Monday, January 26, 2009

Mishmish in Action

So I've been a little MIA. Admittedly I'm not the most consistent blogger but lately it's been even worse. In my defense I've been pulling late nights trying to get my new website in order for a soft launch to friends and family in the coming weeks. You see, I've been painting on Thursdays. Every Thursday after work I go to my friends' house and paint in their living room while they're still at work or badminton practice respectively. Yes, I have a friend who plays badminton. I've been wanting to paint for ages and never have the time so finally I decided that rain or shine, muse or not, I will be creative on Thursdays. So far it's been working.

And I was sick of painting the portraits that I've been doing for the last ten years, so I started doing animals and landscapes and a number of other goodies. Anyway, here's a little preview. This is one of my favorite ones. It's a naming certificate for a new (or not so new) baby. I was commissioned to do one for a friend of mine who wanted to give it as a gift for a bris (circumcision). The recipient now wants two more for her older boys so more designs to follow. This is a version I made for girls called You Are My Sunshine.

More of my work is on my new website:

For a while now I've been admiring some artists that I found on the web who sell their prints and originals through Etsy. They seem to really be making a go of it which has lead me to be believe that I might also make a go of it since it IS the year of the Ox and I am, after all, an Ox. Might as well live my dreams. Although these artists don't appear to have kids which means they have 36 extra hours a day to paint and run a business. I feel like with 70,000 people laid off today, maybe the US will revert to a crafts and trade economy. We'll start bartering chickens. I'm going to build my coop right now so I'm ready. Oxen are known to be industrious. 

Saturday, January 24, 2009

work life challenge

I have a friend who's pregnant for the first time and she and her husband came over the other night for a sit down with me and my husband about the realities of having kids and working full time. My friend was concerned about continuing with her current senior level job where she works probably 60-70 hours a week but has done the job for nine years and knows it well, or taking a new job where there might be a steep learning curve at first but she'd reliably work 40 hour weeks. So I gave her my opinion - that ideally you do something you are completely passionate about for say 20 hours a week and you spend the rest of the time raising your kids and running your house. And her husband chimed in that he, in fact, does most of the housework. I'm sure. Delightful. But are you planning to nurse the baby too? No matter how you cut it and how wonderful your partner is and how egalitarian your lives are together, if both parents are working it just means the mom has two jobs. Of course there are a zillion other factors like money and support from other family members and desire to be home with babies and the list goes on. 

I've had these conversations with plenty of other friends too and generally I just nod and say supportive things like sure, maybe you'll figure out how to be an investment banker and still be your baby's primary care-giver. Right. And the truth is with one baby you probably can keep doing what you were doing before you had kids and make it work. I did, sort of. Although a lovely woman named Nena was his primary care-giver during the day. (I like to blame his neuroses on her).  And you convince yourself, after the initial shock subsides, that this is totally manageable and in fact my life hasn't changed that much and we can still go to our friends' houses at night and just schlep junior along in the pack and play and whip out the boob on command. Not a problem. And then suddenly it's two years later and you have a toddler and a newborn and you marvel at how profoundly different your life is. And why didn't anyone tell me it would be like this. They probably did. But it's hard to wrap your head around these things until you're in it neck deep. I'm sure my friends who have teenagers and listen to me bitch about the tortures of wrangling my kids to bed every night are having their own giggle. When your son is fourteen you will wish he was four again. 

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

A Haiku for Barack

As luck would have it
You have tiny shoes to fill.
But the world watches...

The music from the innauguration said it clear as day for me. It was a beautiful rising melody combining many musical styles, played by a Jewish violinist, a Chinese cellist, a Black clarinetist and a Latina pianist. It was dripping in hope. But there were a few minor keys thrown in for good measure, as if to say - sure we made it happen and we got to this important day. And we should soak up all of the joy for the moment. But be mindful of the road and hard work ahead.

But with the cease fire in Gaza and an inauguration like today's, I am full of hope.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

ee i ee i OH!

Things are heating up in Gaza and I feel compelled to write my opinions, however politically incorrect, but I just can't muster up the fire to do it right now. Maybe tomorrow. Instead some light-hearted stories about language missteps that months and years later still have us laughing.

We're raising bi-lingual kids so everyday we speak in a mishmash of Hebrew and English peppered with a little Spanish. It is California after all, si? Many of our friends are Hebrew-speaking and while most have an impressive command of English, now and again someone will have a funny story about a pronunciation, spelling or spoken error. And then we chuckle and remember all of our past mistakes from living in or traveling to other countries. I always tell the story of how, when I was house-sitting in Santiago, Chile I had my boyfriend over and some other friends and explained to them how I had accidentally fallen in the shower and that's why I was so grumpy. Silence. And then someone changed the subject. An hour later we're doing dishes and I mention how when I fell in the shower it totally knocked the wind out of me to which Diego, the boyfriend, replied I'm not sure you're using the right verb…he was being polite, like a good Chilean. I had apparently told all of his friends how I took a dump in the shower. Of course, they just figured that since I was American I must be very "open" and willing to share all kinds of weird and inappropriate details about my life with total strangers. Nice one.

Another favorite was about a friend of a friend who got on a bus in Israel and asked the driver if she could put her suitcase in his ass. As opposed to underneath the bus. She only missed it by one preposition. The driver was apparently very amused and happy to accommodate.

A few weeks ago Israeli friends of ours were packing up to move from Berkeley to Cambridge, Mass for a post-doc position and had been in the process of selling most everything and packing the rest. They told us that they'd posted a bunch of things on Craigslist including their changing table. Everything had sold quickly but still no one had written about the changing table (and matching sheet). So I could already tell where this was going because my husband and siblings-in-law are notoriously bad spellers and often insert an "i" in place of long "e" sound as if they were writing in Spanish (get it, mi amigo?). Apparently it was only after they reposted the listing that they realized they'd written: Changing table and pad for sale with matching shit.

And the more I thought about the context, the more I was tickled by the whole thing. It was Berkeley after all. Everyone's all about earth friendly and carbon neutral and thus buying everything second-hand. Less waste! Less power to the man! And then to ensure the authenticity of the second-hand purchase you have the matching shit as your proof. Sure, we got it on craigslist. See the matching shit? Organic. Oh, I kill me.

I also had a good laugh thinking about what the Chileans would have had to say (or not) about that one. Although they likely would have written it exactly the same.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Mostly the best of times

We spent our winter vacation in Santa Fe, New Mexico with my brother-in-law's family. My husband's parents and sister also flew in from Israel so we were all together for the first time in a while. All in all a terrific trip. Here are the highlights and a few lowlights lest you think that my kids, imbued with the spirit of the holidays, were angelic. Not the case.

  1. An incident free flight out with our two kids. No one screamed about not wanting to wear a seat belt or peed in their pants or incessantly kicked the passenger in front of us.
  2. Traveling around Santa Fe, the eleven of us, in a giant Ford Sports Mobile. Yes, my brother-in-law has one of these and while we very much enjoy making fun of him for it, we very much enjoyed being together in this giant white monstrosity.
  3. Getting schooled by my son and nephew about who is Jewish and who is Christian and who celebrates Hanukah and who celebrates Christmas. Obviously we need not have worried about confusing the kids. They knew better than us.
  4. Pin the light on the menorah and other fun games and crafts prepared by Savta and doda (aunt) Dana.
  5. The line of the week delivered by my 2.5 year old niece: "I'm not tired mommy. Just lazy."
  6. The time-honored tradition of feeding the elders their vitamins. This is my son's favorite activity - helping my mother-in-law take her vitamins every morning by dropping them in the yogurt for her to fish out and swallow.
  7. Sledding. Nothing beats tri-generational sledding.
  8. Double date night at the Indian restaurant while Saba and Savta watched the four offspring.
  9. Pool time at the community center. My son actually dove under water to fetch a toy (in two feet of water) despite his near paralyzing fear.
  10. My father-in-law singing all 17 verses of Maoz Tsur (well maybe there are only like four verses - I'm not sure) every single night of Hanukah.
  11. A girls' snow trek up the arroyo with my two amazing sisters-in-law.
  12. Gazing at the new moon, Saturn, Jupiter and Mercury in the night sky, lined up near the horizon, as explained by my amateur astronomer father-in-law.

  1. My son waking up every morning unwilling to talk to anyone. I feel shy this morning. What else is knew.
  2. Watching "The Duplex". I should qualify this by saying that it was obviously nice for all of the adults to sit around and watch a movie together but this was one of the worst movies I have ever seen. Horrible.
  3. Taking the family picture. It's twenty degrees outside and nearing dusk so my brother-in-law sets up the tripod and everyone stands there freezing waiting for my son and me to come out except that my son suddenly can think of no worse fate than to stand for a family photo and refuses to go outside. So I threaten to leave and he shrieks. Then I leave and he nearly has a seizure. Finally I go inside and forcibly put on his shirt and jacket and drag him outside wailing for the goddamn photo where everyone is smiling (albeit blue) except my kid who's beet red and sobbing.
  4. My son crying for five minutes (though it felt like twenty) on our descent into SFO because he wants to suddenly lie down in his "cave" - the floor beneath our seats where he generally sleeps during flights - but he cannot because the seatbelt sign in now alight. Tough shit.

And to all a good night.

Monday, January 5, 2009

A Great Miracle Happened Here

I know many of you have been perched on your inbox for an update about the holiday pageant. So sorry to have left you hanging out here for the last two weeks wondering…did they sing? Did they cry? Pout? Shout? Flail on the ground in a heap of red and green holiday-wear? In fact both kids were outstanding. My daughter went first. She didn't notice me (that was intentional) so she just stood with everyone in the line wearing her reindeer headband and shaking her jingle bells to the music of Feliz Navidad. She looked a little perplexed but she didn't cry. She didn't sing either, but since she doesn't talk it wasn't a huge disappointment. Then there were some other classes and finally the PreK kids. I was a ball of nerves. I was also trying to hold my antsy daughter and videotape the whole thing which was kind of a pain in the ass. The kids walked out and found their tape to stand on. My son was looking around for me so I waved to get his attention - potentially my downfall. He started to try to get to me through a sea of parents but I shushed him back to his spot. He held it together. And then the music started and so did their first number - a little interpretive dance I think. Not sure. But there he was doing all the moves, looking left and right to be in sync with his classmates. He even cracked a smile. And then it was the big "Santa Claus is Coming to Town" number. That's when a star was born. He sang, he danced. He had a big smile. He was charming, careful to stay near his tape marker. A natural performer. And there I was mouthing the words like the freak stage mom that I am. Yikes. I didn't know I had it in me.

Then after the performance there was the opportunity to go have a picture with Santa which I wasn't super excited about - namely because of the long line but also because this is the first holiday season when I'm finally having to explain Christmas and Hanukah and why his cousins on both sides celebrate both holidays and we only celebrate Hanukah. But I decided I wasn't going to make a big deal about it so we stood in line and by the time we got to the front, my kids were too scared to sit with Santa. And then it turns out that Santa was the Jewish Venezuelan preschool owner's sixteen-year-old son. He threw out a few Hebrew phrases to gain my kids' trust but they were having none of it. Anyway, we left the place aglow with pageant pride, ever wary of Hebrew-speaking Santas…

Highlights from our week with family in Santa Fe up next…