I am a writer and a Mommy. I am a devout Jew. These are the most important books I have read: The Tao te Ching by Lao Tzu, Stephen Mitchell translation. Spiritual Divorce by Debbie Ford. Living Inspired by Akiva Tatz. My kitchen would suggest I'm a closet carny, as would my love of Branson.

Monday, March 2, 2015

What Not to Do to Divorced People

I got divorced in 2008.   It was a quick divorce and our kids were small.  We had a lot of wonderful friends who were good to us back then.  I never realized how good they were until recently.

Over the four years we lived in Kansas, divorced and raising our kids together, our friends were good to both of us.  They had parties and still invited each of us.  They hosted Jewish holidays and invited both of us.

Most of the time my ex and I got along and we did a lot of things together with our children because, after all, we were still their parents and they still wanted to be with both of us.  We didn't want them to feel the pain of wanting to be with both Mom and Dad but not having that option.   It was not always possible, but we managed to regularly do things together with our children.

I remember once being invited to join a Passover seder my ex-husband was going to with our kids.  It was so lovely for the kids to have both parents there and it was so nice for me to be invited to join.  It is always painful to be away from my children.  Even for one day, even 7 years later.  This invitation was a kindness I'll never forget.  These people are real mensches.

And this kind of thing happened over and over again.  Our friends did not "pick sides" or make one of us feel unwelcome.

We had good friends.

Three years ago I remarried and we managed to keep our divorced family together by all moving to the same town across the country.  As much as I could I brought the kids back to visit their friends.

But recently someone I thought was my friend treated me in a way that I would never treat someone else and it made me realize how good people were to us in those years we were in Kansas.

On my Kansas trips, I barely have time to see friends because I am there visiting my family and my husband's family and that is a lot of people.  But I usually went out of my way, as did my parents to meet up with one family to make sure my son could maintain a friendship with the son of people I considered my friends.

Yet when it came time for their son's Bar Mitzvah, somehow only my ex got an invitation.

These are people I thought were my friends.  The last time they were picking up their son from a sleepover at my parents house I asked when their son's Bar Mitzvah would be so that I could buy plane tickets and plan to attend.

If only they'd had the nerve to tell me right then, as they told me the date, that I wasn't going to be invited.

It was extremely hurtful to find out it wasn't a mistake that I didn't get an invitation to the Bar Mitzvah of a child I have been bringing my son to visit over the past three years.

They said they didn't have room for me, someone they have known for many years, while my husband's girlfriend was invited.

I realize now that this is what might normally happen in divorce.  People decide they want to be friends with one person in a couple and not the other.  They don't care what impact it has on the children.  That the kids are hurt by this kind of behavior.

In 7 years, this was the first time someone I thought was my friend made me feel like they chose my ex over me by telling me I was not welcome somewhere that my kids were invited, that only their father was invited.

I'm hosting several parties with my ex-husband this summer for my son's Bar Mitzvah.  I wonder what these people expect to do.  Do they plan to come to a party I planned and paid for when they were so rude to me?  I hope not.

They burned a bridge for reasons I'll never understand.  For some reason they decided that they didn't want to have a relationship with me and I suppose they don't yet realize that they are severing their relationship with my son.

It's sad, and I hope those who are reading this make better choices with the divorced parents they know.

Even when people are divorced, when they share children they are often still a family of sorts.  In our case, my ex and I often attend the same events for our children.  We are friendly to each other.   I view his girlfriend as part of our family.  I have always been happy to welcome her at all of our family gatherings, even when their relationship was new.

I am still reeling from the extreme unkindness of people I thought were my friends.  Who actively doesn't invite people to their child's Bar Mitzvah?

To be clear, a Bar Mitzvah is a community event.  I'm not talking about being invited to a party - I don't care about that.  But to actively tell someone they shouldn't show up at a Shabbat service - what kind of people behave like that?

I sincerely hope these people don't have the nerve to disturb a very special weekend for my family and come to my son's Bar Mitzvah weekend.  They have no place there.  But if they continue to be the rude, unkind people they have revealed themselves to be and show up, I will do my best to treat them with the respect they failed to show me.


Wednesday, February 4, 2015

The Wild Card

I remember thinking I'd have an easy delivery with Jacob.  I'd had a very easy one with Chaya.  The Doctor did warn me though.  She said that the third baby is a wild card.  You had a quick labor with #1 and a quicker labor with #2?  That doesn't matter, she said.  Third kid's a wild card.

Jacob has been different in most ways from my first two babies.  To sum it up, he always keeps us guessing.  I worried a lot when he didn't say Momma or Mommy or anything like that for the longest time.  I knew it was probably because he hears Spanish 50 hours a week and then English the other 40 he is awake.  But still.  It was a huge relief when he really started talking - just over a month ago.

I love the way he sings and appreciates music and dancing more than I would ever expect from a 1 1/2 year old.  And I love the way he jumps in the air even when it's on the couch or off the back of the couch.

My dear, beautiful wild card, he is the biggest joy - but Jacob is 20 months old and I'm having a lot of trouble accepting that he has zero interest in using the potty.

Potty training is one of my favorite things to do with a little kid.  I don't know why but I love teaching a kid to part with diapers.

I can't remember how my first child got interested in it or even when but I know he was practicing by the time he was this age.  He was in underwear (having a lot of accidents) by this age and he was completely done with diapers day and night by age 2 1/2.

With my daughter, I wrote down the day she said to me: I go pee potty.  She was exactly 18 months old.

The only thing I really did with those two was talk about it.  Day in and day out from the time they were 1 I would say, do you have to make pee pee?  Want to pee on the potty?  Oh, you went poo poo. Should we put it in the potty?

Sorry this is gross.  It's free therapy.

I feel like it might be that I haven't been around much - I didn't work full time when Noah and Chaya were babies.  For Noah I was there part-time and for Chaya I was there full time.  And I'm all about potty training.  It was so easy with them.

I have no idea what happens with Jacob and Rosa in terms of trying for the potty but I think she does try.

The thing is, I really thought Jacob would be even easier than the first two to potty train.  From the time he was born he would cry when his diaper was full of poop and sometimes even when it was just wet.  I couldn't believe a tiny baby would care but it really made him happy to get a clean diaper.  In fact, by the time he was just over one he was bringing me the wipes the minute he finished pooping!

I thought this kid would be so easy to train.  Just start telling him all about it.  You don't like poop in your pants?  Poop on the potty!  You don't want poop on you?  Poop in the potty!

As soon as I started telling him this he quit telling me when he was poopy.  Instead he would go hide to poop and run screaming if he said I wanted to change him.  Is this my fault?  Am I mean?  Did I sound like pooping was awful and make him feel bad about it?

One day I tried something.  I said, I know you want to keep your poops.  You made them after all! But you can make more later.  He calmed down and let me change his diaper.  Does he really want to keep his poops?  Who knows.

I just don't know what to do now.  I kind of gave up even asking him about peeing on the potty.  We have potty seats upstairs and downstairs and a tiny urinal next to his bathtub where I show him his rubber duck peeing and he just says, agua!

At this point I am feeling quite a bit of despair.  Do I buy him the potty books?  Do I get potty elmo? Do I get another potty seat?  Do I leave him alone?  Switch to cloth diapers.  The truth is I have become one of THOSE Moms.  The ones who do nothing because it's too hard so they miss the window.

I don't want to miss the window!  That's my entire and complete theory of potty training.  That when a kid shows any interest in using the potty you train them and you put up with any and all accidents because the kid is ready to pee in the right place.  If you miss that window, the kid learns it's just fine to pee in their pants and then it is so hard to train them, especially at night.

I know Jacob knows when he goes to the bathroom and that is all that is needed to potty train. Nothing else.  If the kid knows when he is going to go, you train them.

So, you don't believe me?  Well, every night before bath when we take off his diaper he will happily pee on the floor next to the tiny urinal.  And if I leave him with his diaper off for five minutes he will poop on the floor.  Every time!

The kid knows how to pee and poop when he wants....  Do you get my agony here?  I feel that I am in the window and I'm floundering around and going to miss the window!

Maybe it's because he is behind on his language skills.  He speaks Spanish better than English and I don't understand the sentences he says in Spanish.  I know some of the words and I know the English words he says but when he says sentences I have no clue what he's saying.  He could be saying, I need to take a shit right now.  Take me to the bathroom.  I would not know.

What do I do?  Do I just take all of Saturday to hang out with him diaperless and when he starts to pee bring him to the potty and then give him candy?

Oh, that's the most important step in potty training.  Give the kid candy every time they go to the bathroom until they are all the way trained.  Kids don't go back to peeing in a diaper when you stop giving them candy.  They just think you are a weirdo for a day or two and then they forget about the candy.

I'm really torn.  I feel like Jacob totally gets the short end of the stick in all ways.  I am not home with him, I barely have the energy to play with him when I am home (the kid knows how to use an ipad - that's how bad of a Mom I am).  And the most incriminating evidence of all - he has not even started potty training.

I can't make peace with this.  Next week my parents are coming out to watch him for 7 days.  He better be potty trained when I get back!

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Breakfast Gift

Last night was unbelievably sleepless in spite of the fact that my husband was home from his latest overseas business trip, which is always a tremendous relief.

I had my first experience last night since moving to California of feeling something really familiar which reminded me of how it felt living in Kansas.  We were expecting a big storm.  The schools called to say they were canceled for the next day.  We were sitting and waiting for something to happen but it was warm out and nothing was going on outside.

I went to bed at a reasonable hour but before I could fall asleep the wind started.  Marshal was already sound asleep and I had to wake him to talk about plans.  Where would it be safe to go in our house if the winds started breaking windows?  Were we sure there were no tornadoes in California?

I reminded him that if the wind sounds like that in Kansas you go to the basement to sleep.

We realized the only room in our house that doesn't have windows is the pantry under the stairs.

It howled and raged and picked up speed all throughout the night.  I barely drifted in and out of sleep. Waiting for a crash outside or inside or a child to wake up and need comforting.

By 5 am I couldn't keep trying to sleep.

I looked at the weather forecast online and saw what was swirling around on the coast.  By 6 it had started to pour in addition to the wind.

By 8 we had flood warning alerts blaring around town.

But none of that is why I am posting.  At some point in my fitful night of little sleep I had a dream about making an amazing breakfast.  I mentioned it to Marshal that I would make him something special in the morning, but once we were awake it didn't seem all that special.

Still, I set to work trying to come up with whatever it was I was dreaming about.

After three tries I think I have something you'll want to try.  Seems like a little bacon basket to me but since it's the holidays and it also looks like a present we'll call it the Breakfast Gift.

You will need:
Turkey bacon (or whatever)
Eggs
Cheddar cheese
Sourdough bread
A popover pan

Cook the bacon until it is almost done but not at all stiff.  Toast the bread and then cut a round out of it.  Grease the popover pan and cover with two strips of bacon across each other, you'll have 4 bits of bacon hanging over the side.  Place the toast on top of the bacon and push to the bottom, then cover with cheddar cheese.   Crack your egg onto the cheese and cross your bacon on top so it looks like a little gift.  Bake at 400 degrees for 7 or 8 minutes depending on how soft you like your eggs.

It's really simple and good and looks really pretty.  Make it your own recipe by adding what you like and send me pictures!

Enjoy!

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Jack O'lantern Rosenberg

My clothes smell a little bit like my dead cat but I don't want to stop smelling it yet.  

When my cat Nutty died I was in Japan and I remember how much it hurt and how I thought I would never get another cat and if I did I would never, ever love him as much as I loved Nutty.

When I got Jack I thought the same thing.  I wanted a cat and I liked Jack but I thought - I'll never love you like I loved my Nutty cat - the cat I had from age 7 to 22.

But sure enough I loved Jack like crazy.  

He was a very smart, loving and funny cat.  He was really big and a pretty tannish pale orange color with big yellow-green eyes.  We lived together in Lawrence, KS, on the Plaza in KC, in the city of Chicago, in Evanston, in Shawnee, Olathe, Overland Park, and finally Half Moon Bay.  

He was with me for 18 years of living life.  He was 6 when Noah was born and I had to put a tent over Noah's crib to keep Jack from jumping in to it.  He grew to love Noah over time and eventually became Noah's cat.  He used to sleep snuggled up to him most nights.  

Jack was a very vocal cat and I spent many years feeling that the biggest mystery of my life would be wondering what Jack was trying to say.  He used to copy the kids and meow, "Mom! Mom!" - I often thought a child was yelling for me when it was Jack.

As he got older he cried a lot.  But he always purred.  He always wanted to be held and snuggled and it made him purr loud.

He always came when you called him.  

A couple of years ago one night when I was putting Noah to bed he asked me an interesting question. Putting Noah to bed has always been a time to talk and sometimes philosophize.  He must have been reading something interesting because he said, "Mom if we had a potion that would make you live forever but only one person could take it,  who would you want to have it?"  I couldn't even begin to fathom the idea of his question when he told me, "I'd want Jack to take it."

I loved that idea.  I promptly told Noah that it would make a wonderful story but he was thinking in earnest about his impossibly old cat whom he loved and whom he held in higher esteem, rightfully so, than anyone he had ever known.  Jack deserved to live forever.

I don't think I will ever have another cat because I had the best cat.  He was good and kind.  He never hurt others, never behaved in a mean way.  He was friendly to everyone and always good natured. He was clean and neat and even in the past couple of days when his world was going very dark, he tried to have composure.  

I have never had to do anything as painful as what I did today.  Jack has been declining for some time.  He has not played for a very long time.  He was sleeping almost constantly.  He ate, drank, went to the bathroom and slept.  Sometimes he would wander around a bit.  Sometimes he would ask to be held or snuggled.  Mostly he just slept.  The past two days he has not been able to eat or drink or go to his litter box.  He was just trying to find a hole to crawl into.  And no holding or petting or loving could elicit a purr of any kind.

I've never put an animal to sleep before - I asked if it would hurt him and they said it would not. They said he would go to sleep but that's just not what happened.  He was cuddled in my arms, half asleep already and barely moving and when she gave him the injection he opened his eyes big and wide and then that was it.  It didn't feel peaceful or comforting.  It feels like I killed my cat.

I could not let him go for a long time after that.  I brought him home with me and held him in my lap for an hour knowing that he was gone and that he wouldn't wake up but not believing it somehow. And either way, not being able to let him go.  I never wanted to let go of the feeling of holding my Jackie cat.  His soft fur and sweet paws and the feel of his long body - it's was too hard to bury him.  

But I did.

A lot of people met Jack and anybody who liked cats at all just loved him - he was the best cat.  He had a wonderful personality and I really, honestly can't believe he is gone.

I told Marshal that I wanted to find a taxidermist and he told me no.  I would do this if I had the option.  I don't want to let go of the feel of Jack, my irreplaceable, long-time friend.  

He was my first baby, no doubt about it.  And he let all my human babies drag him around, carry him like a baby, pull his hair, ears, tail and squeeze him - he never hurt any of them.  Jacob won't remember him.  I'll never forget him.




Friday, October 3, 2014

Yom Kippur

When I went to Israel in 2011 they gave us a small orange bracelet to wear on the first day.  On it was written: Don't Blame, Don't Complain.  They told us to move it from one wrist to the other every time we blamed or complained to see if we could stop doing those things.  Lori, our incredible leader, told us that we should see if we could manage to stop doing those two things - even for just one week.

Do you know what I did?  I put it in my purse.  It's not that I didn't like the idea.  But I didn't want to have to be moving this rubber bracelet back and forth between my wrists every time I opened my mouth so I figured why bother.

I never put the thing on.  I brought it home and threw it out.

I was so into that trip; my heart was open to every single thing they taught us and showed us about Judaism and observance but for some reason not complaining and not blaming seemed insurmountable to me.

If you ask me to take you through the details of what I learned about on that trip I can tell you vaguely about some of the classes.  Much of it did stay with me but that bracelet really got to me.  I have thought of it on and off ever since and recently I finally got myself one.

It's a big ugly red version of what I was first given three years ago. And, it may seem like a joke but I would love to have a small thin bracelet that was fashionable, maybe a white gold, with these words inscribed on it.

What I have discovered after wearing this bracelet is that I almost never think about what comes out of my mouth before I speak.

Maybe I always knew this but it's really hitting home now.  Every single day, especially right now - during the ten days of repentance when you are literally trying to impress upon The Almighty that whatever he wrote in the Book of Life should be favorable, when you have your one chance to show G-d that if what he wrote on Rosh Hashanah for you was not great, there is a reason to change it before it is sealed on Yom Kippur - every day I ask myself if I can go a day without complaining or blaming.

It seems, just as it did before, an insurmountable task.  But the reason is because I have not learned to think before I speak.  I've been hearing all my life that this is something I should learn to do and I get it.

If only I could manage to go one hour, let alone one day without complaining or blaming.

The bracelet is doing its job. I'm thinking about this.  I'm trying.

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Transcendence

What do you think of when you hear the word transcendence?  Does it mean something larger, something above it all?

I always thought of transcendence as a meditative state where you feel at one with the universe having attained a profound sense of understanding and peace.

It turns out this word is really tricky.  It has a lot of different meanings like go beyond the limit, or exist above and apart from the world.  But it can just mean to go beyond something in quality like this cake transcends all other cakes.

I saw Johnny Depp's Transcendence the other day and it was quite an interesting sci-fi flick.  Just like I, Robot, the idea is that a really, really smart computer is going to seem menacing to us stupid humans as it goes about trying to help us.

I really like this idea.  It's what I loved about the movie Her as well. 

There are a couple of neat ideas in these sci-fi movies.  First, unlimited intelligence is going to want to keep learning and expanding and thinking and being creative.  That is a beautiful concept.

Second, a computer that is programmed to help people or has the will to help people as is the case in Transcendence, will quickly figure out that people need to be protected, managed, cleaned up after or in the case of Her, left alone a little bit.

I know someday we will have little computer chips implanted in our brains and although this idea upsets most people, I kind of look forward to it.  I assume I could program myself to eat the right foods every day and to stay calm at all times, to say the right things to the people I care about and to do what's best for my health.

There are two things that I find really impossible to make myself do on a regular basis that I believe with all my heart I should do and that I want to do.  One is exercise and the other is meditate.

I'm trying to figure out how to force both of these things into my life.  I keep thinking about it - there are so many things we do on a daily basis without fail and without exception and many of these things are not any fun to do but we would never dream of not doing them and for the same reason I want to figure out how to add exercise and meditation to that daily list.

So I am asking the world to please give me ideas and suggestions on how to "make" myself do these things.  For exercise, how do I best make getting my heart rate up a part of my daily life?

For meditation, I don't think it's too hard to find the time to sit quietly but someone please explain to me what I'm supposed to be doing while I'm sitting quietly.  Just sit there and listen to my thoughts? Repeat a word?  Count? 

I read one man's account of how meditation changed his life and he said that he did it twice a day for twenty minutes to get in touch with his Divine Self or something like that.  He said one of the most important things is to have a meditation guide.  What? 

Does anyone have a meditation guide?  Can you find one on Yelp? 

I guess my Buddhist monk holds regular meditation web casts.  Maybe I better start attending his Google hangouts.

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Hubby Cooked

He made me a very special Saturday night date night dinner!  A light delicious French chicken parmigiana with mushroom ravioli.  It was delicious!

Thank you for being my partner.  You are amazing.