Saturday, December 31, 2005

Great minds....

Let's begin with the assumption that everyone thinks his mind is above average. Fine.

We can even work on the assumption that great, average, and small minds is wholly a matter of personal perception. Fine.

I guess my new year's resolution, based on some experiences I've had lately, is to ensure that when my family and I spend time with other people, it is with those whom we consider to be "great minds."

"Great minds discuss ideas; Average minds discuss events; Small minds discuss people. "
Eleanor Roosevelt

Life's too short to do otherwise and I'm tired and frustrated by what happens when we do.

Thursday, December 29, 2005

Sympathy for the infirmed...

I've had a minor glimpse of what it's like to not be able to take care of yourself since my surgery on Tuesday. This is really the first time I've been in a condition like this since high school, when obviously your perspective on life is a bit different.

Not only is it physically trying, but it is emotionally trying. To have to rely on someone else to help you with things you are so used to doing alone is demoralizing. It's the antithesis of being independent, self-sufficient, an adult.

And I don't even have it that bad (I mean, I'm blogging after all, right?) and it's still not so much fun. There are those who have it far worse and I can only wonder how they must feel.


It's amazing how attitudes change in 20 years. We stayed up last night until 1am and watched Philadelphia with Tom Hanks and Denzel Washington. The movie, as you probably know, does a fantastic job of capturing many of the sentiments in the mid/late 80's regarding HIV/AIDS. Looking back at that, it's hard to believe that's how it was, given how it is now, at least from my perspective.

I would imagine that is true with many, many things and this is only the first of many of these observations as I age. In order to have perspective of time, you need to be older, right?

Sense of smell

Somewhere along the line I've heard that your sense of smell affects taste. I'm thinking about this now because my nose is packed following the surgery and I can't breathe through it or smell anything.

Foods that I normally really enjoy taste bland to me and I've been gravitating towards very sweet (not that I don't gravitate to them normally :-) and salty.

I can only wonder if the inverse is true. When the packing is out of my nose, will foods taste better? Hmmm....something to consider and possibly anticipate!

Wednesday, December 28, 2005

Adversity makes me appreciate my mate...

I wish I could be a romantic and say that every single day that I've been married to my wife I appreciate her more and more and cherish her the way that she deserves it.

Unfortunately, that is not the case. Got to be honest here. There are definitely days when the stresses of life get to me and on which I get very nitpicky about the things about her which irritate me (yes, there are a few-of course, nothing compared to the number she has against me.)

Anyway, it seems that during times of adversity is when I really see her for the caring, loving, thoughtful, beautiful woman that she is and when I am proud that she is the mother of my children.

I had surgery yesterday and though I haven't been totally out of it, it's been rough. Achy, nauseous, and tired, I haven't really been able to do anything to help her with the kids. What's more the Tylenol with codine made me throw up and guess who got to clean it up? On top of that, she's always thinking about ways to make me more comfortable. I am blessed beyond all comprehension.

Now, I just need to work on remembering that when I am not relying on her to do something for me.

Post-Op Instructions...

Got up at 5am yesterday morning in the pre-dawn darkness to go the surgery center of Maryland (a pretty impressive business operation, but that's another story) to have a nasal septoplasty procedure.

It's basically a roto-rootering of your nasal passages so that you can breathe more effectively. Those I know who have had it, swear by it. I had my nose broken in a basketball game in 11th grade (had to walk around w/a cast on my nose for 2 weeks or so) and while I had the bone repaired, the interior blockage of the septum and tissue meant I could only breathe out of one nostril.

So, the procedure is done and I'm recovering from the general anesthesia. Tamar comes to pick me up (special call out to Kira, my sister, aka die WuenderTante "wonder aunt" who watched the kids at home) and the nurse is reviewing the post-Op instructions. Do this, don't do that. I wasn't fully paying attention :-) but at the end, she says, 'ok, I think that does it. Let me see, did I leave anything off this sheet?"

I turn to her, putting my hand on the side of my mouth facing Tamar and say, with a grin, "yes, sex. Daily for 3 years. I think that's crucial to recovery."

It didn't make the 'official' post-op instruction list.

Tuesday, December 27, 2005

Tone Deaf...

So on the topic of effective communication, I think I may have come to the conclusion that I'm partially (not wholly) tone deaf. My dad always felt that Epsteins couldn't sing-that's not my problem. What is, I believe, is that the content of my communication gets lost in the delivery, which is oftentimes uniform, regardless of the audience. I don't think or take into account the tone or manner.

Here's hoping that awareness and admission is the first step on the road to recovery.

So true...

The best sale of my life happened a few weeks ago as I convinced Tamar to let me go for one week with my brother, Asher, to Israel. The purpose is to meet with movers and shakers in the high-tech industry and identify promising technologies.

Some insight to Israeli culture:
As the El Al plane settled down at Ben Gurion airport, the voice of the captain came on: "Please remain seated with your seat belts fastened until this plane is at a complete standstill and the seat belt signs havebeen turned off. We also wish to remind you that using cell phones on board this aircraft is strictly prohibited. To those who are seated, we wish you a Merry Christmas, and hope that you enjoy your stay. And to thoseof you standing in the aisles and talking on your cell phones, we wish you a Happy Chanukah, and welcome back home."

Communication is a discipline...

sometimes I communicate very, very well. Sometimes, I am horrendous. Either I just sit back and write/speak from the heart or I get too impulsive or overthink things.

I've been sending emails since '91 and I'm going to put in a new rule effective immediately. When I get an email that riles me up, I'm going to implement a 30 minute rule. I won't even begin drafting a response until then. For emails I need to send, and I mean relatively important ones here, I'm going to draft it and save it for one day. It's so damn easy to hit Send.

I've got to get this write (pun intended).

Monday, December 26, 2005

Bringing your "A" game...

For a while, I thought it wasn't possible to always "bring your 'A' game" to life. Now, I think it is, though with the caveat that you can't bring your 'A' game to every aspect of your life at every time, it's knowing which aspects of your life should be the recipient of the 'A' game that is the key and working smart to maximize the return on your effort.

This past weekend, I went to two concerts, staying out way past my bedtime (and Calanit's) to do it, but these were once in a very, very long time opportunities.

Today is the day after Xmas and I am sitting in my office. There is NO ONE here, but I'm craking away. No reason not to. Brought my "A" game to leisure time over the weekend and bringing it to work today.

Only in America...

would you find a room full of (mostly) non-Jewish people cheering on a Lubavitch Hasidic reggae/rapper, Matisyahu, singing his lyrics-most of which have to do with VERY Jewish themes and concepts and cheering wildly for the lighting of the first Hannukah candle (on Christmas day, no less) in a music club in the center of black, urban Washington, DC.

The guy in front of us (Kira, my sister and I went together) was a fairly typical, WASPy looking guy, wearing a Notre Dame Fighting Irish hat jumping wildly and singing lyrics such as "we want mashiach now and it's time to start revealing..." and "Yibaneh hamikdash bimheira b'yameinu" (rebuild the Temple speedily in our days) and other words taken from Jewish liturgy and religious tradition.

I kept looking around and saying to Kira, "I've lived in 3 countries and traveled to another 50 or so and THIS is the most unique cultural experience I've ever had."

Matisyahu gave a mini sermon on the signifiance of the word "Nefesh" (soul in Hebrew) and how it related to the Hannukah lights and with each word and beat of his very, very impressive performance, the place was nodding their heads in time and dancing. It was remarkable.

I'm told that my father's father, who emigrated to the US from Lithuania, would use the Yiddish term "Amerika goniff", literally meaning "America steals," but essentially refers to things that could only happen in America, as if to say with a wink and a nod, "you crazy America!"

Tonight was one of those moments.

Sunday, December 25, 2005

Calanit's first concert...

Took Calanit, who like her mother, loves to dance to a concert tonight-Soul Farm. She was the youngest kid there-by far-and when all was said and done, she didn't get to bed until 1am. My daughter, the party animal.

Saturday, December 24, 2005

A 3 nap Sabbath...

The Jewish sabbath extends for 25 hours, from sundown on Friday night to sundown on Saturday night. It is a time for family and resting. Usually, people try to get in a "shabbat nap" in the afternoon of the Saturday as a way of really resting and catching up on sleep. Generally, one nap is considered a successful day. There are challenges, of course, when you have children and your sleep schedule is not entirely under your control.

This past week, I had a career day. The Sabbath began at 4.30pm on Friday. I was beat and took a nap from then until 6pm (my kids were napping as well). We all got up and had dinner around 6. Went to bed around 11.

On Saturday morning, I have a choice of synagogue services to attend and since Erez did a great job of waking me up at 5.30am, I was able to attend the earliest, but also most time-efficient service which begins at 7am and ends at 8.45am. By contrast, the main service starts at 8.45am and ends around 11.15.

So, I was home from services by 9.20am (had a bit of food and some conversation after services). Erez wasn't feeling so well, so Tamar took Calanit to the main services and Erez and I took a nap from 9.45am to 11.45am. Nap #2. I was feeling greatness at this point and saw potential for a new Olympic record for sabbath naps, as the sabbath didn't end until 5.30pm.

We then went to lunch at some friends of ours, where I told them of my pending record. By 3.40pm, lunch was coming to a close and I knew we had to move. Fortunately, we live around the corner and by 4.4opm, Erez and I were once again in bed, napping, for a record setting performance!!!

It's going to be near impossible to beat this one....

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

Losing time thanks to technology...

Of course, there's the other side of the coin. Being the "cutting edge" guy that I think I am, I do spend an inordinate amount of time trying to make new things work "better."

Today, I downloaded some audiobooks and tried for 20 mins to burn them to a CD in a proper format.

I also wanted to figure out how to stream video from the server in my basement more effectively (check out the videos of the kids)

And that's just the tip of the iceberg.

I guess it cuts both ways. When all is said and done, I'm even (I hope!!)

Sunday, December 18, 2005

Freeing up time thanks to technology

Sometimes people wonder why I rely on technology so much.

There's a great chart that I've seen that says that 65% of the money that companies spend on IT/technology goes to maintenance and 35% goes to new, innovative solutions that help the business prosper.

The same is true at home, I suspect. It's easy to get overwhelmed by the maintenance aspects of life...paying bills, managing your social calendar, answering repetitive questions. What this does is prevent you from doing the things that you really want to do.

My philosophy is different. I'm willing to make a large upfront time investment in say, setting up online bill payment or writing up very detailed directions to my house so that over time, I spend less time doing the maintenance and more time on things I want to do.

When people say, "how do I get to your house?" I don't have to spend anytime explaining anything, I just send the 2 page document with detailed directions and maps, and we're off. Multiply that by many tasks and you start saving considerable time.

But, the upfront investment is key.

Saturday, December 17, 2005

The word of the day is...


Took Calanit to her 2 year appointment on Thursday and the only test they had to do was test her hemoglobin.

From that moment on, I've got a little routine with Calanit.

"globin," she answers.

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

Seamless transition between roles...

...and all of a sudden I'm picking up Calanit at pre-school. Then, I'm sitting in the director's office and she says into the phone, "I've got a parent in my office."

Next, I'm introduced to Calanit's teacher, "this is Calanit's father."

It's not like one of those things you think about when you get married or even when you decide to have kids, it's just one of those moments that sneaks up on you and WHAM, there you are, changing your schedule so you can pick your kid up at school, read her report card, and help her leave with her backpack.

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

Family nicknames and a conversation

"What's your name?"
"And what's your nickname?"

"Good. What's your baby brother's name?"
"And what is his nickname?"
"Well done."

Saturday, December 10, 2005

A new appreciation of the word "Birthday"

Calanit turned 2 today and the term "birthday" took on a whole new meaning. This year, she could go around saying, "I'm 2," and "my birthday" (as opposed to last) and here I was thinking, "yes, it is her birthday and I was there the day and minute she was born." What's more, I'm partially responsible for it.

That's pretty cool when the person you've helped to create is old enough to say, "my birthday." I may not be expressing it fully, but I guess it's just elevates the idea of a birthday from celebration to a day of cosmic and potentially eternal significance.

Thursday, December 08, 2005

Get your name off of credit card solicitation lists

I just opted Tamar and me out for life...

Getting away with it...

I was talking to a guy the other day and the topic of TV came up. He said, "I think we have cable."

"What exactly does that mean?"
"Well, we've never seen a bill, but we get all of the channels."

I pondered this thought and didn't judge him, because I have to admit there are things in my life where if put under the microscope, it's possible that I'm trying to "get away with it."

I asked him, "you know, we would never tell our kids that doing this is ok, but why do we think it's ok for us to do it?"
He didn't really have an answer.

I'm not sure I do either, though I suppose that we are masters of rationalization, yet we know there is an absolute truth and perhaps we hope that our kids will turn out better than we did. On the other hand, actions speak louder than words, don't they?

Just something to ponder....continuously.

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

Grocery Store Curling

Some of you may know curling, the Olympic sport (and I think national sport of Canada) where players hurl a 22 lb. or so stone down a patch of ice and try to land it in a circle, competing against others. There's a great movie about curling, the name of which escapes me now, as well, that gives some insight into Canadian culture (whatever that is, but that's another topic :-).

Anyway, Calanit (and sometimes Erez) and I now play Grocery Store Curling.

The two of them are in the cart (Calanit in the seat) and Erez in his car seat in the main section and we find an empty aisle. I toss them down the aisle and run down after them, seeing how far they will travel and all the while yelling "Heeeeyyyyy, wait!!!!" Calanit loves it. Needless to say, Tamar isn't in the store with us.

I think we might see it in Beijing in 2008.

Monday, December 05, 2005

Starting school...

Calanit started school today. Well, not entirely, but she went to visit her new class. She's technically not allowed to start until she's 2 (this Sat.), but Tamar took her to visit and from what I heard, she had a great time.

My mother said about kids, "the days are long, but the years are short." Our eldest child enters school. Another milestone on the road of life.

Sunday, December 04, 2005

Life's adventures

Sitting in a tea shop waiting for a tow truck-dead battery

Friday, December 02, 2005

Accepting imperfections..

When we first moved into the house, I wanted everything to be perfect.


In the last year, I’ve realized things will never be perfect. What’s more, we’re at the point where we are comfortable living with the imperfections because they just aren’t that big a deal or it’s not worth it to fix them.


One of our stove burners doesn’t work.

Our kitchen sink drips unless you angle the faucet just the right way.


But hey, that’s what makes a house a home, right?


Wednesday, November 30, 2005

1st vs 2nd Children....

For the first child, you watch every move and it's announced.
"I've been watching her every moment!!! I think she could roll over any day now!!!"
"This is so exciting! I can't believe our little girl is about to roll over!!"

For the 2nd child, it just kind of happens.
"Hey, did you notice that Erez seems about ready to roll over?"
"Oh yeah, I think I did."

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Honesty IS the Best Policy...

I was talking on my cell while driving when I noticed the flashing lights behind me. I stopped.
The cop comes up and asks me through the window, "do you know why I stopped you?"
"If I give you the right answer, will you let me off with a warning?"

"Well, what do you think?"
"I'd have to say that I didn't come to a complete stop at the sign back there."
"Actually, you kind of went right through it."
"Well, a warning would be a very effective deterrent to prevent that from happening next time." "There isn't supposed to be a next time..."
"...which is why a warning would be a great deterrent."

I gave him my license and registration, knowing I was caught red handed and totally resigned myself to the ticket. Completely composed, I awaited my fate.

He returned.
"Everything checked out," (I guess I wasn't the mass murderer driving the stolen car for whom he was looking) "and you've been totally honest with me, so I'm going to let you off with a warning."
"Considering I'm 100% guilty, I do appreciate that. Thank you."

Monday, November 28, 2005

The look that your kids give you...

One of life's priceless experiences, in my opinion, is how your young kids look up to you (literally and figuratively) for your approval and involvement. They are so good at sending messages about when they want attention and showing appreciation when they get it. Man, it's worth everything.

Sunday, November 27, 2005

On being nice...

I've been told by some that I can be abrasive and abrupt. Usually, I just shrugged it off and figured that the other person was being too sensitive.

Recently, though, I've met a guy...let's call him Frank, who gave me a taste of my own medicine. I get the feeling that he thinks his abrasiveness is funny. I just think he's a first class jackass.

Sometimes that'll do it to you. Thanks to Frank, I'm much more aware of what I say...though I still have a LONG way to go.

Friday, November 25, 2005

Giving Blood...

One of the easiest ways for an individual to help another is through donating blood. 14 years ago today, I received my first blood donor card while a student in college.

On the back of the card is a slot to enter the date of each subsequent donation, up to 28. Each donation is 1 pint (8 pints to the gallon), so 3.5 gallons of blood.

I've kept that card and it's gone with me to blood donations ever since. There were even 2 different 3 year spells in which I was prohibited from donating due to travel experiences.

It's not always easy to give blood every 8-12 weeks, but I make it a priority and it was further reinforced this year when our friend, who died of lymphoma, asked that people commit to 1 blood donation per year in his memory.

So, today, in memory of our friend, Ned, and in the spirit of Thanksgiving, I am proud to report that all 28 slots on the back of the card I obtained exactly 14 years ago are now full.

Time to start a new card....

Monday, November 21, 2005

Homeowners for a year...

Tomorrow is exactly one year since we became homeowners for the first time.

We certainly have learned a lot about what that means in a very short time. It's another one of those life experiences that you just can't explain without doing it yourself. You can understand it conceptually, but not fully.

Yesterday, as I was raking the leaves with Erez in the Baby Bjorn, I took a break and looked around. Yes, the house is expensive. Yes, there is ALWAYS something going wrong...that usually costs money (though I am proud of my Macgyver-esque solutions to some things) and yes, there are frustrations, but when all is said and done, my kids have a place they can run around in, make memories in, share with each other, and learn about life. I guess I knew it was an emotional buy as well as a financial one, but only recently, with 2 kids in tow, have I begun to see how much emotion goes into making a house a home.

Thursday, November 17, 2005

The Power of Information...

Imagine this scenario in the pre-Internet world.
You get a cell phone that is "locked" to a certain provider. What are you going to do? The provider isn't going to make it easy for you to switch. The competitor to that provider is probably bound not to tell you how to do it.
You're out of luck.

Well, I got a new phone that was locked to AT&T. Within minutes, I was online and found a way to unlock it so I could use my T-mobile account.

I was getting calls, but not emails, but minutes later, I found a quick step solution to that issue and now, I'm up and running using the phone I want on the provider I want with the features I want.

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Perception vs. Fact

A hard lesson I’ve learned recently is that facts don’t matter. Well, they matter, but not as much as I though they do.


What matters is perception. Facts sometimes play a role in perception or I guess facts play a huge role in perceptions, but you don’t always know which facts are being taken into consideration as perceptions are being formed.


What can you do to help ensure that the perception you want formed is indeed the perception that is formed?

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Staying young...

People sometimes find it funny that my hobby is playing with technology…considering I spend a large portion of my day in front of a computer and my job is in the technology industry.


Sometimes I feel guilty about it, thinking I should have another hobby (I do have a few, truth be told).


Today, I read something that made me feel better though.


It came from my wife. Excerpted.


How to stay young.

3.     Keep learning.  Learn more about the computer, crafts, gardening, whatever.
Never let the brain idle.
"An idle mind is the devil's Workshop."
And the devil's name is Alzheimer's.


I guess the way I try to stay young is by always trying new things with technology to see how things work and what I can do with them.


Sunday, November 13, 2005

"Sometimes when you run too fast, you fall down..."

I said this to Calanit earlier today after she had fallen down while playing.


Then, I paused and realized that the same applies to me.  Honestly, it’s been a rough couple of weeks at work. Normally, I’m used to delivering “A” level work, but I’ve slipped up a bit. Not because I want to, of course, but because I was overwhelmed. I guess I consciously made some choices to focus on some other things. In the long run, it was the right call, to spend time with my family and enjoy the holidays, but in the short term, it’s not always pleasant.  It’s like professional athletes mired in the middle of a slump and it’s what the announcers seem to focus on, the batter who hasn’t hit in his last 30 at bats, the shooter who is 0 for 15 in the game.  


What’s worse is the catastrophic ruminations which then ensue as your mind spirals out of control and you ponder all of the unpleasant things that could happen as a result. Of course, none of them have happened and none of them are guaranteed to happen, but does that really matter?


Then, there is the side of the slump that requires admitting your defeat or failure. That’s not easy and I get the feeling that our culture doesn’t necessarily like failure or reward it, though it’s a critical component to future success. I don’t know if it’s true or not, but people don’t like to hear about your failures-maybe there’s nothing to say? Success-sure that’s easy to hear about.


I certainly don’t try to fail, but it’s important to remember that when I (we) do, that it’s not the end of everything you had hoped for and possibly even the beginning of something better.


Sunday, November 06, 2005

It's been a while...

since I've been truly blown away by something I've seen online, but I've got to tell you that the new service by Microsoft is amazing. It's fast, easy to use, it's got everything I want and most of all, it's REALLY fast.

This is impressive.

Saturday, November 05, 2005

When something is free...

I know it's obvious that when you don't have to pay for something, you're more than willing to consume more than you would if you did have to pay.

It seems health insurance is the same way. To wit, the other day, I was told that I need orthotics, which cost $350...unless insurance pays, which it does.

Without insurance, I'd probably go w/out them and get by, but with it...why not?

Ah, but here's the catch...I do pay, we all do, it's just that we pay next year and the year after higher premiums.

Still, probably won't change my behavior.

Monday, October 31, 2005

Blogging on the Blog...

People sometimes ask why I feel the need to blog, publish my thoughts out where everyone can see.

There are a few reasons. One, I kind of think that many people have the same thoughts and it's comforting to know that others think about similar topics--it can spur conversation and intellectual improvement.

A second is, it's somewhat therapeutic for me. I've long enjoyed writing (since I first began my travels) and it's a quick, easy way to capture the events (both mundane and ordinary of my life).

And it's also a great way to keep friends appraised of what's going on. I can invite them to read the Blog and find out what's going on -at their leisure.

Within the past 2 weeks, however, I've discovered a 4th.

Two friends of ours (one for Tamar and one for me) have "Googled" us in an effort to reconnect and as a result, stumbled across the Blog, where they both claim to have enjoyed reading over the events of our family and which then served to fuel the desire to renew our friendship.

That alone makes the Blogging experience worth it.

Sunday, October 30, 2005

The Internet Potty...

I got Calanit a training potty via the Internet today.

I've long loved the possibilities of the Internet as a platform but within the past 24 hours, I sold a DVD ROM drive on eBay and picked up a potty for my 2 year old via

All of these products which you'd normally either throw away or just store in your basement can now be turned into value for other people and/or cash for you.

Never before would this have been possible.

Saturday, October 29, 2005

Justifying Legal Behavior...

We need to find a new caregiver for 1 day a week for our kids and also a new person to help clean our house.

We were at a lunch recently where the topic of domestic help came up and I mentioned "hey, we're looking for someone." One person said, "oh, you should use mine, she's terrific." I left the room to help with the kids for 1 minute and when I returned, one woman said to me, "Why do you have to hire someone who is legal?"

Immediately, I was on the defensive and said, "well, Tamar does work for the Federal Government, you know."
"It's not like she's running for Senate or anything," was the reply.

The conversation eventually moved on and only later, upon reflecting, did I start to think about the conversation and realized what had happened.

In how many other topics, do you need to defend yourself for following the law?

Certainly, I've broken the law before, willingly in some cases (speed limit being the best example) and in college, I definitely remember one guy who refused to smoke Pot because he had political ambitions (this was around the time of the Clinton "I didn't inhale" comment), but no one gave him a hard time about it.

Far be it from me to judge other people because of which laws they choose to follow or ignore. That's a personal decision and if you want to risk the consequences, that's fine, but challenging someone to justify WHY they are are FOLLOWING the law just seems a bit crazy.

On the subject of domestic workers, I've got a side anecdote that dovetails with this discussion.

We paid unemployment insurance on the caregiver for our kids. Following our move to the house, I was so consumed with other activities that I missed the deadline for a quarterly filing and assessed a fee for $25.

I sent in my payment and a letter, which said essentially: "look, I'm just a regular guy paying taxes on a caregiver in my home and with all of the work with the move, I just missed the deadline. We both know that 99% of people don't do what I'm doing, can you please cut me some slack and waive the fee since I'm at least trying to do the right thing?"

They did.

Friday, October 28, 2005

Tomahawk Stickers...

In college football, when a player makes a great play or contribution to his team, many teams hand out little stickers of a school symbol which are affixed to the helmet of that player. The more contributions, the more stickers. So, Florida State (the Seminoles) hand out tomahawks, Ohio State gives out little Buckeye nut stickers.

I don't know what the equivalent award is in the world of parenting, but I just earned one.

NOTE: if you get squeamish easily, you may want to stop now. The next section is only for the strong stomachs out there.

Around 5pm, Calanit started complaining and it was clear that she was constipated. We hugged her and tried to comfort her otherwise, to no avail.

Eventually, I took her upstairs and had an experience that in a million years, I never would have thought I'd have.

I covered my fingers with vaseline and inserted them into Calanit's anus to help extract the hardened, foosball shaped pieces of fecal matter. I kept telling her to push, it was kind of like coaching Tamar during labor.

Eventually, we succeeded and Calanit, who had been crying, looked at me and said "thank you."

When you love your kids, there's no end to what you'll do.

See? I told you this was no place for the squeamish.

Thursday, October 27, 2005

Reading with "the boy"...

Seeing your kids move from stage to stage is clearly one of the joys of parenting. Sometimes, they happen all of a sudden. Sometimes, they sneak up on you.

On Thursday nights (as with most nights of the week), Tamar goes out and I have the "opportunity" to spend some quality time with my kids. Some nights are better than others.

Calanit went to sleep and Erez and I watched 2 episodes of the Apprentice together and towards the end of the show, I noticed he was watching me intently. With a moment of paternal responsibility, I turned off the TV and went to get some books for Erez. We then proceeded to read classics like "Is Your Mama a Llama?" and "Pajama Time."

What was very moving was how focused he was on the book as I read to him and he stared at the pictures (I presume.) I really felt like we were having a serious father-son bonding moment.

With 2 kids, it's not as easy to have solid 1:1 time, so it means a lot when you have one.

Sunday, October 23, 2005

The Black Sox of 2005...

In game 2 of this year's World Series, an umpire made a call that a batter was hit by a pitch. As a result, the next batter hit a Grand Slam, and potentially changed the course of the entire Series.

In the instant replay, it was fairly clear that the batter had NOT been hit and thus should not have been awarded first base.

The playoffs thus far have had a few controversial calls, but this one is different. It's one thing where it's not clear what happened and neither of the actors involved (the players that is) really knows and the ump is forced to make a judgment call. Sometimes he will make a mistake. Whether that is an argument for instant replay is a legitimate question, but this scenario is different.

Here, the batter must have KNOWN that he wasn't hit. Wouldn't the honorable thing have been to say "Hey, I wasn't hit" instead of basically allowing the lie to continue?

Maybe the ump thought the batter was hit, that's fine. It did look that way, but the batter definitely knew that he wasn't.

I wonder if he's going to be comfortable knowing that the victory in Game 2 (possibly) and the series (possibly) could all come about as a result of his unwillingness to just admit that it was a wrong call instead of benefitting from it.

This is like when you go to the store and the cashier makes a mistake in your favor. I was always taught that you tell the cashier that you got too much back instead of just looking the other way.

Guess when the stakes are high enough, the lesson that our sports teams/players may be teaching our kids is that it is ok to look the other way.

Up until now, I was rooting for the Sox, but now I'm not so sure.

Saturday, October 22, 2005

Health insurance and socio-economic status...

I had a big dental day yesterday which got me thinking about health insurance.

First, a visit to the general dentist and then to my periodontist for a soft tissue graft.

OK, so I don't have tremendous dental insurance and do have to pay out of pocket for some of it, but later that day I was at the doctor for Calanit's flu shot and the pharmacy for my post-op prescriptions, which cost us nothing.

It got me thinking about what it means to have (or not have) health insurance and how much money you do (or do not have) that is disposable as a result of the type of health insurance you have and, the choices you have to make if everything starts costing a lot of money.

Not sure if I have a solution or even if I have a question, but it's on my mind and I feel for those who are not in the fortunate position that I find myself in currently.

Thursday, October 20, 2005

Family Pandemonium....

We just got back from 2.5 days in Albany with Tamar's nuclear family. For many people, that's a couple of people. For us, that means 27 people (including 12 of them five and under) eating and living (for the most part) in the same house.

Yes, it was crazy. Yes, there was always something going on, someone asking for food, spitting up, wanting to eat, or crying (and then of course there were the demands of the kids).

But it's a beautiful thing, a family like this, where everyone cares for everyone else. People are always willing to chip in to help and our kids have so many first cousins their own age.

It's these moments of tight family bonding that are the foundation of a lifetime of good memories.

Saturday, October 15, 2005


I fought so much with my brother growing up that our mother was concerned that "one of us wouldn't make it."

My grandmother would admonish me: "you need to be nice to your brother because he's your brother for your life."

I read an article once that put it in perspective pretty well. If things work out as they should, your siblings are the people you know longer than anyone else. Your parents pass away and you meet your spouse later in life.

Tamar and I are both blessed with many siblings and chersih our relationships with them. It's been great to watch how Calanit has responded to Erez and we think, how he responds to her. It seems like this lifelong relationship is off to a good start.

Thursday, October 13, 2005

Yom Kippur Lessons...

I had the best of intentions.

We'd go to bed early after Kol Nidre and Tamar and I would switch off attendance at shul the next morning for Yom Kippur. She'd go early. I'd go from 9-11 and so on.

Well, life with kids doesn't always work out as you plan.

Erez was up. Calanit (who usually sleeps through the night) was up. We were EXHAUSTED. We were in a Twilight Zone. I didn't even wake up until 9.45am and when I did, two thoughts crossed my mind.

1. wow, I'm embarrassed to walk in this late
2. my wife is exhausted and asking her to wake up so I can go pray seemed pretty selfish.

So, I decided that keeping my wife happy trumps everything and on the day of atonement and forgiveness that G-d would understand.

Got to be flexible and go with the flow.

Monday, October 10, 2005

Another great technology least I think so

I love the feeling when I do something new and/or innovative with a piece of technology.

So, I'm planning an event in Charleston, WV. I have a list of customers in WV, but I'm not that familiar with the geography. I don't know how far cities are from other cities.

The list I have is in Excel. I import that list into Microsoft MapPoint (the desktop version) and plot the addresses on a map of WV. Then, I instruct MapPoint that I want a visual of all of the customers within a 65 minute driving distance of Charleston.

I then export the list back to Excel and bang! I have the target list of customers for the event.


Sunday, October 09, 2005

The Double Team...

Last night, Tamar left for 48 hours to attend a dance camp for the first time since Erez was born. He's 8 weeks old.

She pulled the same stunt when it was only Calanit :-) but she was 8 months at the time.

So, now I am playing zone defense on the two kids, or as my friend Tevi says, "you're double teamed."

Well, we're just past the 25% mark and I have to say, so far so good.

Like work and life, it comes down to good planning and focused execution.

We dropped Tamar off at the train station at 8.40pm and headed for home. Erez did his part for the team by sleeping until midnight. As for Calanit...well, let's just say I don't know what parents did in the days before DVD's! I figure, it's only Dad (aka 'Abba') at home so the standards are a bit relaxed. By 10.45pm she had had enough of her DVD's and was saying "Nap! Nap!" which is her way of saying "I'm exhausted."

We skipped the bath and I put her in her crib.

During the time she was watching TV and Erez was sleeping, I made a few lists of the KEY items which had to be done and assembled (we're sleeping over at my parents' on Sunday night--I can only take 1 full day on my own, right?). Every down moment that didn't involve tending to kids was focused on this list. We're doing quite well.

The big variable was...what would be Erez's sleeping pattern? On Friday night, he had gotten up 5 times and Tamar does the bulk of the heavy lifting normally. In other words, I was out of shape for this task.

At 12am, I woke him up and then pumped him full of two bottles of pre-expressed breast milk. He's on Zantac now (we think he may have reflux) and he doesn't like the taste so I put some in the bottle as well as some "Little Tummies" which is Tums/Rolaids for infants. After two bottles, he was wiped out and drunk and crashed. By 12.40am, he was out and he slept until 4.15am.

I got up with him and started to feed him, when I heard Calanit--who has a good track record of sleeping through the night. Anyway, I gave her a bottle of milk at the same time and gave Erez another overdose (sort of) to induce food coma. They both went to sleep and he woke up at 8.15am, she at 9am.

In other words, my plan has worked to this point.

I've also managed to do a few things that aren't on the list as a bonus primarily because I'm neglecting my kids (Erez is crying right now---ok, I'm almost done).

I certainly appreciate Tamar a lot more and one big difference is that when she has the kids, she tries to engage them in stimulating activities like the library. My goal is to clothe and feed them. Much more modest.

So, Calanit is on my lap playing with acorns and sharing the blog moment with me as we listen to the "Capitol Steps' album called "Between Iraq and a Hard Place".

OK, off to feed the boy.

Monday, October 03, 2005

Innocence of Childhood...

One of my absolute most favorite activities as a father is moving a sleeping child to his/her place of rest. It's not that I like the fact that they are quiet (though sometimes I need that relief, of course), it's something deep in my paternal nature as protector and something that is so innocent in their demeanor. I love how they are exhausted and oblivious to the world and this is just another one of those countless moments that my kids will probably never think about (until they have kids, I suppose) that comprise my role as a parent.

It's comforting, knowing that I am doing something that is essential to their well being and which, at the same, time gives me such a feeling of peace and tranquility.

Shana Tova to all of you/Happy New Year.

Sunday, October 02, 2005

Building a sukkah...

Today, I built my own sukkah (for more info, which to me is the Jewish equivalent of hanging X-mas lights.

Regardless, with some help from Calanit and Erez in the Baby Bjorn, we're pretty much done.

A nice feeling, a feeling of permanence (ironic given that a sukkah is by its nature impermanent), since we are building one in our own home for the first time and it is an experience that I shared with my kids.

This came at a particularly nice time since the last week or so for me at work has been emotionally trying for a few reasons. I won't go in to them, but having something that I know transcends time and this short-term (I hope) disturbance that my kids and I will, I expect, do every year and which they will remember long after I am gone, helps me re-focus-tough as that is to do.

Thursday, September 29, 2005

Real Life...

For so long, we are conditioned to think that we are "preparing for 'real life'". Go to college to prepare for it, get your first job, etc.

It dawned on me today that with a wife, 2 kids, a house/mortgage and a job, this is about as "Real Life" as it gets. I'm here, wherever here is.

Tuesday, September 27, 2005

Health insurance and the impact on worker mobility...

I'm very fortunate at this stage in my life to work for a company that has tremendous health care benefits. I know that many do not.

But there's a downside. As I get older and perhaps become more risk averse-primarily due to my increased responsibilities as a father, I am weighed down by these "golden handcuffs." What that means is that should a better opportunity come along (however that is defined) from a societal perspective, I may not choose to take it because of the dangers associated with exposing my family on the health care side.

Makes me think more about portable health care as opposed to employer sponsored health care.

Monday, September 26, 2005

Sunday, September 25, 2005

Direct, Honest, and Harsh...

Though I am seeking to recognize that the "one size fits all" approach is not the best when communicating with people, I also recognize that my natural style of being direct, honest, and harsh (in my honesty that is), can also yield results.

Today, my cousin was married. He is 40 years old.

Last night, at the rehearsal dinner, he made a point of recalling a conversation I had with him 2-3 years ago in which I basically said: "So, you want to get married? What are you DOING about it?"

He says that he was taken aback at the time, but that in hindsight, it gave him some of the clarity he needed to pursue his objective and lead him to his wedding day.

Feeling vindicated....

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

The Plumber and the Tablet PC...

Anyway, the plumber, yes the plumber, shows up at my house. When he’s finished, he brings out his ruggedized Tablet PC for me to digitally sign to obtain my receipt. Naturally, this gets me VERY excited and I ask him about it. In short, HE LOVES IT!!!

He loves how it has simplified his life and reduced the paperwork and time he has to spend doing administrative stuff. Now, he gets to more appointments, faster.

He’s got a docking station in the car with a keyboard and a printer. Using the Verizon Wi-max, he’s got GPS-like capabilities and he can optimize the routes he takes to customers and send the data back to HQ. Best of all, he’s NEVER had a problem with the software.

THIS is what I love about the potential of technology and Microsoft software for businesses and consumers.

Tuesday, September 20, 2005

I hope my kids know...

how much I love them.

Tamar goes out three nights a week (Mon-a class; Tues-teaching; Thurs-dancing) and it's 1 on 2 for me. It's been a long day, I'm tired and invariably, both of them are crying. Trying to manage, it's easy to default to the TV as babysitter or something else to keep them occupied. Plus, there are the mechanics of Life to deal with, like cleaning up the kitchen.

Tonight, for some reason-maybe the funeral I attended yesterday-I took a pause and we had quiet time. I was feeding Erez and I actually had a conversation with Calanit about what she had done that day. It was quite remarkable as she answered my questions.

Then, I told Erez about some of the challenges I am facing at work and he did a great job of listening.

Everyone who is older tells you "it goes by so quickly," but when I say to my friends, "you'll be at your son's wedding before you know it," they laugh. I am well past the point of thinking that I have more perspective on life than anyone else, but perhaps a different perspective? Who knows?

Anyway, I took a deep breath and a mental snapshot of the scene, appreciating the crying and everything for all it's worth and as I put Calanit to bed, found myself getting very emotional, thinking about how time does fly by and before I know it, she'll be out of the house.

Yes, the days are long and the years are short, as my mother says.

I just hope that on those days when I am very tired and I encourage Calanit to watch SportsCenter with me as a way of not having to actively engage with them, that she recognizes that I'm human and I do love her and Erez very much.

I know that I should be fully engaged 100% with the lives of my kids and I am starting to appreciate just how difficult that is.

Perhaps tonight is the first step.

Monday, September 19, 2005

Slow motion day....

Knowing that I was going to a funeral this morning somehow made the day go by in slow motion.  I appreciated the little things more…like breaking the eggs for my omelet, the tug on the rowing machine, the feel of the carpet beneath my bare feet.

Our friend’s death, as sad as it is (and it is VERY sad), made me stop and pause, cherish the life that I have and realize that things don’t always (or ever) work out as you plan.

Sunday, September 18, 2005

Appreciating my wife more each day....

It is absolutely amazing to me how much my wife puts up with on a daily basis, how much energy and stamina she possesses, and the boundless love and dedication she has for our kids.

After one 8 hour stint with the two of them, I am beat. Far more than anything I do at work---and she does this every day!! A true super woman. I would say that I stand in awe, but I'm too tired. I sit, lie down actually, in awe, amazement and appreciation.

Playing Zone....

A number of people have enjoyed commeting on the difference between 1 kid (double-teaming), 2 kids (man to man) and 3 kids (playing zone).

As of last week, Tamar is back to work on Sundays, so I'm playing zone with the two of them. Is it tough? You bet it is! I have realized, however, that I need to keep my goals modest, to plan well, and to execute relentlessly.

Need to think ahead at every moment...what are we going to need on this outing? Which crying kid should I handle first? Then, just do it and refuse to get distracted.

Things worked pretty smoothly today, but poor Erez had a lot of gas today and that waylaid many of plans as I had to comfort him the bulk of the time.

Anyway, next week, I'll have a chance to work on my zone defense!

Saturday, September 17, 2005

A reader shares a comment on travels...


Hi…hope all is well with you and Tamar and family. I just wanted to tell you something interesting and how you changed my life. Well…not really “changed” my life, but added something to it anyhow.

I read your trip-log when you and Tamar did that trip all around the US and you inspired me to do the same. While I have not had a chance to go all around the US, for the past couple of summers, I have taken a couple weeks and made big circles around potions of the US. Last year was the Southwest and this year was around Yellowstone National Park (Wyoming, Idaho, Montana, & South Dakota). On both of these trips I stopped at interesting cities/towns and national/state parks along the way.

On this most recent trip, I flew in-to and out-of Salt Lake City. I remembered what you had wrote about the Mormons and taking their tour and all and it being very interesting. So, I spent a couple days in SLC and one of those days I spent with the Mormons, on their tour, at their visitors center, etc, talking with them and finding out all about their religion and pilgrimage West.

So, thank you for the inspiration to see this great country of ours and for making such an impression on me about the Mormons, in particular.


Friday, September 16, 2005

Predator and Governor

Don't know if you ever saw the movie "Predator." It's a '80's flick that is a classic shoot 'em up violence movie.

I saw it for a few minutes last night and remember seeing it about 15 years ago or so. Who would have thought at that time that this movie would feature two future state governors? (Schwarzenegger and Jesse Ventura)!!

Wednesday, September 14, 2005

Life doesn't necessarily work out as you plan...

When you're young, you think you're going to live forever. When you have kids, you just assume that you'll live until you see your grandchildren, at least.

It doesn't always work out that way, does it? And even though we know it intellectually, it seems like we think that it is something that will happen to someone else.

And for a time, it does.

We have a friend who is in his 50's, one of the funniest, nicest, most caring people we know. The picture of energy and youth.

He's been struggling with lymphoma for a few years now and has had some ups and downs, but recently, more downs than ups. The prognosis isn't good from what I hear.

There's really not much to say, I guess. The cliche's seem just that...cliche. Live each day to the fullest. Appreciate the moment. Carpe Diem. Whatever, I suppose. It doesn't help our friend and I wonder if it changes us?

Tefillin and the sign of the cross....

Just wondering if the custom of kissing the boxes of tefillin (phylacteries) [first the forehead and then the arm] is the forebearer or somehow related to making the sign of the cross? Very, very similar.

Tuesday, September 13, 2005

Shit vs. Exhaustion...

People who don't have kids get squeamish sometimes at the thought of changing diapers, getting peed on, or having a kid throw up on you.

I'll just say this...I will change diapers all day long (you get used to it) if I didn't have to be in a constant state of fatigue.

Last night, after Monday Night Football and some other misc activities, I went to bed at 12.30 (ok, my fault you say, but I would like to have some modicum of a life outside of my kids-maybe that's my first false assumption). Erez woke up at 5am and I took him (Tamar had been up most of the night feeding and burping the guy) and well, I've been up since then (it's now 8am) and have a long day ahead of me.

And the worst part....though there is an end at some point, it's not in sight since we have NO idea when it arrive.

Shit vs. Exhaustion. I'll take the shit any day.

Monday, September 12, 2005

The Passion of Technologists...

HDTV is really something.
I had the privilege of joining some friends for a football game tonight and watch it in HD. During halftime, the host showed us a Discovery channel program about the Space Shuttle-in Hi Def. It was remarkable.

During the program itself, a story about driving a probe into a comet moving really, really fast.

When it was successful, one of the scientists was moved to tears. He was that excited about this work! How often do you see that on a daily basis?

One of the things I love about technolgists is that they share that same passion-ok, maybe not that same passion, but pretty close.

These are people who work all day on technology and then come home and play with technology. Of course, some parts of work are frustrating, but at the end of the day, they are passionate about it. There may be some, but I don't know how many lawyers go home and keep studying law. (My financial advisor is probably the exception-that guy loves figuring out tax-optimization financial vehicles).

Anyway, it's great to have a cadre of guys (mostly) with whom I can share the thrill of victory and the agony of defeat when it comes to technical endeavors and I don't mind being on the other end of hearing their stories.

Friday, September 09, 2005

The gift that wasn't....

Someone sent us some great gifts for our kids. Only thing is, we don't know who. They were from and we know the price of them, but we have no idea who sent them. What's more, I spent 15 minutes on the site and there's no way (no phone number either) for me to figure it out.

I'll try again, but if it was you...thanks!!

Wednesday, September 07, 2005

Sick with two kids...

Yesterday was probably the most difficult day for me in terms of leaving Tamar at home with two kids. During morning prayers, I was on the verge of crying thinking about her being sick and having to cope with them. If there were ever a justification for why I'd like to have a lot of money, it’s so that on days like today, I can stay home and let her sleep!

I love my wife so much and I was sorry that she was feeling well. I know that we will get into a nice groove with the two of them but I know we’re not there yet and it’s going to take some time.

Tuesday, September 06, 2005

2nd child-short shrift...

I can see why 2nd (and later) children get the short end of the stick...

First of all, for the most part, we've seen a lot of this before, so the hours upon hours we used to spend staring into Calanit's face, well we just don't do that anymore.

Second, Calanit requires a lot of attention and is highly interactive. She's talking while Erez is nursing, sleeping, crying, and pooping. Who would you hang out with? :-)

Obviously, we love them the same, it's just interesting to see how we have changed our behavior this time around.

Monday, September 05, 2005

Me Shot

The "time out" concept...

Anyone who has kids has heard of the idea of a "time out." When your kid misbehaves, instead of a "punishment," you give the kid time to reflect on his actions by insisting that he stand to the side or the corner of a room for a specified period of time.

Well, we have finally implemented this with Calanit as she's approaching 2 and we know she's capable of better behavior, but with a twist.

As a sports fan and perhaps a bit old school re: discipline (Captain von Trapp is my role model), I've instituted the "penalty box."

This way, I get to say, "That's an excessive whining penalty on Calanit. Two minutes in the penalty box. Time of the penalty, 7:05pm"

Sunday, September 04, 2005

Existing on two levels....

The events of this past week in New Orleans help remind us of what is most precious in life. It's easy to take from a tragedy like this that we should spend the bulk of our time on earth focusing on the most important things there, health, etc. and ignore the seemingly mundane things, like doing the laundry.

For whatever reason, I can't do that, at least not all of the time. I guess I feel like paying attention to those little details like organizing your desk makes it easier for me to have the peace of mind to focus on the larger stuff, the more important thoughts. I'm not sure why, but I know that it is the case.

Of course, there's danger in swinging the pendulum all the way to that side as well.

Damn, there it is again, balance as the key. :-)

Saturday, September 03, 2005

Playing politics with Katrina...

It took me a while, but I realized what it was that I didn't like about the Katrina coverage. The networks and many politicians were using the tragedy to play politics. Unlike 9/11 where people really came together, many saw this as an opportunity to attack the Bush administration (where one could argue that the state had more culpability).

It's unfortunate, but not all that surprising, I suppose.

More on the politics of Katrina
little known facts re: what Bush can and can't do w/the National Guard

Friday, September 02, 2005

Is criticism the human condition?

Clearly, what is happening on the Gulf Coast is a tragedy of epic proportions. Let's not minimize that at all.

Beyond that story, in my mind, a few questions come up.

1. Given the size and fury of the storm, what is a reasonable expectation for relief? It's easy to complain that things don't happen fast enough after the fact.

2. Isn't there some accountability for people not listening to the evacuation notices? I realize some of the poor had no money nor place to go, but it seems like you can't ignore notices and then be upset that things don't work the way you want them to.

3. It's easy to say "hey, how come the levees were only built to survive category 3 hurricanes, why not category 5?" but when those come only once in 100 years and the cost is probably huge, wouldn't the same people before the fact say "why are we wasting tax payer dollars on something that only would happen once in 100 years?"

4. Given the size and scale of this disaster, why is it so difficult to believe that agencies weren't prepared. Before 9/11 no one could foresee a terrorist disaster like that, so why would they be ready? They may have been ready for a 7 out of 10, thinking that is all that would happen (hey, the people who stayed behind made the same assumption) so when a 10 out of 10 hits, it's to be expected. Many of us would have reacted the same's difficult to foresee and prepare for the absolute worst case scenario.

Look, I know things are abominable and it's tragic, I just can't stand the negativity that I'm hearing that the Feds, State, etc. are incompetents because they didn't prepare adequately. I'm sure there is some truth to that, but no one seems to be talking about the context. It's just much easier to join the pile on.

Tuesday, August 30, 2005

Leaving well enough alone...

Today is one those days that I hate being a technophile. Why I can't leave well enough alone is beyond me. A friend of mine gave me an idea for an improvement in my home network and what basically ended up happening is that I launched a cyber-attack on myself. My network is down as is my phone since I rely on my network for my phone. I'm such an idiot.

What's worse is that this setback comes on the heels of my commitment to prioritize and be more productive but instead, I spent 6 hours trying to resolve the problem (which I didn't) and now I'm in a holding pattern as I wait for a replacement.

I feel like I went out on the field and got trounced 49-0. It's humiliating. I know, I know, it's days like these that make you stronger and you learn from the mistakes more than the successes....

Monday, August 29, 2005

Productivity as the driver of growth...

Economists often cite productivity improvement as one of the key indicators of improving economic welfare.

I've been thinking about the need to improve productivity a lot recently. Here are the two equations that I'm working with:

Let a=the time I devote to work
Let b=the time I devote to my family
Let c=the output I am required to deliver at my job

Pre-Erez, it was something like this

a(work)+ b(home)= C

Post-Erez, the equation has changed. I have to increase the amount of time I devote to my family, since it requires more of me, but actually increase the amount of output at my job even though I have less time. I have to increase not only because I need to remain constant, but because of the calibration associated with increased expectations given that I've set a standard for performance and it is natural to demand improvement.

So, it is something like
.9a(work) +1.1b(home)=1.4C

The question then is, HOW the hell do I do that?

It's going to take a while and yes, it's scary, but I think a lot of it has to do with the two P's of Productivity and Prioritization.

Sunday, August 28, 2005

That's what friends are for...

Special call out to our friends who did unusual support activities for us in the post-birth tiemframe.

This of course does not minimize those who did more "traditional" activities such as preparing meals, loaning chairs and tables, etc. They are far too numerous, but the unique requests that were made and acted upon include:

-Natan Zimand who made the trek to Home Depot for an eye-latch hook and a programmable thermostate
-Joe/Debbie Cohn for thank you note stationery
-Marci Bloch for bacitracin
-Felix Kushnir for a video camera (twice)

We are so fortunate to be surrounded by so many fantastic, generous, and un-selfish people.

Saturday, August 27, 2005

A night out for the team...

Tamar is generally recognized as one of the best Israeli folk dancers in the world. No joke.

When Calanit was 3 months old, we took her to the weekly session where Tamar goes and had her dance in the Baby Bjorn (fantastic invention). This past week, Erez, got his chance on the floor, with big sister Calanit doing some more sophisticated moves.

I joke that with the bar so high because of Tamar's talents, that our family is a bit like the Chinese gymnast program. From an early age, we have our kids focused on becoming gold medalists in Israeli folk dance, though there are no competitions to speak of given its Socialist roots.

Thursday, August 25, 2005

As children grow...

Erez's arrival has reinforced for me how time flies when kids grow. I look Calanit and think about how big she is now. We were on a walk last night and ran into a couple whose son had just gotten married. Naturally, the conversation turned as parents to the major lifecycle milestones.

Last night, I got very emotional thinking about the day when Calanit will be all grown up or when the time will come when she doesn't run to me saying "Abba" at every possible moment. "Abba," which is father in Hebrew, is her answer to most things. It makes me feel great.

The last couple of nights, she's been having some difficulty sleeping and when I walk in her room in the middle of the night, she reaches over the bar of her crib, wraps her arms around me and just holds on. I pull her out of the crib and she clutches on to me for safety.

Make no mistake about it, I don't enjoy getting up at 2.30am, but somehow, the feeling of your daughter looking to you for comfort makes it worthwhile. It's tough to cherish htose moments when you're exhausted, but as I think about how time will fly, I work harder to appreciate how much she needs me and unconditionally loves me right now.

It's these little things that I try to remember. On our walk, I must have sung the alphabet for her about 100 times (she kept saying 'again') and towards the end, she was picking it up (not entirely of course), but these are the little moments that make up a life, I suppose.

Wednesday, August 24, 2005

First family (of four) outing....

After spending most of the last few days in the house, I decided that we needed to get out and about. The humidity has broken and the days are beautiful. Paternity leave won't last forever and neither will the summer.

It took us a while to get going (we're still figuring out the multiple kid thing), but eventually we made our way to Glen Echo Park. It's possible I'd been there as a kid, but I don't remember. There was nothing spectacular about it-it used to be a playground for the rich trying to escape DC summer and now it's got a mini-artist colony, a theater, and a playground.

We found the theater and looked around inside. It was air conditioned and just as Tamar was about to nurse Erez, we heard voices. Until then, we had been alone and Calanit was running around the stage and seats.

Anyway, I turn to see who it is and I did a double was former Congreswoman Connie Morella.

There were 6 adults in the room and we just started chatting about her new role (ambassador the OECD in Paris), the fact that she was robbed in the last election, and that I had interned in her office 15 years ago. She said hi to Calanit.

It got even funnier when her escort, the daughter of a former congressman (Gude) told me she was looking for an oral historian...which is what my mom does.

Just a funny anecdote. Who would have thunk it?

Tuesday, August 23, 2005

Macgyver would be proud...

One of the natural disasters which struck us this summer (actually twice) was that the storm drain outside the basement door was covered by leaves during a tremendous rainstorm which resulted in water entering the basement in significant quantities.

Now, this would be bad enough, but it got worse due to the fact that the “man cave” where I spend A lot of time and a huge investment in technology resides is only feet away from this storm drain and what’s more, when the water did enter, it came to rest (thanks to some rugs) only a few feet away from the machines, preventing a major disaster.

I’ve since sprung into action. All of the technology components have been raised off the floor, including the computer on an old ironing board. The door has been packed with old t-shirts. I’ve talked to a few people whose suggestions were basically “keep clearing out the leaves” and came up with a cheap, homegrown solution that would make Macgyer proud.

Using some plastic gates that Amy and Chuck Fox gave us to prevent Calanit and Erez from sliding through the staircase banisters, some old stereo wire, rocks, a brick, metal mesh and metal wire, I’ve created a cantilever canopy and a plastic dyke that allows water, but not leaves through. I’ve also created a mini-canal to prevent the overflow of debris into the well during major storms.

I guess this is what happens when you watch a lot of “Modern Marvels.”

Monday, August 22, 2005

Making the moment last

Sunday was a great day in the family’s history. Erez, our new son, had his bris (ritual circumcision) and we were surrounded by friends and families for hours. There was good food and conversation and I did my best to take a mental snapshot of the moment (as well as numerous digital pics) to savor the day.

As afternoon turned to evening turned to night, I found myself not wanting to go to sleep. I wanted the day, the moment to last forever, since I knew it was a once in a lifetime moment.  I ended up just doing things, cleaning up, organizing, whatever so that I wouldn’t have to go to bed.

It’s so hard to keep hold of those very precious moments.

Sunday, August 21, 2005

Our son's name...

Our son’s name is Erez Yavniel Epstein. Erez is the Hebrew word for Cedar Tree. Yavniel means “G-d will build.”

As many of you know, Erez possesses the distinction of being born on Tisha B’av, the 9th day of the Hebrew month of Av, which is quite possibly the most devastating and solemn date on the Jewish calendar. It is a day during which we fast for 25 hours and mourn the destruction of the First and Second Temples in Jerusalem in 586 BCE at the hands of the Babylonians and in 70 CE at the hands of the Romans.
The date has also been witness to a number of other lowpoints of Jewish history including the torching of the city of Betar, massacres in Europe during the Crusades, and the issuance of God’s decree forbidding “Dor HaMidbar” the generation that experienced the exodus from Egypt firsthand, from entering the Promised Land..

However, within the ashes of the destruction of the Temples lies the hope of Redemption. Our tradition teaches that the Messiah is supposed to be born on the 9th of Av.  Many of you and others have remarked on this tradition and offered us encouragement along the lines of “maybe he’s the Messiah?”

And as a potentially interesting side note, there is a story in the 28th chapter of Genesis about Yehuda (which is Jeremy’s Hebrew name) and Tamar and another tradition dictates that the Messiah is a descendant of this union.

So, we had two things in our favor and at first, we (meaning Jeremy) thought, “now that would be cool to be the parents of the Messiah,” but then a few things dawned on us. I’d like to give special mention to David Bloch for helping me flush out the potential downsides to being the parents of the Messiah. Lawyers are very talented at showing you the glass half-empty side to things. No offense, Tamar or Dad (

First of all…you have to recognize that there’s a Venn diagram going on here. The Messiah is born on the 9th of Av, but not everyone born on the 9th of Av is the Messiah. It’s kind of like being nominated for an Oscar, you’re in the running and that’s a nice honor, but there’s no guarantee that you’ll win. You don’t want to count your Messiah chicks before they’ve hatched.

Second… how do you discipline the potential Messiah? I mean, do you say, “I don’t care how many souls have to be redeemed or people raised from the dead, you need to eat your broccoli.”  Or, since our tradition states that the Messiah will arrive on a white donkey, you might be in a position of “No, you can’t go outside and ride your white donkey until you finish your homework!”

Third…you have to deal with the fallout from other parents.  I can see getting calls along the lines of “look you really need your son to pick up the pace in Chemistry. I can’t have my kid coming home saying, ‘hey mom, a 75 isn’t so bad, the potential Messiah only got a 68 on his test!”

As it is, however, we’re not going to have to confront that issue because for better or for worse, Erez is not your guy as far as open position of Messiah goes.  The reason I know that is because there’s the small technicality that there’s a subset of Jews who, by definition, can’t be the Messiah. The tradition has it that the Messiah is a male descendant of King David, who was a member of the tribe of Judah. Since our family is a descendant of the tribe of Levi, my boy is out of the running.

The Bible tells us that King Solomon chose the Erez, the Cedar Tree as a key building component when he erected the first temple in Jerusalem. The Erez connotes youthful sturdiness and is the subject of awe due to its sheer height. Indeed, the Midrash-a commentary on the Torah-states that the Tamar, the palm tree, and the Erez are equated with righteous individuals because, as opposed to most other trees, they can be recognized from afar. It is our hope that Erez will aspire to the lofty heights of righteousness that so many of his ancestors exemplified and that he will, in time, gain the trust of family and friends as a sturdy, reliable confidant and supporter.

It’s not easy being the most prominent tree in the forest and that status brings with it the challenge of exercising humility over arrogance. Therefore we have given Erez the middle name of Yavniel-meaning God will build-to remind him of both the source and purpose of his life. It is God who provides the nurturing of the Erez and the Erez is only as valuable as the purpose for which is it used by the builder. Even the tallest tree stands below heaven. We pray that Erez will provide shelter and comfort as he exercises Ahavat Habriyot- love of people while maintaining Yirat Hashem-fear of God and the recognition that he too stands below G-d.

Just as God chose the Erez as the primary material for both the Tabernacle and the First Temple, we hope God will use Erez to promote his divine presence wherever he goes and enable Erez to do his part (Messiah or not () to bring about the ultimate redemption.

In bestowing Erez’s name upon him, we recall my beloved grandmother, Bella Silton. Known for her spark and her “I call them as I see them” philosophy, Nana Silton’s life was irreversibly changed when her son’s soul departed prematurely from this world. Though we miss her terribly, we pray that she has found comfort as their souls have reunited.
     When a woman of 95 years passes away, it leaves a void if for no other reason than the fact of her raw endurance. Even in this era of seemingly routine miracles of science, a lifespan of 95 years is quite impressive. We think of this towering feat of endurance and tribute to the will to live as we name our son. We hope that his days are as least as numerous as Nana Silton’s.

Though there won’t be too many days when you will find me quoting Hillary Clinton in a positive light ( I will echo her sentiments that it does take a village to raise a child.  I want to just tell you how appreciative Tamar, Calanit, Erez, and I are for the communities of which we are members. This week, we truly discovered what it means to be part of a community. The KMS community was overflowing in its generosity, offering to make meals, bring over extra chairs, and tables, and run errands like picking up bacitracin ointment for the little guy.  Our families have been a source of non-stop support from the moment my mom arrived to stand watch as we raced to the hospital to this past full weekend where my mother in law-a veteran of 7 kids herself-imparted her wisdom on how to handle more than 1 kid.

My team at work makes me want to cry with joy. Seriously, how many people can say that? My colleagues were insistent that I take this time with my family and have more than willingly stepped up to handle all of my responsibilities.  I guess the downside is that we’ve confirmed that I am dispensable and Erez’s Bar Mitzvah will be in Bangalore, India.

Those of you here are part of the village that will help raise Erez (and his big sister) to a life of study of Torah, Chuppah-the wedding canopy, and Ma’asim Tovim-good works.  In your next fulfillment of this role, we’d like to ask those of you who are physically able and who can bear the heat and humidity (which I guess leaves four of you or so) to serve as his escorts as he makes the 7 minute walk from the synagogue to enter our home as the newest link in the chain of Jewish males who have the physical mark of the covenant between God and the Jewish people.

The walk will commence immediately following the conclusion of the next, VERY brief set of remarks from from Erez’s paternal grandfather (his maternal grandfather, as you saw, has already done enough for one day!)

Thank you very much for taking the time to share this simcha with us.

The New Guys Big Day

The “New Guy’s” Big Day….

Since Jewish custom is to refrain from calling a boy by his given name until he actually becomes a “member of the team” when he undergoes the Bris-ritual circumcision, Tamar and I have been calling him “the new guy,” “baby boy,” and a variety of others, including “Paco.”

Today, at 4pm, he will become a member of the Jewish people, aka MOT-member of the tribe and will get his name. Stay tuned.

It’s been wild to see how Calanit has been reacting. During the day, fantastic. Kissing him and giving him hugs, helping to rock the baby seat. At night, she’s been having trouble going to sleep and been getting up in the middle of the night. Don’t know if/what the connection is, but that’s the fact.

Two is obviously more work than one, but so far, we’re still not sure how much exactly since the outpouring of support from our community and families has been stupendous.

Wednesday, August 17, 2005

Career transition point...

I remember when I was in my mid 20's that it seemed to me that many of my male friends in their early 30's were in physical therapy for injuries sustained due basically to the fact that they were no longer 15!

Needless to say, I have a nagging injury right now and I think I need to get a PT.

My latest observation-and I'm not saying it is widespread-is men in their late 30's and early 40's who are facing a career change or job transition.

I'm wondering if that's the point in your career when you're not senior enough as to be invaluable for your accumulated wisdom and you're not junior enough to work for low wages and ridiculously long hours.

There's also a career pyramid which narrows as you progress and obviously, more people than not, will be on the "out" side of "up or out."

The question then is: how do you prevent this from happening?
Focus solely on the career to the detriment of your family?
Start your own company w/all of those attendant risks and be the boss?
Do whatever you can to win that effort but have a back-up plan in case you don't?

I did an interview today with a guy who's got a family of 5 and with a new baby, I sure felt sympathetic, but he wasn't the right fit. It was tough. I felt for him, I did, but it wasn't the right business decision. Sucks, huh? But that's the game.

Monday, August 15, 2005

Change of kid perspective...

Calanit spent the last two days with her grandparents as we adjusted to the newest guy.

I picked her up and brought her home tonight (she'll meet her brother tomorrow for the first time).

But what is amazing is how my perspective on her has changed from little girl to big girl. She talks, she stands, and tonight, for the first time, she got all of her colors right in the little book that we read. I wanted to start crying as I realized fully that she is now a big sister. Her identity is being shaped and she doesn't even know it.

A beautiful community....

I'll tell you. I really appreciate the community we live in. Ever since the baby was born, we've been getting calls from people:
"What can I do to help?" "What food can I prepare?"

It really is something.

And you know me, I'm not shy :-) I've been selectively outsourcing tasks large and small ranging from pick up some bacitracin ointment at CVS to dinner next Wed. And people are more than happy to do it.

It gives me such an appreciation for the values that we share and our willingness to help share the load during challenging, transitional times.

A special call out to my colleagues at work--they've been awesome as well, picking up the slack as I move out on paternity leave.

Makes you appreciate the word "team" and how an individual doesn't make a society.

Sunday, August 14, 2005

Baby Boy Epstein has arrived...

The nurse was right on the money: 2.47am

Sunday, August 14 2005
Hebrew date-9 Av, 5765
7 lbs 6 oz.
19 inches
Mother and baby are healthy.

In the hospital ...

I feel like we're at the end of a TV reality show?.

Since we don't know what we're having (in terms of boy or girl), but we have the names of each, it's like we have two finalists on stage and we're saying?."and the envelope please," so we will know who it is.

Anyway, we're in the hospital. Tamar's just received the epidural and the "night and day" transformation has occurred. She's doing well enough and we're playing the waiting game. The nurse has predicted a baby arrival between 2.30 and 3.30 am.

The anesthesiologist is a very entertaining guy of Korean origin was entertained by my limited knowledge of his native language, particularly the term "Imjinwueran" which refers to the occupation of Korea by Japan in 1592.

I tried to piggyback on the hospital network like last time, but to no avail. I'm going to send this from my PocketPC. We'll see if it works.

1.33am-Tamar's water just broke! Won't be long now.

Saturday, August 13, 2005

Holding out...

The other night, we wanted the baby to come, but since Friday, we wanted it to wait. Why?

Well, Tamar did not want to be in the hospital for Shabbat (the Sabbath) and then we had a few pre-existing scheduled items. I gave the sermon at services this morning and while, of course, I would have skipped it...I did work hard on it and was looking forward to giving it.

Tamar had committed to lead a portion of services this evening and so, she wanted it to wait until she had fulfilled her commitment.

And lastly, Tamar's father would normally be the person to perform the ritual circumcision in the event that it is a boy (we don't know yet). The circumcision (bris)(assuming the baby is healthy) takes place 8 days after the boy is born. There's a lot to explain here, but had the baby been born during the day on Saturday (and due to travel considerations), her father would not have been able to perform the bris because he has a HUGE wedding to perform next Saturday night.

Anyway, we made it past all of those milestones.

Tamar has just come home from the synagogue and tells me that her contractions are evenly spaced 5 mintues apart for 1 minute each. She just called the doctor.

I'll keep you posted.

Wednesday, August 10, 2005

Past midnight and still going, but w/o a strategy...

After a short break, she resumed with some squats and now is doing splits and floor stretches.

Our big problem, I just realized, is that we're winging it without a clear strategy towards our goal.

Tuesday, August 09, 2005

Still trucking...

She claims she's stopping at 11.45. That will be 35 minutes non-stop (that's more exercise than I got today). We'll see. Got to push her to the wall. :-)

Attempting to induce labor....contd-2

Just took a video of her going around the house....and I'm giving her high fives as she laps through the kitchen.

Attempting to induce labor....contd

She just asked for water and I handed her a cup while she was walking. On her next lap, she tossed it to the side of the road. It's like Lance Armstrong in the Tour de France.

Attempting to induce labor....

Tamar's had enough. Lesson here: try to avoid having your wife at full term in August.

She's ready to go and it's 11.30pm on Tuesday night and for the last 15 minutes, she's been climbing up and down the steps and doing laps in the basement and on the main floor. I'm acting as her coach...."you can do this!"

"Heart of a champion! Eye of the tiger, baby!!"

She's showing a lot of heart right now, I must say.

"Pump those arms!"

This is a tremendous display of will, desire, and guts.
It's Tamar vs. Nature and knowing Tamar, as I do, Nature doesn't stand a chance.

Meanwhile, I'm drinking tea and blogging on the laptop in the kitchen.

Tamar vs. Nature, round 2. Ding, ding....

Monday, August 08, 2005


What is it about the human condition that causes envy?

It's not that I spend hours and hours envying others for what they have, but these thoughts do cross my mind.

I look around at all that I am blessed with and pinch myself...why should I envy anyone else? But I. It doesn't make sense.

Friday, August 05, 2005

Virtual Travel

Getting a nice return on the investment of my three years abroad.

I'm not spending much time travelling internationally these days, of course, but I've taped a few shows recently from the Travel Channel called "Passport to Europe" that has highlighted places I've been such as Bavaria, Berlin, Prague, Vienna, and others.

Many of the places they go, I too have visited and it makes me appreciate even more the opportunity I had when I was younger.

Thursday, August 04, 2005

Playing the Waiting Game...

I feel like a guy who is cramming for a final exam. It's just around the corner and the time available to prepare is shrinking and thus, by perception, it's accelerating.

The baby's due any day now and I am doing whatever I can to deal with the various details of life, both large and relative minutiae, because I know we're going to have significantly limited time in the not too distant future.

Wednesday, August 03, 2005

No Internet...

About a week ago, our area was hit by a huge storm, which knocked out our Internet and Cable TV (and b/c I use phone as well). Not necessarily the best for a family with an impending baby arrival.

It was a strange experience. The first few days were rough, but after I scheduled the service call, a calm resignation set in and I ended up enjoying the peace and quiet. I spend a lot of time reading and doing some things around the house which I had put off (weren't critical, but nice to haves).

Tuesday, August 02, 2005

2nd Child Syndrome?

I can already see how the first and second children differ…and we don’t even have the kid in hand yet.

With pregnancy number one, our lives revolved around the fetus, monitoring progress, filming Tamar’s growing belly on a weekly basis. Everything was about the baby.

With this one, there’s just so much going on..primarily the fact that we’ve got a 19 month live one running around the house that keeps us occupied.

My parents always said that they treated each kid fairly, but not necessarily equally. I’m starting to get the drift.

Tuesday, July 26, 2005

Me vs. House

House 3, Jer 0.

It seems like I am bound to lose this battle, valiantly though I may fight.

This past Friday night, an absolutely MASSIVE storm hit us at 1.30am. I thought it was the wrath of God/beginning of the Apocalypse.

Anyway, 30 minutes later, we lost electricity, which necessitated a family move to the basement to avoid the heat-and of course a mid-sleep move of the toddler.

As I was walking around the basement, I discovered that as a result of leaves covering the storm drain, water had penetrated the basement door, gone into my office, and under a wall into the main room. We narrowly averted disaster in that a few feet more and my entire computer set up would have been in the water's path. I shudder to think about the consequences. Since then, it's been constant towels, vacuuming, fans, and now a de-humidifier to get things right (plus, I packed the door with additional insulation-old t-shirts- and will have to get something to prevent the drain from getting covered again.)