Feb 8, 2019

Weekday in the Life (with a Toddler and a Dog)

I love reading day-in-the-life posts, especially by other moms who work outside of the home, so I decided to write my own! (This recent one by Amanda was the nudge I needed to blog it.) The account below is a realistic usual best-case scenario, if that makes sense. We agreed when Robbie was born that my domestic duties would fall mostly in the mornings because I'm a morning person and, because's Jon's the opposite, most of his responsibilities would be in the evening. I think we split the quantitative care of our dependent creatures pretty well, but phew! Even reading this over now that I've drafted it is exhausting. Here goes:

Jan 19, 2019

The (Other) Best Parenting Advice We Received

In November, I blogged about the best parenting advice we've received since announcing we were going to have a baby:

Enjoy it. Things change so fast.

The funny thing about that suggestion is that, as I wrote a few months ago, "enjoy it" isn't really actionable advice, especially not when you're dealing with a challenging situation. "Things change so fast" isn't actually advice either - it's basically just a reminder or a mantra to repeat to yourself when you wonder if you'll ever again be able to wear a white shirt without it being stained by someone's bodily fluids on the first wearing. (By the way, the answer is yes! You probably can't imagine that if you're a new parent, but I promise it'll happen sooner or later. After all, things change so fast.) The kind of advice we're all desperate for is the magic bullet sort; the kind that you can enact and and from which you can see a resulting change.

The best parenting advice, though, in my admittedly minimal experience, seems to be more about adjusting your mindset than your child's behavior. In light of that, I want to share the other best parenting wisdom we've received:

Jan 10, 2019

2019 House Projects

When we bought our 1920 rowhouse, which had been loved by a single owner for the previous 40 years but not improved much during that time, we knew we'd be facing three phases of work over the next decade:

1. immediate safety updates like replacing the electrical and plumbing systems
2. ongoing upgrades and maintenance
3. eventual significant renovation

We factored the cost of phase one into our budget when we put our offer on the house and preparing for phase three will require years of careful financial planning, but phase two is where we're afraid we'll be irresponsible with money because so much of what falls within is subjective. Yes, stage two does include needs (rather than wants) like a new porch roof and a major appliance will probably die before we're ready to redo the kitchen. But is it really necessary to replace every single light fixture in our home as soon as possible just because the '80s ceiling fans with frosted glass cluster shades that were in almost every room are even worse than boob flushmounts?

Okay, okay, there's no "we" here; I'm the one who insisted on getting rid of five of the nine offending fixtures in our first six months in the house. Phase two isn't dangerous to our savings account. I am.

Dec 3, 2018

If You Give A Mouse A Cookie: Closet Edition

If you give a mouse a cookie, he's going to ask for a glass of milk... and if you tell a girl to prep the house for workmen, she's going to need a new dress. Right?

See, a few weeks ago, in preparation for the installation of our new windows, I organized my closet. I know, one doesn't seem to follow the other, but I had to clear the area around the window in our extra bedroom, which is where I keep everything that doesn't fit in my dresser, and tidying the room escalated into sorting through all of my shoes, bags, blouses, skirts, and dresses. I filled three bags with pieces to donate - it was really cathartic!

It also confirmed what pieces my wardrobe is missing. I could use another winter dress or two for work, but I've been having trouble finding tailored A-line shapes in stores these days. (Everything seems to be straight through the hips! I had a hard time wearing that style before having a baby, and now... no way.) About half of my work dresses were found at Secondi, a great consignment shop near my office, but it's really just the law of large numbers that helps me get lucky there - you're bound to hit gold sometimes when you stop by as often as I do, but you can't count on it every time.

Nov 20, 2018

Why - and How - We Plan To Raise Our Children Jewishly

photographer: Rhiannon Newman

Before Jon and I got married, I told him that one of my non-negotiables was the religious education of our hypothetical future children: I wanted them to be raised Jewish.

This might seem like a funny time for semantics but I do think that it's really important to clarify a few things - at least as I understand them - about being Jewish in America today.

First and perhaps most importantly as anti-Semitism is on the rise in the United States and across the world, know that one doesn't have to practice Judaism in any traditional way to be considered Jewish by others and targeted by anti-Semites. In Nazi Germany, remember, people counted as Jewish and therefore as deserving of extinction if they had a single Jewish grandparent.

Second, there are so many ways of practicing Judaism and of living a Jewish life that it's counterproductive to quantify or de/legitimize anyone's Judaism. (Unlike in Christianity, very few branches or denominations of Judaism today consider others to be heretical.) Judaism isn't just a religion; "clearly," researchers Barry Kosmin and Arielle Keyser write in a 2012 article, "there is more to the Jewish experience in America than religion... [and] the idea that the Jews are a 'people' and not just a faith is ancient." Judaism is a culture, too, one that flourishes rather than withers as increasing numbers of Jews marry non-Jews and create interfaith households.