Monday, December 2, 2013

Hanukkah Presents

Let me start by saying that I am totally conflicted about Hanukkah presents.  I think that by giving Star presents every night, she begins to think that Hanukkah is only about the presents.  Totally makes sense.  And, I hate that.  I also think that we have way too much useless crap in the house and Hanukkah adds to that.  On the other hand, if we want to fit into society, even a little bit, we kind of have to conform to the present thing or else she will feel totally left out when her friends get presents for Christmas.  Star has very generous grandparents who want to fund presents for her and I still haven't figured out a way for us all (Star, Scott and I, and her grandparents) to be happy with the gift giving process or the gifts themselves. 

Negativity aside, there are 2 presents that Star got this year that I love.  I conceptualized them and purchased them, but they were mostly funded by my parents.

First is the art cart.  I love it.  I am obsessed with it.   I got the idea from Pinterest and copied shamelessly.  Here's mine Star's. It's an Ikea Kitchen Cart with various boxes on it holding different art supplies.   Star loves it.  She's played with it every day since she got it.  She'll get out different supplies (sometimes beads and string, sometimes paper and pens, sometimes paper and scissors), and she'll play creatively by herself for quite a while. In the picture here, she said that she's working on a Hanukkiah (Hanukkah Menorah).  Another great thing about this is that it's easy to put all your supplies away when it's time to clean up.  She's been putting projects in progress on the bottom shelf so she can get them out next time she wants to play with them.  Also, it's on wheels, so it generally lives in my craft area of the living room, but she can roll it to the dining room or wherever she wants to do her art. 

The second present which I love is a dress up box.  This is again an Ikea thing filled with all her tutus, wings, firefighter hats, sunglasses and leotards.  Again, a total success.  She has played with this by herself and with friends who have come over.  Hours of creative fun. 

The presents on the other nights of Hanukkah are not nearly as impressive.  Last night was a collection of warm hats.  She got a few books one night.  Tonight, she's getting magnetic felt letters to play with on the refrigerator. 

Monday, November 25, 2013

Baby Loves Disco, but did the whole family?

The past few times that Baby Loves Disco has been to town, we've been busy.  So, this time, I bought tickets a few months early and committed ourselves as best as I know how - I put it on our joint Google calendar.  Star got sick a few days before the event, so there was potential that my plans would be thwarted, but she was healthy by yesterday, so we went.

And, did baby love it?  Yes, she did.  She said that her favorite things were the neon bracelets that she got from the party host on the stage.

Scott said that he'll never go back.  When I tried to get clarity on this, he said that it combined his least favorite aspects of clubbing with his least favorite aspects of parenting.  It was definitely hard to be a child monitor with loud music and dim lights.

My experience was mixed.  When we walked in, I saw a lot of latex balloons.  I panicked a bit about dying, but then I mellowed out.  Star loved playing with the balloons - she's totally a balloon slut when she can be because she knows that her opportunities to snuggle with balloons are very limited. The snacks ranged from the healthy (carrots with hummus) to the unhealthy.  Star decided on a lolipop.  On the plus side, I love dancing to trendy music so that totally worked for me. 

I'd go back.  Maybe as a playdate with friends since I'm pretty sure that my husband will be opting out. 

Saturday, November 2, 2013

"Mommy, I want to be a Princess Carrying a Ladybug"

That's what Star said when we started talking about Halloween costumes. 

So, I executed.  In September, while my in-laws were visiting, my mother-in-law and I went to the yarn store.  I knew I was looking for something kind of like ribbon yarn.  I ended up buying 2 yarns, from the sale section, to hold together.  For the bodice, I basically followed a pattern with a ton of modifications.  But, it got me what I wanted.  

Here's a closeup of the dress in progress.  The knitting took a lot of work.  I knitted while commuting to and from work.  The knit stitch is a seed stitch - knit 2, purl 2 - but you can't really see the stitch through the yarn.  But, what the stitch adds to the bodice is a lot of stretchiness which is what I was aiming for.

I added a bunch of yarn overs, relatively evenly spaced, throughout the bottom of the bodice where I knew I wanted to hang my tulle.

While I was knitting the bodice, I had a few fittings with Star where I would hold up the top to make sure I was basically getting the size and shape that I was looking for.

After the knitting was done, I hung the tulle, and then I crocheted around the armholes and neck with the light pink tulle to bring some sort of cohesion to the dress. 

I procured the ladybug from a seller on Etsy.  This ladybug is a totally expertly made stuffed animal.   If I ever have enough time and patience, I'd love to learn how to create stuffed animals this well. 

At school, there was only 1 other student ("friend") wearing a homemade costume.  For some reason, that surprised me, but we all seem to be busy parents and store-bought costumes are easy to find! 

Star was proud to wear her costume.  She told her friends that I made it for her.  And, we put it in a special place in her room so she can wear it again - possibly without the ladybug accessory this time. 

Saturday, October 26, 2013

An Email Newsletter from Preschool

This is part of the reason why I love being a Berkeley Mommy.  I love the thoughtfulness and the unapologetic political correctness.
Good Afternoon Cedar Families,
Today's helper was x!
This weeks other helpers have been: x, x and x.
New Sign In and Outs
Many children have been very interested in how to spell their names. We have observed friends writing their names or practicing some of the letters of their names. Many children have also been looking around the room and finding some of the letters from their names in our documentation. 
Since we have seen such interest in names, we asked the children if they would like to write their own names on a colored piece of paper for a new sign in and out. Every child is at a different level of skill at this time but they all felt proud as they wrote. Ask your child to show you their new sign in and out. 

Love Power
What is this? It is a substitute for what was once 'butt power'. Many children were observed saying butt power through out the day and then giggling. When we asked what this meant there didn't seem to be an answer other than, it's funny. Humor is an amazing part of each child's personality but we are working on not using potty humor as much as possible. 
Teacher Sarah suggested to a few friends that we find a substitute for this potty language. "What could we say instead?" Love Power was the decided upon substitute. Love power is when we give each other a hug, high five or other friendly action to show our love for each other. 

Bottoms up "Tooty Ta" Song 
You may have heard your child saying bottoms up at home. In one of our favorite sings "Tooty Ta", we move out bodies in funny ways. At one part in the song we put our "bottoms up" in the air and dance. 

Food Drive:
Hearts Leap is hosting a food drive "Share Thanksgiving".  Today we talked with our class about how there are families who don't have a lot of food. We have been decorating a large box with different pictures of food to place out non perishable food items in. This morning we spoke to the children about what kinds of food are non perishable and would be great to donate. The children are very excited to add to the food box and share the things that they have brought with their friends. 

Role Play  and Modeling: 
As many of you have noticed, the cedar room has been very interested in airplanes and going on plane rides. This interest started from a conversation that we had during meeting about friends being helpers to their parents while traveling with younger sibling. The teachers acted out some behaviors and asked the children which behaviors were appropriate for the plane and which would be better for outside time.  

The children really enjoy when us teachers put on plays about different  scenarios. This is one way that we can help parents assist children modify behavior. We have put on plays about brushing teeth, helping with young siblings, riding on an airplane and sleep issues. Please email or speak to a teacher if their is a behavior that your child is displaying that we may be able to help with. 

Lunch Time Dog Stories:During lunch time, many of the children have been enjoying one of the teachers telling stories about their dogs. We have told stories of runaway dogs, dogs getting into grocery bags and other funny stories. 

Share Calendar:
This week we have had a lot of children bringing in share items. We are very happy that many children would like to show something that is special to them. Unfortunately we have not been able to share all of the shares that have been brought in. We will be using a share calendar starting next week. Each child will have a special day that is their day to share. If a child forgets or is absent on their share day, they will have another day the following month. We will not be having make up days because it takes away from the child who's share day it is. Shares include books, music, something the child has made, photos, etc. We discourage toys, and commercialized products such as Disney items. 

Thank you:
Thank you to all the chaperones and drivers who helped make our field on our field trip to the Pumpkin Patch a success.  
- Please check your child's extra clothes bag and replenish as needed
- Please have your child bring a jacket a coat or something warm to wear when we go outside. 
- Halloween costumes can be worn to school next Thursday.  Costumes will be taken off before we go outside.  Please bring a change of clothes or have your child wear his or her costume over their clothes.  

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

My Head

Let's all pretend that it hasn't been almost a month since I posted last, Kay?

If you do need some reason for my blogging absence, here goes...  I got a head cold.  Then I needed some gum surgery for an overgrown, infected gum.  (If anyone needs a great Periodontist in the Berkeley area, I now have one to recommend!)  My in-laws were in town which wasn't a bad thing, necessarily, but it was definitely an addition to our already crazed schedule.  And, then my jaw bone started coming out of my gums, so I had to go back to the periodontist yesterday to have my jaw bone filed down and tucked back into my gums.

Things are getting back to normal now (knock on wood, cross my fingers, whatever...), so I hope to get back to posting weekly or so. 

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Is there Bacon in that Cheesecake?

It's a question I didn't think I needed to ask, but I guess I do because the answer was "yes".  

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Review of Camp Mommy

Back in this post, I pre-worried about planned for Star's weeks off from preschool.  Here's how it went.

Week 1 - Jewish camp in the morning.  The camp itself was fine - not spectacular and not horrible.  Truth be told, it wasn't even a camp.  It was just their normal preschool which Star joined for a week.  I liked that Star got a bit of Jewish exposure here.  The other main positive to this week was that Star did great in an unfamiliar environment.  If there was an activity or a game she wanted to join in, she would observe for a bit and then find a way in.  She would introduce herself to other people.  I was so impressed with her social skills.

There were a bunch of not good things about this week.

  • I dropped her off at 9am and picked her up at 12:30pm.  With parking and driving time, there wasn't a lot of free time for me.
  • We ran into a lot of people from our past.  For instance, an ex-girlfriend of Scott's who knew who I was but who I had no idea who she was.  Running into people like this from our past wasn't bad, but it was a bit weird.
  • I felt like the teachers and the parent community wasn't as good as Star's regular preschool.  Maybe this is because there wasn't enough time to establish continuity and connections, but it was disappointing nonetheless.  
Week 2 - Mommy Camp and Trip to LA.  On Monday of this week, Star and I had a playdate at Habitot with an old friend of mine and the 4 year old girl that she nannies for.  That was super fun.  Then, Star participated in a study at BabyLab - we did a few of these studies when she was younger.  On Tuesday, she had a Dentist appointment, and then we met friends at Crab Cove in Alameda where we participated in a program on poop!  We learned about different kinds of animal poop and then walked around outside looking for it.  It was a bit gross, but Star loved it.  Then, we had a picnic lunch on the beach.  

On Wednesday, we drove off to Los Angeles.  We stayed with cousins and Star got along wonderfully with her cousin who is 6 months younger than she is.  One day, Star and her cousin went to the cousin's day care together, and I took Scott to Orange County so he could see where I grew up.  The next day all six of us went to Disneyland.  This wouldn't have been our top choice, but our cousin is currently working at ABC so he gets free tickets.  The day after that, we went to breakfast with a Junior High/High School friend of mine and her family, and then went to the LA County Museum of Art with our cousins - the picture here is of Star and her cousin doing some watercolor painting at this museum.  It was a good trip.

Week 3 - Monkey Business Camp.  I had her scheduled from 8:30am-6pm so that I could have some nice long stretches of time to myself.  But, the problem was that she wasn't napping there.  So, if I pick her up at 6, she'd be horrible until she fell asleep.  By mid-week, she wanted to be picked up at 3:30pm when some other kids get picked up.  So, I cut my days short so I could pick her up at 3:30pm and let her nap in the car for 2 hours before we started dinner and our night time routine.  Other than the nap issues, I felt that this camp was OK.  It seemed like they did the basics to meet the requirements of camp - play, craft project, sing...  But, if I ever asked about how Star's day was, the counselors couldn't give me any specifics.  And, Star has said that she doesn't want to go back to Monkey Business next year.

Week 4 - I went back to work and Star went to her preschool's camp for a week.  It was nice to be back in a familiar environment, but camp even at our preschool, which we think of very highly, wasn't as good as regular school is there.    

Now, we're back to the work full time juggling madness.  Camp Mommy was an overall success - I'll change some things up for 2014, but I'm looking forward to Camp Mommy Year 2.  

Wednesday, July 31, 2013


I'm a few days in to Camp Mommy.  I am taking unpaid time off from work to focus more on me and being a mom.

Hopefully, I'll write a post up soon about our Camp Mommy adventures, but this post is about MONEY.

(1) I decided that my 7 year old MacBook was about to die and take with it all the photos that are in iPhoto.  Backup solutions weren't working because my computer seemed too old to get its data somewhere else.

So I bought a 1 year old refurbished MacBook Pro.  It came yesterday.  I set up the Migration Assistant so my old computer could tell my new computer all its secrets, and 15 hours later, I love my new laptop!  It seems so smart and efficient.


(2) I took my car to the shop.  The bumper was hanging off and I suspected it needed some sort of service.  They agreed to bang in the bumpers so that nothing would be hanging off.  I don't need it to be pretty, but functional.  And, my car was due for a major service.  We bought it 3 years ago and it was time for all its parts to be checked out.


(3) While the car was at the shop, they discovered that the tread on all 4 tires was dangerously low.  One of the tires had 0 tread on it.  The others had 1, 2 and 3 units (?) of tread.  They said that I had to replace all the tires and it was dangerous to drive on them this way.


The car is running great now.  Scott and I went hiking this morning, and the acceleration up the hills was way better than it used to be.  I think it was money well spent.  But, $2,200 out the door during my unpaid time!  Ugh.

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

The Royal Vagina Watch (also known as crotch watch)

I am obsessed by Princesses.  Not the Disney ones; the real ones. 

So, yesterday, I was hitting refresh on and the New York Times until the royal news was announced that Princess Kate gave birth to a boy who is now third in line to become King. 

Before the birth, the official statement was that Kate's labour labor was progressing normally.  What does that mean when the vagina from which said baby will be emerging is a royal one?

Does it mean that Kate was swearing at the other women laboring in the triage cubicles adjacent to her?

Does it mean that a nurse told her that she couldn't make her labor progress by walking stairs?

Does it mean that the nurse who made that comment later apologized with a coupon for the cafeteria downstairs?

Is a normal labor one where a doctor demands attention claiming that he is the most important person in the room?

Or, is that only the normal labor experience for non royal vaginas like mine?

Friday, July 12, 2013

4 Days Away

The job that pays me money is as a Law Librarian.  I often feel lucky that I found this career.  In law school, I knew I didn't want to practice law.  After law school, I worked as a mediator for a number of years until I met a woman at a conference who was a librarian.  I started library school and the rest is history.

One great thing about being a law librarian, is our national association called AALL, the American Association of Law Libraries.  I used to be quite active in AALL.  I am the founder of the Gen X / Gen Y caucus, and I've always enjoyed the conferences.  But, the last conference I went to was in 2007.

Since then, I've focused on getting pregnant, being pregnant, having a kid, raising a kid, and getting back into my profession.

Tomorrow, I leave for this year's AALL conference which will be held in Seattle.  I am going without my husband and without our daughter.  Things that used to be normal, flying by myself, staying in a hotel by myself, are now totally foreign to me. 

I'm worried that I will miss my daughter.  I'm worried that she'll miss me.  I'm worried that she won't miss me.  I'm worried that she'll get hurt.  I'm worried that I won't sleep well without my husband beside me.  I'm worried that the conference food will not work for my specific eating habits.

I hope I'll be able to enjoy Seattle and enjoy my profession.  Star says that she'll text me pictures.  I hope she does.  I hope we both have a happy 4 days. 

Friday, July 5, 2013

So, What Does a Vegetarian Wheat Free Diet Look Like?

Once the horrible wheat detox week finished, being vegetarian and wheat free is actually quite easy.  One of the main things that I've noticed is that my appetite has decreased dramatically.  All these years that I've been eating wheat, it seems like it has been acting as a stimulant.  The more wheat I ate, the more I wanted and the more weight I gained.  

In these 3 weeks that I've been wheat free, I eat less.  So, the first question is what do I eat?

Breakfast.  That's easy since I didn't usually have any wheat for breakfast even in my wheat eating days (unless we went out to breakfast).  So, at home, I normally eat a smoothie or yogurt with fruit and nuts.  If we go out, which isn't often, I'll eat an egg or tofu scramble with veggies and/or cheese (hold the toast).

Lunch.  If I'm at work, I'll eat a soup, or salad, or on a fancy day, I'll have a brown rice or a quinoa bowl with veggies.  If I'm at home, I'll eat an egg scramble or some dinner leftovers.

Dinner.  I generally eat veggies and tofu in some combination.

The second question is am I losing weight?

Not yet, but I have some excuses.  First, my wight does seem to be shifting around for the better.  My tummy looks flatter; my pants are loose.  My second excuse is that I haven't been exercising.  Dealing with pneumonia, the wheat detox, the recovery from pneumonia, and now the BART strike which has doubled my usual 2 hour daily commute, I'm only now getting back to working out. 

Thursday, June 20, 2013


It's been a rough few weeks.  After the horrible part wheat detox was nearly over and I was no longer acting like an addict searching for my next hit, I started coughing.  I did some googling and came to the conclusion that coughing could be a detox response, so I thought this was normal.  Then, my breathing started to get really labored and shallow.  On Saturday, I couldn't get enough oxygen in, so I went to urgent care.

End result, I had pneumonia and was having an asthma attack (which I had never had before.)

Now I'm on antibiotics, and therefore probiotics so I get back some of the good bacteria in my system; an inhaler; sudafed and mucinex.

Cough cough.  Wheeze wheeze.

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

I'm a Berkeley Mommy Because:

  • When the straps of my Lululemon bag rip after shopping at Whole Foods, I re-sew the straps back on.
  • We planned a homebirth.
  • I take casual carpool into work and I don't think it's creepy.
  • I've been TV-free for over 20 years - long before you could access any TV show online.
  • My daughter goes to a Berkeley preschool where the kids are called "friends."
  • At this preschool, one day, the kids got naked (but kept their underwear on, my daughter assures me), so that they could feel clay on their bodies.
  • We are members of a babysitting Co-op.  
  • The prized possessions in our house are the ones that are handmade.  
  • We belong to a car sharing service.  I sometimes feel bad that we own a car at all, but I am able to rationalize it because our daughter needs a car seat which would be too difficult to always get in and out of the car share car; and because the car that we own is a hybrid.  
  • The stated dress code at our wedding was "Berkeley Formal."
  • We named our daughter Star.  Her Hebrew name means Queen of the Stars.
  • When my daughter said that her vagina looked weird, I took off my pants and underwear and showed her what mine looked like so she could see that ours looked similar.

Monday, June 10, 2013

Wheat Detox

I've been between 10 and 40 pounds overweight for probably 10 years.  Before that, I like to think that I was curvy in a sexy way.  Nice full boobs, a small waist and nice sized hips.  Proportional and sturdy.  Healthy and curvy.  Snuggle-able.

I'm not sure when the moment was, but there was a point when I went from sexy curvy to fat curvy and I don't like it.

Some people, when talking about their struggles with their weight, say that they "tried everything."  Grapefruit diets.  Fat farms.  Boot camps.  I honestly didn't.

For the past 25 years, I've been doing basically the same thing.  It just used to work better for me.  I'm a vegetarian, and I work out.  For me, being a vegetarian means that I don't eat meat, chicken or fish.  I do eat eggs and cheese.   I became a vegetarian for purely ethical reasons - nothing to do with health.  I do believe that there are health benefits to being a vegetarian.  I don't ingest all the toxins that we give to animals.  However, in our society, I think the negative part about being a vegetarian is that you are relegated to social situations filled with carbs and no protein.

Regarding my exercise, there have been times in the past 25 years when I worked out a bit more than others, but I've generally been an active person and I enjoy working out.  My recent workout routine has been to power walk 2-3 times per week and do Dailey Method 2-3 times per week.  I like this routine a lot.  The walking clears my head and makes me sweat on the hills, and Dailey Method makes me feel strong.  In the Dailey Method, I'm surrounded by beautiful women who have wonderful long limbs, strong, but feminine, muscles, and a nicely curved butt.  Even though I like this routine emotionally, it's not working on my body.  I'm still the fat girl in my Dailey Method classes. 

I am ready to admit that this pattern that I've done for 25 years is no longer working.  I want to be healthy for myself.  I want to be healthy for my daughter.  I want to feel comfortable when my husband takes a picture of my daughter and I together.  I'm sure I will always be "flawed" in various ways, but I'd like to get to a healthy weight.

To be of "normal weight" according to BMI calculators, I need to be 140 pounds (and that's only if I enhance my height a bit).  Honestly, this feels quite unmanageable, so I'm going to ignore this number and just aim to lose weight.  I'm not sure I have a realistic goal weight at this point. 

Somehow, I found out about Wheat Belly and requested both the original book and the cookbook from my local public library.  The cookbook became available first, so I read it.  I went wheat free on Wednesday, June 5th, 2013.

Detoxing from wheat is no joke; it sucks.  Here's what my journey has looked like so far.

Day 1 - I cried at a work meeting.  This is not my norm.
Day 2 - I felt like I had a horrible flu.  I was freezing in bed at 6:30pm with the heater on.  My daughter brought me one of her stuffed animals to snuggle so I could feel better.  I peed about every hour throughout the night. 
Day 3 - Flu like symptoms persisted.  Foggy head.  Huge headaches.  Chills when it was warm.  Stinky sweat.  Peeing a lot.  Horrible night of sleep. 
Day 4 - Still had headaches and a bit woozy.  Sometimes it feels like I just swallowed something huge without chewing (when I hadn't) and it was fighting its way down my digestive track.  I have a dry cough.  But things were finally beginning to feel better - I was beginning to feel human.
Day 5 - We went to Ikea which always makes me feel a bit sick and overwhelmed.  I felt woozy, but way less.  I ate meals and snacks, but my appetite has decreased substantially.  I no longer have chills or sweats.  I seem to have more energy.
Day 6 -  My main negative symptoms right now are a dry cough and sometimes the weird lump in my throat/chest thing. 

My husband and I talked, on day 5, about this new eating plan.  He's supportive of it.  We agreed that I would try it for 30 days and then evaluate how it's going.  He asked how I will evaluate success.  I said that this will be successful for me if: (1) All these negative flu like withdrawal symptoms are gone.  And, (2) I'm losing weight. 

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Gearing Up For Camp Mommy

My husband and I both work full time.  Our daughter is a 3 year old in preschool.  Preschools take more days off than either of us do. 

This regularly impacts our lives.  Parent/teacher conference day is a day off for the kids from school, so that the teachers can meet with the parents.  (And by the way, I think it's totally adorable to have parent teacher conferences for our 3 year old girl.  I am somewhat obsessed with hearing other people talk about my daughter.)  On that particular day, the school that I work at was having our graduation ceremony, so I was busy in the morning while my husband was with our daughter.  Then, we hired a nanny for the afternoon so my husband could have a bit of a break, and then he and I met at the conference.

Friday before Memorial Day?  Preschool day off.  I'm not sure why.  Star spent the day with my parents.

We're approaching the biggest working parenting challenge of the year - summer break.  Star's preschool goes through the end of July.  In August, they have four weeks of optional camp each with a different theme.  But, I've decided to try out different things for August to get some variety.

So, I basically have 5 weeks to fill starting in the end of July through Labor Day.  I'll be taking a few weeks off from my job (unpaid) so I can run my version of Camp Mommy, be a chauffeur to various camps, and get a break for myself.

Here's how we put things together.

Week 1 - Jewish camp in the morning.  Camp Mommy in the afternoon.  And, a friend from my childhood will hopefully be visiting with her son.

Week 2 - Camp Mommy with hopefully a trip to Los Angeles for all 3 of us starting on Wednesday-ish.

Week 3 - Monkey Business Camp in Tilden Park.  This sounds super fun.  I'm envious.

Week 4 - I go back to work.  Star will do the water themed week at her preschool.

Week 5 - Star will spend the first few days with my parents, and then all three of us will go to Camp Tawonga Family Camp.  We went last year and enjoyed it!   

It seems like things will only get more complicated once she enters kindergarten and has 2 or 3 months off during the summer in addition to the random days throughout the year.  I'll cross that bridge when the time comes, but for now, I'm learning about the camp options and keeping track of them on a Pinterest board!

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Public Service Announcement: Latex Allergy

Jennifer approaches the soap box and climbs on top of it.

Latex is a cumulative allergy.  The more exposure a person has to latex, the more likely they are to develop the allergy.  I am not in a known group who is likely to develop a latex allergy.  I am not a hairdresser who wears latex gloves to dye people's hair every day.  I am not a health care worker who wears latex gloves to protect herself from patients.  I am not a tattoo artist.  I am not a fetishist with a requirement to wear latex gear.

Nonetheless, I have a latex allergy.  Life has become a comical charade.  Going to street festivals is now an athletic event where I doge balloons.  Children's birthday parties are no better.  We once went to a Passover Seder where each participant was given a goodie bag of plagues including a latex balloon.  I don't remember which plague the balloon was supposed to represent.  I was surrounded by metaphorical plagues, but the latex balloons being tossed back and forth between families was my real life plague. 

Swim caps?  Gotta keep me away from them.  Bandaids?  I generally carry my own, but if I'm offered one, I'll ask if they are latex free.

Because of my latex allergy, I also now have an allergy to avocado and bananas. Banana bread?  I can't eat it.  Burritos with avocado?  No.  I'm already quite a specific eater in many ways; I honor animals by choosing to be a vegetarian as I have been for the past 20+ years, so having additional food restrictions to things that I love has made eating even more challenging.

If I come in contact with latex, avocado or bananas, I currently break out in hives.  But, because of its cumulative nature, my reaction gets worse each time.  My next exposure could result in anaphylactic shock so I carry an EpiPen in my purse. 

What was my exposure to latex?  What led to me getting this allergy?  I had a minor surgery in the 80s at the height of the AIDS scare when healthcare workers were apparently hyper-vigilant about protecting themselves.  Therefore, there was a lot of latex in the operating and recovery room.  I was in my teens.  In the 90s, I had another surgery which added to the accumulation of latex in me.  When I started having an active sex life, I heeded the warnings from health workers who advocated for safe sex.  And, I had a bunch of safe sex using latex condoms starting in the 90s until I met my husband in 2004.

It's likely that our daughter is susceptible to the latex allergy since I am.  How am I trying to protect her?  I try to limit her latex exposure when possible.  If a doctor or a dentist has a choice between latex and non-latex gloves, I'll request the non-latex gloves.  Same with bandaids.  We already don't have latex in the house because of my allergy, so she generally isn't playing with balloons or koosh balls while at home.

When she does come into contact with latex, which she undeniably does, I don't freak out (too much) because I know that she doesn't have much of a latex accumulation built up in her.   In the case of a medical emergency, it'll be OK for her to be touched by latex gloves.  At a friend's birthday party, she can play with latex balloons.  If someone puts a latex bandaid on her, it's OK.  On playdates at other people's houses, I try to be vigilant so that I'm not unnecessarily exposed, but I try to maintain some sense of normalcy so that I don't freak out my daughter or the family that we are playing with. 

We're no where near the stage where she has to be thinking about how to have a safe and healthy sex life.  When that time comes, I hope that there are condom options that are not latex, but that also don't involve animal skin!

I try to keep her exposure to latex down where possible, while letting some sort of reasonable amount of latex come into her life.  And, I try to do this while somehow avoiding the latex myself. 

Jennifer steps down from the soapbox.   

Monday, May 20, 2013

3 Year Olds are Great at Improv

At one improv show I went to, possibly the only improv show I ever went to, the audience was invited to shout out locations ("a bathroom," "a movie theater") and then we were asked to shout out some sort of emotion (love-struck, nostalgic, elated); then the improv actors went with these suggestions and made up some sort of scene.
At one point at that improv show, one of the actors had some vision about the direction this scene should take, but then another actor cut in more forcefully with a vision of his own, so the first improv actor had to quickly change course and go along with his colleague's new vision.

In addition to having limited experience with acting and improv, I also have limited experience with 3 year olds.  With my lack of experience not being a barrier to opinion, I think that 3 year olds are masterful improv actors.

At my daughter's preschool, they have a play area filled with various costumes including a tutu, a chicken costume and an asian inspired coat of some sort.  Somehow, my daughter and her classmates thought that these were the perfect set of costumes to go together and they figured out some scenario where they played together and it all worked.

At home over the weekend, my daughter was pretending to be a mommy cat while I was supposed to be her baby cat.  When I announced that it was time to wash our hands, she said how much she appreciated me and that I was being such a good baby cat by reminding us all to wash our hands.

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

What I Want for Mother's Day

I'd like to have an errand free Mother's day.  Not the kind of errand free day when I choose to not do errands, but I know that I will get to them the next day; I'd like the kind of errand free day when the errands that I would have done somehow get done by someone else.  My husband?  A task rabbit?  Someone hired from Craigslist?  This would be a good way for me to feel like all the work I do to keep our house and our family running are valued.

I'd love Scott to tell me that I'm a good mom.  Words are generally my #1 gift of choice.

Ditto for Star.  I can already imagine her throwing her little arms around me and hearing her tell me that she loves me.  Whenever she hugs me, I try to breathe in her scent and feel her warmth.  Sometimes I do that and she says, "don't smell me, mommy."  But, I love smelling my little girl.  I just try to hide it from her so I don't get reprimanded.  I know that affection is precious. 

And, I'd like Star to make me some art on a canvas in a frame - ready to be hung.  Here's some recent art from Star which I love, but now I have to frame it or decide that it shouldn't be framed and store it away somewhere.  I've had it in my office for a few days on my filing cabinet; art waiting for a frame to be hung feels like another errand waiting to get done by mommy. 

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

(Birthday) Love in the Time of Facebook

Yesterday was my birthday.  I'm not sure how I got to be 42, but so far, it's looking pretty good!

I had a wonderful day.  One of Star's babysitters arrived at 7:30am to finish getting Star ready for school and to take her there.  Scott and I escaped and went out to breakfast (which we almost never do), went hiking in Marin, went to some used clothing stores, I got a pedicure, Scott and I hung out together in the house, and then I went to dinner with a group of girlfriends.  When I got home, Star was still awake, so I snuggled with her and we talked about our days. 

Running parallel to my actual birthday, was how my birthday was celebrated in my virtual life.

Facebook was the most active of my online identities.  Here's a breakdown of who I heard from through Facebook.
  • Actual friends.  These are people who are likely to show up in my facebook stream often and I choose to have an in person relationship with them.
  • Family members.  By choice or not, these are people that I'm related to and their birthday greetings are wonderful. 
  • People I knew in High School, College, or Law School. Oh, it's so awkward.  Many of these people know such an outdated version of me.  They knew me when I chose to be called "Jenny."  They remember me when I was a French Horn playing band geek.  Some of them knew me when I was an out of place Californian living in Oregon.  There are definitely people from my past who have transitioned to "current" friends, but for the most part, these are a group of people that I don't have an actual real-time relationship with.  It's sweet that they mention my birthday on facebook, because facebook tells them it's my birthday, but it feels so inauthentic.  Also, it puts my head in a weird place on my birthday.  While having a nice day off from work doing what I wanted to do, I was continuously thrown into the past thinking about these people.  What do they think about me?  Should I be embarrassed about something that I did in front of them in my past?  Should I try to forge a real relationship with some of these people?  Or, should I un-friend them and have less head clutter in my life? 
The people who texted me birthday greetings are all in the category of actual best friends and family.

One friend sent me a message through Words With Friends which was unique and cute.

And, I got only one card through the mail.  It was from my in-laws and felt quaint in the best possible way. 

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Vegetarian Cookbook Collection

I became a vegetarian in 1990 as a Sophomore at U.C Berkeley.  I was away from my conformist hometown and able to make decisions for myself for possibly the first time in my life.  I quite easily decided that I no longer wanted to kill animals to fuel my body.  It was as simple as that.  It was an easy decision and I am committed to my vegetarianism from all parts of my being. 

For the past 20+ years, I've been collecting vegetarian cookbooks.  It started out of necessity.  I became a vegetarian without really understanding what I would eat.  How would I nourish myself?  What would I bring for potlucks?  My image of a plate of food revolved primarily around an animal protein with some vegetables on the side. The internet didn't yet exist as prevalently as it does now, so I couldn't google search "vegetarian recipes" and "pin" them, so I began buying cookbooks. 

My last week of Law School, in Oregon, a vegetarian girlfriend and I went to Breitenbush Hot Springs.  Breitenbush is a wonderful place with meditation spaces, yoga, hot springs, hiking in the mountains, a beautiful river, and all vegetarian food.  The food was delicious.  I remember eating a loaf with gravy; I had never tasted something so delicious.  For breakfasts, there was granola, soymilk, tofu scrambles, and whole wheat waffles.  My mind expanded.  I bought the hot springs' cookbook before we left.  When I was in library school, I lent my Breitenbush cookbook to one of my classmates who claims that she lost it.  I plan to replace it, but I haven't gotten around to it yet.

Now, I have approximately 50 vegetarian cookbooks.  I also have a binder that I've created of favorite recipes and recipes that have been passed down in my family, and recipes that I use for Jewish holidays. 

If Scott and I are in someone else's house, and they have built in shelves in the kitchen, Scott often comments on how I would love that feature for my cookbook collection.  Until I get my dream kitchen, my cookbooks sit on these Ikea shelves which I bought and asked my neighbor to install. 

Ironically, perhaps, I don't cook much.  Back in my single days, my singular specialty was couscous with vegetables.  That's the only thing I remember cooking for daily nourishment.  On all the first dates I went on in my 30s, I would go to various restaurants and order some vegetarian option which was generally high carb and low protein (think spaghetti.)

One boyfriend back then was a passionate meat eater.  We had horrible fights after we returned home from an event where food was shared by everyone, and there was nothing for me to eat.  Despite my protests, I hosted a sushi making party for his birthday complete with many kinds of fish.  He was not at all respectful of my compassionate eating choices.  He was also the boyfriend who laughed at the fact that I was becoming a librarian - he didn't see it as a good career choice.  I wish I had seen that he was not the right one for me and broken up with him before he broke my heart.

When I dated my husband, it was the first time I had dated a vegetarian.  With him, I got to explore the world of vegetarian restaurants.  We could order anything off the menu.  It felt like I was back at Breitenbush with a bounty of vegetarian options without the need to feel apologetic.

I married that vegetarian boyfriend.  I still don't cook much, but I love my cookbook collection.  For special events, I pull down some of my cookbooks.  Recently, for Passover, I took a day and a half off from work to cook.  Here are 2 of the dishes I created - a yellow squash gratin, and a quinoa pancake thing.  When I focus my mind and cook, it all turns out pretty good, I think!  

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Me on Reality TV

I love reality TV.   I often wonder what I would be like as a reality TV star.  Would I be a controlling bitch who the rest of the cast and all of America grows to hate?  Or, would I become America's sweetheart because I'm a good listener and don't get involved in various dramas.

And, what my life would be like after my stint on TV.  Would I have celebrity friends in high places?  Would my family be featured in People magazine?

Which TV show would I be on?  Let's look at some possible scenarios. 

The Biggest Loser.  This is one of my favorite shows. First step for me to become a contestant is to gain 100 or more pounds.  Then, get cast on the show.  Once those awful and possibly impossible steps are accomplished, I get access to amazing trainers and a beautiful kitchen.  I get to spend time at a beautiful "ranch" in Southern California and make friends with Bob, Jillian and Dolvett.  I can envision myself hugging Bob at the finale and having him say that he's proud of me.  Would I be perceived as an uptight lawyer-type like Gina from the most recent season?  Or, could I somehow channel sweet sweet Lisa and only show that side of myself?  My imagined life after Biggest Loser would be wonderful.  I would be able to quit working for other people and not have to deal with petty office bullshit.  I'd have a platform and could then become a motivational speaker; I'd spend my time traveling, working out, eating healthy and telling others that they can have a healthy body weight too.  

Survivor.  I need perfect conditions to sleep.  I like sleeping on my tummy with a just right pillow under my head.  I don't like being surrounded by bugs; I like being clean; I don't love camping; I don't like being thirsty or hungry; and, I'm a vegetarian.  For all those reasons, I really can't see myself ever being a castaway on Survivor.  Sign me up to be a lifetime viewer of this show. 

Shark Tank.  This is the show which is probably the most natural fit for me.  Entrepreneurs go on this show to pitch their ideas in the hope of getting money and partners.  I'm a born entrepreneur from an entrepreneurial family.  (As a side note, I married a born entrepreneur also from an entrepreneurial family.  It'll be interesting to see how our daughter turns out.)  I'm not sure which business venture I'd pitch to them.  But, I'd love the opportunity to turn down an offer from Mr. Wonderful and form a partnership with Robert Herjavec- love him.

Project Runway.  Fashionistas sew clothes and get judged.  The designers have either been sewing for clients for a long time, or are newly minted fashion school graduates.  They are professional clothing makers.  They are judged and mentored by famous people in the fashion world - Heidi Klum, Tim Gunn, Michael Kors, and others including guest judges.  I love this show.  But, it sometimes seems a bit odd to me.  Creations that I love are often criticized by the judges, and designs that I think are horrid are praised.  I guess fashion is in the eye of the beholder.

A Hybrid Between Master Chef + Project Runway.  This is a show of my own creation.  Let's break down the elements.  Master Chef involves regular people (not trained chefs) who love cooking, and have some cooking skills.  Master Chef contestants work in an amazing kitchen with fabulous kitchen tools and wonderful ingredients.  Project Runway pits trained clothing designers against one another.  My hybrid TV show idea is to take people who have no formal sewing training, but who have some knack for it, and put them head to head with other kitchen table sewists.  The sewists would get access to amazing sewing machines, sergers, ruffle feet, and fabric.  Maybe they would take trips to Mood? 

Possible challenges could include:
  • Make an outfit for your daughter's (or son's) 3rd birthday party which is happening tomorrow.
  • Make your husband/brother/partner a set of work appropriate button down shirts that fit him. 
  • Make yourself a fabulous gown for some upcoming event.
  • Create a quilt for a new baby.  There can be a twist midway through this challenge to turn the quilt into a sundress.  
      Kitchen Table Sewists.  Any casting agents in the crowd?  Consider me for season #1. 

Monday, April 1, 2013

Monster Family

I work at a Law School.  I am a Law Librarian and an Adjunct Professor there.  Each year, the students hold a Public Interest auction in order to raise money so that students can work in the public interest and be somewhat compensated.

Last year, when the committee in charge of this auction asked me to contribute, I was supportive, but not sure what I would do.  I ended up crocheting this monster.  I didn't attend the auction, but I think it went for $20 to a student who wanted to give it to his 2 year old nephew.

This year, the organizer has convinced me to crochet a whole monster family.  Here's what I've come up with.  A few of my students have commented on how much they love this monster family.

We did the same thing back when I was in Law School.  I remember one year I made a knitted felt hat to be auctioned off.  For some reason, there was a bidding war for my hat.  One of my classmates had a bit of a crush on me and bid way too much for it.  I think he thought that some personal services came with his buying of the hat.  Ah, my awkward law school days.

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Q1 Update on New Year's Resolutions

As a refresher, here are the New Year's Resolutions that I made in January.

I thought it would be a good time for a bit of a check in.

Losing weight is not going very well.  Sometimes, I feel like I have the eating under control, and sometimes I feel like I have the exercise under control.  Very rarely, do they both feel good.  And, if they do, then I get sick, or it's a Jewish holiday, or I have late night work meetings, so everything backslides.

Blog weekly.  I feel like this is going pretty well.  It's occasionally a bit less than weekly, and occasionally, it's a bit more than weekly. 

More time in the day.  This is surprisingly going well.  The co-op has created more time.  And, we're using our meal delivery person more to steam vegetables for Star's lunches. We also have 2 wonderful babysitters for Star.  We trust them both and they are fabulous. 

Judaism.  Sometimes I think this is a total fail, but sometimes it feels like it's going well.  We are currently having a quite meaningful Passover.  I read Passover books in Star's class and brought matzah for everyone to snack on.  We went to a seder at my parents' house on the first night and hosted a seder on the 2nd night.  So, maybe that's a sign of success?  I still think it needs way more work. 

KinderCycle transition.  Totally done.  Check.

Writing for publication.  I feel like this is going well.  I have a few pieces I'm working on.

SFSU.  Check it off this to do list.  I explored it fully and I was hired to teach there in April.  But, my class didn't get enough students signed up so the class is cancelled.  They may ask me to offer it again in November, but honestly I'm thinking I should prioritize other things than adding more work commitments to my life.

Commute less.  Another epic fail.  I have no idea how to do this.

2013 Craftsy BOM.  I dropped out.  I hated it.  But, I'm now working on a green and orange quilt of my own design for Scott and I.

Sew a skirt.  I'd like to lose weight first.

I haven't knit the hat for the Israeli soldier yet.

Sew for Star.  Haven't done this recently.

To sum up, these are the things I still want to work on in the months to come:
  • Lose weight
  • Be Jewish as a family
  • Commute less
  • Quilt for Scott and I
  • Sew a skirt for me.
  • Knit a hat for an Israeli soldier
  • Sew for Star.
That seems do-able.  I'll aim for another update on this next quarter. 

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Update on Metalsmithing

Back here, I wrote about the promise of a new craft and how I thought I was about to fall hard into a metalsmithing obsession.

Surprisingly, I've exercised great restraint which I am both proud of and frustrated by.  Here's what happened.  I was all ready to buy a whole new set of tools including a torch or two.  Then, I ran it by my husband who was concerned about us having "dangerous" tools in the house when I had taken no classes on how to use these tools.  I reluctantly admitted that he had a good point. 

We made a deal.  If I take a metalsmithing class and if I can use the tools safely and I like the craft, then I'll get to buy all the stuff and do it at home - if I keep all the gadgets somewhere where Star can't reach them.

I'm signed up to take an Introduction to Soldering class on April 7th.  So excited!  These are pictures pinned on my Pinterest board called Jewelry To Copy once I've learned how to solder safely. 

Sunday, March 17, 2013

A Weekend Day

A comic is making the rounds on the web.  The woman pictured in the comic says: "Hooray, it's Friday!  Oh wait, I'm a mom."

Yes, I'm sure all working moms can all relate to that.  After leaving the office, my other, more important job, starts back up again.  And, honestly, even when I'm at the office, I'm doing my unpaid mommy job also.  I'm arranging babysitters, figuring out date nights (I've definitely been lagging here), and planning our daughter's birthday party. 

On the weekends, I get a break from the job that pays me money.  I will occassionally answer an email or take a call from a student, but I try to keep my weekends somewhat protected from my law librarian / adjunct professor job.

For me, there is no "typical" weekend day.  But, for posterity, I thought it would be fun to record one of my days.  Here's how Saturday looked for me. 

7:15am - we all woke up.  The good part about daylight savings time is that it lets us sleep in a bit.
I decided I didn't have time to exercise since we had a person scheduled to come at 8am to interview for the "finish getting her ready and walk Star to school" job.

8am - Interview #1 was scheduled.  At 8:15am, she still hadn't shown up, so I texted her.  She apologized but said that the power was out in her building so she slept in.  She rescheduled for 10:45am.  I was a bit angry that I missed my workout for this person who didn't show up.  I folded laundry.

9am - Interview #2 was OK.  On one hand, I was grateful that she showed up, but we didn't love her.

10am - Interview #3 went great.  She was on time and was wonderfully well spoken and great with Star.

10:45am - Interview person #1 showed up.  She was nice, but we all agreed that we liked #3 best.

11:30am - Star and I drive down to Sunnyvale for one of my College friend's twin daughter's first birthday party.  Star said that she wasn't going to fall asleep in the car, but she fell asleep in the car.

12:45pm - We got to the park in Sunnyvale where the party was.  I woke her up from her nap and we quickly made our way to the potty where we both went pee pee.  The party was fun.  There was a yummy catered Indian buffet lunch and lots of people to catch up with.  There was also a playground which Star loved.  She said that she wanted to come back to play more at this playground.

2:45pm - Got back in the car for an hour ride home.  Star did not nap this time.  We got home at about 3:45pm.

4pm - A girlfriend of mine who moved to Boston came over for a visit.

6:00pm - My friend left to go to dinner with other people, and I finally got an exercise in.  Scott and Star stayed home.

6:30pm - I left messages for Person #3's references.

6:45pm - We had dinner.

7:15pm - Star and I took a bath.  She had her nighttime soy milk and was asleep by 8pm.
Scott went out for a night with friends.  I watched some reality TV and was asleep by 9:30pm.

Friday, March 8, 2013

What to Offer at a Preschool Auction?

My daughter has been at her current preschool since January.  They have an annual auction, and we've never participated in one before.  The committee is somewhat (ahem) aggressive about soliciting donations from parents.

Initially, I had no idea what to donate.  And, I thought that other people might be similarly situated and need help generating ideas. 

So, I turned to Facebook (my current favorite place for crowd-sourcing), the internet and my own imagination and here's what I came up with.  I'm assuming that the auction organizers are trying to get donations directly from businesses, so this is a list of what I might want to do on my own (without donations from businesses). 

Offer Your Service
  • Offer whatever you do for a living (a free color consultation?  Tax preparation?  A will/trust?)  
  • Teach someone to knit
  • Offer a night of babysitting
Offer Someone Else's Service
  • Spa services
  • A gift certificate to a restaurant
Buy Something and Repackage It
  • Wine
  • Olive Oil
  • Soaps
Make Something
  • Handmade jewelry
  • A knit hat
  • A quilt
  • A tin filled with cookies
Give Away A Piece of Something You Have
  • A weekend at your condo
  • A few hours at your country club
  • Tickets to a Cal game
  • Tickets for one night of a lecture series or performance of some sort
  • A basket of your kid's best hand-me-downs.  Not the stained stuff, but the stuff that your kid never wore or grew out of before they had a chance to wear it
Here's what we decided to do.  My husband and I both decided to donate our own services.  He's going to offer a will/trust package.  And, I'm going to offer to teach 2 people how to knit.  We are also contributing to our daughter's class gift which is a package of camping stuff.  For that, I'm sewing some napkins.  I think I'll make 6 napkins with the same pattern on the front and then each with different solid colors on the back so each person can use the same napkin throughout the whole camping trip.

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

What I Should Have Said

Star was born almost 3 years ago.  I still regretfully replay a specific moment in my mind.

To get you up to speed, here's Star's birth story.

I spent from 1am until 10am in the triage cubicle before having an emergency c-section.  The private labor rooms were all filled up, and I guess they decided that since I wasn't going to labor, I didn't need my own room.  I just needed to wait out some time until the c-section would happen.

For me, hospitals are overwhelming places.  Triage is even more so.  Doctors and nurses kept coming in and out to see me or to see other women.  Other women would come in to be admitted.  They would eventually get transferred to actual rooms.  Random machines and phones kept beeping.  Visitors streamed in and out.

I remember passing the time by talking to my husband and my doula and my parents when they got there at about 6am.  I remember feeling mad. 

At one point, one of the doctors came in to my partitioned area.  I can't remember if he was an anesthesiologist or an obgyn who was going to perform the c-section.  He, quickly, got frustrated with me because I didn't focus on what he was saying.

Very crossly, he said, "I am the most important person in this room.  You need to listen to me."

Unfortunately, I did what he said and listened.  I've replayed this scene in my head countless time since that night.  I'm a strong woman who usually has some snappy comeback for insensitive remarks like these.  But, that night, I had none.

I wish I had said.  "You are not the most important person in the room.  My baby is the most important. I'm the next most important, and you are somewhere far down the list.  Now, please leave my cubicle and I will deal with a different anesthesiologist/obgyn.  Thank you."

By the time my c-section came around, that doctor was no longer on duty, so I never saw him again.   

Saturday, March 2, 2013

Stop the Glamorization of Busy

A full time lawyer who is super pregnant with #2 threw a birthday party for her 3 year old at her house  and baked a super impressive pink cake.  A student of mine sent a coherent email at 2am.  A co-worker came to work to finish a project even though he is sick.  Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer took a speedy 2 week maternity leave before jumping back into her full time work. 

I am impressed.

But, those anecdotes don't tell the story.   What did they give up to accomplish those feats?  What super-human powers do that have which I don't? 

With this blog post, I hereby aim to stop glamorizing busy.

I want to feel success based on how well I play with my daughter and by how patient I am with her.  By how well I love and respect my husband through the years. By how I prioritize time to keep my body healthy.  And, by the quality of my friendships.

Saturday, February 23, 2013

Update on the Co-Op

Back in this post, I shared my angst about the babysitting co-op we joined.

To recap, when we were invited to join the co-op, I was beyond excited.  It made me so happy that we lived in a place where there was an organized babysitting group and we, somehow, were let into the club!  Then, I completely switched and I became freaked out that we were sending our toddler down the path to childhood obesity because at each co-op party, she would eat badly and watch television.

Now, I'm back to loving our co-op.   Here's what's happened since I last blogged about co-op.
  • We sent Star to her 2nd co-op party which was fabulous.  The family has a trampoline in the backyard, and they have house rules where the big kids can only jump as fast as the littlest kid on the trampoline.  So, Star was in complete control on the trampoline and she had a great time.  The other great thing about this family is that one of their kids is a vegetarian, so they are completely supportive of how we eat.  Woohoo!  At this co-op party, the trampoline wore out our daughter, so when we picked her up at 9pm, she was asleep in the parents' bed while all the other kids were watching the movie of the night and eating dessert downstairs.  I now have a note in my address book that Star should attend all the co-op parties that this family hosts. 
  • A weekend, later, there was a full co-op potluck brunch where we got to meet the other families and socialize.  It was great to get to know the other families. 
  •  Serendipitously, I listened to To The Best of Our Knowledge's podcast on the topic of The Other Money.  On it, there was a segment about a babysitting co-op in Madison which has been in operation since 2005.  (By comparison, the co-op that we're in has been around since the 1970s.)  One of the Madison moms interviewed talked about the benefits of being in this co-op.  Among the benefits, she said that she and her husband and the other parents have a better social life than other parents that they know; they are more connected to other neighbors in their community; and she said that her kids have become comfortable around various adults and kids of all ages because of the co-op.  This is a huge selling point to me.  Our daughter is an only child, and bringing her up with community that we create is a very important value for us.  
  • We have noticed increased connections in our community!  I ran into a co-op mom at a Dailey Method Class; and, we ran into a different co-op mom and her 2 daughters (one of whom is Star's age) while getting new iPhones at Bay Street.  It's made where we live feel more and more like a community.  
  • The biggest thing is that we hosted our first co-op party last night, and it was a success!  We were over-prepared and had too much food, but the kids we hosted, including Star, were happy.  We followed the basic co-op curriculum which was explained to me by email.
    • 5:30-7 - kids arrive.  Have a pad/pen near door for parents to write down cell phone numbers.  Kids play with toys, explore and do art.
    • 7ish - dinner.
    • 7:15-7:45 - more free play / art.
    • 7:45 - dessert.  We offered fruit popsicles.
    • 8ish - movie.  We watched a documentary on bees which probably was not the best choice.  My bad.  
    • After movie - lights out and quiet time.  Our daughter wanted to stay in the living room and sleep on the couches with the other kids, but she was too hyped up and eventually we moved her to her room so she could actually sleep.  
    • I was told that most parents pick up by 10pm and this was true.  Then, I collapsed into my own bed.

Sunday, February 17, 2013

I went to the fabric store to get thread...

...and I came out with 2 yards of these three fabrics.  In my defense (do I need a defense?), they were each 50% off.  I'm not sure what I'm going to make with them but I love how springy and cheerful they each are!

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

The Promise of a New Craft

I love learning a new craft: getting and organizing the gadgets that go with it, and then trying to perfect my new craft.  I've been known to become a bit on the obsessive side.

The first craft I became passionate about as an adult was crocheting.  I moved to Israel in 1993 after I graduated from college.  I was living on a Kibbutz feeling somewhat isolated.  Someone taught me to crochet, and I was hooked (bad pun intended.)  It only required yarn and a crochet hook, so it was portable enough for my lifestyle at the time.

After I returned from Israel, I was living in San Francisco with the boyfriend that I met in Israel, and he started to get more and more religious.  I needed something to do on Saturdays while he did Jewish stuff, so I learned to knit at a local San Francisco yarn store.  That boyfriend didn't last long, but my knitting did.

My monogamous knitting phase lasted about 15 years.  Knitting was essential to my sanity throughout law school in Salem, Oregon.  I mostly knit sweaters for myself during those years - big chunky warm wool sweaters that make me a bit itchy today, but were perfect for the Oregon weather that I was living in at the time.  After law school, I knit baby hats, sweaters and blankets for my sister's kids and friends of mine who were having kids.  I knit a skirt for myself which I wore to a boyfriend's cousin's rehearsal dinner (that boyfriend is now my husband.)  And, I continued to make sweaters for myself - now in light cottons.

In about 2007, I dove into spinning.  I bought a wheel and all the accessories.  I loved starting a spinning project at a time when my new husband would be coming home.  It felt cozy and domestic to be set up with my spinning wheel peacefully spinning away while greeting him at the end of a day.

With all the yarn I was making, I couldn't knit it fast enough, so I bought a weaving loom and started making scarves and rugs.  This spinning and weaving phase didn't last long.  I sold all those gadgets within 2 years.

When I was pregnant with our daughter in 2009/2010, my fingers were too swollen and stiff to knit comfortably.  So I got into mosaics.  I loved breaking the tiles.  I made the house number for our home.  I had visions of making a belly cast when I got hugely pregnant and then mosaicing the belly cast, but my daughter had other visions and was born early - before I got around to doing the belly cast.  I haven't done any mosaic projects since then.

Once my daughter was born, sewing became my new craft of choice.  Knitting, my fall-back craft, took too much time that I no longer had, but I still wanted to produce cute things.  I've sewn skirts, dresses, tops, pants and now quilts for my daughter. I bought a special ruffle foot for my sewing machine which I love a bit too much.  My next sewing goals are to make some things for me. 

Then, I got into beading - basic wire wrapping and jewelry making.  I bought many tools for this new craft and have created some pieces that I love.  Sewing and beading are both quicker than knitting, but not as portable.  My commuting time is no longer productive crafting time. 

Now, I feel the pull of a new craft.  Metalsmithing.  I feel myself about to fall in, but I'm hesitating a bit because it's going to be a financial investment to get started.  At a minimum, I'm estimating a $200 initial investment to get some basic tools (including a fire extinguisher!)  I've already been watching videos and reading books, and feel beyond excited about making my own rings, pendants and clasps.  My guess is that I'm about to fall over this new craft cliff.

Thursday, January 31, 2013

Craft Area Re-Organization

I have a craft area in our house.  It takes up about a third of our living room (or, front room as we call it.)  Before I sold my business, this craft area was mostly taken over by stuff for the business and I occasionally did some crafting there.

I have no "before" picture, but it was cluttered.  It was filled with business stuff - signs, clothes, high chairs and potty seats ready to go to the swaps, stuff to be sorted, a money box, and, oh yes, some crafty things.

I've spent some time over the past few months weeding and re-establishing my craft area.  Here's the big reveal.

To get to my craft area, you go through the rest of the living room.  From this view, you can see my daughter's toys in the foreground and my craft area in the back.  

My daughter and my husband know not to go into my craft area by themselves.  It's mommy's special space.  

From left to right, you can see the block of the month quilt that I finished in December, my ironing board, my table (for cutting, sewing, and jewelry making), an old cd cabinet which I've converted to hold various supplies like zippers, and the book shelf.  

More details in the pictures below.  I hope you enjoy this tour as much as I enjoy creating in my craft area.

Under the ironing board are fabrics in use for a current quilt project.   
I love these little drawers and the books.  The books tell the story of how my crafty passions have changed over time.  
A view of the fabric organization
The blue bucket of fabric
The red bowl of fabric
Old jeans ready for re-purposing
This is a view of the little yardage that I have.  I'm mostly a user and lover of scraps.  
In the corner between my sewing table and the ironing board is my tower of yarns.  Some were purchased over my 20+ years of knitting and crocheting and some hand spun when I was in a spinning phase a few years ago.  My knitting has recently taken a back seat to sewing and jewelry making.

Friday, January 25, 2013


On June 15th, 2012 at 2:32pm (I only know this because I looked back), I posted on Facebook:

           "Am I the only one who doesn't understand how Pinterest works?"

A number of people replied many of whom also didn't understand it, and one friend who had never heard of it.  But, a few people wrote about how great it is and what they use it for.

A few hours later, I was hooked; today, I am still totally hooked.  Here are some examples of how I use it.  

  • My biggest Pinterest obsession is pinning pictures of jewelry and quilts that I want to eventually copy.  
  •  I've been working on reorganizing my craft area (hopefully a blog post is coming soon about that), and one way I cut down the clutter in my craft room was by using Pinterest to pin things which I had previously printed.  Printing stuff hasn't been a great option for me because inevitably, I can't find print outs when I need them, and they create way too much clutter in our house.   
  • For some reason, I'm pre-worrying about after school programs and summer camps.  My daughter still has 2 and a half years left of all-day preschool, but once she starts Kindergarten, I'll need some solutions so that my husband and I can work at times other than when her school is in session.  To keep track of options I hear about, I've created a board on Pinterest that I can look back at when the appropriate time comes.   
So, if you're on the fence about trying Pinterest, consider this an endorsement post.  I love, love Pinterest. 

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

A Babysitting Co-Op

I've lived in the Bay Area for so long now, that I'm not even sure if babysitting co-ops are a normal thing or if I need to explain what they are.  I'll assume the later.

A babysitting co-op functions where sometimes someone else watches your kid and sometimes you watch someone else's kids.  There are a variety of different models of this; 2 of which I know first hand about.

When Star was born in 2010, I decided it was a priority that we join some sort of co-op.  The co-op that we were initially invited to join worked as an even exchange.  If I needed a "sitter", I would email the group, or some subset of the group requesting a sitter.  Assuming I found someone available, once they watched my kid for 3 hours, I would "pay" them 3 tickets.  This co-op also had a monthly gathering where we were all supposed to get to know each other so that when we were watching other people's kids or having them watch ours, we were all more comfortable with the people involved.

We were in this group long enough for (1) one family to watch our daughter for a few hours; (2) reciprocating for that family; and (3) feeling guilty for a number of months about not attending the suggested monthly social gathering.  This group didn't work for us for a variety of reasons.  First, the geography was really spread out.   Also, the monthly suggested meeting did not work for our family.  (Honestly, I don't have enough time to spend with my actual friends let alone with people who I'm trying to make be my friends.)  We quit this group.

Around that same time, I somehow found out about a babysitting co-op based in our neighborhood.  This co-op operates differently.  My husband, Scott, explains it best.  Every Friday and Saturday night, there is a party for kids that our daughter can go to.  Each family hosts a "party" about 3 times per year.  Then, you get to send your kids to a party as often as you have cards.  We calculated that for every time we host a party, Star can go to a party about 5 times.  

Back in 2010 when i found the group, I spoke with the current President, and they didn't have an opening for us, but they said that they would put us on the waiting list.

Fast forward to now.  About a month ago, the new President of the group contacted us.  A family had recently left the group and they wanted to invite us to join.  We were stoked.

The following weekend, we signed Star up for her first "party".  It was at a house about a block away.  The hosting family was super great, and Star had a fabulous time.  When we dropped her off, they plopped her in front of the TV so she could "settle in".  When I picked her up, she had eaten box macaroni and cheese for dinner, she was still in front of the TV and she was now eating ice cream.

Let me explain.  We don't have a TV, and we don't eat sweets.  We steer clear of processed carbohydrates and other fake foods.  My theory has been that she'll get sweets, TV and processed foods in enough areas of her life; she doesn't also need to get it at home.  Star sees television when she's with her grandparents, and eats sweets and processed foods at birthday parties, but that's pretty much it. 

Is joining this co-op putting her on the path to childhood obesity and compulsive shopping?  That's my fear, but maybe I'm being too paranoid?  It's such an odd thing to live our lives with certain values and then have those values thrown out the window monthly so Scott and I can get a free night off. 

We have reservations, but we're going to try it a few more times.  We are set to host our first party in a few weeks, so that will bring up an entirely new set of challenges and frustrations.  In the end, this babysitting coop may, ironically, not be Berkeley enough for us.  We need to find some media-free whole food eating households to swap childcare responsibilities with.

Thursday, January 10, 2013

WIP - Amelie

Crazy Mom Quilts kicked of 2013 by discussing her works in progress (WIPs).  As we move further into 2013, I'm inspired to follow her example.

I'm actually quite good about keeping my WIPs in check, I generally don't have too many projects going at once and I'm somewhat disciplined about not starting too many new projects until I finish up existing projects. 

But, there's an exception.  Meet, the Amelie Crochet Floral Throw.  I fell in love with this pattern in 2007, I believe.  I bought soft cotton yarn in springy pastel colors and crocheted all of the little flowers.  I envisioned reading a book on the couch which keeping warm under my beautiful crocheted blanket.  All was going well at this point. 

Then, I connected the flowers, and the whole thing started to look horrible.  I think the stitches I did to connect the flowers were too far apart?  Now it is so airy and open, it would not keep anyone warm. 

Here are my notes on Amelie from Ravelry

This project has changed directions many times.

(1) After I finished the first “square”, the one with silver sage in the inside, green-apple in the middle and the red/purple on the outside, I decided that I didn’t like the look of the 3rd motif - it felt too floppy and didn’t seem like it would be comfortable as a blanket with all those big holes. So, now I’m doing each “square” with just the first 2 colors.

(2) Then, I got the whole thing done and connected all the squares together. I just needed to do some border to make it a blanket.

(3) But, then, I realized that I’d rather have this as a scarf. Stay tuned.

(4) August 27, 2008 - I’m officially putting this in hibernation.

(5) March 26, 2009 - I finally have an idea about how to revive this project. Now, I have to find the UFO… It went so far into hibernation that I can’t even find it. And, my house isn’t that big!

At this point, I have no idea what my vision was in March of 2009, but I now know where my Amelie is.  So, one of my goals (I guess I'm adding this to my resolution post), is to revive Amelie.  I still really do love the flower pattern.  I think I can make something work.  A blanket?  A scarf?  Talk to me Amelie; what do you want to be?