Thursday, August 22, 2013

Rejoicing My Daughter (Without Neglecting My Son)

My post about my daughter's naming ceremony (and how my son dealt with it) can be found at or by clicking here.

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Too Many Resolutions

So the Web site Kveller recently sent out a tweet looking for Rosh Hashannah resolutions. Rosh Hashannah is the Jewish New Year, and as such, they were wondering what resolutions people had thought of making for the new year.

I haven't thought of any.

It's not because I think I'm awesome or anything (if anything, I have the opposite problem). It's more because I never thought of making them before. I always thought that New Year's resolutions were not really a Jewish thing. I mean, aside from the obvious of doing better and being a better person, I didn't think that the typical resolutions (lose weight, exercise, stop some kind of addictive behavior, etc.) were what Jews did. My parents never did it growing up and, as far as I can remember, it was never a topic of conversation at my synagogue.

But now that I've started thinking about it, my problem is that I can't narrow down a list. There are tons of different things that I want to resolve to do over the next year, and with too long of a list, I don't think I'll make much of a dent. But, I guess that leads to my first resolution (and then six more below):

1. Be more positive about what I can do -- Always a tough one for me, but maybe I can try for that this year (which should make the whole list easier)
2. Try to teach my son more Hebrew -- I'm not fluent at all, but I'm trying to get him to learn more (he knows how to count to three, but I think he can do more)
3. Try not to feel too dejected when my wife is the preferred parent
4. Work on my second book -- I'm not expecting to finish it, just get a little further
5. Figure out how to get a better balance of being there for both a needy child and a needy infant
6. Watch my daughter sleep more -- She's still a baby, and although I do this a lot, I feel like I can do it more :)
7. Balance my teaching job, tech responsibilities, after school Hebrew School teaching, tech teaching outside of my school, my relationship with my wife, and my relationship with my kids -- Women aren't the only ones who should be able to have it all!

So there's my top 7 Rosh Hashannah Resolutions. May it be a happy and sweet year for all!

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Playground Math

So J loves going to the playground.

Wait, let me rephrase.

J loves going to ANY playground.

Yeah, he has his favorite playground (fortunately it's the one 1/2 mile from our house that we walk and bike to, so it doesn't cause too many problems), but really, he loves playing at playgrounds. He will spend hours at a playground if allowed to do so. There have, so far, I think been only two times when he has asked to leave a playground -- once when he proceeded to get sick after nearly an hour on the swings, and once when it was well over 90 degrees outside and I foolishly forgot to pack any kind of snack aside from water.

In other words, aside from the occasional dad fails, he wouldn't ever leave if it was up to him.

The problem I have with playgrounds, however, is how far away I should stay from him. How much independence do I give J at the playground. Of course I'm not talking about the swings (which still require me to push him), but for the rest of the playground, what's the right distance? I want to give him his own space and independence while he's there, but at the same time, I want to be an engaged father and not be one of those parents sitting off to the side while their kid is running around and menacing the other kids.

So I think it all comes down to a bit of incredibly complex math which my mother (the retired math teacher and current math tutor) assures me is fun:

The first variable is obviously the number of kids at the playground (we'll call this one K). The more kids there, the closer I have to be to my son. He might be almost 3, but he still lives under what my wife calls the toddler credo (what is mine is mine; what was mine five minutes ago is still mine; what was mine last time I was here is still mine; what I was planning on being mine sometime later is mine forever). While we are, of course, working on sharing, it takes time.

The next variable needs to be the time of day. Or more specifically, how far away nap time is (t for short). Even though he swears that he never gets tired, meltdowns somehow seem to happen closer to 12 than any other time.

Then of course there's the peer pressure factor (variable = PP). If other parents are being very engaged, it encourages me to be engaged too. If they are not, I may hold back a bit. This is not something that I am necessarily proud of, but it's the truth. NOTE -- if other parents are being incredibly disengaged, I will react the opposite way and be even more engaged. That's just me trying to up the peer pressure on them. Don't judge me.

Other variables, briefly, include:

Number of available dump trucks in the sandbox -- DT
Relative height of climbing structure (relative of course to my son) -- H
Velocity of spinning things that may make my son sick (always fluctuating) -- VS
Number of trucks my son is trying to hoard -- HT
Number of trucks my son is trying to take out of the sandbox area and race down the slides -- ST

And there are probably many more...

Of course this all relates to some base distance between myself and my son, which, for argument's sake, is probably somewhere around the sum of his height and the length of my arm. We can call this variable JD.

I really don't know what the equation is, and I'm probably missing some variables, but I guess it is:

((JD - t - PP)/K) + (DT/(HT+ST)) - H - VS.

Even if this IS the right equation (which I kind of doubt), the variables are always changing so quickly, I'm sure to always get it wrong. I think I'll have to keep guessing...

Here's to a fun time on the playgrounds this summer!

J at a playground with me, undoubtedly, either too close or too far away.

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Baby's First Shabbat

The blog post about E's first Shabbat (and J's reaction to the whole thing) can be found here or by going to Enjoy!

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Waiting... (and Happy Mother's Day!)

This blog post about my existential angst related to my wife having our second child soon (so soon!) can be found here or by going to Enjoy!

Friday, April 19, 2013

On being a news junkie...with a toddler

So my mother-in-law texted this morning at about 6:30 telling us to turn on the news. My response: No!

I didn't say no because we were asleep or anything (Ha! J woke at 4:30 this morning trying to be up for the day). No, I refused because I had been following the news on my smartphone and I didn't want J to see any bad images.

It has been a hard week living in the greater Boston area. When the bombings went off on Monday, I didn't write anything because I said everything I would have wanted to say after Newtown (except of course that I really shouldn't have to write that kind of thing twice in 4 months).

But it's been exceptionally hard having a two year old in the house and trying to follow the news. When I get back to teaching next week, I'm sure everything will be discussed, and I want to be as informed as possible. At the same time, my son doesn't need to see the terribly graphic images from Monday and from today's manhunt.

Even harder than keeping him from seeing the images on TV, has been me following the news while maintaining a straight face. Scratch that. Maintaining a happy/silly face. J is observant. He asks tons of questions. And of course, he is at that phase of toddlerhood where his favorite word is "Why?"

So my house has turned into a spelling bee of sorts with my wife and I spelling the "bad" words and my son chiming in asking about the letters he recognized from our spelling ("How many have d-i-e-d?" "3, with 180 i-n-j-u-r-e-d." "What is d-e-j?"). My smartphone has been feeding my addiction with live blogs, tweets, and Facebook keeping me informed. I used to be the guy who, during these types of major events, would leave the tv news on for hours, switching back and forth, commenting on the commentary, and generally exhibiting obsessive behaviors. Now I'm trying to do that with my smartphone, while still having the wherewithal to drive toy trucks around the living room.

When is the right time for a kid to be exposed to this kind of news? This kind of thing isn't going to stop, and I think being well-informed is the best way to get through these things. I don't want my son to be oblivious when he gets older, but I also don't want to scar him too early either. There's a balance somewhere, and I guess the job of a father is to find it.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

10 Questions Parents Should Ask Doctors...

This blog post all about the 10 questions that parents should ask doctors (particularly specialists) can now be found at, or by clicking here. Enjoy!

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Passover for Three

So tonight is the first night of Passover (Chag Sameach to all who celebrate!), and it was a very different experience for me. Instead of the larger groups that we normally have, it was just the three of us.

I'm 32 years old. That means that this is my 63rd seder (I'm assuming it is at least), and in all of those times, I've never been to a seder with only three people. Honestly, three is MUCH harder than ten when it comes to a seder.

With a crowd at a seder, any kids can help distract each other. I don't have to concentrate quite as hard about keeping J at the table because either the other kids will keep him interested, or the other kids will have already left the table and he'd just be joining them (J can usually sit at the table and outlast most toddlers). Not only that, but a crowd at the seder is kind of my thing. I'm a teacher. I'm used to working a room -- feeding off the energy of a crowd. I love my family, but my wife has already heard all of my jokes and my son (already) doesn't appreciate them.

Unfortunately, Passover came at a really bad time this year. Yes, I know that my father would say it happens at the same time every year, but this year it was really bad. March. Monday night. End of the school quarter. And of course with my wife pregnant, there was very little motivation in our house to have a crowd this year. 

So for the last week or so, I've been totally stressed out about this seder. I wanted to still keep it at least mildly religious, but also keep J engaged and excited about the whole thing. Thankfully my wife stepped in and helped talk me off the ledge.

We read a few blogs. I was anxious about them, but my wife said, "We can do this. No problem." Particularly, we read this one by Amy Deutsch at Kveller. So my wife and J first made a Matzah House:

And despite the roof cracking a bit (it is matzah after all), it is still standing two days later!

Then, my wife took a trip to a local Judaica store, and without me being there to overthink EVERYTHING,  she bought a whole bunch of things for the seder -- the best were the four questions finger puppets:
Passover Four Questions Finger Puppets
I mean, who doesn't like a finger puppet of a recliner chair?

In the end, J liked the seder a lot. We had some music going throughout to help with it. He liked dipping veggies (particularly in hummus...and why can't hummus be charoset? It looks a lot like mortar anyway), and he was still talking about finding the afikomen (and the prize bulldozer) today. So while I can't foresee having a three-person seder again anytime soon, it wasn't nearly as scary as I thought it would be. It was a lot of fun in the end. And without a large crowd, clean-up was a lot quicker than normal too. :)