Fifty-Two Frames: Natural.

I wanted to put some effort into this but I’m so surrounded by nature here that I didn’t know where to start. So I took Koala out, promising him a nature walk.

He wanted to stay near our building and watch a moving truck get loaded. I suppose that’s only… natural.

But I got him to the forest across the street from our place and snapped pictures while he walked around and touched things. He was b’helem over the vast sea of pine needles we found ourselves stepping in.

And he shared every one of his new kotzim with me.

Week 30: Natural

Nature’s toy store.

Where was your daughter born?

So while initially, after giving birth to my daughter, I was asked very often ‘where did you give birth?’ that question has definitely waned in the last 15 months. It just becomes the sort of question doctors ask you at initial check ups, I guess.

And so, oddly, despite everything, I kinda forgot where my daughter was born.

And then today, I was in Hadassah for a pediatric ultrasound (for… daughter, not me). The receptionist asked a bunch of questions for the computer.

What’s her name?

Your name?

Father’s name?

(You kept your last name?)

Your phone numbers.

Address?

And where was she born?

I puzzled at the question. I must have looked ridiculous. Are you her mother, ma’am? You don’t even have the same last name and now you don’t know where she was born?

And yet. The answer… I dug in there… no, it wasn’t at Hadassah, like her brother. It was…

“.בבית”

And as I said it… I felt compelled to look down… brace for impact… supplement it with a “in Tzur Hadassah,” as if having Hadassah in the answer might make it more acceptable to this woman.

But actually, she was pleasantly encouraging. Good for you! That must have been great! Was it a positive experience? Did you have a midwife?

Huh. So it’s all coming back to me now. That’s where my daughter was born.

Where I am religiously. Part 2.

So – did you smile?

I guess I’m feeling a bit philosophical lately because today alone I managed to get myself into a gun control debate that, ahem, triggered… well… no resolutions for me… as well as a different thread about religious observance, pride, and – yeah – Rashi.

Basically, a friend posted the above image on her Facebook profile, and it gave me a good laugh – I haven’t read Rashi in years, but man that handwriting sticks with you. So I shared it again on mine, with the caption ‘and proud!’

It spurred an interesting thread, raising points I hadn’t at all considered when I had first found the humor in the picture. I’m not going to copy/paste for privacy’s sake, (and keep in mind it was more than two people), but in summary:

  • Why would I be proud to have shed my observance (which is actually not completely true) and be able to read Rashi script?
  • Actually clarified that my statement of pride was for being able to read Rashi. In my words: “as Facebook might say, for a lot of us, ‘it’s complicated with Religion.’ actually, probably for everyone ever. anyway – yes, I’m proud I learned this. I’m proud of the education I got. I’m proud I have a ton of info with which to use as the background for making life choices. for many people, staying as observant as they were growing up might be obvious. for me, it isn’t.”
  • And still for others, it is pride in no longer being observant, after a lifetime of being exposed to some ways, and then being able to make choices about going outside the box.
  • But why do you have to be datlash to read Rashi? What about everyone else? And why flaunt your non observance to everyone else? To, for instance, baalai tshuva who have chosen to embrace observance? And during the 9 Days we shouldn’t be flaunting our divisions, but focusing on unity.
  • My response to some of it: “I’m not really sure how any of this was flaunting or division… the way I took this light hearted attempt to make (some of) us smile is that, as someone who’s in the middle of a process, I might forget day to day where I come from, but it’s things like reading Rashi that remind me of where I came from… I have a sort of baal tshuva background within a modern orthodox mold. I’ve never felt I fit in anywhere. and a testament to that is the fact that along with abc which I do, and xyz which I question, and 123 that I’ve left behind, there’s… Rashi. which I can still read when I’m reviewing the parsha. that makes me smile. on top of that, I feel absolutely lucky (or maybe the word is blessed) that I was given the opportunity to study. that I gained this form of education relatively early on. for myself. so it’s not taken for granted, if that’s a concern.”
  • More talk of flaunting observance/non observance.

I couldn’t understand where the idea of flaunting came from. Divisions. This was a harmless joke. Why did it offend some, and rally others? I actually turned it over and over in my head. And after going out for a night walk in Tzur Hadassah – where both tank topped me and my Beitar Illit neighbors passed each other on the same road twice – I came back with this:

ok I’ve been puzzling over what I saw as a disconnect. does this help? (excuse the english-major worthy deconstruction) – I think the point of this image was to be humorous as long as the right type of person is sharing it. I think in the beginning of the thread, folks seemed to take it as ‘why would reading rashi only make you datlash?’ but if you’re less observant or no longer observant, it’s funny since that always stays with you; that’s the punchline – you may no longer be observant, but you can still read rashi. I’m not sure where this became about divisions. I also don’t think because someone is proud of the state of their observance or non observance, after years of consideration, that should be an offense to those who are observant. if we’re going to make it as a nation, I think a basic truth we have to come to accept is that after years of diaspora and challenge, bnei yisroel is going to be diverse. forever. and because of the world we live in today – one where democracy is embraced by much of it, education and enlightenment are long ‘rights’ – well, we’re all individually going to be different as well. forever. and there’s the 9 days lesson for me. yasher koach.

So I’m glad I was able to sneak in some 9 Days relevance before this weekend. I’m usually embarrassingly late to that game.

(And it’s ‘part 2′ because…)

Fifty-Two Frames: Technology.

I love how the week’s theme tends to occupy my perspective between Sundays.

It started with a truck, fascinating Koala, Bebe and I down the block from our building. It was a one-armed truck pulling giant bags of sand over a fence.

It ended with me sweating under the summer sun, arranging a bouquet of gadgets in one of my favorite ferns.

Week 29: Technology

Technological growth.

Four reasons to hug your kids tonight.

Been a long day. There are four pieces of news/experiences swirling in my head.

The most recent is the terror (they say female suicide) bombing in Burgas airport, Bulgaria, where a bus carrying Israeli tourists exploded, killing at least seven and injuring dozens more. At least ten firetrucks were trying to control the blaze and paramedics have been treating the injured.

Bibi is directly blaming Iran, and calling for harsh retaliation.

Oh, we’re still doing this?

In something closer to home, and more of a personal scare, is the story of Pamela Weisfeld (Ayala Pamela bat Leah), an American-Israeli Jerusalemite with two young kids. She was diagnosed with brain, liver, breast and bone cancer in a matter of one visit to the emergency room with what she thought was a swollen milk duct/back pain.

Not sure it gets worse than that when it comes to diagnoses. There’s a Facebook support group collecting prayers, aid, and more for her and her husband and kids.

Jennifer Brandt’s story of getting the phone call any parent anywhere dreads the most: Flipped. Every time I know my kids are in a car, the thought makes an appearance in my mind. I hate every second that my kids are in a car. Please read her story if you are prematurely considering switching your kid to a booster.

And in my own near-nightmare, I was driving on the highway outside Tzur Hadassah when two Arabs were waiting to make their mad dash across to the forest to get back into Wadi Fukin. Illegal workers do this daily from the village to get to construction sites or other workplaces inside the Green Line.

So one of these guys – maybe in his 20s – looks at me and then darts into my path as I’m zooming towards him. Thank god for brakes (and being made painfully aware they’re in existence with the screeching I heard). As I passed by his friend still waiting to cross, I had plenty of words and gestures.

But most of all, I had my baby in the backseat. So work illegally in Israel, I don’t care. But don’t be a motherfucker when you make your way home again.

So, yes. Let’s hug our kids extra tight tonight.

Marissa Mayer: CEO-to-be, mom-to-be, and, one hopes, game-changer-to-be.

Marissa,

I really have respect for you ever since I heard you speak at GarageGeeks in June 2010. I was working for Answers.com back then, in an office of 60 and a company of 90. It was a year since having my first child and I was lucky to be involved in a family-friendly company in a kid-friendly country. It was still an overwhelming time as a new mother in the workplace, but on a different level I definitely appreciated your drive and poise as a woman and a driver in hi-tech world.

So here’s where I’m going with this:

Before I went to bed last night, I read the news that you quit Google after 12 years to become the CEO of Yahoo. My first thought was, holy crap, way to disrupt! My second thought was, Yahoo? Aren’t you going to get a lot of shit for that? Then I thought, wow. Another female CEO, already so well-respected in hi-tech. This is going to be great.

Then I woke up to the news that you’re expecting, and due in October. As we say in Hebrew, b’sha’a tova! (meaning, all in the right time). And your new employer knew this when they considered you, and they took you on anyway. You’re the first pregnant CEO of a Fortune 500 company. Well done!

Surely, you must be SuperWoman: you’re 37 and a high-powered, well-respected, successful, gorgeous CEO of a company that no doubt reveres you as the messiah… and now you’re pregnant with your first son.

But I’m a bit troubled. In your exclusive interview with Fortune, you were quoted as saying:

As for maternity leave, Mayer… expects it to be speedy. “I like to stay in the rhythm of things,” she says, referring to the CEO job that she is starting tomorrow. “My maternity leave will be a few weeks long and I’ll work throughout it.”

I get it. You’re breaking through the ‘glass ceiling.’ You’re working it out so you can have it all. You’ll probably have a night nanny and excellent daycare and help while you’re on your few-week maternity leave. I’m guessing you won’t breastfeed or pump. Obviously these are your choices and your priorities.

I guess what I’d love to see – as a fellow working mama, one with a career, one who must constantly balance work and life, deadlines and children, ambition and love – I guess what I’m hoping is you’ll realize what kind of power you hold right now. The example you could set. The change you’re in a position to work for. Maybe not for yourself, since you have negotiation power… but for the rest of us.

Most women in the United States don’t have much choice when it comes to maternity leave and balancing children and workplace. There is no official, federally outlined, paid maternity leave set. I don’t know the laws covering discrimination against pregnant women, or who can be fired and how, but I do know it’s far from ideal over there.

Women should not have to be forced back to work within a couple weeks of giving birth. The physical toll is actually abusive, and the emotional toll is unfair and belittling of the importance of initial mother-baby bonding and emotional security for the infant. Not to mention the emotional state of the mother.

What about mothers who had traumatic births? Mothers with severe physical damage? Those who had c-sections?

And babies, who are considered to be living in a fourth trimester for the first three months. Why shouldn’t they be given their right to breastfeed from a willing mama? Feel the warmth and protection of the world their parents can give them? Why not set the stage for all babies across America – children of poor and wealthy mothers alike – to get off to a quality start? We talk, as a society, about the problems in our culture, the collective challenges of raising skilled, confident, loved kids. What better time to start fixing the brokenness of our American parenting culture than before high school, before grade school, before kindergarten – at birth? With proper attention paid to both baby and healing mother?

Ok, I strayed a bit. My point: I really hope that aside from serving as a role model for working women in your capacity as Yahoo CEO, you also find a place in your maternal heart to seek and encourage change with America’s broken maternity system. To open the discussion, as Sheryl Sandberg does. To encourage our male colleagues to consider our challenges. To use your position, standing over what is now the glass flooring, to show employers across the country what is possible for mothers in the workplace. To show your board that a healthy CEO with a positive family life is better for everyone.

It’s going to have to flow top-down. And Hollywood celebrities certainly fail us in this regard. Could our hi-tech sisters lead the way for a workplace-family balance revolution?

I do recognize this just may not be the kind of woman you are. You said yourself – you need to keep moving. I do hope you ease into motherhood as gracefully as you seem to do everything else, but it is not easy. For anyone. I hope you come to see the reality in that and do what is necessary for you and your baby.

And I hope somehow you come to realize the major flaws in the American maternity non-system, and decide to become not only a CEO and a mother… but a game-changer, too.

Fifty-Two Frames: Fire.

Had a bit of an existential crisis this week. I ended up writing to our Fifty-Two Frames organizer about how I wonder if it’s better to just end it rather than keep going at such a lower level than the professionals in the group. But no, I’m not a professional, and it’s not even about that for me. I learn a bit, I share my thoughts for others, but most of all, I get to see each week in a new light with every new theme. That’s the part about this project I love the  best.

So with that…

Week 28: Fire

When fire gets all dressed up and does a night on the town.

Canon PowerShot SD1300 and FINALLY played with the Night setting.

Shabbat away, everyone plays: the Dan Jerusalem hotel review.

Living in Israel with no close family around to take your kids for a few hours… or a weekend… can be rough on two married adults. But the next best thing is getting ‘away from it all’ even if it’s as a family.

Last year we went to Shoresh, and this year we decided to escape Tzur Hadassah life by making the 30 or so kilometer trip to… Jerusalem, to the Dan Jerusalem hotel (used to be the Regency), on recommendation of friends and the fact we booked this very late in the week.

But it was actually an excellent hotel, very kid-friendly, so much so I had to share.

Check in: We came at 2pm (though if we called in advance, we probably could have shown up earlier).

Staff: Really friendly, totally helpful.

Rooms: Actually, surprisingly modern and well-furnished. I never get high hopes for that sort of thing, but I do think it’s important when the idea of a weekend getaway 30 kilometers from your home is to feel like you’re somewhere completely different.

Beds: Super comfortable. And according to the kids, like a gymboree. And added bonus? They both slept beautifully.

Pool: Looks small when you get to the pool area, but it’s actually a great size and most of it is actually relatively shallow (meaning, for adults). So it’s pretty much geared towards kids in floaties being followed by their parents. There’s also a tiny kiddie pool next to it. The lounge area is mostly under shade which is also really kid-friendly and Ashkenaz-friendly.

DaniLand kids’ play area: This was a fun surprise – a whole kids’ area for younger and older kids, with age-appropriate games and activities. Arcade games, foosball, pool and video games in one room, and a small gymboree, tv, arts & crafts tables, dress up closet and video games in the other.

Food: Possibly the best if not one of the best Shabbat food situations I’ve had. The Shabbat dinner was ridiculous, full of options, and the kids ate really well. Then again, my kids are good eaters (lamb, child?) but there were the standard shnitzel options. Breakfast in an Israeli hotel – nothing beats it and it lived up to the rep.

Other than that… at hotels, kids tend to find their own fun.

Putting the bubbles in the bath was a big hit…

…as were the 395439653 fluffy towels provided in each room.

Extra stuff for families:

  • a crib for the baby (fairly big, enough that my 15-month-old was fine)
  • a mini bar fridge in the room, cold enough with ice packs we brought

The mirpeset attached to the room is not child-friendly (though lovely to sit on once they’re tucked in).

All in all it was really great, though if you’re shomer shabbat there’s not much to do towards the end because the pool closes at 6:30 and the DaniLand closes at 6. Then you’ve got to be creative about going for walks up and down the stairs and through the halls.