Wednesday, November 30, 2011

What THAT?!

When Max was about 8 or 9 months old, I was chatting with a friend about how difficult it could be to get a shower in when you have a baby. Max was still small enough that I could strap him into the bouncy seat and he'd hang out in the bathroom with me. Somewhere between conditioning my hair and shaving my legs though, he'd start crying inconsolably, and I'd be left singing 'The Itsy Bitsy Spider' while frantically washing off the last of my grapefruit body scrub. I thought THAT was rough.

"Just wait till he's older" my friend said. "And he starts noticing that you're NAKED."

I was horrified. "Oh my god! When will that happen??" I worried. Should I not be showering in front of my baby??? "Of course it's fine" she said. "Don't worry, when the time comes, you'll know."

I quickly forgot about our conversation, and focused instead on the daunting task of how to keep Max from unraveling the toilet paper/squeezing out all of the toothpaste/dumping his snacks in the sink and running out the bathroom door while I was showering. At 2 and a half, he's now content to watch an episode of Word Girl on the iPad while sitting in his beanbag chair on the bathroom floor, oblivious to the fact that I'm taking a shower.

Until today, when I stepped out of the shower and wrapped a towel around me.

"What that?" he asked, standing up.

" towel?" I said.

"No. What THAT?" he asked again, as he tried to unwrap my towel and look behind it.


My immediate reaction was panic. And embarassment. I was, quite frankly, terrified.

"Ummm....that's Mommy's um, chest. Mommies have umm, chests, and boys have ummmm....wait..."

And then he went back to Word Girl.

Major. Mommy. Fail.

Immediately, I was SO PISSED at myself. He's TWO! He doesn't know anything at all about privacy, or body shame, or being embarassed. It's normal and healthy and normal and age-appropriate and oh, NORMAL for him to ask. He's asking about my breasts and vagina so that he can give them an appropriate name, like he names his elbow or his head or his toes. He's not asking so that he can say "Geesh Mom, well now that I'm really paying attention to the fact that you're naked, it's pretty clear where the rest of my Halloween candy went!" He's not laughing and pointing. He's not horrified that I dared undress in front of him. He's just curious. And yes, probably starting to figure out that Mommy's parts are different than his and Daddy's parts.

I guess it's probably time to start actually living the philosophies that I believe in. That bodies are nothing to be ashamed of. That children need to know the real names for body parts, and not call them something stupid or derogatory. And that the way that parents model positive body-talk will shape the way that children learn to respect and care for their own bodies. And I need to be able to say the word vagina, I guess. And breasts.

Starting tomorrow. Sheesh.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Two Peas In A Pod

Happy Thanksgiving!!! As soon as I can locate the very important cord that connects my camera to my computer, I'll inundate you with pictures of our turkey/stuffing/Baubee's amazing sweet potato casserole/our beautiful decorations that looked just like Pinterest in my mind, but in our dining room not so much/the family pictures that just might make the holiday cards/the adorable pinecone place setting that my two year old made/proof that my Mom, Terri and I ROCKED our Thanksgiving menu....but for now, I have to show you what I'm absolutely loving this week......
Cousin Aaron is here visiting with Aunt Terri and Uncle Harvey, and Max is thrilled to have his big buddy around! Max calls him "E". Or "Air". Except he can't really say his "r's", so it sounds like "Aiiiw". They do every.darn.thing.together.They feed the bears. They pose for the 314th cell phone camera shot.
Aaron turns Max's blocks into dinosaurs, and spaceships, and robots.They eat bagels together. At 7 am. GOOD morning.They're a darn near mirror image of each other. And we are SO lucky to have the AZ Simon Family with us this week!From our house by the bay, to your house across the miles, we hope you had a delicious, warm, SWEET potato casserole kind of Thanksgiving!

Friday, November 18, 2011

What I Love About Winter

I used to think that the best thing about being on the cusp of the holiday season, was the White Chocolate Peppermint Mocha. Nothing screams cozy cuddly toasty warm holiday season like that bright red Starbucks holiday cup.

Well, except for a sweet two and a half year old boy in a winter hat.

So long triple grande peppermint white mocha, you're no longer my number one favorite thing about Winter.

This little guy is.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Welcome To The Club!

Dear Baby Adam,
Let me introduce myself. My name is Max, and my Mommy and Aunt Susie and your Mommy are all friends. And this guy down here with the baseball cap on? That's your pretty awesome Daddy, Ryan. But you'll just call him Daddy. So here's your Daddy and our Uncle Matt, and our boy Jack, and me....
Wanna know why we were hangin' out? It's because the Mommies were all hanging out with YOU!!! Because you were just born!!! My mom, and Jack's mom, and YOUR mom got to spend some time together catching up when you were just a few days old, so the big boys made the best of our girl-free time, and did some very "boy" eating pizza.

And sitting by ourselves on bar stools.

And working together to get some yardwork done. Umm, Uncle Matt? Do we get some allowance for this??

Like I was saying, the mommies were visiting with you, and Baby Molly got to go too....because she's a girl AND a baby. And she can't eat pizza. Here's my Mommy with Baby Molly (bad picture of my Mommy, but great one of little Molls).
So Adam, what I'm trying to say is that we're saving you a seat on one of these bar stools. And a slice of pizza for when you're a little bit bigger. Your mom and dad are two of the kindest, most thoughtful, genuine, and funny people we know, and we are SO excited that you're finally here! I know that you have tons of grand adventures ahead of you, and that your folks are going to let you do some really cool stuff. Jack and I can't wait for you to hang with us and play, but right now, we know that you have some very important things to do first. Like sleep, and eat, and sleep and eat again. And poop, I guess. Jack and I can tell you all about that if you need any pointers. Oh, and the mommies say you're really cute, too. So eat, sleep, poop, and look cute. And when you're a little bigger, we're here to hug it out with you....

By the way, as soon as you're ready, there's TOTALLY room for you to ride in this car with us! No really, there is! But no girls allowed. Sorry Molls, I'm just sayin'..... Welcome to our club Baby Adam, welcome to our club!
Love, Max (and my buddy Jack)
We love you Janette, Ryan, and Baby Adam!!!!!!

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Don't Say "Football", Say "I'm Sorry"

Dear little boys who were hurt at Penn State,

This is not your fault.

I see the shadow of you, hiding behind the crowds as they surge in the Student Union. I see you watching the group of college men as they start shaking the news truck in anger. I see you hiding behind the bleachers as the rest of your friends cheer their football team each weekend. I see you stone-faced, watching the evening news with your family, feeling like you no longer have any air to breathe.

This is not about football. This is about you.

This is about children, who were let down. This is about the little boy in the shower, who saw an adult come around the corner and thought that adult would save him. And he didn't. This is about being 10 years old and having your whole life ahead of you, and losing your dreams, your hope, your spirit, in one afternoon.

So instead of everyone talking about football, instead of wasting our collective Internet breath by discussing "winning streaks" and "coaching legacies", let's instead say to you "I'M SORRY".

This is not about football, this is about YOU.

I spent the early part of my career working with children who had been sexually abused. 6 year olds. Toddlers. Bright-faced little kids who had been raped. What people often don't realize, is that when a child is assaulted, it CHANGES THE TRAJECTORY OF THEIR LIFE.

It changes everything.

Children who have been hurt suddenly hurtle towards a category that no parent wants their child to fall into. We call them "high-risk". They are at high risk for suicide. They are at high-risk for self-mutilating behaviors. They are high risk for teenage pregnancies, and drug use, and domestic violence. They suffer from PTSD, and Depression, and a general mis-trust of the grown-ups who CHOSE TO WALK OUT OF THAT LOCKER ROOM. The coaches who knew about this, and never went to the police. If these heroes failed them, then who else will? These kids have learned that no one will save them.

I would bet, that many of you whose lives were severely altered by this coach, have started the process of putting your spirits back together again. Perhaps you have had counseling. Perhaps you have found the love of a supportive partner. Perhaps you have gone on into careers that help other children like you. So I want to be one voice, in what will hopefully become a chorus of voices, that say to you "Way to go".

This is not your fault. You came forward. You spoke up. You told someone the truth when you were so afraid. Your courage flies in the face of the cowardice of every single grown-up who heard about your pain and did nothing. You are bigger than a football legacy. You are bigger than a fight song. You are stronger and braver than any player on that team.

This is not about football. This is about your courage, and your pain, and your right to hear all of our voices tell you, finally, out-loud "I'm sorry".

With Best Wishes For Your Ongoing Recovery,

Someone's Mom

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Tuesday Confessions

1. Sometimes I work out at the gym JUST so I can watch The View on TV, and have ten minutes to shower in peace. I could really give a crap about the treadmill.

2. Max is boycotting any food that does not look exactly like a scrambled egg, hummus, beans/cheese/rice, or Halloween candy. This is entirely my fault. Because I keep giving him those things.

3. As maddening as Max's bedtime routine is, I secretly love it. Well, at least the parts where he snuggles up close. And the parts where he talks on and on in the dark. "Ma, I loove you" " I need my shirt! I need my socks! I need shoes for my BEET!" "wheels on the bus go round and round!!" and well, you get the picture.

4. Daylight Savings Time can have its hour back. No thanks, our family can't actually use that extra hour. Well, Max can't.

5. This child MELTS me. Even at 6 am.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Scrambled Eggs, With A Side of Anti-Semitism

Local diner. Family-owned joint. Circa 9 am on a Saturday morning.

We've eaten there before. It's fast, fairly decent, and the model airplanes covering the walls and ceiling keep a curious toddler entertained while he's waiting for his breakfast.

What we hadn't noticed until today, were the two WWII model airplanes. The Nazi Germany airplanes. The ones with swastikas on their tails.

As Max stuffed hashbrowns into his face, Sean and I debated how appropriate it was to have swastikas smiling (frowning?) down on us while we drank our coffee. The planes are part of history. I get it. But we're in a diner, not the Natural History Museum. This is clearly someone's private collection of planes, and whoever owns them, doesn't seem to mind that a few are adorned with a symbol that represents the slaughter of millions of Jews. Millions of our people.

It was one of those teachable moments, I suppose. Say nothing, silently fume, and feel stupid for over-reacting. Or nicely, gently ask the manager if he's noticed the planes, and explain why we were offended. Being parents, being Coastside locals, and being overly aware of our minority status, we decided to ask about the planes.

The manager's reply was nothing less than flippant. He felt that we were over-reacting. He blew us off.

I mentioned that in the eyes of many Jews, the swastika is a symbol of hate and persecution. It stands for death, torture, genocide. He laughed at us. "It's just a plane" he said. "Take it as a reminder that war is a bad thing....and that we least we won."

I asked him if he would have something in his restaurant with the "N word" on it. Just because that's "part of history", doesn't make displaying it acceptable.

As the manager excused himself from the conversation, Sean and I wondered outloud if they would display a Confederate flag in the restaurant. Of course not. It might just be "a symbol", but it's a symbol of a terrible time in American History. It doesn't really go with bacon and eggs.

Sean walked Max out to the car, and I walked over to use the restroom. On the way back through the restaurant, I approached our table where the manager was talking to the waitress. But he didn't see me coming.

"Did you see THAT GUY who was sitting here?" he laughed to the waitress. "He was giving me a ration of shit about the swastikas!!" He smirked.

It was funny to them.

6 million people isn't funny.

6 million lives snuffed out, 6 million dreams, 6 million people who were all somebody's child. The symbol of their destruction, the symbol that seperated who would live and who would die, was now chillin' above our heads like it was NO BIG DEAL to anyone else in this crappy diner by the airport.

In our house, we are not perfect Jews. But we try to live by Jewish principles, and we do the best that we can. We do it for Max, because we want him to know what it means to be Jewish. What it means to have a Jewish family, and Jewish values. But we also do it for the 6 million people who weren't allowed to light Shabbat candles on the first rainy November night. We do it for the millions of children who never got the chance to sing the blessing over the challah with their own children. We do it for them, and we do it for Max, and we do it because that is what the Jews before us did, and what we hope the Jews after us will do.

And even if you think that we over-reacted in that diner, I'm proud of us that we spoke up in front of Max. I'm glad that he heard us questioning. I'm glad that he saw us telling someone when something wasn't OK. Judaism teaches us that we take care of others, and maybe a little bit of that happened today. We send Max to a Jewish preschool because we want him to learn all of the wonderful things about Judaism, but it's also in part so that he doesn't grow up feeling like "the only one" who is Jewish. We want Shabbat, and Chanukah, and Passover, and the philosophy of Tikkun Olam to be "normal" for him. We want him to embrace how lucky he is to be Jewish. We want him to know that other kids have a Baubee, and that other kids have menorahs instead of Christmas trees. But along with those wonderful things comes great responsibility. The responsibility to speak up when you see something that hurts other people, even if most of your friends on Facebook think that you're silly for being offended. The responsibility to proudly carry on Jewish traditions, and sing songs in Hebrew, and stand proud that we are sometimes the only voice in the stupid diner that cares about those two airplanes.

At the end of the day, we light our candles on Shabbat like all of the other Jewish families in the world. And for the 6 million who can't. That my friends, is more important than what happens in a diner. A diner that we will not be returning to.

OK, so the Shabbas candles are a little hard to see in this picture....look closely...see them now? And yes, that would be challah (already properly blessed) that Max is diving into.


There's a lot of cozy Fall love goin' on over here on the Coastside. It's dang cold, but I love the beginning of a good winter chill. Want to know what else I love?

Two-year old "pirate faces"......

That's an "arrgh Matey!", if you can't tell from the picture. And that's a "too cool for school" Daddy in the background, in case you were wondering where Max gets his swagger from.

We've had some lazy, cozy, go out for breakfast and take a long walk with your coffee afterwards kind of weekends. And I adore them. It's this kind of family time that keeps me anchored.

Lazy weekends have a whole different meaning now that Max is old enough to really participate. My little boy is suddenly BIG. The other night as we were having our long, drawn-out bedtime process, he told me "No YOU go night-night Ma, I GO TRICK OR TREAT". He likes to tell me how to drive: "Turn 'round Ma! Go that way!" and likes to choose his own shoes, and shirt, and "I need my COAT!"

My rhetorical questions are being answered now. "Hey Max, can you come with Mommy downstairs for a minute?" "No, I fine. I wait right here."

I can't sneak anything past this kid anymore. His beloved "Mousie" got left outside on the deck a few days ago, and got drenched in a rainstorm. I thought that it would be fun to put Mousie in the washing machine. Not so much.

"Mou go ROUND AND ROUND?!" he cried? "Mou, you o-KAY???" It was not my smartest Mommy-move.

But it was really funny.

Funny in that, holy cow I have a two and a half year old and he has his very own thoughts and hopes and questions to bring to the conversation kind of way. And I love every minute of it. Whether it's a lazy Sunday or a busy Wednesday, I love what our family is becoming....

Here's to hoping that you find yourself a good winter rainstorm this weekend, and a cozy fire to snuggle your family next to!

Tuesday, November 1, 2011


Max's "Halloween for Two-Year-Old's" started out a little like this.... Yes, that's our garage door. And yes, that is his costume on the ground. We began the evening to the sound of "NO boots! NO jacket! NO HAT!" Then, he calmly picked up his candy bucket, pleasantly announced "Trick Treat!?", and tried to walk out the door to the garage.

Fortunately, he started to understand the tradition of it all by the time we forced him outside.

Our favorite Bayside Neighbors joined us for the second year in a row, and Max and Will quickly got the hang of walking up to a stranger's door and taking candy from them. This is a lovely little ritual that we teach our children, isn't it? Nothing safer than encouraging kids to go to someone's house and accept treats.

Don't worry, this was not our front yard. The giant inflatable spider belongs to the neighbors up the block. Don't be fooled though. Apparently our 'hood only "goes big" until 7:45 pm. Once the first round of little kids is finished, they deflate the spiders, turn off the lights, lock their doors, and take their FULL SIZE candybars inside. Did the neighborhood watch decide that Halloween ends at 7:45??? Or is this the way to really screw the Jr. High and High School kids that think they can cruise by around 8:30 with no costume and a backpack to hold their candy??

Circa 6:45.....and we realized Max couldn't really walk in his fireman boots.
Or maybe he was just crashing from the ridiculous amount of peanut butter cups that we let him eat...

Wait...did I say crashing?

We packed it in early and headed home to give out candy. A little hair of the dog, and Max got a second wind.....and ditched the get-up. And had another peanut butter cup. Maybe two.

As our Fireman would say, we hope you all had a very "HAPPY HA-WEEEEEEN!"