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So here is another unexpected tidbit of parenting. Something I did not think about back when I was in the haze of poopy diapers and 90-minute naps.

From the time your kids are maybe four or five you have a lot to answer for. To them. They are natural inquisitors. Which seems so incredibly adorable (in someone else’s kid, natch) when you have a toddler who strings together two or three words at a time and then passes out in the back seat of the car.

And then.

Everything is why. Everything is how. Everything is but. Every change to routine has to be justified or the Earth will wobble on its axis. (Hint: It already is wobbling! Alert the media!)

Related digression:

I, stupidly, bought a different brand of milk than usual last week. I think it was because the expiration date was further away. Or because it was a special promotion — 1.1 liters for the price of 1. Or they didn’t have 1% milk in bags and that was what I wanted, so I bought a carton. If you are over the age of, say, 15 or 18 or 20, you probably wouldn’t give a damn about the WILDLY DIFFERENT-LOOKING MILK but would just pour it over your cereal or add it to your coffee or whatever because you have other things going on in your life besides giving this poor carton of milk the side-eye.

The parent in charge of this tableau is miles ahead of the game by putting the milk in a neutral container and distracting the hordes with cupcakes.

The parent in charge of this tableau is miles ahead of the game by putting the milk in a neutral container and distracting the hordes with cupcakes. 

So over the past three days I have had to have multiple conversations about this milk. Leading to questions about economics, shelf-stable milks, and what it means to be homogenized. And boy, well, I will really try not to make this mistake again. (Apologies to the Tara dairy. Don’t worry, I am still your number one cottage cheese fan.)

But yes, parents: You get drawn in at first because they are young, still. They’re learning! You are your child’s first teacher! But chances are you have only one or two degrees, if that, and probably not in something relevant to what they want to know. Even if you know the answer to the first round of questions, there is going to be a zigzag you don’t expect. You will start by talking about a rainbow and instead of discussing optics or physics, you’re going to have to know how they made paint colors in the 16th century. You will have to have more breadth than the encyclopedia and be faster than Google.

But here’s the rub: You will never have to expound on something you know. You will never have match movies of the 1980s to their iconic songs. You will never have to explain why a tomato is actually a fruit. You will never have to opine on whether giving a cat the name Picky-Picky was a self-fulfilling prophecy. So you may as well abandon what you know and think. You won’t be needing it where you’re going.

There’s nothing like a bright Sunday morning and the prospect of a long work week ahead to send you diving back under the covers, right?

The famed flour mill of Yemin Moshe.

The famed flour mill of Yemin Moshe.

Luckily, Tali of Israel ScaVentures had the perfect cure for today: an open bloggers’ run of the Windmill Dash. Part history lesson, part lovely views, part dramatic renderings, it was a fast-paced trip through the beautiful Jerusalem neighborhood of Yemin Moshe.

Tali, the creative genius behind Israel ScaVentures, and Lisa, the creative genius behind the blog Handmade in Israel (and my ride!)

Tali, the creative genius behind Israel ScaVentures, and Lisa, the creative genius behind the blog Handmade in Israel (and my ride!)

Named after its patron Moses Montefiore and inextricably linked to its famed windmill, the neighborhood of Yemin Moshe has played many roles in the life of modern Jerusalem: pioneer village, shanty town, and front line in the War of Independence, before yielding to its current reputation of refined oasis (with an epic view of the Old City walls).

Like the Neve Tzedek route, this scavenger hunt was a delightful mix of history, art, architecture, famous landmarks, and quiet corners. Amusing tidbits are par for the course — like the fact that the windmill, meant to provide a place for the meeting of industry and agriculture for the brave Jewish souls in the late 19th century who left the overcrowded Old City, was equipped to grind only softer British wheat, not the rougher wheat grown in Jerusalem. (Ah, well. A for effort.)

Thanks very much to Tali for gathering us together again. We’re getting to be a raucously familiar bunch – regular Bloggers’ Day participants and a wide swath of (mostly) women who work in some aspect of digital marketing. I got to see some Facebook friends who I usually only see at conferences. (Lovely to see you all in natural lighting, with nary a coffee cup in sight.)

And it was terrific to go back to Yemin Moshe, where I hadn’t ventured since — not kidding — the summer of 1991. (Young Judaea shout out!)

It won’t be as long a gap until next time; I’ve got kids to amuse.

A moment's rest in a quiet garden spot. Photo by Rachel Moore.

A moment’s rest in a quiet garden spot. Photo by Rachel Moore.

ym6

Murphy and his law are alive and well here in Israel.

Yesterday (literally!) I said to Gila, “The good news about blogging for so long is that you’ve already covered all the feelings.”

And I thought I had a good grasp on Yom Hazikaron (Memorial Day) and Yom Haatzmaut (Independence Day). My post from 2011 is still applicable. I am desperately grateful to be here. I am more aware of the sacrifices with each passing year.

But this year Miss M’s class, the 5th grade girls (the kids’ school divides by gender for 5th and 6th), presented the tekes (ceremony) for Yom Hazikaron. 10952862_10153137452351708_161916310873038842_n (2)

Because there is no school tomorrow, Yom Haatzmaut, the tekes touched on both the grief and joy that encompasses this time of year.

There were slow songs and solemn readings; the flag lowered to half-staff; the lighting of memorial candles for fallen soldiers from our city.

And then the music turned upbeat. The girls lined up in rows and took flags. Big, proud Israeli flags. A young woman, who is doing her National Service in the school, led 33 girls through complex formations. My girl, who breezes through academics but struggles with many other things, couldn’t stop tapping her feet and had a gigantic smile on her face.

11011467_10153137451936708_5364112808329765856_n

She was so happy that I cried.

Finally the formation broke apart into rows. Each girl, gripping her flag, stood and sang “HaTikva” with the entire school and guests. Gets you right in the gut, 400 kids in white shirts pledging their allegiance to their land.

Highly recommended. Not to missed.

40 Things I’ve Learned

Happy Birthday to me!

The fetes and presents have already begun, because I have learned that I have to be aggressively in control of my own celebration if I want one. Cell phone cameras make this process easier. CLICK. SEND.

“Please have the kids buy me this book; it is available at any bookstore.”

(Although, in Taxman’s defense, he did come up with some surprises. And there was cake.)

So in celebration of my 40th birthday (which doesn’t feel nearly as old as When Harry Met Sally made it out to be), I am going to share all my wisdom with you.

Except not all of it — I can’t remember half of what I need to. Because ’80s song lyrics.

  • If you have chance to use a bathroom, use it.
  • Jealousy is usually a wasted emotion. If being envious lights a competitive spark in you that drives you to be or do better or achieve more, great. But if it’s going nowhere, just sitting in the pit of your stomach? Leave it. Seriously.
  • Life is too short to finish a book that you don’t like. (Obviously this applies to books that are voluntary, not compulsory.)
  • Life is NOT too short to read a book that you love again (and again and again).
Those books you love? Don't let them go.

Those books you love? Don’t let them go.

  • Having inside jokes is awesome.
  • Being with someone who holds you when you cry and otherwise makes you laugh is fantastic.
  • Soliciting your child’s giggle is one of the “Top 5″ feelings in the universe.
  • Most of the people who are literally saving the world will not have the time or headspace to have their own kids. This makes me really upset.
  • So much hate in the world because people feel compelled to think we are different from one another – and the realization that the divisions are not going away. Yuck.
  • Exercise. Yeah. Even lazy people like me need it.
  • But with enough time and regularity, you’ll be able to meet some, um, physical challenges.
That's me in the green. Running a 10K. The path to this event started in 2001.

That’s me in the green. Running a 10K. The path to this event started in 2002.

  • You will become intimately familiar with your strengths and weaknesses.
  • This means that you will become much, much better at not giving a shit about things that you can’t control or fix.
  • This also means that you will be able to say no and yes much more effectively.
  • (A hugely awesome summary of above three points that I wish I had written is here.)
  • You will learn to appreciate people for their expertise that is wildly different from yours. If you are me, you’ll happily throw money at them to keep being experts as you appreciate it. This can mean anything from contracting a service to clean your house, to hiring someone to teach your kid sewing, to paying someone to do your makeup for a special occasion.
  • Work that is meaningful and world-changing is super, but it’s impossible to achieve for everyone or at every stage of life. Sometimes it’s as simple as work =  money, and money = a roof over your head or food in your fridge or books all over the place. Hopefully all three.
  • I am not exactly saying that money can buy happiness, but it can buy cookie ingredients, which is sometimes all you need. (Oven baking optional.)
  • You will never get over your worst bullying (as the victim). It will pop up at random times.
  • You will never stop feeling guilty about your worst bullying (as the aggressor), because now you, at your worst, are in someone’s head forever.
  • You will never be able to fully understand someone else’s marriage. Or divorce. Or child-rearing. Or life. It’s really hard not to judge, but it’s really better not to.
  • You will try to actively avoid situations that will make you uncomfortable or upset.
  • But you will handle the non-optional uncomfortable situations with more grace at 40 than at 30 and way more than at 20.
  • That single item in your closet that you never wear anymore but can’t part with? It’s not hurting anyone.
  • These kids, man.
  • The greatest part of parenting is not seeing yourself in your children – that’s actually turning out to be the part that makes me want to hide under the bed – but seeing how someone who lives in your house can be so different from you, with totally different interests, talents, and perspectives. You’ll learn a hell of a lot.
  • For example, I now know our solar system contains a dwarf planet called Makemake.
  • You shouldn’t have to do it alone. Whatever “it” is.
  • It is really important to have people who get your situation – work, marriage, parenting, life – and be able to freely contact them just to tell them something that they will understand but others won’t.
  • You’ll learn to avoid people who suck your life-force.
  • You’ll probably be able to rid yourself of one bad habit at a time, but not all of them and certainly not all of them at once.
  • We tend to be our own harshest critics. (I’m hoping, though, that the “reign of not caring so much” will mellow that.)
  • Whatever you do or see in your life that makes you smile? Do it more. Look at it again. You won’t be sorry.
This hide-and-seek chipmunk is my adorableness of the day. Plus it reminds me of a trip to Rocky Mountain National Park.

This hide-and-seek chipmunk is my adorableness of the day. Plus it reminds me of a trip to Rocky Mountain National Park.

  • It’s ok that you’re not like everyone else. Fantastic, really.
  • It’s ok that your kids are not like everyone else’s kids, but damn, it is awkward sometimes.
  • It is very difficult to get rid of a reputation.
  • But you usually have one before you realize what’s happening. (Luckily, I can live with “snarky” and “grammatically punctilious” and “espresso-based lifeform.”)
  • You’ll never stop learning.
  • Humility looks good on everyone.
  • If you think the last bite will make you feel ill? STOP.

And, finally:

  • Write that shit down; you’ll never remember. (Trust me. I wish I had.)

Graffiti and flowers

One of the nicest things about Israel is its size. It’s pretty tiny. Which means that Taxman and I were able to slip away for two days last week while leaving the kids in Savta’s charge. (She came to us so the kids could go to school; we are mean like that).

It was a bit of a working holiday, as we did answer our phones and spent a little time on the computer, but being untethered from the regular grind was really lovely.

angels tel aviv

We had temperate winter weather with light breezes and high clouds, perfect for being outdoors. Our first day, we took a self-guided tour of Neve Tzedek, a neighborhood in Tel Aviv. Although we did it non-competitively, we approximated the route of Israel ScaVentures‘ Neve Tzedek tour. (I had previously done the Jerusalem – Old City Scavenger Hunt, with many other bloggers, and the Gush Etzion ScaVenture with my kids and Lisa – and kids – from Handmade in Israel.) It was, predictably, fun and informative – they do experiential education right!

History footnote: Neve Tzedek was the first neighborhood of Tel Aviv. Previously it was some sand and a few orange trees that bordered both the Mediterranean and the overcrowded, dank, and expensive port city of Jaffa (Yafo). Some pioneers were tempted out of Jaffa with the promise of privies and better infrastructure. They came. Years later, the neighborhood fell into disrepair. Now it’s heavily gentrified and pricey as hell. A story repeated the world over.

What I got the biggest kick out of in Neve Tzedek was the graffiti. Hebrew, English, deep, nonsensical, funny. It was all covered.

artik zizi top

We also hit up the Rokach Museum, which is a ton of Tel Aviv history packed into a few rooms and very charming.

Our second day we hit the highway and headed south, where we got to catch the western Negev in full bloom. The kalanit (crown anemone) was in peak season. It was awesome. Lots of gawkers, even though it was midday on a weekday. Maybe other lucky vacationers like us?

kalanit 1kalanit 2

We also meandered over a hilltop in G’vaot Gad (the Gad hills), east of the city of Kiryat Gat, where we were treated to more flowers, a herd of cattle (who didn’t seem to like being disturbed), and a sighting of three mountain gazelles.

iris baby orchids purple flowers

So, a mini-tour of Israel in just 30 hours – big city, pastoral, history, nature. Topped off by a rainbow.

rainbow

When can we go again?

 

 

Regrets – What’s Next?

This is a post about growing into marriage.

Don’t let the title put you off. The regrets are not about my marriage or my choice of a husband (I really got the brass ring, people), but that it took me so long to figure things out.

What things?

That with the RIGHT person in support of you, you are stronger. It’s more than simply your self-confidence is “doubled.” It’s a calculus that goes beyond plain math, where 1 + 1 adds up to more than 2. It’s a strong 2, a solid 2, an emboldened 2.

It’s TWO.

This took too long to occur to me, and I missed opportunities.

For example:

I didn’t apply to a graduate program in a different city because I couldn’t imagine my fresh marriage surviving with weekend visits for two years. (To be fair, Taxman’s refusal to consider a temporary relocation out of the tri-state area now looks to me like the kind of tantrum 8-year-old AM throws when you tell him he has to fold and put away a load of his laundry before he gets to use the computer. But at the time it was scary to me.)

So we were both adorable idiots.

It’s fine – life has twists and turns that I couldn’t have anticipated – nobody can. But it took a long time for us to have confidence in us. It sounds terrible to say, right? Of course you support your person from the very beginning! But support is more than words or actions. It has to go to the bedrock, it changes you. Marrying or formally committing to someone who you’ve known for only “x” amount of time is not enough – because the commitment sort of restarts the clock. Major changes can reshock the system – moving, kids, all of that.

It took me way too long to figure out that what I spoke about at our wedding was true – two dreams, two paths, are in fact a single one.

Emboldened together

So my regrets, really, are that I haven’t taken enough risks. I haven’t used my emboldened self to do enough. I need to figure out how I am going to apply my wings to something worthwhile and take it places. Because I have the strength to do it. I have my person.

Classic!

Here I am, ignoring actual news, to bring you the Funny Things My Kids Do.

So. AM is a fan of pop music. We listen to the radio in the car constantly, and the stations we hear play a combination of the latest hits with songs from every decade I’ve been alive. Not all of them got a ton of radio play in their time, actually, because they were not necessarily top 40 hits. So I get to hear Erasure and Depeche Mode and the Cure and Peter Gabriel and Pink Floyd on the radio (since I no longer have the capacity to play cassette tapes), and proclaim that they are “classics.”

But then yesterday I messed up. I heard “Bulletproof,” by La Roux. It somehow took me back to an 8th grade dance party. “Listen to this,” I told my son. “You’ll like it. It’s a classic.” Except that it was released in 2009.

Today I admitted my mistake. “That’s not a classic!” he said, scornfully.

“I know,” I said. “I thought it was from the ’80s.”

“Can you find a song that’s really from the ’80s?”

So I searched on my phone and played him this. “It’s from 1985,” I told him.

“Are there songs from 1965?”

“Yes.”

“What about from 1,000 years ago?”

“I am sure there are, but you can’t find them on YouTube.”

And that was the end of that.

photo credit: cassettes via photopin cc

photo credit: cassettes via photopin cc

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