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.