30 November 2009

Don't Tell Nawlins

I am frantically trying to find something for the kids to eat for lunch. Pasta is out as there is a potential dinner playdate today and it will be the safest bet for that. No fish sticks in the freezer, no polenta in the fridge, no couscous in the cupboard.

"Hey..." I venture. "Do you guys want some...uh...fake sausage? With...tomato sauce? And, um...some rice?"

Wrinkled noses, a mini-chorus of "No!"

Thirty seconds later...

"Hey, do you guys want some gumbo?"

"Yeah! Gumbo!"

Onions, carrots, sausage, frozen spinach, tomato sauce, a little spicy veggie broth. Saute first three, add everything else, simmer, serve over rice. They gobbled it up. It's amazing what's in a name.

15 November 2009

Independent Entities

Somewhere along the line, I picked up a tip for convincing a willful preschooler to be a little more cooperative. If it involves a body part in any way shape or form, you give that body part its own identity, needs, and wants, and ask the child to help it out. Don't want to use the potty? That's okay, but your tushie wants to get rid of some poop, so can you just sit on the potty for a few minutes so your tushie can push the poop out?

We tried this tonight at dinner, when both Rafi and Rita decided they were done after only a few bites of lasagna. Magically, their tummies developed minds of their own (voiced by Mommy), and both tummies insisted they were soooooo hungry. "Feed me!" Rita's tummy pleaded. "I want more lasagna!"

A little smile took over Rita's face. "Okay. I'll feed my tummy!" Giggling, Rita stabbed a piece of lasagna with her fork, lifted it...and aimed for her belly button.

13 September 2009

First Day of Preschool

I barely slept Wednesday night. After finally setting aside clothes for the first day, I got it into my head to fold (most of) the mountain of laundry we generated after returning from our week in NY. I'm not quite sure what I did with the rest of the night, but it was 5 AM before I knew it, and I barely managed an hour of sleep before Rita came into our room.

Miraculously, her early wake-up for the day didn't impact her enjoyment of school at all. She and Rafi were (mostly) cooperative in getting dressed, eagerly put on their backpacks to head downstairs, tolerated several rounds of posed First Day pictures, and bounded down the street with fewer than half a dozen pauses to examine cracks in the sidewalk and idling trucks in the road.

Once at school, they found their cubbies, helped me put away their spare clothes, settled their backpacks inside, and dashed off into the classroom before I could even turn around. I really think that if the school didn't require that parents stay through the entire (hour-long) first session, I could have left them right then and there. Instead, I had the privilege of watching them explore a sand table, a deluxe kitchen and dining area, and more new-to-them toys than I could count. Clean up, circle time, and - just like that - the first day of school was done.

I can't wait for them to go back on Tuesday.

10 September 2009

Two Little Fish

In about seven hours, Rafi and Rita and I will head out the door and down the street for their first day of preschool. A typical mother would have their First Day Of School outfits laid out (probably new clothes), bags of spare clothes packed, camera waiting, and home at least somewhat tidy so as to streamline the process of getting out the door in the morning.

Me? I did manage to find a dress and leggings for Rita that match each other and do not have any visible stains. And I set aside a polo for Rafi, but I have no clue which of his pants will match it, be suitable for the weather (mid-teens/low-60s, depending on your preferred system), and go with sneakers (they do have new sneakers). Their sandals would match better for both outfits, but they are definitely showing wear. Besides, the other parents will think I'm a loon for putting myself in sandals in mid-September - better they don't think I'm abusive for doing the same to my children.

I have a spare outfit set aside for him, but I can't find the cubby-box-clothes I had in mind for her (you know...the ones that still fit, but are stained and a little shlumpy so you won't miss them at home). Extra socks - check. Spare diapers stuffed and set aside; the school is planning to use disposable wipes and zipper-locking plastic bags as needed. Of course nothing is labeled, since I only got around to ordering clothing labels about 90 minutes ago.

The living room and kitchen are in shambles, with most of our summer clothes recently laundered and tossed on every available surface, waiting to be folded and put away. This should add to the excitement of looking for Rita's spare clothes or even finding a clean shirt for myself in the morning. I still need to memorize the door code to get us into the building. I'll have to remember to ask Julian where the camera is before he leaves for work. And I should probably make sure I actually have my wallet with me when I walk out the door in the morning.

We're not terrible parents, though. Just before bathtime, we presented the children with their first backpacks, with their initials embroidered on the flaps. Tucked into each bag was the welcome note from their teachers. They unzipped and rezipped the bags, and had us read them their notes over and over, pointing out each teacher's face several times. I shortened the shoulder straps as much as possible, and they danced around their room with bags on their backs, their faces filled with pride and delight.

They could go to school in tattered t-shirts and ragged shorts, but if they put on those smiles every time they put on their backpacks, they'll be the best-dressed kids in the world.

13 August 2009

Mother May I?

Before it ends completely, I have to document Rafi's "permission phase." Starting about three weeks ago, he started asking "Can I...?" questions: "Mommy, can I have some more cheese please?" "Can I put my shoes on?" "Can I play with the Legos?"

This progressed to asking for obvious things, half joking: "Can I have my dinner?" "Can I go to the grocery store with you?" "Can I get into my stroller?" He would giggle hysterically with some of these questions.

It's only a matter of time, Julian said, before he asks a question where he knows the answer will be "no." And soon thereafter, that day arrived.

"Mommy, can I put this potty on my head?" No, Rafi.


"On Rita's head?"

31 July 2009

Digestion According to Rafi

"I eat my bagel all up, and put it all into my tummy, and then it goes into the potty, and that's what happens to bagels!"

24 July 2009

Another year, another thing...

It's that week of the year again. Time to start summing it all up, and next week we start the elevation toward Judgment and yadda yadda. (Eloquent, no?)

I've been quiet on the blog now for a while. You could say I've had to restrict things, restrict my words. For a while, I couldn't talk politics, because of my job. Then I couldn't talk about some major personal turmoil, in order to protect the privacy of family members. Then I elected not to talk about my pregnancy, and it took six months before I felt comfortable talking about my kids here at all. Just as I was getting ready to shift gears, I received a few comments that were...less than appreciative of my path toward Mommy Blogging. I have to say I agree to some degree; I'm not looking to be a Mommy Blogger. But at the same time, I regret terribly that I have almost no record of my children's first two and a half years, all because I didn't want to be pigeonholed.

So here it is, people: this is my place. I'm going to stop caring what people do or don't want to read, what they think I am or am not capable of. I have two beautiful children. They are among the most important things in my life. If every word I write from this day forward is about them, I will not have wasted a single letter.

22 June 2009

Not-Quite-Yogurt Sauce

This past Shabbat we had a bunch of friends over for dinner, including a couple of vegetarians. Although I am usually delighted to make a vegetarian meal, given the size and makeup of the crowd I opted for a chicken main course. Every other dish (including a Moroccan-style chickpea stew served over couscous, as an alternate protein) was vegetarian friendly, but one of the vegetarian guests offered to whip up a batch of zucchini fritters in my kitchen as well. "I usually serve this with a dill-yogurt sauce," he said. Alas - no yogurt with chicken.

So we improvised a lovely pareve (and vegan!) substitute for his yogurt sauce. Not only did it go nicely with the zucchini fritters, but it was wonderful drizzled over the chickpeas as well. I look forward to making a variation (without the dill or garlic) as a base for a pareve raita some time in the future.

"Yogurt" Sauce with Dill and Garlic

  • about 3/4 lb silken tofu (do not use soft or firm)

  • 1/3 to 2/3 cup unsweetened rice milk

  • juice of 1 lemon, more to taste

  • a generous pinch or two of salt

  • 1 small clove garlic, crushed (frozen is fine, but do not use powder)

  • 1 tsp finely chopped dill

  1. Combine tofu and 1/3 cup rice milk in food processor or blender and process until smooth. Add more rice milk, a little at a time, until sauce is just a bit thicker than desired.

  2. Add lemon juice and salt and process until completely blended. Taste - it should taste more or less like yogurt that has been thinned with a little water. Add more salt or lemon juice if needed.

  3. Add garlic and dill and process until fully combined.

  4. Cover and refrigerate for at least half an hour to let flavors mingle. May be stored in the refrigerator for a few days; if it starts to curdle a bit, just mix well until smooth.

Also posted to KosherBlog.

08 June 2009

Toilet Training FAIL

ME: Rita, you made a poopy! There's a poop in your diaper!

RITA: [with pride] I made it all by myself!

ME: Yes! And now we can go clean the poop off your tushie and give you a new diaper. Next time, can you tell me before you make a poopy so you can make it in the potty?


ME: Why not?

RITA: Because I want to make it in the diaper.

(I mean, really, how are you going to argue with that?)

18 May 2009

Watch Your Language

RITA: Dammit!

RAFI: Rita no say dammit! Only Mommy!

03 April 2009

Best Telemarketer Conversation Ever

ME: Hello?

HIM: Hi, I'm John Doe with the XYZ Foundation. How are you doing today, Mrs. Gore...faj...in?

ME: I'm sorry, I should tell you upfront that we don't make any financial commitments over the phone.

HIM: Well, that's not exactly what we do here. [pause] Okay, I guess it is. Have a great day. Bye.

26 March 2009

My Little Feminist

Background: Rafi was born with a full head of hair, and has had four or five full-on haircuts (not cutesy-baby-bang-trims) in his short life. Rita was born virtually bald, and only just now have we started to actually worry whether her hair is getting in her eyes.

We were engaged in the usual bedtime proceedings. Rafi had just finished nursing and scrambled off my lap, and Rita climbed up for her turn. For some reason I can't place, Julian's kipa had fallen off of his head. Rafi spotted it, picked it up, offered it back to Daddy. Julian in turn offered it back to Rafi.

Thirty seconds later, my little boy was running around delightedly, kipa (and clips!) centered on top of his head. "Do you like the kipa?" I asked him. "Soon you will wear one every day."

Rita took a quick break from nursing. "Rita wear it kipa too?"

"No, sweetie. You don't have to wear a kipa."

Rita burst into tears. I tried to console her: "You can wear one, if you want to, I guess. But you don't need to wear a kipa. Just Daddy and Rafi. Mommy doesn't wear one, see?"

She wasn't having it, and the sobbing continued...until I saw a little lightbulb go off over her head. "Rafi wear it kipa? Rafi get a haircut, wear it kipa." [pause] "Rita get a haircut, wear kipa also."

Don't look now, but she's planning her own upsherin.

11 March 2009

Skill Retention

Apparently this was a very, very long winter - long enough to forget certain vital life skills.

This morning (barely), after a decent rain, I decided to toss the kids' rainboots into the stroller for a possible stop at the park. By the time we'd finished at Trader Joe's (where Rafi dozed off, which may explain why he spent the first half-hour of a much-delayed naptime today giggling and talking to himself), it was drizzling again. But, really, just a drizzle, so I figured - why not? Puddle-splashing was a much-loved activity last fall, and they needed to burn off some energy.

Off came the sneakers, on went the boots, up went the hoods, and I pulled the kids out of the stroller and set them on the ground. "Go on! We have some time to play. Go splash!"

Rafi looked up at me mournfully, shook his head, and whimpered: "I don't know how to splash."

08 March 2009

Holiday Food Mash-Up

This weekend, with some assistance from Rafi and Rita, I made five dozen hamentaschen - half of them apricot, half chocolate. On spying the chocolate filling, Julian told me that yesterday, in shul, a friend of ours bit into a chocolate hamentasch and wondered aloud whether it was carob. "Nobody would make carob hamentaschen!" I replied, just as he was getting to that same punchline. "It's Purim - not Tu B'Shevat!"

It got me thinking, though - how many holiday food traditions could one cram into a single, edible (and preferably palatable) item? Carob hamentasch = Tu B'Shevat + Purim. Fry it, and you cover Chanukah. Fried carob hamentasch with a honey-based dough = Chanukah + Tu B'Shevat + Purim + Rosh Hashana. Maybe you can even argue Sukkot, because hamentaschen are stuffed, in a manner of speaking.

Can you come up with a more inclusive delicacy?

04 March 2009

Do you even need me here?

Scene: Rafi and Rita have recently woken from their nap. Rita is playing on the floor; Rafi is still abed (by choice). Rafi drops his blankie.

ME: Rita, could you please up Rafi's blankie for him please?

RITA: Inna bed? [picks up blankie] Here, Rafi! Blankie inna bed!

RAFI: [giggles, drops the blankie again] Rita pickup blankie?

RITA, good sport that she is, does so.

RAFI: [giggles, drops the blankie again] Rita pickup blankie?

RITA, good sport that she is, does so.

RAFI: [giggles, drops the blankie again] Rita pickup blankie?

RITA, good sport that she is, does so.

RAFI: Rita pickup blankie?

RITA: [hands him blankie] Not pick it up again, Rafi!

RAFI considers this, and tosses the blankie over again.

RITA: [sighs, hands him blankie] Not pick it up again, Rafi!