Thursday, July 24, 2008

Post-reunion ruminations

This week I flew down to LA sort of on a whim (if planning this two weeks in advance counts as a whim) to attend the 20th reunion of my last year as a camper at the summer camp where I spent seven years of my childhood and then three years as a counselor in my working, late teenage life. My one friend that I'm still in touch with (who I went to college with incidentally) convinced me to go and I have to say that I'm so glad I did. It was fabulous. I hadn't seen most of these people since I was 14 and as they started to show up (we were one of the firsts there so we could walk around and look at the camp before dinner) we'd have a brief moment of panic (who the hell is that!?) but then we were transformed into teenagers and we'd run and jump on each other in a spastic bear hug frenzy. And thankfully name tags were soon passed around. I get annoyed when no one remembers me because I remember everyone - name tags eliminated this problem.

So we talked all night and sang our old stupid songs. Everyone was doing well. Advancing in their careers, making babies etc. This camp is a really special place and I remember that as a kid, at the end of the session (which was nearly four weeks), I'd go home and just be totally withdrawn for days, sometimes weeks after. Not really sure what to do with myself. There was no email so I couldn't really be in touch with my friends. No one had cell phones and calling LA from Orange County was long distance....It was a terrible loneliness. We all felt it. We totally lived for camp. And even though my parents would come up for visitor's day and have lunch and sing some songs, they couldn't really GET what I'd been through.

So when I flew home at the crack of dawn on Wednesday morning I figured I was just exhausted from staying up late chatting with my friend and then catching a 5:15 am shuttle to LAX. I had a headache all day and I was crabby. But then I slept 8 hours and was still grouchy. And it finally occurred to me that I was campsick - that same feeling I'd had so many times as a kid leaving camp. And no one in my current life understands either. My husband never went to camp - not like this one anyway. I took him up there a few years ago for a shabbat dinner so he could experience all of the singing and chaos. He loved it. But it didn't give him the depth of experience that spending ten summers of your life does.

At least now I don't have to rely on letter-writing to stay in touch. Enter...FACEBOOK! Suddenly everyone and their dog is coming out of the woodwork and I am now connected to half the mid-thirties Jewish population of the Greater Los Angeles area. and we're all looking forward to our 30th reunion when our kids are at camp together singing their own songs.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Vantage advantage

The other day I was trying to take a picture with my phone, in fact it was the first time I’ve ever tried to take a picture with my phone, and a message popped up on the screen that the memory was full. Huh? Upon further investigation I found that there were already dozens of pictures in the phone. I scrolled through and saw pictures of my three-year-old’s feet dangling from his car seat, and the back of the passenger side head rest and a blurry one of me checking my email at home, and one of his kitty. I realized that he had covertly taken them all—including a self-portrait shot from his outstretched arm.

I had to laugh. It was like watching a slideshow of his world. We’ve been letting him use our digital camera (I know, you'd think we'd learn our lesson with the cell phone) which gives him unending pleasure. And the results have been surprisingly artistic. A lot of interesting angles and shots of loved ones from the waist down. A lot of shots of the sky, close-ups of the ground, his sister, his prized possessions, his own feet, the back of my head while I drive the car. You get the idea.

I made a little book of these pictures. For your perusal:

Click here to view this photo book.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008


I'm on edge because of this bargaining exercise that went down in Israel and Lebanon today. I was listening to NPR on the way to work as the deal was happening - the remains of two Israeli reservists, kidnapped by Hezbollah in 2006 which started the month long war in Lebanon, in exchange for the remains of 197 Lebanese killed on Israeli soil in botched attacks over the years (it's actually still a little unclear who these men were), plus five Lebanese terrorists including Sami Kuntar who in 1979, when he was 16 years old, killed four Israelis including a father and his four year old daughter who he smashed to death with a rifle butt to the skull. Incidentally the daughter's two year old sister was also killed, though unintentionally, by her mother as she tried to muffle the toddler's cries while they were hiding in a crawl space in their home. The woman smothered her own baby out of fear.

And as I'm hearing all of this I can't figure out who I ache for most. Ehud Goldwasser's parents? His wife? He was 31 years old on reserve duty. He'd been married for six months. Or Eldad Regev's family? He was 27 years old. Also a reservist. All I can say is thank god his mom died eight years before he was kidnapped. Should I be happy now that their remains are back in Israel? Honestly? I'm more concerned at this point that there's no reason to keep future kidnapped soldiers alive since we'll obviously hand over anyone you want just for the remains. What about the 197 Lebanese who were killed fighting Israel. I'll be honest I don't really ache for them too much though I get that they all likely have parents, wives, kids too. Which brings me to Sami Kuntar. What about the mother of those two girls who lost her whole family. The perpetrator is now free. In exchange for two corpses. Is it worth it?

Ask the Lebanese, they'll tell you it's worth it. They're celebrating today. Collectively anyway. Not the case in Jerusalem. So what's next? Do we just move along and wait for the next soldier to be nicked and see who else the Lebanese want in exchange for the remains? Maybe they want Bibi Netanyahu. They can have him. I can't stand that guy. Olmert's not much better.

Here's what I recommend, for anyone who's interested. Just go do what the Israelis have been doing for the last 100+ years and build your own god damned country. Yes, that doesn't play out as nicely for the Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza because of Israeli border control and the like. Agreed. More stuff there to be resolved. But in terms of the Lebanese, including the Palestinians who were displaced in 1948 and ended up in Lebanon. IT IS TIME TO BUILD YOUR FUCKING COUNTRY. Two generations have passed, three if you're Arab, that you've been whining about being refugees. We know about being refugees. Figure it out! Work collectively. Build schools and hospitals and educate your kids and be a kickass country with a rich culture. And tell Syria to fuck off. And then maybe Syria can concentrate on being the best country they can be and elevating their citizens. And then you won't care about the Israelis except for how to fit all of us in your hotels because we'll be flocking over the borders to tour your beautiful countries paying top shekel for copious amounts of hummus.

I really have no business blogging on this topic. And I'll be the first to admit I likely have the facts wrong. But you can get "facts" on a news channel. Anyway, I'll leave it for Tom Friedman to express my thoughts more concisely and eloquently when he likely broaches the subject in a future op-ed. And tomorrow I'll be back to what I know best - pee pee and poo poo chatter.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

The Schoolkeeper

After I picked up my son today from preschool we were pulling out of the parking lot and my he noticed the woman who cleans the school entering the building.

Him: Hey mommy, there's our Maria for the school.
Me: Oh, you mean, she's the housekeeper?
Him: No mommy, she's the schoolkeeper.

I stand corrected. I then had to explain that not all people who clean buildings are named Maria. I don't think he got it. But tomorrow he's planning to ask Miss Courtney what the school Maria's name is so we can clear up the confusion.

Today he also told me that he has to wear his feety pajamas to sleep because otherwise he will get goose bumps and turn into a duck.

How can I argue with that kind of brilliant logic?

Monday, July 14, 2008

Hygienic Polemic

My son says the same thing every time he goes pee and he'll continue to say it until he gets acknowledgment from me. And I hesitate to even bring it up for fear of judgement but I figure a). many of you have already read about how I dragged him by the armpit through JFK airport after he refused to go to the bathroom before our flight and then peed in his pants in the middle of the terminal and b). this little yarn pales in comparison to that one and c). this one really isn't my fault. I'm pretty sure it's my brother's fault. Where is she going with this...?

Every time (and I mean every single time without fail) my son pees in the toilet (which is like 92% of the time) he slaps his tushy to get the last drop out, he pulls his undies and pants up, and he carefully lowers the toilet seat. What a great kid! Doesn't leave the seat up like most men I know. Then he he leaves the bathroom and finds me to relay this sentence:

"Mommy, I don't have to wash my hands because I only touched the top (of the toilet)."

Now, I could have nipped this behavior in the bud when it first started a few months ago. He always washes after a poop (and I'm the one who wipes him) and he's not averse to hand-washing as he performs it many times a day just to be able to use the soap pump. And I still make him wash his hands in public restrooms. But I just never enforced the policy at home because I can't be bothered. And anyway I don't take responsibility since I'm pretty sure he picked this one up from his cousin who's 14 months older who naturally learned it from his father, my very own brother, who's been peeing standing up for upwards of 36 years so maybe he knows better than I. Or maybe boys can't help being gross. That is just who they are.

So my question goes out to the men who read this blog: a). are there any men who read my blog and b). is this normal? Do men wash after they pee? Seems like you could make the argument that it's not necessary. Although hand-washing several times a day does promote good general health. I'm not sure I can call this one by myself. I'm throwing it out to my extensive fan base though I reserve the right to delete any comments that put into question my parenting skills.

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Green shorts be damned

My son is now sleeping in his underwear on a regular basis. So I'm considering that a win. He no longer insists on wearing a long sleeve shirt over his short sleeve shirt when he goes to pre-school in the morning. Another win. He's stop wearing socks with his sandals. Score. Now the only remaining vestige of operation modesty is his choice of bottoms. He still would rather wear pants to school everyday. One day he randomly agreed to wear his green shorts to school and when we arrived, all of the teachers cheered. I'm not joking. So the next day I took out the maroon shorts that are exactly like the green ones. He wouldn't wear them.

Him: I want green shorts.
Me: The green shorts are dirty honey.
Him: I only wear green shorts.
Me: But you peed on them yesterday so you can't wear them.
Me: What's wrong with these? They're exactly the same except the color.
Him: I don't like them!
Me: Why not?
Him: I don't know.

You can see how I'm getting nowhere with this argument. So I bought him another pair of green shorts, same shade - apple. And I bought a pair of gray ones too which he refused to wear.

Me: But they're like your gray pants!
Him: No they're not. They're shorts. I only wear green shorts.

Where does he get this stuff? The other day he told me he was willing to wear black shorts too.
I'll just be happy he's not sleeping in fleece.

Monday, July 7, 2008

Viva el Julio

Today my husband announced to me that he doesn't think our daughter should have a rat as a favorite stuffed animal anymore. Huh? Really? It was just today at Trader Joe's that the woman behind me in line commented on my lovely daughter and her lovely rat friend. What does my husband have against rats? Not feminine enough for his baby girl? Not hygienic enough? I asked him all of these things and he couldn't really pinpoint it, just that he didn't think it was appropriate for her to love a rat and that he was going to start introducing other animals at which point I said, are you kidding me? This girl has had Julio with her day and night since she was five months old. Good luck introducing little teddy or bunny or whatever. The girl loves her rat. You are insane.

And as I am telling him all of this I hear my son say, "Aba - can I have some more cucumbers?" to which my husband replies, "when you finish your mac and cheese."

And when I heard that I decided that all previous arguments were null and void because it was pretty clear that an alien had taken up residence in my husband's body. No son, you can't have your chicken until you eat all of your candy. Hello? This explains his sudden and irrational disdain for Julio the rat. In fact, he's lost his mind. Long live Julio.

Saturday, July 5, 2008

Asleep at the meal

You've waited several weeks for another post and my apologies to those of you who have checked in day after day, hour after hour, hoping to see an entry (hi mom). Well this will not disappoint. Because today will be a first. Today is a day of many firsts. Today my son got his hair cut and did not cry. Miraculous, I know. Today both of my kids slept until 7:30 am. Pinch me, right? And today, for reasons unknown, my son fell asleep naked at the dinner table eating his quesodilla at 7:00 pm. That sentence alone is bursting with impossibility. First, my son never sleeps naked. I'm not even really sure why he was eating dinner naked. Not only does he not sleep naked, he insists on sleeping with full fleece pajamas (see previous post). Second, he has never fallen asleep at the dinner table. Once he fell asleep in a shopping cart at Costco when he was about two and had a fever, but that's it. Third, he hasn't fallen asleep before 9:00 pm in about a year and a half. These days it's closer to 9:30.

I know what you're thinking. She's lying. How can it be? She's writing fiction. I assure you, it is all true. You can't make this crap up. It's too ridiculous. And in honor of so many firsts, here's another first. A corresponding photo for all to marvel.

And what's even more fantastical, I was able to scoop him up and bring him to his room, put on his underwear and tuck him in without so much as a peep. I'm curious to know what in the world made him so tired. Today we rode our bikes around town but he wasn't even pedaling. He was just sitting on Aba's bike. Then we saw friends and he played with a toy phone the whole time talking to his imaginary friends Vini and Bahn Jahn. We rode home, then walked to a store near by, walked to Starbucks for a little beverage, walked to get his hair cut and then walked home.

But I guess it was enough to wipe him out. He looks so sweet here. Hard to believe this is the kid who inspires so many stories.