02 November 2007

Everything Old is New Again

As I'm sure many of you know, cloth diapering is gaining popularity among several segments of the population. There are the thrifty types who calculate how many thousands of dollars they will save over using disposables (especially for more than one child). There are the environmentally-conscious folk who want to keep disposables (and human waste! poop goes in the potty!) out of landfills - a worthwhile goal for most of us, though questionable for those who live in regions with lots of land and not so much water. There are the parents of babies with sensitive skin who want to keep perfumes, bleach, and various other artificial stuff away from their bums. And then there are those of us who just think that today's cloth diapers look cute.

Okay, fine, I'm a crunchy environmentalist, too.

The financial aspect doesn't hurt, either.

I'm also not a fan of perfumes and bleach, but we've been using Seventh Generation diapers and wipes since the kids were a couple of weeks old, so that was really a non-issue. We're not going all-natural here, either; for the kids' comfort (and our own sanity) we are opting to use a "pocket diaper" system, wherein a polyester fleece or suedecloth layer is closest to the skin, wicking away moisture to be absorbed by whatever sort of insert we stuff the diaper with.

Right. Maybe more details on the thought process later. This post is just to say that we have our six trial-run diapers (two each of three different brands), a few hemp inserts to play around with in addition to the freebie microterry ones that came with the diapers...and we are washed, locked, and loaded, ready to give thiings a whirl tomorrow.

Erm...today. It's pretty late, isn't it?

27 October 2007

Lesson Learned

Generally speaking, it's okay to give your nine-month-old babies the food you are eating.

Generally speaking, it's okay to chop up a bunch of chili peppers and add some greater-than-called-for quantity to the mushroom curry you are making (for the first time).

However (generally speaking), it is not such a brilliant idea to combine those two practices.

Poor kiddies. After some tears (and nursing) they ended up having just beer bread and baked apples for dinner last night. Not that I think they minded much in the end...but it's a shame, since Rita at least seemed to be digging the saag aloo before she got a mouthful of the hot curry.

10 October 2007

Rumble In the Darkness

Nope, not a really big substantive post here (yet). If I don't get this up now, I never will. With thanks to One Tired Ema for the tip, I direct you to The Great Virtual Breast Fest. I have no pictures of my own to contribute (and, even if I did, I'm not sure I'd put pictures of my children online without password protection), but I hope that by putting up a link I can do my own little part to desexualize and normalize attitudes toward breastfeeding in our culture.

29 September 2007

Vayikra 23:42

Julian was kind enough to point out to me tonight that I've been slacking off on the blogging again. He is most certainly right, and I shall try to remedy that. Tomorrow. Tonight I am just sitting in our sukkah (our first!), enjoying my leftover desserts and a relaxing foot-soak, and using our spiffy wireless access for mindless, aimless web-surfing.

Right. Substance to follow.

04 September 2007

What I Learned On My Summer Vacation

Once you have packed the necessary baby items into your (rather roomy) car, you're lucky if you have enough space to squeeze in a couple of changes of clothes for yourselves. Note that "necessary baby items" does not include Pack-N-Plays, as these were provided for us at our destination (Grandma and Grandpa's house).

The drive to New York takes at least twice as long with two babies in the car. (Thus our first demonstration of the difference between "textbook learning" and "experiential learning.")

If you have your babies in the car for ten minutes during their usual "wakeful" period mid-morning and are heading home for a nap so you can get some things done, they will fall asleep in the car and cry inconsolably if you take them upstairs. If you have your babies in the car for a long drive and it is the beginning of their usual naptime and you desperately want them to sleep so you can get some real driving done - ha.

Someone will decide that it's time to nurse or have a new diaper precisely one-eighth of a mile after the rest stop.

No toy on the floor is nearly as attractive to a little girl who knows how to crawl as the black plastic sheeting underneath the high chairs.

The black plastic sheeting underneath the high chairs is completely useless if your kid has a good pitching arm.

Baby-led weaning is a wonderful way to impress the grandparents...
...if your kids actually bother to eat.

Sometimes praying for good weather really does work, even in the face of a thunderstorm forecast.

When putting sunblock on a seven-month-old, there is no need to worry about applying it at least fifteen minutes prior to sun exposure. You will certainly encounter some issue preventing you from going outside before this time has elapsed.

In order to respect the laws of tzniut while swimming, I had to bend the rules of beged ish.

Splashing in the bath = fun.
Splashing in the pool = somewhat less fun.
Splashing in the ocean = get me the hell out of here.

Seagulls like poopy diapers.

Whoever invented a hand-held showerhead that can be propped about 30 inches above the floor - perfect baby-showering height - should be awarded a gold star.

Sunhats are for sissies. Mommy and Daddy will make you wear them anyway.

If you're dumb enough to stay at the beach house until almost five o'clock before driving over an hour to Brooklyn and you think your kids will stay awake so that you can put them to bed on time when you get there, then you'll totally get what you deserve.

The quality of takeout sushi is inversely proportional to the quality of the chopsticks provided.

Just because your son has peed once since you took off his diaper (and you caught it before he got his shirt) doesn't mean he won't do it again. (Note: this is a review lesson from last semester.)

When attending "an affair" with your children, be sure that all the spare outfits you've stashed in your various diaper bags and changing kits are of an appropriately dressy standard.

My children can sleep through anything (but only if they want to).

Bar mitzvah party games have gotten awfully complicated. I( don't recall scavenger hunts including a hundred-dollar bill, an American Express card, and a diamond engagement ring (may be retrieved with finger still attached)?

I still know how to dance Yoya.

I would say that I've discovered I'm too old for Yoya, except the bar mitzvah boy's mother was totally kicking it and I'm pretty sure she has a couple of years on me.

Teething pain waits for no man.

It's not the constantly changing locations that throws off the babies' sleep patterns - it's the amount of time it takes to effect each move.

Do not offer your babies blueberries first at breakfast if you want them to eat anything else.

Don't think you've escaped the annoying-music phenomenon just because you've gotten your children used to listening to stuff you like rather than kids' music. You can grow violently ill listening to even your favorite song for the thirty-seventh time in a row.

The tethers that go from the back of the convertible carseat to the anchor behind the rear headrest make excellent handholds for a baby who has just learned to stand. (Car not in motion, of course.)

Said baby who has just learned to stand will generally be unwilling to stop standing so you can buckle him in and get back on the road.

Eventually, said baby's sister will decide that she wants to stand, too.

With the proper breathing techniques, you can drive for a shockingly long period of time with a screaming wanting-to-stand baby (or two) in the car.

A parking lot outside a sewage treatment plant is not really the optimal place to try to lull your daughter to sleep.

It is possible for an exhausted mommy to squeeze into the backseat between two rear-facing Britax Roundabouts and read book after book while managing pacifier replacement to the left and head-stroking to the right - but it's not easy.

There's no place like home.

24 August 2007

God in the Classroom? Never!

From today's New York Times:

About 400 students started classes at Ben Gamla [a new K-8 charter public school in Hollywood, Florida] this week amid caustic debate over whether a public school can teach Hebrew without touching Judaism and the unconstitutional side of the church-state divide. The conflict intensified Wednesday, when the Broward County School Board ordered Ben Gamla to suspend Hebrew lessons because its curriculum — the third proposed by the school — referred to a Web site that mentioned religion.

Opponents say that it is impossible to teach Hebrew — and aspects of Jewish culture — outside a religious context, and that Ben Gamla, billed as the nation’s first Hebrew-English charter school, violates one of its paramount legal and political boundaries.

Of those of you who went to public school, how many of you learned anything about Christianity? Maybe the Crusades, or the Protestant Reformation? How many of you sang a Christmas carol (or five) in the winter pageant, or learned to play "church music" (including just about anything by Bach) if you were in the school orchestra? Was there a Halloween parade? In your Spanish or French or Italian class, did you learn to say "Feliz Navidad" or "Joyeux Noel" or "Buon Natale?" In your world history course, did you learn about such "exotic" philosophies as Buddhism and Baha'ai? And, of course, were you asked to start each day with the God-inclusive Pledge of Allegiance?

Eleanor Sobel, a school board member who is among Ben Gamla’s most vocal critics, said making sure the school did not stray from constitutional rules would take a near-impossible level of supervision.

Okay, Ms. Sobel. I hope you're exerting just as much effort to take Christianity out of the rest of the public schools in your district. Don't forget to reschedule the "Winter Break" so it doesn't deliberately overlap with Christmas every year. We wouldn't want anyone thinking that our public schools endorse any given religion, and, besides, the semester ends in late January, which is a much more logical time for a school vacation.

Culture and religion and history and language are interwoven. We do our children a great disservice when we try to pretend otherwise. We don't need less exposure to religion in our public schools - we need broader exposure. Children should know that we commonly note numbers in "Arabic numerals" and that we have Muslim scholars to thank for much of our science and math. They should know about the pagan origins of Halloween/Samhain (bonus points if you distinguish among the various religions that are currently lumped under the pagan umbrella), and the Catholic "All Souls Day" spin-off. They should know that being "zen" doesn't jsut mean chilling out, and that "yoga" is more than an exercise class. A survey of world religions should not be limited to a couple of days of "...and this is what they do in other countries in December."

So, yeah, teach Israeli folk dancing to those public school kids, including the 17% whose parents' primary language is Spanish and the "handful" of black students, some of whom are bussed over to the school by their Baptist church.

You know what really gets me, though? This bit (if it's true):

Mr. Deutsch and Rabbi Siegel, a former Jewish day school director, said their critics were mostly defenders of Jewish day schools that stand to lose students and tuition money.

About 80% of the students at Ben Gamla are transfers from other public schools, not from Jewish day schools. Of the students who did transfer out of the day schools, I would not be surprised to discover that a significant portion of them were there not for the religious education, but only for the Hebrew language exposure, or perhaps a little bit of cultural support. Some secular Israelis who have moved to the U.S. choose to send their children to Jewish day schools for the sole purpose of having somewhat familiar surroundings for their children, who may not speak English very well at first, or who may not feel comfortable being inundated with Christmas! come December.

While I certainly understand the day schools' interest in retaining students, I find it morally repugnant that their leaders would seek to undermine an effort to bring exposure to Hebrew language and Jewish culture to a greater number of students - including non-Jewish students.

Allan Tuffs, the rabbi at Temple Beth El in Hollywood, said he, too, was worried about the school and what it could lead to. “Jews have thrived in America as in no other nation,” Rabbi Tuffs said, “in large measure due to this concept of separation of church and state.”

He added, “Once a Jewish school like Ben Gamla is established, you know that fundamentalist Christian groups throughout America will be lining up to replicate this model according to their religious tradition.”

Not so fast, my friend. They'll have to create their own language first.

23 August 2007

What's the matter, Colonel Sanders? CHICKEN?

My children are no longer vegetarians. Rafi, at least, seems to be very happy about it.

(Off the grill, of course!)

22 August 2007


Tonight Julian and I were discussing Moxie's post on consumer consciousness in purchasing children's toys. I suggested striving to avoid the Made-in-China-type stuff, not only for our kids' safety, but also to do our part to minimize worker exploitation and bad manufacturing practices. Not missing a beat, Julian asked if there are companies that would follow the carbon-neutral model by becoming "exploitation-neutral" - "We'll keep on exploiting our own workers, but we'll pay for those people over there to have a better life."

Seriously, I want to do some kind of assessment of our global exploitation "footprint" and see what we can do to minimize it. I have no real chance of ever meeting my ideal - the cheap, cute clothes at Old Navy are just too tempting to pass up. And just two days ago I bought a couple of rubber duckies (from Target no less) that were made in China...and I didn't even bother to look at the packaging before tossing them into the stroller basket. Hell, we have half of the Tiny Love catalog sitting in our living room, thanks to their "buy one, get one free" program for parents of multiples. We certainly have our share of plastic toys, though we are trying to minimize the number of items that sing, vibrate, whistle, beep, flash, or otherwise contribute to auditory and visual pollution of the home. (I should note that we bought high chairs with big plastic toy attachments that flash and play music. Sue me, but sometimes the kids need to be in their high chairs without food, and I'm weak.)

Will have to chew this over. In the meantime, I am happy to note that DreamHost, which my husband went with to host online stuff for our synagogue, is both employee-owned and carbon-neutral/green. w00t!

(No, being carbon-neutral's not perfect, not when you accomplish it by paying for "carbon credits," but it's a step in the right direction, and DreamHost also goes to some length to reduce their negative environmental impact to begin with.)

21 August 2007

food update

This won't be a very good baby-led weaning blog if I don't actually write about the foods my kids are trying. As of this week, we have broken the "one new food every two or three days" rule, though we still are not offering complex mixed foods. The list of offered foods thusfar (I think in order):

  • sweet potato (boiled; steamed)

  • avocado

  • carrot (steamed)

  • zucchini (steamed; grilled)

  • banana

  • peas (boiled, in mesh feeder)

  • broccoli (steamed)

  • green grapes (in mesh feeder)

  • brown rice pasta

  • blueberries (in mesh feeder)

  • red bell pepper (raw, for gnawing)

  • eggplant (grilled)

  • watermelon

  • oatmeal (cut oats, not whole)

I feel like I must have left something out, but I can't think of anything just now. The grilled veggies are made with a bit of olive oil, and this past Sunday also had some black pepper sprinkled on before grilling. Grilled zucchini so far seems to be a favorite, either fresh off the grill (cooled slightly) or cold the next day. Watermelon is a hit with Rafi, not so much with Rita.

Pasta (offered four times) was met with almost no interest whatsoever, and I can't tell whether that's because the shape (rotini) was too small to pick up (didn't seem so) or because (as Julian theorizes) it's just too bland. Tomato sauce is out because we haven't yet offered tomatoes, which are somewhat allergenic, and sauteed veggies in oil seems like it would be too slippery...but I'm wondering whether a nut-free pesto would be a good pasta sauce. Maybe with some avocado for creaminess? They haven't had basil either, but this would be a good introduction.

General dexterity is improving - Rafi is quite adept at getting the right part of the mesh feeder into his mouth when he wants to, and both kids can usually manage to pick up spear-shaped foods and place them into their mouths (though they sometimes need us to hold up the slippery foods so they can grab them).

The oatmeal was a new food this morning, and I helped a bit by putting some onto spoons for each of them (from piles in sections of their trays) and letting them attack the spoons as they saw fit. Both aimed for the oatmeal directly with their hands as well, and Rita had a ball squishing it through her fingers. I must admit I tried the squishing thing as I was rinsing off the trays, and it's rather fun.

14 August 2007


English was not my father's first language. It was his fourth, in fact, after Farsi, Hebrew, and Arabic. Because of this, he had more than his share of linguistic quirks. I never really noticed them as a child, the way you don't really take note of your parents' accent or weird driving habits or total lack of fashion sense until you hit middle school or whatever and someone else points it out to you....at which point it starts to stick out like a sore thumb and becomes a never-ending source of embarrassment.

Two particular quirks hold fast in my memory. One was his use of the word "cautious." He must have learned "cautious" before "careful," because he almost never used the latter. "Be cautious!" he would say as I hopped onto a swing, dove into a pool, or went off to just about anywhere. It would burst out of his mouth even as a split-second warning, like when I was riding my bike or learning to drive. It just sounded odd, as these things go, far too formal a declaration when a simple "Careful!" or "Watch out!" would do.

The other one that sticks out for me is the way he communicated the concept of acting slowly. In Hebrew, one would say "le'at le'at," which translates literally as "slow slow." Different languages, different grammatical structure; it makes sense in Hebrew. But not in English. I'm not sure he even knew the word "slowly." Driving too fast? "Go slow-slow." Wolfing down dinner? "Come on. Eat slow-slow." And so on.

You may have noticed a few new lines in the Archives drop-down menu. Or, if you are subscribed to the Devarim feed, you probably have a bunch of new posts in your reader. I am importing posts from the original Devarim, working in little spurts. Slow-slow, it will all get done.

12 August 2007

New level of sleep deprivation

Julian and I just had an extended debate about whether or not I'd already taken the shower I intended to take before bed. I couldn't remember, and neither could he. In the end we had to go check to see whether the shower stall was wet.

It was.

Now, if you'll excuse me, I think it's time to sleep.

So True

Tell me this hasn't happened to you.

05 August 2007

Grilling Success Story!

Today we had some chicken cutlets, onions, and zucchini off of the grill (a charcoal kettle deal that debuted on Mother's Day). I left the salt and pepper off of the pieces of one of the smaller zucchini, and we offered wedges of that to the kids. Oh my, was that a hit. Rita only had about one and a half pieces, but that's a significant amount for her. Rafi must have gone through about half of a zucchini's worth of wedges - most of the skin and some bits of flesh were left me behind, but the greater part of everything we handed him made it into his mouth and down the hatch. There were flecks of grilled-blackened veggie all over his cheeks and nose, too. I guess we now know who really picked out that Mother's Day gift!

Oh yes - Rita is back on food now. On Friday I spoke to her pediatrician, who thinks the rash is just a superficial skin irritation caused by the food. After observing her eat a few times this weekend, Julian and I think it's actually caused by her polyester bibs, which she would rub against her cheeks and mouth. So at the grill-fest today we put her in a long-sleeved bib with a fleece front, thereby preventing the bib-rubbing. After a few days of that, we'll see how it affects things.

In other news, we also discovered today that Rafi can reach the spinning animals on the very top of the toy tree that came with his high chair. Two days ago they were out of reach, and now he can make them whirl like nobody's business. Awesome!

Sing it!

I was going to write a post like this in honor of World Breastfeeding Week, but since One Tired Ema wrote it already, and probably better than I would have, go read hers.

03 August 2007

A Blaringly Good Time Was Had By All

So, the sheva brachot went off without a hitch. It had been nearly a year and a half since we last hosted a gathering even approaching this size (just under thirty people, though our parties used to have closer to fifty), and I was worried we'd forgotten how to keep things going. There was much frantic last-minute cleaning, but we get our best cleaning done just before guests arrive. As do Gnomiand Mabfan, apparently. (They co-hosted with us and so spent the couple of hours before the event also frantically straightening up and arranging serving platters and checking things off lists.) We progressed from snacks to food to dessert at a decent rate, and after most of the guests left around 9:45 a few friends stuck around (along with the bride and groom of course) while we leisurely packed up the leftovers. Approximately half of every dish Gnomi or I made was left over, meaning we made just the right amount. The kids (pleasantly) surprised us by sleeping through the whole thing, from the first loud arrivals to the constant chatter to the joyful singing all the way to the drawn-out goodbyes. The only sticky part of the evening occurred when Julian noticed that one of the building's first-floor smoke detectors outside our door was making a funny beeping noise. "Just as long as it doesn't go off during the sheva brachot," I said.

You've heard the sage advice, I sure, to be careful what you wish for - because you just might get it. The alarm did not, in fact, go off during the sheva brachot,

It went off at just after four o'clock in the morning.

Now, if we hadn't had a solid week of near-daily false alarms last month,, this probably would have freaked me out far more than it did. Instead, my first thought upon waking was, Didn't they fix this stupid thing already? But, of course, you take these things seriously, so Julian and I grabbed the kids and headed outside, where we spent a pleasant fifteen or twenty minutes with our neighbors. Our overnight guests (the groom's parents) commented that we certainly know how to provide entertainment for company. A fire engine eventually showed up. The alarm, of course, was nothing, and we all shuffled back inside.

I did my best to get the kids back to bed by repeating the latter portions of their bedtime routine. Rafi fell back asleep by about 4:45, and I think we can expect him to stay that way until at least 7:00. Rita, on the other hand, is still awake. After repeated attempts to resettle her, we eventually decided to pull her into our room so that she wouldn't wake Rafi with her shrieking. She's tired, poor girl, but she has never been one to fall back asleep - even now when she wakes to nurse in the middle of the night.

The most frustrating part of it all is that we were on track for a good night's sleep for both kids. Rafi's only wake-up was at about 2:30 AM, and he went right back to sleep after nursing and having his diaper changed. With that kind of timing, we were probably going to avoid the two-wakeups pattern (once before 11 PM, one after 4 AM) he'd fallen into over the past week or so. Rita had not yet woken at all since bedtime, and for her that probably meant she was headed for a solid ten- or eleven-hour night. Not that I want my children to be up half the night, but it if we'd been having a night from hell anyway it would have been much easier to take this disruption in stride.

And I suppose now is as good a time as any to introduce Rita to early-morning blogging.

02 August 2007

food log: bananas

I gave Rafi very ripe banana this morning - sliced in half crosswise, peeled down one side of bottom half. He promptly stuck it in his mouth, sucked off a bit, and then squirted the rest of the banana out of its peel. After watching his fruitless (punny, huh?) attempts at getting the squishy stuff into his mouth, I started holding up chunks within lunging range and letting him bite or suck off bits. Then we repeated the process with the second half. All told I'd guess he actually consumed maybe 1/6 or 1/;8 of the banana...not bad!

01 August 2007

go figure

Five repetitions of "Al Kol Ele" - tired Rita is still lifting up her head and giggling at me.

One time through of "We're Not Gonna Nap Now" (with apologies to Twisted Sister) - Rita is halfway asleep.

31 July 2007

I Dream of Rafi With the Toothless Grin...

...because that Rafi is disappearing before my very eyes! His two lower front teeth are on the attack! The left one has already cut through his gum and is ever so slowly working its way out; the one on the right hasn't cut yet, but is causing the little guy plenty of pain. On Sunday we tried an ice cube in the mesh feeder, thinking the cold would help, but he wasn't interested. So far he's needed two doses of Tylenol (one Sunday afternoon, one a few hours ago) and a little extra cuddling and nursing, but otherwise he seems to be taking it in stride.

And while ice in the mesh feeder may not have been his thing, peas definitely are! Today I boiled (eight minutes) some frozen organic peas, let them cool a bit, stuffed a bunch into the mesh feeder, and handed Rafi his new "toy." It took him a few minutes worth of random bites all over the thing, but eventually he figured out that yummy stuff would ooze out of one side if he chewed on it. By the time he was done (i.e., asking for a nap), there was neon green pea juice all over his mouth and neck and the collar of his shirt (it snuck in behind the bib), and most of the peas inside the feeder had been demolished with only skins left behind.

30 July 2007

gold star

Hey, statia - have a star:


I am making baklava tonight, in preparation for a sheva brachot we are co-hosting later this week. I have not made baklava in a long time, possibly not since we moved into this apartment two years ago. (That can't be right. I must have made it since then. but definitely not in the past year.) This is not the time to tweak with my recipe (a variation on this one involving only pistachios and lots more cardamom), but as I was assembling it tonight I thought of a few changes I would like to make in the future. (Basically, I'm thinking of doing a pistachio-almond mix for the filling - and making more of it; using more phyllo dough and thereby making more total layers; and streamlining my syrup, which is now packed with cinnamon, cardamom, orange zest, cloves, and rose water.) Now to figure out when I'll have another opportunity to make it. In some ways, life was easier before we had kids; back then we'd host large dinners or lunches at least twice a month and have a Really Big Party at least three times a year. Alas.

Well...we are hosting another sheva brachot about two weeks later. I'm sure those friends don't mind being experimented on at all...

...or Pizza will send out for YOU

Gold star to the first commenter to place that quote.

Anyway, obviously this will have no bearing on our pizza order for tonight, but I'm curious: what topping(s) would you put on your ideal pizza? What topping(s) make you run screaming? (Kashrut aside.)

Also: to fold or not to fold?

food update

Yes, I know, enough with the babies and food posts. This blog is also where I keep records of what foods we've introduced, though, so you'll just have to live with it and pretend to be interested.

Introduced zucchini (cut into "french fry" strips with peel on and steamed until soft, about seven minutes) on Sunday. Both kids seemed to have a better time holding onto these pieces and biting off small chunks (usually spit out afterwards). Rafi definitely sucked significant bits of the flesh off of the skin and wanted more than one piece at both Sunday sit-downs. We paired it with more steamed carrot strips (first introduced Friday) at the second meal on Sunday; they seem to like that as well.

Rita has developed some sort of rash on either side of her mouth which may or may not be food-related...or just a heat rash that coincidentally started right after we introduced solids. Our pediatrician isn't in today, but the senior doctor in the practice returned my call, heard my description, and recommended taking her off of solids completely for a few days to see if that clears up the rash. Oh well - at least I've found a silver lining to the kids' naps not overlapping, as I can now offer Rafi solids while Rita is asleep and therefore unlikely to complain about what she's missing.

29 July 2007

mazal tov

Happy wedding day to Josh and Alexis!

28 July 2007

About the Weather

We had a spectacular thunderstorm this afternoon, the kind that comes in surges with occasional snippets of sunlight or quiet (but oddly enough, not both at once). One clap of thunder was so loud (and so close) that it startled Rita's eyes wide open and she almost - almost - started to cry. And at one point a little later, I could actually see another wall of rain moving in toward us, just by the dumb luck of happening to look out the window at that moment. The only thing missing was the sight of actual lightning...I didn't see a single bolt through any windows, and caught only one reflected flash when my back was turned.

I hope this storm means the weather for the next few days will be more pleasant than it has been this past week. Don't ruin it by pointing me to the forecast; I think I want to be surprised.

Solid foods introduction update: offered steamed (until quite soft) sliced carrot yesterday, and both avocado and steamed carrot today. So far the sweet potato wedges seem to have been the most manageable, though Rafi is certainly adept at mushing the avocado into his eyebrows.

25 July 2007


Yes, I know, I said I would try to blog about something other than my kids. Sorry. Just want to log that this morning at breakfast we offered Rafi and Rita each a wedge of avocado (1/8 of the fruit, sliced lengthwise). Rafi made an attempt at getting it toward his mouth, smushed a little on his face, and then decided he'd rather nap instead. Rita employed the same technique she's been using for sweet potato: squish trough fingers and lick or suck off what sticks. She seemed to really like the avocado bits she managed to eat (and even sucked a few tiny bits off of my fingers - bad BLW mommy I am). She had her first gagging incident, got through it just fine, and resumed the squish-and-suck process almost immediately. After a few more minutes, though, she started fussing and whining. I'm not sure whether she was annoyed by the bib, frustrated that she couldn't get more avocado into her mouth, or just bored with the whole thing.

23 July 2007

Sweet Potato Poo

The sweet potato experiment was a success, if you define "success" as "a mess was made and some small portion of sweet potato made its way into each child's mouth." Which is, of course, how I define "success."

I peeled one large-ish, organically farmed, garnet yam and cut it into wedges that were about an inch at their widest, a quarter-inch to a half-inch thick, and four to six inches long. Said wedges were boiled in plain water for about seven and a half minutes (until soft) and then removed with a slotted spoon and placed on a plate to cool to room temperature. A little while later, Julian and his parents and I sat down to our bagels and cream cheese (and stuff, always stuff), and Rafi and Rita joined us at the table in their high chairs, with a couple of sweet potato wedges on each tray. There was a bit of assistance involved to get the sweet potato into their hands (the trays are a wee bit high for my short children to reach up and over them), but we didn't place any into their mouths. (At least...I didn't. Julian may have snuck something in.)

Rafi's method: Hold wedge gently at one end. Bring hand near mouth. If opposite end of wedge does not flop over and fall into lap, place it into mouth and bite off a chuck with gums. Mush it just the barest amount, and attempt to swallow. Gag, cough, scare Grandma, and spit out chunk. Repeat until this whole high chair thing gets boring, and then insist on being transfered to Mommy's lap, where one may rub the sweet potato chunks into a placemat.

Rita's method: Grab wedge, mush through fingers. Suck thumb. Discover that thumb tastes interesting. Suck other fingers. Discover that they also taste interesting. Mush more sweet potato through fingers and suck thumb again. Alternately, grab wedge with two hands, bring wedge to mouth, and lick it. Experiment once with biting off a good-sized chunk. Puree said chunk with gums and spit it out slowly, but not quite slowly enough for Mommy to get a good picture.

And did they swallow anything? The proof is in the poo, and the answer is yes! A mere six hours after our adventure, I found some bright orange bits of undigested sweet potato in Rafi's dirty diaper. I excitedly called Julian over to investigate, and he acted appropriately pleased. Rita did not grace us with a dirty diaper at all Sunday afternoon, but this morning there was some sweet potato in her diaper as well. They swallowed! They swallowed!

This morning, after their first nap, the experiment was repeated, but with only one wedge of sweet potato each. Nothing was dropped onto the floor (maybe they just haven't figured out that game yet), and while I doubt much was actually eaten, they seemed to have figured out that they should at least be attempting that. Nifty.

Next on the list is parsnip, I think, mainly because I have some in my fridge.

Oh dear, I just wrote an entire post about boiled potatoes and poo. I promise, I'll get back to political rants one day.

22 July 2007

Breaking Up is Hard to Do

The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that infants be breastfed exclusively for the first six months of life, and that they continue to receive breastmilk through the end of the first year and thereafter "as long as mutually desired by mother and child." The World Health Organization encourages breastfeeding to continue (in conjunction with complementary foods after six months) until the child is two years old.

Rafi and Rita* are six months old today.

As I nursed each of them earlier this morning, I noted with bittersweet amazement that our period of exclusive breastfeeding is ending. We've long made it past the initial hurdles, and now we've reached that first golden goal: half a year of successful nursing with no supplemental nutrition. Aside from a three doses (each) of oral rotavirus vaccine, a few weeks of messy (and probably unnecessary) vitamin supplementation, some (probably necessary) gripe water for Rita, one (very necessary) helping of prune juice for Rafi, and a few experimental sips of plain water over the past week, these kids have had nothing but The Best Stuff On Earth. By the end of the day, we will have to amend that to "nothing but The Best Stuff On Earth and some boiled sweet potato."

(Let me just state, for the record, that infants can and do thrive on formula. I'm not knocking parents who choose to give their babies formula, exclusively or as a complement to breastmilk. I'm certainly not knocking women who want to nurse their babies and, for one reason or another, cannot. Exclusive breastfeeding for six months, followed - we hope - by extended nursing and child-directed weaning, is the path that we have chosen for our family, because it is right for us. End disclaimer.)

We are planning to start down the path of baby-led weaning, skipping purees and "baby foods" altogether and starting directly with simple table foods. Spoons are out; bibs are in. I'd love to elaborate on this, and I will in the future I'm sure. But right now the children are up from their first nap...Julian is changing and dressing them, there are boiled wedges of sweet potato waiting on the table alongside the grown-ups' bagels and cream cheese, and I'm off to nurse my children for one last time before they find something else they can swallow.

* Names changed to protect the young from Google Monsters.

20 July 2007

Eleh haDevarim...

I was born in New York.

I ate, slept, pooped, moved from New Jersey to Michigan, and toilet trained somewhere along the way. We were the only Jews in our town. I was checked for horns. I taught people about Chanukah. I grew up some. We got a dog.

We moved to Long Island. My sister was born. My mother got cancer. My paternal grandfather died. My mother died. I flew to Israel for the funeral, even though my father told me not to. We sat shiva at my maternal grandparents' home. I finished high school and went to the prom without a date (but did not lack for dance partners).

I went to college. I joined a sorority and started dating this very nice guy in early February, but I had already committed to being some other guy's date for a fraternity dance on Valentine's Day. I dumped the very nice guy on our one-month anniversary. He ended up marrying my roommate from the sorority. I was a bridesmaid in their wedding. In the meantime, I met another very nice guy. I married that one. My maternal grandmother got cancer, and no family from Israel came to the wedding. Before that, though, the dog ran away and I started law school.

I covered my hair when we got married, but only sometimes. The (second) very nice guy and I lived in different states for a while after we were married. Then we decided that this was very silly, and I moved. My maternal grandparents died within four months of each other. I tried to fly to Israel to see my grandmother before she died; instead I was there for the funeral. I didn't fly to Israel for my grandfather's funeral; instead I finished writing a final exam. I attended another law school, started a blog, took the Massachusetts bar exam, and got a job. I started covering my hair all the time - almost.

We bought a new, bigger, apartment. My paternal grandmother died the next day. Fresh out of grandparents, I took a day off work to sleep in the middle of my new living room floor and field international phone calls. My sister got another dog. My father got cancer.

I bought some fake hair to cover my real hair, but never really wore it (except for that wedding where I was a bridesmaid). My father got a little better, then he got a lot sicker. I got a new car. I got pregnant. With twins. I stopped looking for a new job. My father died. I didn't fly to Israel for the funeral. I sat shiva in four places, including an airport.

I grew a little older and a lot wiser in areas where I would have preferred to stay young and naive. I had carrot cake on my twenty-seventh birthday, blew out candles lit in binary, watched an aging Dick Clark fumble his way through midnight, and said goodbye to my last year of non-motherhood. I pushed out a couple of kids.

We made a brit milah and a zeved habat on the same day. We named our daughter for my mother and my mother's mother. We named our son for my grandfathers. We made a pidyon haben about three weeks later. I've made gallons of milk. They've made plenty of dirty diapers.

The (second) very nice guy's paternal grandmother died. He went to New York for the funeral. The (second) very nice guy and I, for the first time, hosted Pesach seders in our own home. Our daughter, not wanting to sleep, joined us for the second seder. Our son slept through both. From this we learn that it was because of the righteous women that Israel was brought out of Egypt.

I wandered in the wilderness, reading blogs and wikis and message boards in the early morning hours, a child draped over my shoulder or held to my breast. Our children grew, a little. Nearly half a year passed in the space of about five minutes, which may explain how the world was (or was not) created in six days. I found my way, lost it, found another. There is no certain way, just faith. I lost my faith, found it, lost it, looked again. It's out there somewhere, or in here somewhere.

Let's go looking together.