Thursday, December 3, 2015


I often feel that we celebrate the wrong things. Birthdays are great and everything, but really, what do they represent other than “time has passed and you’re still alive?” (No small feat, to be sure, especially when you spend your waking hours climbing bookshelves, falling into toy boxes and ingesting Lego heads. But still. More a “lack of screwing up”  than an actual accomplishment.)

Instead of a first birthday party, we should throw a “You’re Walking!” party or maybe “You’re Talking! (Actual Words that Adults Can Understand)” party Or “You’re Sleeping Through the Effing Night!” party.

Instead of 3rd birthdays, I would have a “You’re Toilet Trained!” party. Which may or may not be after the 3rd birthday, not going to mention any names of any specific children I may know or have birthed.

I would throw parties for “You Brushed Your Own Teeth!” “You Arranged a Playdate by Yourself!” “You Made Your Lunch!” “You Walked to and from School on Your Own!” “You Know How to Take the Bus!” “You Stayed Home by Yourself When I Went to Pick up Your Sibling!”

These are the true parenting milestones, but we tend not to throw parties. (Come on kids, gather round for a fun game of “Pin the Colgate on the Toothbrush!” “Aim Your Pee for the Toilet!” and “Don’t Open the Door for Strangers!”), and often they go unnoticed, with maybe a mention over dinner. “So he woke up dry last night.” “Cool. Hey are you getting up? Could you get me some water?” (Sometimes Donny and I play water chicken, because we’re each too lazy to get up. Whoever stands first has to get the other one a glass of water.)

We had one of the big milestones last Thursday night, when Donny and I went to a wedding - as in, leaving Modiin - and Ariella babysat for the troops. With help from her lovely assistant Yaakov, of course. She even re-pacifiered Shoham when she (Shoham) started crying. Donny and I were a little in disbelief that we now have a live-in babysitter. We grew and fed her for 12.5 years, and now she’s ours. If we could have arranged a hall and a DJ for the Friday morning after, you all would have been invited to the “real” bat mitzvah. (“Today, dear daughter, you are our babysitter. Mazel tov!”)

Another recent milestone, one that went quietly into that good night (literally) was weaning the babies. I totally get why they made a weaning party for Isaac our forefather back in the day. It’s a big deal. [Warning: I am going to use the word breast, like, so many times now. If that offends you, keep reading so you can yell and tirade after.]

After a year + of breastfeeding, we ended it. Though the sore lump in my breast is protesting a bit. Damn it, milk ducts, did you not get the memo???

It happened kind of suddenly. At 12 months, it was going strong. I knew I was getting ready to end, but I wasn’t sure how it would happen. Then, one Shabbat, I just did not have time for the pre-nap and pre-bedtime nursing (the only daytime feedings left). So they made do without. Shoham was fine; she was basically only nursing to indulge me. Sivan protested with deep, sad, guilt-inducing cries. Oy.

The next day, I wavered whether to bring back those feedings or not. But I decided to push through and continue the weaning process. The time, it seemed, had come. I figured I would keep nursing Sivan at night for a few more nights. Donny was away that week, scheduled to get back on Thursday. I told myself that Wednesday night would be the last hurrah for Sivan and me. Once he was back, he would do the middle of the night wakings, eventually getting her used to the fact that the breast was just not happening.

I was all prepared as I went to sleep Wednesday night. I planned a small reception in the room after the final nursing. Nothing big. A little diploma, some tea and mini sandwiches, a platter of cookies. Tasteful, you know? I would speak, of course, and ask Sivan if she wanted to say a few words. It was all ready to go.

And then, for the first time in her young life, Sivan did not wake up at night. You heard that correctly. She slept through the #$#% night. And for the first time, I was a little upset! Our final nursing! The reception! My speech!!!!! So our last feeding had been Tuesday night? But there was no to-do! I didn’t have a chance to say goodbye!! 

But I suppose it’s fitting, because it seems the most important milestones just happen like that, without fanfare.

And so ends my breastfeeding career, which started 12.5 years ago. I have always been an amalgam of BF and bottle feeding (and when I say bottle, I mean “formula” for as much as I love breastfeeding, that’s how much I hate pumping). I’ve breastfed exclusively, I’ve breast and bottle fed at the same time (I mean, not at the same feeding, their mouths are only so big, but you get it.) I’ve done breast and then switched to bottle. I’ve breastfed single babies and I've breastfed twins. Sometimes I've breastfed twins at the same time. I’ve breastfed for a few months and I’ve breastfed for more than a year.

(The nice thing about my amalgam-ness is that everyone can roll their eyes at me. The pro-formula people can say, “Geeze, what a lactivist. My kids have formula and they’re the bestest smartest kids ever so why does she think she’s so great because she breastfeeds her kids?” Probably they use the words “whip it out” also. And the pro-BFers can say, “Formula????? What kind of monster mother is she???? She might as well just give them sugar water!!!” So everybody wins!)

I have enjoyed breastfeeding my children, holding them, watching their little eyes close as they nurse, having them reach out and grab some part of me to hold onto, enjoying the satisfied milk face when they’re done, bringing them for weight checks and knowing “Hey I did that!”, the sheer contentment of being able to just sit and be like, “Sorry, can’t wipe your butt now, I’m feeding the baby!” (In our house, there is always one child at the butt-wiping stage when we have a newborn around. Also: This is what they mean when they say “breastfeeding is also beneficial for the mother.”)

So it’s over, and while I’m a little sad (and astounded when I realized that probably by now, the babies have completely forgotten about it), I’m glad I had the chance to do it. Now, onward to the next milestone. (“Stay here till Mommy gets back from getting the kids. If the phone rings, don’t answer it. Also, don’t eat it.” Yeah, we’re ready.)

Monday, November 16, 2015

Oy, the Guilt

(With thanks to Abbi for her edits and "you're not totally crazy" reassurance.)

One of my best friends has been getting a bad rap lately: Guilt, specifically of the "mom guilt" variety. I am here to put in a good word for her. (We're good buds.)

From various comments, Facebook posts and blogs, it seems that if you're an Empowered Woman, "mom guilt" is a bad thing. To prove this, we denounce it roundly and heartily.

Moms have mucho opportunity for guilt in their lives. Remember those English classes where you learned about different kind of conflicts? Man vs. man, man vs. self, man vs nature, man vs. piles of crap, man vs. leftover Shabbat babka. (Spoiler alert: POCs and babka always win).There may have been more examples; I think I was reading Sweet Valley High books under my desk that day.

So, too, there are lots of different kinds of guilt we can feel, when all the things in our life come into conflict and we can't give everything the attention we want to:

Kids vs. spouse
Kids vs job
Job vs. housework
Kids vs. other kids
Housework vs. kids
Sanity vs. everything
Kids vs. babk--actually, kids, sohelpyou if you get near that babka

However, expressing such guilt (especially of the "job vs. children" variety) is seen as anti-feminist, a stain on our working mom cred and generally a bad thing. "Why should we feel guilt?" we demand of our ourselves and others? Get rid of the guilt! We are good enough, we are smart enough and goshdarnit, our family likes us 87% of the time! Buh-bye guilt!

Here are two things I want to say about that:

1. It's not so easy to "get rid" of an emotion, just stamp it out like that [insert finger snap].  Like those saggy stretch marks, it's a part of you. I don't agree with or like the underlying sentiment: "Error 404. Guilt feeling not valid." Because guilt is a valid emotion, like any of the thousands of emotions we feel each day, from the rage we experience when all the peanut butter cups are gone from the Ben & Jerry's ice cream, to the ecstacy we feel when we discover there is, in fact, one last well-hidden chunk. Telling someone the emotion they are feeling is "bad" or "invalid" isn't going to make them feel better. They'll just feel guilty about feeling guilty! And who's got time for that??

2. Let's say we could just get rid of our guilt. Why should we? Guilt is just an expression of wanting to be there for all of our things all of the time and feeling sad when we can't. Feeling some distress or guilt when we leave a sick kid with the babysitter, or get home too late at night to see the baby, or  let them watch too much TV because we're exhausted, or just having that tug of "I need to be here but also there" is okay.

Should we let guilt consume us? No. Should we engage in nonstop beratement of our fine selves? Of course not. Should we dwell on the guilt, unable to move on and lie facedown in the pile of babka crumbs? Obviously no. (There are no crumbs left anyway; we consumed them.)

But it's better to acknowledge the feeling, know it's there and move on than try to crush it because we're supposed to be - I don't know, past that? Better than that? It's a feeling; it's not good or bad, and it certainly doesn't make us a better or worse woman or mom.

[Disclaimer: And of course, if you are a mom that doesn't have guilt - guess what? Awesome! Don't go saying that ABA is promoting mom guilt. Just that if you do have it, it's okay.] 

So to sum up:

1. Feel guilty - is ok
2. Not feel guilty - is ok
3. Feel guilty about feeling guilty or not feeling guilty - is not ok

Now I can't think/write/say guilty anymore. It's starting to look funny.

Monday, November 2, 2015

Return of the Blogi

So I have started and stopped this blog post many times. I would start writing, and then stop and think, “Maybe I just don’t have anything left to say. Is any of this funny anymore? How long can I keep making the same old jokes?” But, despite my advanced age and tendency to repeat myself, I still have a lot of thoughts, most of which I mumble to myself throughout the day. So perhaps I will write them here, and perhaps you will read them. No worries if you don’t. Also, if you are an auditory learner, you are welcome to drop by anytime and eavesdrop on my mumblings.

So first, to clarify: I am now old. I know this for a few reasons:

1. Weddings always make you think of your wedding. But a few weddings ago, instead of reminiscing about July 3, 2000, a thought about a future wedding popped up, unbidden, into my head: Wow Ariella will be such a beautiful bride one day. Wait, huh? What was that? And with that thought, I quickly transitioned from “bride” to “mother of the bride.” The coup was silent and bloodless, you’ll be glad to know.

2. When we watch TV shows with teenagers, I realize we have more in common with the teens’ parents than the teens. (“Oh Buffy, you really should open up to your mother. She just wants what’s best for you.”

3.  A few weeks ago, someone posted in one of my (many) Modiin groups that they moved here with their baby and are looking to make friends with other young Anglos. And before I could raise my hand and say, "Me!" I read her comment that she and her husband are in their 20s. Oh. Or, not me. I mean, I'm not so old that I don't even remember my 20s anymore, but I'm old enough that my kids could babysit for her kids. We cannot be friends, young Anglo. But if you are looking for some sage advice from the local elders, well, this is probably the wrong place, too, since you are young and most likely are still planning on being a Great Parent and are probably not trying to test the absolute limit of how much you can ignore your kids before total chaos ensues. (“Mom’s log: Babies got into the toilet again and Nadav has paint on his hands. Older two nowhere to be found. Ignoring Level #215: Too high. Tomorrow, pull back to #214.5”) However if you want to know the ins and outs of Modiin Coffee, well, just pull up a rocking chair.


Anyway, I will probably use this space to rant about stuff now, since I’ve found that being old has made me extra crotchety. And I hate the word “crotchety” because it's an uncomfortable word, like someone is trying to walk around with their underwear full of Lego pieces. But I’m using it anyway. Because that’s what crotchety people do.

And remember: Even when the world is full of scary things and stabbers, you can always come here to grumble about the little things. Because at ABA, we never let true suffering get in the way of complaining about life's minor annoyances. It’s kind of our thing. That’s all for now. See you here again soon.

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Warning: Ramblings Ahead

It's a post-apologetic world we (I) live in, so I don't need to start by apologizing for the infrequency of postings, blah blah blah. Let's just jump right in.

State of the Blog, April 2015; Or, A Healthy Dose of Ramblings

1. Judgy McJudgersons: I will admit, had I met you a decade ago I would have judged you. Totally. Because 10 years ago, I knew everything. Now, I know nothing. Whatever parenting goals I may have had are reduced to: "I hope no one in the family ends up a life-long criminal." (See? I've lowered my standards from "I hope no one ends up in jail." I'm just hoping it's not a life of crime.) So, in my know-nothing state, I've become less judgy. Also, I've realized being judgmental is just
1. stupid
2. tiring, because who really has energy to care what other people do unless the thing they do is putting back the Ben and Jerry's with only a tiny half scoop left? (Don't be that person.) So I try to just be "live and let live-y." There are only two types of people I judge:

a. Judgmental people
b. People who are like, "This is what I did and therefore this is the correct/right/only way to do said thing," whether it's about parenting, religion, whatever. Those people irk me.
"We swaddled our baby and she slept through the night by the time she was 3 hours old. Therefore everyone must swaddle if you want your baby to sleep through the night."
"We used a sticker chart and our child never ever misbehaved again. Therefore sticker charts always always work."
"I kept my kid home till she was three/I sent my kid to gan at three months and now she's the smartest/fastest/tallest/funniest/prettiest/bestest child in the class. Therefore the right choice is to keep your kid home/send your kid to gan."
"I don't cover my hair because God just cares about how we act/I cover my hair because it's a mitzvah from the Torah. Therefore, I am a good Jew because I don't cover/cover my hair.

Grrrr. Don't be that person, either.

(Note: Do not confuse "I do not judge" with "I do not mock." Because I mock, dear reader. Ohhhh yes.)

2. Pesach: I can't even remember what we did and yet I still have my to-do list tacked onto the fridge. With all the lovely crossouts. I just can't seem to take it down. I'm so proud of it.

3. Twin update: You know what makes you nostalgic and wistful for having a little baby? Having two little babies.

The twins are now eating. Here's what they like to eat:

Shoham: Yogurt, sweet potatoes, avocado, banana, chummus, cholent, chopped liver, chicken soup, lentil soup, bean soup, ground meat, oatmeal
Sivan: Socks, feet, washcloths

4. Twin update, part two (ha! Get it?): I finally bought baby books for the twins. If anyone out there does not have kids yet, here's my advice: Don't buy baby books. Just don't start. Because if you do it for the first, you gotta do it for the fifth. And while Ariella's is the size of an advanced biology textbook (parts I and II), Nadav's is more the size of a Scholastic book order. And the twins didn't even HAVE books till now, 6 months later. So I bought them. And they are ALREADY stressing me out because I don't remember when I first felt fluttering, or the date when they first smiled. Ack! So they remain in a corner, untouched, because I'm too overwhelmed with all of my non-remembering to crack them open. You are probably thinking this can only continue to get worse. You are probably right.

5. A final Thought: I am literally living the famous parenting saying, "The days crawl but the years fly by." On the one hand, I'm planning a bat mitzvah. I think: "My little girl! She's so grown up! When did that happen? Wasn't she just a baby? Wasn't I just holding her in my arms and rocking her in that chair?"
On the other, I have two babies. That I hold in my arms and rock in that chair. And I think: "Oh my god will we ever get out of this baby stage???" Hard to imagine these spit-uppy, babbling (but no consonants yet - don't tell tipat chalav!), toe-eating, bathing-on-the-kitchen-counter babies will one day have their bat mitzvahs. And yet...

Thursday, February 19, 2015

A Simple Guide to Getting Out the Door in the Morning

Wakeupwakeupwakeupwakeupwakeup. Eventually give up on the sleeping beauty; she’s on her own. (Where “on her own” = “gets to school late”)

(Thought: If we could combine the tween’s sleep with the twins’ sleep, we would have kids that slept all night and woke up on time. A person can dream.)

Eat breakfast. Pick out the pecans from your cereal. Request bowl wash in between cereals #1 and #2.
Stand on the kitchen chairs to measure your height against your brother's.

Ask what’s for dinner. Wrinkle your nose at the answer.

Tantrum about something (Mommy said no TV in the morning, which you totally didn’t expect because she always lets you watch TV. Or is it never? Either way, an outrage. Or, you cut your shirt in gan (on purpose, with scissors) and you are angry that Mommy won’t buy you a new one. Or, you wanted to sit in the middle seat for breakfast. Or, you wanted the glass bowl. Or, you wanted to be first and your brother had the absolute chutzpah to wake up before you. Or, you want to wear your costume to gan in January. Or we don’t have the cereal you wanted and Mommy can’t make it appear out of sheer force of will the lazy bum.)

Leave the breakfast table to search for the eensy weensy little bead you stuck way inside your drawer of crap. Cry when you can’t find it. Upon return, complain that cereal is mushy and demand bowl wash.

Get dressed. Find only one shoe. Argue with Mommy about the necessity of changing your underwear. Complain about the lack of requisite tightness in shoes, the offensiveness of sock seam, the scrunchiness of underwear. Search frantically for watch. (It was in your bag the whole time).

Continue your Lego project/art project from the night before.

Find your brother’s leftover Tropit on the dining room table (a disgusting Capri-Sun like drink, only with less good taste and more grossness) and take a sip.

Need reminders to put on your shoes, brush your teeth and put your food in your tik. Every single day. Because maybe today’s the day that the food is going to learn to jump in itself and surely you wouldn’t want to stand in the way of such progress.

Ask who invented electricity, what does Mars look like, how does an eruv work, were the ancient Romans were around when the state of Israel was born, why don’t eggs turn into chickens, have you seen my watch.

Finally, after one more bathroom trip, drink of water, last minute panic of "Where's my sweatshirt????" (on the floor, probs) and "Whoops forgot my water!" (I guess, today is NOT the day, then), we are OUT THE DOOR!

See? It’s that easy. 

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

The S Word

One of the most popular words to use in regards to babies is "schedule." What is my baby's schedule, what is your baby's schedule, what should my baby's schedule be, how do our schedules compare, etc etc etc. Getting a baby on a schedule is super easy, since anyone who has had a baby can attest to how eagerly they adapt to doing the same thing at the same time every single day. This makes it a breeze to plan time for outings, making dinner and peeing.

The "s" word is even doubly (haha) popular when it comes to twins. "Keep them on the same schedule!" "When one eats, the other eats. When one sleeps, put the other one down! Same schedules is the only way to survive!" Obviously you can do this no problem. Because when one baby gets up to eat, it is a cinch to wake up the other one and convince her that she also wants to eat. You won't be pulling out your hair in frustration while making annoyed grunting noises as you spend half an hour patting and ticking and undressing her so that she's alert enough to eat well. It also won't make you drip tears at all to wake up this baby, this very baby that took hours to put down.

And if that doesn't work, you can always try the opposite approach. Babies love to hear "You can't eat now; your sister is still sleeping. Just go back to sleep and we'll eat soon." Probably the first twin will just smile adoringly at you and snuggle back in her crib for some good, solid shut-eye. Babies are super easygoing like that. (Actually, I - I mean, a friend of mine, total scheduling loser - has given up and just lets the babies eat and sleep when they want, because schedules are just too much work, and she figures by the time they're 7 they will eat at the same time, because the bell will ring at 9:40 for aruchat eser and they won't have a choice.)

So you will all be relieved to hear that not only do our babies have a schedule, they have the same one! That's right! Here's what a day looks like for us:

5:00 am - 9:00 am: At some point during this time, the babies will wake up and eat

9:00 am - 4:30 pm, Part I: Eating, and its related activities of peeing/pooping/spitting up. I never always make sure to look at the clock and see what time they ate so I can be sure to schedule the next feeding appropriately.

9:00 am - 4:30 pm, Part II: Napping, preceded by the fun activity of Putting Babies Down for Nap. The babies always take two naps, a short morning one and a longer afternoon one. They never have days where they take three short naps, or days where they don't nap at all, or days when the time spent rocking exceeds the time spent sleeping, or days when they only catnap, or only nap on me, or take one superlong nap. Never.

4:30 pm - 6:00 pm: Being ignored or held, depending on level of fussiness

6:00 pm: Time for 6:00 bottles!

8:30-9:30 pm: Bedtime!

Then, between 9:30 pm until sometime the next morning, the babies will get up to eat. They get up exactly the same time as it says on the clock.

And that, folks, is how you ROCK the schedule thing! Feel free to print out this schedule and hang it on your fridge to use for your own little angels or when you simply need a good laugh.

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

The Park Ranger Comes to Live with the Ants; PLUS Free Parenting Advice!

Readers, I apologize. It's been too long. Really, with twins being so easy (not to mention tweens, they are also so so easy), there is no excuse for the dearth of blog posts. Trust me, there has not been a lack of trying on my part. But many a time did I find myself sitting down at the computer to write something, only to look down and realize it was time to change my shirt again because someone (not gonna mention names) had spit up on me again. And then by the time I got back to the computer, two or three days later, I had forgotten what I was going to say. In fact, I'm not even sure sentences sense that make can write I. And: am I still funny? I'm not sure. I tried telling myself a few knock knock jokes and I did not laugh, just kind of looked at myself oddly, so it could be that my sense of humor, like a good night's sleep, is just a wispy memory.

To make it up to you, I am going to give you, right now, without even any ado, a tried and tested ABA parenting tip. This is something we discovered, of course, by accident, while we were busy trying hard not to parent. (You think laziness is easy???)

"If you wait to teach your kids certain tasks until they are way past the age where they should have learned it already, when people start to look at you askance because your kid doesn't know how to X [= ride a bike, use the toilet, tie shoes], that's a good sign that it will actually take a very short time to teach child how to do that task. In other words: laziness pays off!"

In other news, we are rapidly approaching the end of Donny's paternity leave. This has been a very nice interlude in our lives in which there were two parents at home with two babies + three kids. Soon Donny returns to work and there will be one parent at home with two babies + three kids, which if you do the math - let's see, divide that, carry the one, parenthesis first - equals total madness until I grow those extra arms and head. (Look how we are doing math AND science today!)

In the meantime, it's been interesting having the park ranger come to live with the ants. The park ranger, of course, is the parent knows what's going on with the park and is in charge of its general upkeep, but could not, if his fourth cup of coffee depended on it, tell you what exactly was going on with the family of ants under that log over there. Homework? Dentist appointments? New shoes? Playdates? The park ranger is blissfully unaware. However, our park ranger got a glimpse of frantic ant life over these past few months. And he's gotten really proficient at being an ant, shouting "Homework!" "Teeth!" and "No!" at random intervals in the evenings. We are very proud.

That's all we have time for now. Cuz someone is hungry again. (Me.)