in’ fast, so I said to Little and Big, as I made those eyes to the Mrs., you know the ones that say please, please, please… just go with me on this, “You two get to set the rules on how we are going to get along. Mommy and Ema need your help.” I begged, “Think about it now and let’s discuss how this is going to work.” And the Littles, they spoke, excitedly:

  • Always listen to Mommy and Ema
  • Don’t interrupt when anyone is talking
  • Clean up after we play
  • Answer your questions and look at you in the eyes
  • Clean our room after our friends come over or we made a mess
  • Don’t hurt Gatsby, or pull his tail, or poke him or yank his ears or put our hands in his mouth
  • No kicking or hitting or spitting
  • Share more and don’t say ‘mine’
  • No screaming because we have neighbors
  • Don’t jump on the sofa
  • Say I’m sorry like we mean it
  • When Mommy and Ema say it’s bedtime, we have to get ready for bed

They do listen. They just don’t do. We both applauded their thoughtfulness and went about our evening foolishly thinking, we rocked this! And then two minutes later… not so much.

I sadly looked over all of our house rules, and then came up with an idea. At the next meal (Jews, we always have to eat while doing important things, or at least talk about where we will next eat, or what we just ate), I bring it up:

All of the rules we discussed are wonderful and I think there are too many to remember? Why don’t we start with just one rule?

  1. Be kind

And don’t you know, about two weeks in, we are living life so much better, with two simple words…

Even with this killer watch dog, those thugs came after us!
Even with this killer watch dog, those thugs came after us!

Now, mittendrinnen (in the middle of) this mishegas (craziness), my Mrs., she loses both her credit card and her bankcard. Now, was it not just two weeks ago when I shared with you the struggles of the missing wallet? Oy vey (sheesh). In a freakish, ominous ‘take 2’ moment, we found ourselves at the same movie theatre, to see the same movie, Pete’s Dragon. This time, the hooligans who found her goods were not as nice as the previous Good Samaritan. They bee-lined it to Best Buy and did some substantial ‘best-buying.’ Over $2000 worth… enough damage to give us our own detective!

We are now without a credit card or cash and are fighting fraud. Our frugalista status has reached a record new low. The Mrs., she is distraught in a new way. I remember it is not her fault.

There is a genetic marker on her very DNA strand, aligned with both her mother and her sister – a truly unfair predisposition to the mis-placement of important items. Latin name, ‘vitalgoneastrayitis.’ They suffer.

Me, I thankfully also remember our house rule, be kind.

A shtikel mazel iz vert merer vi a ton gold. A little bit of luck is better than a ton of gold.

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You gotta have heart

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Oy. It’s only Tuesday and it’s already been some week. Little and Big, they are getting a little bit of shpilkes (like ants in your pants when it’s the littles) as summer winds down. The Mrs., and me we are a bit unnerved to say the least. These little shana maidels (sweet, beautiful girls) of ours, truly are wonderful little humans. And like all of you out there, we have our moments. You may have read about our dinner table tsuris (troubles) a couple of posts back. As they say, a work in progress? Nu?

I understand now why all adult characters on the Peanuts, you know, Charlie Brown, Lucy, and Linus, they all sound like,”Wah wah wah wah wah, wah wah.” It was an actual trombone they used to make the sound. That trombone is what our voices sound like to the kinder (kids)! Charles Schultz, he knew this way back when, that the kids drown out our voices with selective hearing. Snoopy is now 66 years old and lives in a retirement village with Peppermint Patti in Boca.

Until yesterday, it has been 192 degrees in the shade. Walking from the apartment to the car was enough to make you plotz (faint, or even drop dead). The water at the pool was near boiling, less than refreshing. My Mrs., perhaps inspired by the Olympics, she set up a gymnastics area in our hallway here at the Manor. The mini indoor trampoline leads into the ‘exercise mat,’ also known as the bottom of the trundle bed. The girls, they bounce and jump and kick and land in cartwheels, somersaults, flip-flops and triple double axles. It’s a lovely release of energy, a heart-starter and somewhat quiet in comparison to the,”Wah wah wah wah wah, wah wah” that has been going on, and ignored. My Mrs., a genius!

Mittendrinnen (in the middle of everything), I have been experiencing heart palpitations for the past thirty-six four months. It’s not enough to just have chronic pain and all the joy that comes along with that… I had to go ‘all-extracurricular’ and add a new medical ‘–ist’ to the team line up. After meeting yesterday with the cardiologist, they ran some tests, looked at my blood and ordered a halter monitor for me to wear for 2 weeks. Things look okay, but who’s to say? The doc, he says, “Do you have a lot of stress? Are you sleeping well?” What a jokester he is!

Ven tsores laigt zikh nit oifen ponem, laigt zikh es oifen hartsen (When distress doesn’t show on the face, it lies on the heart).

Apparently, I’m a chaleria (nervous, anxious wreck) on the inside only, from this thing called life, or at least the last couple of years. And it may be manifesting in the lub-dub, lub-dub of my very own Tell-Tale Heart. I get a call a few hours later from the heart monitor people who are setting up my delivery. They tell me my out-of-pocket expenses after insurance for this little device will be only $860 and change. Are they fucking nuts? We don’t have that kid of loot! This baby is a beauty, she records every blip, 24/7.

Elizabeth, this is the big one. I’m coming to join you!” (For all of you non-baby-boomers, this is a television reference to Sanford and Son.)

The 'Post-It Note' model, easy and affordable
The ‘Post-It Note’ model, easy and affordable

This fabulous pain point delivered directly to me from my brand new –ist! Is he kidding me? Who makes this MCOT unit, Rolex? What’s a frugalista momma to do? I dry the sweat from my forehead and dial-up Dr. Fancypants. I have to ask if there is another option? Of course, he has left for the day. Nu? I speak with his nurse and she tries to help me out. Lub-dub, lub-dub. A few moments later, I get another call from the monitor people. I’m still breathing, barely, and they tell me what good news they have for me! There is a cheaper version! Azoy (really)! It’s called the ‘Event’ monitor. It only records when there is a not so hotsy-totsy incident, like a skipped beat, added beats, or maybe a flat line. This one, a real bargain at only $187. Oy vey iz mir.

A bei gezunt (as long as you’re healthy). Lub-dub, lub-dub.

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Busy, Shmizzy: Eat Dinner Together for a Better World

Folks, it’s time for a post update. We still fearlessly, tirelessly, endlessly march on, supping together in hopes of a higher purpose. Manners are hard to come by here at the Manor. This week I see that mac-n-cheese is still perceived and approached as finger food. Opposable thumbs do not impress our small humans. The Mrs., and me, our voices continue to make no sound at all to our giggly little, pierced ears who nosh (eat a little) during this very important nutritional act of derring-do. My glass, it stays half full yes, they spilled again, but I am using the metaphor now

and this is how we eat noodles
and this is how we eat noodles, in stereo with Cousin Max, at a restaurant no less. Oy!

I’m always telling suggesting to the Mrs. about the importance of sitting down together to ess a bissel (eat a little). How we need to dine with the full mishpocheh (family). Studies by big machers (hot shots) like scholars and doctors all laud the big meal get together as the solution to practically all that plagues the planet (don’t get me started, oy vey iz mir).

Jointly sitting and supping brings benefits to the body, brain and overall ‘mini-mojo’ of our kinder (kids). A nice nosh (proper meal) together makes for little epicureans that become ‘epi-curious’ eaters who will choose more fruits and veggies, and pick less fried foods and sugary beverages. If mealtime is conquered correctly, the consuming kinder (children) are less likely to kvell (be happy) over a ‘happy meal’ that is loaded with tasty toxins, added fats, oils and who the hell knows what other unsavory ingredients. They won’t hunger for the little tchotchkes (small, unnecessary plastic toys), that promote future gluttony and materialism. They will be less likely to become obese. That alone equals a healthier lifestyle with fewer illnesses. Kaynahorah (to ward off evils — like the big C, heart disease and stroke), all this magic with one familial sit down a day?

Wait! There’s more. Those same above-mentioned mavens add that clever conversation over a nice meal boosts vocabulary for our kinder (kids), which makes for stronger, happier readers. Nu? If you can survive manage regular family mealtimes as the kinder mature, higher test scores, better grades and overall academic performance are in your future.

Add an avocado to the meal, and you win top honors in Nobel nutrition.

Well, it is obvious that no maven of any sort has observed the goings on at our little corner of the dining room here at the Manor. The Mrs. and me, we do our best to offer nightly variations of healthy, overly expensive organic suppers while trying to stick to our frugalista rice and beans every night still ways. With you, I must be honest, dinners hock mier en chinikeh (drives me bat-shit crazy). Etiquette and decorum have left the building by this witching hour!

Things usually start smoothly. The girls, they clean up a bit and set the table when we beg, plead and bribe. They help bring out our food (beans and rice). We all sit, and the Mrs. and I, we ask open-ended questions like a job interview to try to get them to respond speak with us. They sit with their knees up, spread eagle (vey iz mir), and have clearly left their listening ears in the ‘OFF’ position. They seem to have their own form of communication that is specifically designed to exclude us. They use their fingers instead of utensils even for soup. In fact, just last night, I was prompted to wax eloquent on the beauty of our opposable thumbs and how they separate us from the animal kingdom in hopes they would just pick up a g-damned fork or a spoon and eat like humans.

Little, she has a tendency to lick random and incredibly disgusting things WTF. She gets up from the table an average of  267 times per meal. She may need more water, go use the bathroom, want something better to eat, have an undeniable urge to dance, jump on the trampoline, or simply incite an enormous giggle-fest with Big. And I won’t kid you when I say it, she ‘toots like a trumpeter’ at the table. My madelah (sweet little girl)!

Big, she started with the whole knees up posture. She may use a fork for a moment or two, then she will quickly resort to her more primal instincts and pick up everything with her fingers, especially condiments. She can tell a story or two during dinner, and get up to act it out, share via interpretive dance, or become totally taken in by the mishegas (craziness) of Little. This leaves the Mrs. and me sitting table-side for what must be days, weeks, months hours, getting all cobwebby, and stiff-jointed, waiting for her to finish the feast.

And mittendrinnen (in the middle of everything), Gatsby, will jump into any temporarily vacated seat, and make a quick and successful quest for any food sitting idle.

Gatsby, on the prowl
Gatsby, on the prowl

The shvesters (sisters) behavior has the Mrs. and me chugging the Apple Cider Vinegar (an excellent indigestion remedy) nightly, straight from the bottle. It’s a mitzvah (good deed) we don’t drink enough or at all!

Lo and behold, we will endure these rituals because we have put our trust in the big macher alrightniks (good people).

Charlotte, she will weave her nightly web around us. We make this sacrifice night after night with the promise that our girls will not engage in high-risk behaviors like smoking, drugs or sex ever, ever, ever. They won’t have depressed or suicidal thoughts. They will avoid bullies at school and online. They will be self-confident and self-loving and avoid eating disorders.

They will be strong, mighty girls who can lean in. And they will have empathy and compassion, because each night, we do our best to make it through another make your own burrito bowl.

I wonder if there are any studies of what happens to us mom’s as we suffer go through this phase?

A bei gezunt (Live and be well).

 

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The simple truth about my guilt packing a pistol

Anyone who knows me knows that I despise guns. I believe the right to bare arms has been totally misconstrued from a constitutional amendment that stands for a well-armed militia, hundreds of years ago, vs. ‘I’m scared of you and your pack of skittles,’ or, ‘your tail light is out; get me your license and registration.’ ‘Nuf said. You can read many of my other posts pontificating on the excessive violence, racism and hate in our world.

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I feel quite the hypocrite. I have a puppy. His name is Gatsby. Yes, after the Great Gatsby. He is the first real dog we have had. He chews on the wood trim and doors. He buries and hides his bones throughout the apartment. He digs holes outside in the common areas. He climbs the sofa and leaps to the kitchen counter (really) to eat the scraps of a peanut butter sandwiches left over from Big. He puppy-nips at Little for, well, being Little. He scavenges for food as we walk around the neighborhood.

Enter this pistol packing, gun-toting, and charlatan of a Yiddisher Momma. To clarify, the arms I carry is a water pistol / squirt gun. It is used purely for correctional puppy purposes. It shoots sprays a stream of water from afar, alerting my dear, loveable mutt that he is acting less than the stellar boychik (little boy) we need him to become.

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A happy puppy is a well-exercised puppy. This also fits in with the lifestyle of this Yiddisher Momma. As we gad about the ‘hood, Gatsby is an incessant barker when he spies another pup. He is fantastically friendly, yet simply desperate to meet a new buddy. The yapping, more like a geshrei (quite loud and piercing), ceases the moment he is nose to nose with a new canine comrade. Where their noses go after, they should live and be well. But until that point, vey iz mer (OMG!)…

I hadn’t yet mentioned that he is a rescue. Here, the term is dual in nature. We rescued him because he was in need of a loving family and a home, and he rescued us, as our family was in dire need of an affectionate and playful pooch. We all make a nice family.

The boychik (little boy) of the family!

As a rescue, he rummages for food, no matter how many times we fill his bowl with healthy, raw, canine cuisine. If left to his own devices, he will eat pure dreck (trash, poo, bugs, vomit, grass, and dead things), along with anything else in reach. Just last week, I pulled from his mouth, a small dead bird, 4 chicken (oh my, I hope so at least) bones, many wood chips, and did I mention the deceased fowl?

After much reading, and searching our memories of pugs past (Atticus and Elijah), we remembered the squirt tactic. I searched high and low for an affordable ‘squirter’ that did not resemble a G-U-N. Fifteen years ago we had an alligator and a snail, or a flower… that delivered the same watery lesson. But the lifeless, leathery bird was too much mishegas (craziness) for me to bear. This frugalista had to do something fast and furious. I entered the Family Dollar, and found 3 shiny, colorful water guns: red, green and yellow. They were small enough to carry, big enough to do the job. All for one dollar.

We can now walk for an hour or more, and have maybe, 2 squirts, mostly related to over-barking. We can walk right past that mummified mouse, covered in ants. Newfound wisdom allows him to dodge the remains from the Colonel’s chicken bucket. It’s a remarkable transformation for which we are all kvelling (bursting with joy)!

But I am still packing. So if any of you are aware of some affordable arms that hold no resemblance to those ghastly items I loathe, do tell! Gatsby and me, we are a work in progress.

 

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Can we raise our children to be heroes, not rapists?

No one is allowe to steal those smiles. SHE IS SOMEONE
No one dare steal these smiles. SHE IS SOMEONE

“You took away my worth, my privacy, my energy, my time, my safety, my intimacy, my confidence, my own voice, until today.”

These are just 22 of the words, pulled from seven pages, written so eloquently, so bravely, from the victim of the Stanford rapist, to her rapist, Brock Turner. These words that I have read, have heard on the news this week, literally, took my breath away. This is not about me. This is about a woman wounded so cruelly and ruthlessly, that her world will never be the same.

As for Brock, he will sail through this. His storm will pass. It started with his ridiculously lenient sentence from a judge that responded to his father’s reckless statement regarding ‘20 minutes of action.’ She will live out every day of the rest of her life dealing with the horror and terror she experienced.

“You took away my worth, my privacy, my energy, my time, my safety, my intimacy, my confidence, my own voice, until today.”

I’m a mom in a two-momma household, raising two shana madelahs (beautiful, sweet girls), in a world that is so scary in too many ways. How on earth can we change this deplorable behavior?

If it takes a village, then people, we need to unite now.

We need to raise our kinder (children) to have respect and empathy for every person around us. The onus is now on us to see that our boychiks (little boys) and girlchiks (little girls) grow up knowing that SHE IS SOMEONE; that all girls are SOMEONE. We need to raise all of der kinder to be like those two mensches (decent, good human beings) on bicycles, who came to her rescue. They knew, SHE IS SOMEONE. They were prepared to take action, to stop the heinous wrong. We need to nurture our kinder to speak up and speak out about the evil that lives among us. We need not ever see or hear about another pathetic, nogudnik (one with no morals or ethics) like Brock Turner.

“You took away my worth, my privacy, my energy, my time, my safety, my intimacy, my confidence, my own voice, until today.”

The onus is on us.

What are you doing to raise kinder that know, SHE IS SOMEONE?

 

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What are the Teachable Moments on Zoo’s and Animals in Captivity

Big and Little, at the Philadelphia Zoo, a few years back
Big and Little, at the Philadelphia Zoo, a few years back

We are all talking about it, the tragedy, a real shonda (shame), that happened this week at the Cincinnati Zoo.

  • The world lost Harambe, a western lowland silverback gorilla, critically endangered
  • A crowd of people witnessed a horrific killing
  • The zoo is feeling the heat of anger for their decision, the loss of a dear friend, and a meaningful failure in conservancy of this species
  • A little boy hopefully learned from a very painful lesson
  • and a Mother is being vilified around the world

Many witnesses at the scene say that the beautiful silverback gorilla was acting in a protective manner. Actually protecting the curious boychik (boy toddler) who climbed over and through barriers to fall 10 feet into the den of Harambe.

Harambe, he held the boys hand as the crowd screamed in fear, panicked at the situation. Harambe helped the boy pull his pants up…

Who knows? Nu? But as a mom, a parent, a caregiver, we have all had that fleeting flash of time, where we have lost sight of our kinder (kid(s)), when our hearts beat loudly in our chests, and our throats could barely swallow. Thankfully, kaynahorah (the evil eye was not with us) our outcomes were different. Relief delightedly poured over us at the safe sighting, of our wee ones.

This mom is no different from is. She had that same split second stint in time.  But hers resulted in a tragic, global loss. A farshtunken (stinky, smelly, awful) outcome, no matter how you see this.

At our home, me and the Mrs., and Little and Big had a conversation about the zoo event during dinner. Big was visually disturbed. She hid her face with her hands. Screamed, “No! Why?”

Little, a real animal whisperer she is, was pensive, quiet. Then, she spoke. I asked her again to repeat it the next morning:

Some things we talked about further:

  • Zoo animals are not pets, nor are they tame in any way
  • Some view zoos as wonderful institutions of conservancy and propagation of endangered species
  • Some view zoos like “Black Fish”

Either way, whatever your point of view, talk to the kinder (children). Hear their views. Share yours. Reinforce the importance of:

  • Listening ears
  • Mommy’s (enter appropriate caregiver title here) always have your best interest at heart
  • We need to be gentle, tender stewards of this planet we live on

We will miss you terribly Harambe. We all tear a cloth in your honor. I know here in our house, we hope that conservancy work continues. That this beautiful creature that was Harambe, has a legacy.

And for this momma, who is now broken and battered, we wish you some peace and clarity from a crushing visit to the zoo.

A bei gesunt (We should all live and be well).

 

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