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.

5 metaphors that describe my working motherhood right now

Just for fun, because I just finished working and it’s after 10pm, here are five metaphoric-idiomic examples I can think of off the top of my head that describe my experience right now as a fairly career-driven, family-driven, career driven, family driven, career and family driven working mom.

  1. I’m on a roller coaster that in theory could stop, but I can’t reach the lever, and the fact is, I kind of don’t want to reach for the lever, because I’m a sado-masochist curious about where this will stop.
  2. The chicken comes first. Also, the egg. Both come first. And you rule the roost. Both roosts. You rule all the roosts even when you’re pooped.
  3. Most of the time, it’s about keeping your head above water. Sometimes you just have to hold your breath and jump in, feet first. Sometimes it’s not you jumping in, but your kid, at his swim lesson, while you’re scrambling to organize a press release.
  4. The ball is in my court. Constantly. But my hands are tied. And now my wrists are tired. And also my face. My face is tired.
  5. There is no such thing – for anyone, ever – as sleeping like a baby.

And with that, Slack is buzzing and some kid is stirring and cat’s in the cradle and the silver spoon…

Working mom chronicles: 4 skills I’ve proudly mastered

Good evening, fellow working parents! Are you relaxed after a long day of <fill in various blanks>?

Let’s not focus on the negative. Sure, being a full time working parent of multiple children, equipped with the partnership of a similarly full time working parent is, well, rough.

But there are perks! I’ve picked up new skills. It’s like someone famous and successful once said – “you never know what you are capable of until you try absolutely have no choice but to get that shit done.”

The 45-second pedicure

Ingredients: Feet, nailpolish (in a bold color, because you’ve got nothing to lose), closed toilet seat to prop the foot, then the sink because baby will inevitably reach the top of the closed toilet seat. Also, base coat if you really want the extra challenge.

From the second you’re finished, you have about 3 days 1 day 12 hours 7 minutes before something smudges or chips. Congrats: you’ve achieved the 3-day old look.

The half-decent haircut

By haircut I mean random snipping of dead ends, and by half-decent I mean it’s so ‘layered’ no one notices because, let’s face it, it was a mess before and it’s still a mess now.

But check off haircut from your to-do list! You just bought another 6 months.

Grammatically correct, formatted email communication – including attachment

I took to one-handed typing fairly easily. It only gets better with time and number of kids. Now I can send full emails – no typos, perfect structure, with attachment – by one-hand typing.

This, I believe, has lead to another skill which I am utterly ashamed of: texting while walking. I’m so ashamed about this I cannot elaborate. I hang my head in shame. While texting. Perfectly.

Lots of mistakes with very few fucks to give

My favorite new skill. I don’t mean, leave your house messy and not care. Or forget details because you’re tired. I mean letting go of being flat-out wrong at least 29357293875 times a day. Not always being nice because that requires, literally, too much energy.

Not batting an eye when your son comes up to you – while you’re laying down – pats your stomach and says you remind him of his 8-month pregnant ganenet.

Not reading over this post 57248574 times before just hitting publish because dammit, you miss blogging and you’ll make teeny tiny time for it when you can.

See? So much going on and I still have time to pick up new skills.

What are some new skills in your “goddammit, I’m gonna make this work” toolbox?

Another year, another Bibi, another election.

Surprise surprise, I am undecided and it is nearly midnight on the night before Israeli elections.

Here, every vote actually counts. Elections are a big game, a day at the casino. You’re not necessarily voting for who you believe in at any given time – you’re weighing who may take the biggest slice, who has a chance here or there, who will make the threshold, etc.

The parties are all over the place. You consider religious issues, economic issues, security issues, and you may have a different preferred party for each of those.

Anyway… I have another, well, 22 hours left to decide.

Snow responsibly: Extreme Weather Guide for Israelis 2015

It’s (become) the most wonderful time of the year: snow in Israel! Going strong three years in a row (thanks, climate oddities). Predictions are that the coming snowstorm this Wednesday will be pretty intense, though possibly less than last year.

So, yeah, my kids totally think ‘mageya la’hem’ snow. Can’t blame them.

Nothing makes me prouder of my North American origins than an Israeli snow day. Finally, finally, I know what the fuck I’m on about.

Leggings under your outer pants? Amateur hour.

Two pairs of gloves – thin clothy kind under, bulky thinsulate kind over? Of course.

Plastic bags over your socks, rubber bands around your ankles? Obviously.

Digging out your beach boogie board for sledding? That’s just survival of the fittest.

Happen to own a pair of snow-protective Merrells because I liked them and they were on sale in New York in March and I’ve worn them inappropriately for four years in the Middle East but now I’m forever prepared with dry warm feet? Extra credit.

Here are a few more Israel-specific tips we learned from last year:

  • Now – like, right now – turn on your yunkers (centrally-heated radiators), if you have them, even on low… it will warm your home enough that you will definitely feel a difference if (when) the power goes out.
  • Keep your cell phone charging whenever you have power for the times that you won’t. Note, 3G will probably go too.
  • Similarly, keep your laptop charged so you can use it as a backup charging station for your phone.
  • Close your trisim (hard window shades), at least overnight, to keep warmth in.
  • Prep alternative methods of cooking – if you don’t have a gas stove, consider getting a gaziya/prepping yours with a full gas balloon. One reason, really: coffee.

What other things you need to have on hand, in order of importance:

  • Milk
  • Chocolate
  • Milk
  • Gloves, boots, hats
  • Plastic bags and rubber bands
  • Flashlights, batteries
  • Candles, matches
  • Fun neighbors
  • Entertainment
  • BAKING SUPPLIES. That should have been after milk. (Sorry, neighbors).

What you need to NOT DO AT ALL COSTS:

  • Pour boiling water (or water of any kind) on the ice in your driveway/street/shared outdoor spaces.
  • I will repeat that: DO NOT POUR WATER ON ICE TO MELT IT.
  • Do. Not. Pour. Hot. Water. On. Ice. To. Melt. It.

Enjoy it! We’re pumped. Have fun. Share your pics. Rub it in your Tel Aviv friends’ faces.

And remember, neighbors: snow responsibly.