Friday, August 19, 2011

Teach Them To Your Children

Parenting is an amazing role.

I know, everyone says it, there are books stacked to the moon and back saying so, countless TV programmes, and endless movies. Normally the more something is professed the less likely I am to believe it. But at least as far as the species-wide conviction that there is "something sacred in raising a child" goes I have downed vast quantities of the Kool Aid.

The Small Boy daily amazes me, and I am delighted to be amazed again. For a while there I was having symptoms of overdose, but I seem to have modified my doses and found equilibrium in my blood levels (due in no small part to his being in preschool now).

Raising a child takes a village. I loved Hillary Rodham-Clinton's much-maligned book (1996 - Simon & Schuster) and the past two and a half years have only cemented the conviction that you can't go it alone. We loved our daycare in Auckland. It was secular, multi-cultural, mainstream New Zealand at it's best. They loved our kids and they fed and taught them well. The Small Boy grew like a weed with their nurturing. We were sad to say good-bye to them.

The small boy started Jewish preschool two weeks ago. The pre-school is affiliated with the synagogue where the Boy works, and is a wonderful place. Yep, I have that flavor of Kool Aid on my breath, too. But it seriously is fantastic. Warm, inviting, joyous, accepting, and Jewish. I know that "that" should make such a huge difference, but it does.

On the way home this afternoon the Small Boy sang away to himself as he usually does, only this time it was different, he was singing Shabbat songs. Songs that he had just sung with his classmates (and the rest of the preschool) at their weekly pre-Shabbat song and story session with the Rabbi (read "Daddy") and Cantorial Soloist. Tonight as we made Kiddush together marking the arrival of Shabbat the Small Boy piped up and sang - albeit a little muddled - the appropriate blessings for the candles, wine and bread.

Good stuff, stuff that makes me feel like we are doing all right by him, and raising a Mensch!

Shabbat Shalom, Small Boy. Your Abba loves you.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

So, the blog had slowed to a near halt while I was in New Zealand. Perhaps I didn’t have anything to say, perhaps I was busy doing vs. observing? I’m not quite sure. Perhaps I don’t see so well in my natural environment?
So now I am a foreigner again. I am – proverbially – a fish out of water (or – for those who speak te reo - is that a tuna out of wai?). We are now living in the greater Phoenix area and settling into a whole new world. Yes, you’re right, I have lived “here” before, but my previous “here” is quite different from my current one.
Phoenix is a sprawling metropolis in the middle of a wide valley. From the balcony of our furnished rental we can see distant mountain ranges. It’s hotter than Hades, but there is something cozy about it. The Boy has started a new gig and the kid has started a new preschool (as of this week). I’m in the middle of having my license endorsed which for anyone who has done it before makes you a victim of a bureaucratic snail’s pace.
I’ve started exploring on my own, finding my way around town, and seeing a few movies. Which is where I am going with this post…
Today I decided to see the new ”Planet of the Apes” movie. I’ve been a fan of POTA since seeing Charlton Heston collapsing in front of a shattered lady liberty, and being glued to the ‘70s TV series. The new film is an absolute CGI-fest of apes rising to take over Muir Woods. It’s pretty full-on, suspenseful and violent. A whole lot of big apes with big teeth. Throwing people off the Golden gate Bridge, that kinda stuff.
So I gotta ask. Is it really a good parenting choice to bring your preschoolers with you to see this one. Okay, it’s hot out, it’s eleven in the morning, and the kid gets in free. But seriously, this is smart? Seriously?
The kids (there were two sets of them with their parents) were well behaved, and there was no screaming. But it just doesn’t strike me as the kind of thing a smart parent exposes their kid to. I bit my tongue and merely scowled in the darkness. I know, I’m a pussy, but it didn’t seem like an appropriate - or particularly desirable - interaction to have.
I must admit I have been witness to a few questionable parenting choices when I’ve been out and about. Target has to be the best place to observe. Maybe it’s the wide aisles and big red shopping carts that bring out the worst (?) in people. I dunno. Perhaps it’s also a difference in how loud Americans talk to the people they are out with; I think there is a general sense that people talk as loud as they want and about whatever they like when they are out in public. People say some crazy shit to their kids.
So, there you have it for my first attempt at kick starting the blog.

Thursday, December 02, 2010

Getting Into the Groove...

We've been here in Silverlake for a week now, and have been settling in nicely. It's a great location, in a fun, relaxed area of the city. We have been exploring - mostly on foot - and have found some great little places to hang out.
We have found the Saturday Sunset Junction Farmers Market, and sipped coffee with the hipsters at Intelligentsia. We have found a few great looking second-hand kids clothing stores, and done a spot of shopping at the stunning kids shoe store, Wee Souls. The folks at Trader Joe's seem to be recognizing us now, and Jake now recognises the way to Shane's Inspirational Playground at Griffith Park. We have taken a ride on the train at Traveltown, and even connected with the LA Crunchy Parents group and hiked to the Griffith Park Observatory. Not too bad for a week, huh?
Today we took ourselves out to run errands and walked over to Vermont and the bustling shops of Los Feliz. We stopped in at the bank, took care of some business, and then had a browse at Starlight Books. It's a fantastic independent bookstore in the funky heart of Los Feliz. It has a great kids section and Jacob was soon pulling books down and asking to read them. We ended up buying a cute little book about African animals which came with it's very own menagerie; a lion, a giraffe, a mandrill, a zebra, an elephant, a rhino, a python, a chameleon (!), and a crocodile. We then retired to the Coffee Bean on Hillhurst and got to know our animals better over a shared bagel with cream cheese, a frothy milk for him, and an ice-blended mocha for me. Yummy!
We also found that there are "Mommy & Me" movies at the local theatre on Wednesdays!
The best thing was that when we got home Daddy was at the office in Auckland and signed in on Skype! SO nice to talk to him and see him. He's been in Australia for the last 10 or so days and so we have had to rely on e-mail and occasional Facebook chats. Jacob was delighted to see him and they had fun playing with each other via the cam.
While nothing ever makes up for being apart, Skype does help some...

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Welcome Home - well, sort of...

So, I figure that if I don't use the time I will have on my hands here in L.A. to do some kind of writing I will really be missing a huge opportunity, right?
So, to bring you all up to speed; I am in Los Angeles with Jacob for two months. Essentially to "log in" time on my green card. Rightly - or wrongly - the U.S. immigration service requires that those who hold permanent residence, such as myself, need to actually spend time here or they consider you to have abandoned your residency. So, after my two-year travel document (I-131) expires early next month I will need to be a little more present than absent. Fair enough, I get it, I just wish it were different.
We'll be on our own until Dec 30th when the Boy will join us. He has a conference in Palm Springs the first week of the New Year, and then (we hope) interviews will be able to be scheduled as well. Then, we'll all travel back to N.Z. together.
So, last Wednesday Jacob and I arrived in L.A. for an extended stay. It's a wonderful opportunity to catch up with family and friends, and the numerous things about life in the U.S. that I have missed this past two years in New Zealand. It is also good to come back for a while as in all likelihood we will all be moving back to the U.S. mid-2011 when the Boys current job is up.
He is in the midst of applications and interviews. We don't really have much of a choice, but there are some positions that would be very attractive to us both. we're keeping details under our hats (kippot?) for the time being as it is all very early in the process. No point getting excited before it is necessary, right?
We spent the first week with the mother of the Boy in Marina Del Rey, and have now moved into a cute little holiday rental in Silverlake, a part of the city I have always wanted to live in! The apartment is a funky, eclectic, cottage-like place in the lower level of a 1920s house, on a residential street, near most everything we'll need. The Zoo, the trains at Traveltown, and Griffith Park (one of my favorite places in the city). It is about a 45 minute drive to one grandparent, and about 30 minutes to the other. An easy walk to Trader Joes, a slightly longer one to Coffee Bean, and a decent schlep to Sunset Junction and all it's hipster hang outs.
We have a kitchen, laundry (with washer & drier), cable TV, DSL, a nice sized living room (with plenty of plays space), a small bathroom, and a comfortable cozy bedroom. The windows face out onto the street across a grassed lawn towards the south (so it is nice and sunny). It is perfectly adequate for the two of us.
Jacob seems to be adjusting well. He has adjusted is sleep patterns nicely, and aside from a bit of a runny nose and sometimes cough is well. I'm feeling pretty good now too after a few nights of messy sleep.
Last night (our first night here) we had dear friends come by to visit who bought dinner. It was lovely to see them, share a meal and a glass of wine, and catch up, knowing that we'll have lots of opportunities to see each other while we are in town.
This morning after breakfast we took a walk to the local Coffee Bean, shared a cranberry & orange muffin, and then strolled on to the Hospital where I worked up until Jacob was born. After convincing the security guy to let us in (it wasn't easy), we popped here and there seeing numerous well-loved friends and former colleagues. It felt so nice to see them and have them meet this funny little two year old boy. He did pretty good, but by the time we'd been there about an hour he was ready to head back for the morning nap.
So, I have laundry in the machines, a cup of tea steaming next to me, and my fingers tapping away as fast as they can...all in all a good morning. I think we are going to hit Traveltown this afternoon and see if a certain someone likes that. I think he might just explode with delight!

Saturday, September 04, 2010

I never seem to find the time...

I say to myself "I need to get back to the blog" and "put this parenthood thing out there and see how if looks" online.
So, what better day that Fathers Day (well, at least here in New Zealand it is)? I have a bit of time while morning nap goes down, to set up my iTunes, pour a cup of hot spicy tea, and breathe a bit. So, here goes...
Had no idea how hard it would be: Not consistently hard, just now and then - usually when I am not feeling 100%, of course. Oh, and just to round out the stereotype; the "hard" stuff is the "stupid" stuff, too, of course. The "stuff" I wanted to be able to sail thru, too.
Had no idea what fun I'd have: I have a blast with him. Every day he does something that either makes my heart sing, or come close to wetting myself. He's such a little ham. Example: when he is getting ready for bed, trying to chill things down, bath-time is finishing up, it's time to get dressed in jamies. Hes had some rough skin on his arms, and I think it's a good practice in general, so we use organic lavender lotion for soft skin and sweet night-time dreams. He thinks it is "such the funniest thing" to take 3-5 fingertip-fulls and eat it, while giggling "yummy". He'll do it 'til he gets a smile or a giggle back...Oy!
Had no idea how unimportant unimportant things would become: Can't be bothered giving a toss about the trivial in life. Not saying that the small details in life aren't just as vital to human survival as tall, lofty ideas. But I just wish there were more tall, lofty ideas coming my way. So - and I feel this is a direct result - I have a general disdain for conservative politics, their adherents, and supporters.
Had no idea how tired I'd be: 'nuf said.
Had no idea how much I'd enjoy walking on the beach with a small boy: it simply is the best thing in the world. I am trying to take him as often as I can so that when we are back in the U.S. the "ideal beach" that would be the one imprinted first, was a N.Z. one. Sorry CA, not a huge fan. I have to feel safe that my kid can put his hand in the water and then in his mouth and only get a little salt in his water. Plus there is nothing more magic than the beachscapes here - particularly on the west coast of the north island. The plants, the bird life, the glisten of iron sands.
Had no idea how delightful his laugh would be: He cracks me up. It is so hard not to want to continually giving chase to him, or pushing him on swings "higher...higher", or playing tigers/lions/whatever-that-noise-is-supposed-to-be, Just to hear that laugh. Makes everything better, if you let it.
Not only is it Fathers Day here, it was also our 5th Wedding Anniversary yesterday. Sadly we didn't get the night we had hoped for (unexpected baby sitter issues), but it was lovely to sit, eat Indian food, and read our wedding album together. It was an awesome night, and it has been a pretty amazing 5 years, as well. We have done a heck of a lot of things with those whispered blessings, those shouted "Mazal Tovs", and the joy that being with everyone gave us. Best Wedding, Ever!
I'm incredibly proud of my Man. He's a pretty amazing guy, I'm telling you. A phenomenal husband, a devoted father, a fantastic friend. He does such truth in the world, and I am so lucky to be there alongside him.
This one is for him...

Friday, March 19, 2010

Borrowed from a Friend...(Thanks, Gwen!)

Thought Provoking Statements...

1. I think part of a best friend's job should be to immediately clear your computer history if you die.
2. Nothing sucks more than that moment during an argument when you realize you're wrong.
3. I totally take back all those times I didn't want to nap when I was younger.
4. There is great need for a sarcasm font.
5. How the hell are you supposed to fold a fitted sheet?
6. Was learning cursive really necessary?
7. Map Quest really needs to start their directions on #5. I'm pretty sure I know how to get out of my neighborhood.
8. Obituaries would be a lot more interesting if they told you how the Person died.
9. I can't remember the last time I wasn't at least kind of tired.
10. Bad decisions make good stories.
11. You never know when it will strike, but there comes a moment at work when you know that you just aren't going to do anything productive for the rest of the day.
12. Can we all just agree to ignore whatever comes after Blue Ray? I don't want to have to restart my collection...again.
13. I'm always slightly terrified when I exit out of Word and it asks me if I want to save any changes to my ten-page research paper that I swear I did not make any changes to.
14. "Do not machine wash or tumble dry" means I will never wash this - ever.
15. I hate when I just miss a call by the last ring (Hello? Hello? Damn it!), but when I immediately call back, it rings nine times and goes to voice mail. What did you do after I didn't answer? Drop the phone and run away?
16. I hate leaving my house confident and looking good and then not seeing anyone of importance the entire day. What a waste.
17. I keep some people's phone numbers in my phone just so I know not to answer when they call.
18. I think the freezer deserves a light as well.
19. I disagree with Kay Jewelers. I would bet on any given Friday or Saturday night more kisses begin with Miller Lite than Kay.
21. Sometimes, I'll watch a movie that I watched when I was younger and suddenly realize I had no idea what the heck was going on when I first saw it.
22. I would rather try to carry 10 plastic grocery bags in each hand than take 2 trips to bring my groceries in.
23. The only time I look forward to a red light is when I'm trying to finish a text.
24. I have a hard time deciphering the fine line between boredom and hunger.
25. How many times is it appropriate to say "What?" before you just nod and smile because you still didn't hear or understand a word they said?
26. I love the sense of camaraderie when an entire line of cars team up to prevent a dick from cutting in at the front. Stay strong, brothers and sisters!
27. Shirts get dirty. Underwear gets dirty. Pants? Pants never get dirty, and you can wear them forever.
28. Is it just me or do high school kids get dumber & dumber every year?
29. There's no worse feeling than that millisecond you're sure you are going to die after leaning your chair back a little too far.
30. As a driver I hate pedestrians, and as a pedestrian I hate drivers, but no matter what the mode of transportation, I always hate cyclists.
31. Sometimes I'll look down at my watch 3 consecutive times and still not know what time it is.
32. Even under ideal conditions people have trouble locating their car keys in a pocket, finding their cell phone, and Pinning the Tail on the Donkey - but I'd bet my ass everyone can find and push the snooze button from 3 feet away, in about 1.7 seconds, eyes closed, first time, every time!
33. Even when opportunity knocks, you still have to get off your ass and open the door.

Saturday, March 06, 2010

How Time Flys

I could theoretically try and bring you up to speed on the past four-or-so months, but that would actually be pretty boring, for me at least. Suffice it to say we have been having a lovely summer. We have traveled some, seen family, made new friends, been to new places, and generally done what one is supposed to do with a summer; enjoyed ourselves.
We feel generally more together and more cohesive as a family. Something which no one ever tells you takes so much effort when you have a kid. Talk about a minefield of potential - and real - face plants!
Jacob is fifteen-and-a-half months old, and is still the happiest kid on the block. Joy seems to be not only his disposition, but his mission. We are daily amazed at just how much fun this kid has. Sure, he has his moments, I won't deny it, but on the whole, he loves life. I think we're doing a pretty good job.
Jacob and I have been flying solo this past week. The Boy is away for business in the U.S. We could have gone with, but I opted to stay here and go it alone. It's not easy, but neither is it a trial by fire. I'm pretty darned tired, but have come to terms with being on-call 24/7. We "upped" Jacobs daycare days to 3 days a week (vs. 2), and it has worked pretty well. We have also been out and about; trying new cafes, making use of our annual pass at the aquarium ("Fissies" are incredibly popular here), and we went to our first Rainbow Families play group too.
The play group is a G-d send. I had been lamenting having other queer parents around, as breaking into the straight play group scene has so far evaded us. I stumbled upon them in the LGBT community listings online, and soon made contact. The group meets during the week at a local play center. Huge play spaces, sand-pit, dress-ups, role-play areas, the works. There were maybe 10 other kids (6 or so families), ranging from just a few weeks old to right up to pre-primary school age. Bright, happy, engaged kids, with bright, happy, engaged parents. I've missed lesbians!
I've also started potting again. I had loved taking pottery classes in LA, and am enjoying getting my hands muddy again. I've also met some new people, and even got a sitter last night and went out with a group of fun folks from work to celebrate a couple of birthdays. It feels like I am getting my own life back, again.
Another five sleeps until The Boy comes home, I think we'll be okay, but it can't come fast enough.