Koala update: seven years

Koala,

This was a great year – I loved going through age six with you.

The questions you ask. The interests you take on.

The requests you make, constantly, for an ‘iPhone, iPad, or even a computer.’

Uh huh.

Anyway, I can’t keep up with you. Here are (just) seven new things you learned to do this year:

1. Swim

It was clear you had matured enough to try this out; we just weren’t sure at five if you would handle it. But this year it’s been a total pleasure cheering on as you tackle this. You bonded with your swim teacher and left any kind of fear in your trail. Maybe the best part is, you know you have to keep going and that great skill doesn’t come in five weeks.

2. Education

This is my absolute favorite. Watching you navigate through first grade has been inspiring, nostalgic and a lot of fun. I realize how lucky we are – you’re the kind of kid born to go to traditional school. You’ve played a role in getting your younger sister excited about the prospect of learning math, reading and writing.

Probably all the candy you get at your Israeli school helps with that, too.

Anyway – my absolutely favorite part of the year has been sitting by you while you learn to write, learn to read – in two languages.

You’ve taken a serious and oftentimes freaky interest in math – like the time you just walked on over to us with this piece of paper where you had just casually scribbled out some math problems we had no idea you were even capable of recognizing.

3. Computers

This helps redeem the fact that you incessantly ask us for an ‘iPhone, a computer and an iPad.’ I don’t even know why you know what an iPhone is (I mean, I do, schoolfriendsolderkidsparents) but I do admire your drive to attain one or all of these items by saving money you get instead of spending it on crap.

Anyway – yes – computers. They’ve taken a backseat to the smartphone you’re always snatching from me behind my back… but become familiar with them. I wouldn’t be sorry if you went into hi tech.

4. Jokes

I know we are your parents and will support you in (most) things you do, and your father and I are pretty ridiculous and laugh at the dumbest sh-stuff… but you jokes range from ‘eh’ to insane person and keep it coming. That stuff takes practice. At least you crack your friends up.

5. Negotiation

When you were younger, tantruming, and frankly, kind of intolerable, I used to put my hands on your heaving shoulders, look you in your red crazy eyes, and tell you: instead of this, try negotiating with me.

A few times it clicked and you’d pause from your outburst and ask me what negotiating is. And I’d tell you. But you didn’t try it on the spot.

Maybe it got through to you when there was money at stake, though. Your letter to the tooth fairy says it all.

6. Wanting to know how things work 

You ask to try new things, to learn more about the kinds of things we adults do, or to understand how certain things work. You get that from your dad, the guy who watched one repairman fix the window blinds once and from then on not only fixes them himself, but also goes over to fix other people’s when the mood strikes.

And it’s awesome for us since we’ve been getting some coffee out of it.

 

7. Become a more affectionate big brother

When I started putting this together you had two younger sisters, now you have three. That’s a lot of sisters – way more than I ever had.

You’re doing a good job of it, Koala.

I can’t speak from experience but I can hope that you continue to cherish the affectionate relationship you have with them, and nurture that side of yourself.

That will take you far in relationships one day.

 

 

Next year in… your country.

Something really extraordinary happened at work today. In startup world. In the center of Jerusalem.

We had the pre-Passover הרמת כוסית, or company holiday toast. Our CEO spoke a few words, leading to how blown away he is by how the company is growing, both in team… and in the number of pregnant women.

Then he asked a question that’s been on my mind for nearly two years since I started there: **How do you manage to do it? Work full time, maintain your home, care for kids/manage pregnancy?**

As a woman, a mother, a full timer in the work force, it will never get old for me to hear an accomplished 60yo man wonder about this. Without a patronizing tone. Without cynicism. Pure wonder.

I was raised on a lot of equality talk – the power 80s, Take Your Daughter to Work Day, one day there could be a female president.

But nothing means as much or says as much as raising a glass at a company lunch where the CEO calls for blessing the pregnant team members, hiring even more women, and further supporting growing families.

On the eve of a paid maternity leave courtesy of a family-oriented country… it’s not something I take lightly.

Next year in… your country.

Not just a fairy tale: the Determined Mother, the Five-Year-Old, and the Princess Birthday Party

While I knew I couldn’t hold out forever, I didn’t think it would be this soon.

Bebe proudly declared: “I want a princess party this year!”

Always up for a challenge, I knew I could make this work –  make my daughter insanely happy at her 5-year birthday party while pass down and keep some of my values in tact.

So there’s be no glittery performer or makeup. Or passive preening. Or Disney references – well, some, but not too many. I went for the Kate Middleton approach – the glamorous but active-from-humbler-(eh)-roots princess.

Here’s the party activity menu:

#1 Design your own dress

I love these large rolls of thin material that the kindergartens here use to make everything. They can be bags, flags, costumes, capes – whatever you dream of, this relatively cheap thin cut-able material is yours for the making.

So that material, along with a ribbon, and some oil pastels, and the girls designed their fabric and then came over to be fitted. There was definitely some twirling.

#2 Dominate your castle

This was the best part – by consensus of the parents, siblings, and party guests. We made a castle from online shopping delivery boxes.

I basically weaved the boxes together and created a fortress looking castle; the cherry on top was the toiler paper rolls to be ‘turret’ style structures. When Bebe woke up the next morning to find it on the porch, she was ecstatic. When the kids walked in, it was the first thing they wanted to see because she had been talking about it all morning at her gan.

Inside the walls of the castle were coloring pictures and sidewalk chalk (and this is where a little bit of Elsa and Ana didn’t hurt).

Ok, ok, I’ll admit… when I Google-Image searched for coloring pages, I kept it as princess-feminist as I could. My daughter and her friends probably have no clue who Merida is, but at least they’ve colored in her face along with a bow and arrow.

And, yes. Elsa.

#3 Decorate your own treasure

Everyone got their own little wooden treasure box to paint/color/decorate with stickers to their heart’s content. At the end of the party, this was the take home gift along with a little rubber ring and bracelet to stick inside.

#4 Dance like crazy 

This was Bebe’s initiative – she wanted to play freeze dance. I didn’t realize how riled up a bunch of five year old girls could get, but they sure got into it. It’s been a long time since I was a five year old girl, ok?

#5 Devour your cupcake your way

I’ve seen some insanely intricate princess cakes on Pinterest in the past, but I opted instead for something more than eye candy – literal candy. In the form of DIY cupcake toppings. Everyone could choose from a bi-color palette of icing and a range of toppings, and then decorate their own chocolate cupcake before devouring it. As six girls sat around the table demolishing their cakes, all we parents could think was – has it ever been this quiet in the universe, ever?

Here’s why I get so tickled by kids over and over at these things: they end up making their own fun no matter what you plan. I had a scavenger hunt ready to go with clues (Find Snow White’s apple! Uncover Cinderella’s lost shoe! Where is Elsa’s glove?) and a few other back up activities, but after dancing their brains out, the girls found a bubble gun on the porch and ended up doing that for a good ten minutes.

All in all, I felt good about a princess party and maybe even princesses. Bebe had an excellent time.

And mom and daughter lived happily ever after… until next year.

Bebe update: five years

For the sweetest person I know,

I want for you strength. For you to recognize the right time and place.

To continue loving the little things, for not even knowing what is ‘little’.

I want for you to recognize your power.

I want for your love to never be bound.

For your creativity to go appreciated.

For you to never be afraid to experiment.

For you to always feel comfortable and light and invincible,

but when you don’t, for you at least to know that you will soon again.

Dear unborn baby.

Dear unborn baby,

I wanted to give you some reasons why I haven’t yet acknowledged you out loud or here or written you an encouraging letter about life on the outside or my hopes and dreams for you.

Haven’t been reflecting, haven’t been meditating, haven’t been exploring.

I wanted to do it elegantly, passionately, beautifully… but that’s not going to happen. Here are four reasons why:

1. Work life balance is more work than balance these days. I will regret this. I already do. This could be the last time for me, and it’s gone by in a blink. I wish I was stopping to smell roses. Excuses, excuses. We’ll bond more on maternity leave.

2. I’m not ready to admit it’s almost over. I usually end up opening up about it all towards the end. This time that’s been harder. For a few reasons. The one I listed above. The fact that it may be the last time I do this. If there’s something 90% mental about giving birth to a baby, then this is the thing that will probably shape it the most.

3. Hate to break it to you… but this ain’t my first rodeo. You’re being born to a world where you already have three overlords. You must have heard it by now, in stereo. One will steal the spotlight, one will smoosh you to pieces, and one will mess with you constantly. The reason I’m saying this is because that’s what it’s like for me, and I’m their mom. What will your super power be?

4. Maybe there’s been plenty of bonding after all. I’m not much of a complainer. And the past year has been up and down and inside out. Priorities busted, losing myself. But you’ve been in there the whole time. You know everything. You’ve felt it with me, for better or worse. Way too much caffeine. Then no caffeine. Panic. Anger. Stress. Laughter. Success. Joy. More laughter, so hard, I may have peed a little. That’s on you, baby.

By the way, I took you all the way to Australia. Before you had eyeballs. Ok?

It would seem this letter was more for me than you. To convince myself that for a fourth time, I won’t really be screwing it up.

Right, baby?

See you on the fun side.