Thursday, December 6, 2012

The TMI Avalanche

Dec. 7 Update: Apparently the NYT had an Op-Ed about the same topic on the same day we wrote the below.  Draw your own conclusions.

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So....my boyfriend and I split up. Heartbroken.  But then we got back together. And he declared his undying love to me in his status feed.  You all saw it, right?  My ex-girlfriend was jealous but it was amazing.  But now I've been sitting by the phone all day waiting for him to call, and the only person that called was the Chinese delivery restaurant so now you can all be jealous of my kung pao.  In fact, hang, on let me show you a picture of this delicious chicken.  Getting my camera....taking picture...and there! Isn't it -

-Wait,there's the phone! It's him! Hang on - I'll give you the blow by blow and type as we speak.

[this section has been deleted due to content inappropriate for readers and parents of children who we respect too much]

Wow am I glad we resolved that.  Feeling so much better right now, the stuffiness in my nose is almost clear.  Remember I had that funny-looking mole removed from my back?  Well a week ago I found something funny growing on my foot, but then one of you (thanks Facebook friends!) suggested a great doctor, so I thought you might like to know I liked her so much I passed her name on to my cousin, who swears she fixed up all her problems "down there", if you know what I mean.  Needless to say she is going to remain single after that scare, but I digress.  How do I know all this? Well I found all this out at that restaurant you all recommended yesterday of course; where, if you will recall, I drank waaaaay to much.  My hangover is much better now after some onion rings and Gatorade for breakfast.  Though the headache sure didn't help me deal with that turd at work very well today.  Had to go off the wagon and have another smoke to get through it.  And can we say "yay" to elastic waistbands? I tell you, whoever made it acceptable to wear tights as pants is a geniu......oh wait! You won't tell that guy at work that I called him a turd, will you?  Speaking of turds....

---------------------------------------------

C'mon, peeps! You didn't think we were serious, did you!? Perhaps not, but it pretty much sums up some real life posts that you yourself might have seen on Facebook.

This is why we have so few friends on the social network behemoth ourselves.  If we're going to read about the intimate details of someone's life, we'd like it to be a detail of someone we know rather well.  And to our FB friends - we loves ya. We love the funny stuff you post.  We love that you post all the time and make us laugh.  We love the cute and tasteful pictures of your kids/pets/whatever.  And we appreciate that you have learned the line between sharing lots of details (fine) to sharing way more than anyone wants to know (not so fine).  To all those other people no longer on our list after making us cringe one time too many - we hope you learn to censor yourself, at least a little.  

Consider the unwritten golden rule of Facebook:  Oversharing in no way refers to the quantity of status updates you post.  Just sayin'.

Have YOU been a victim of TMI on Facebook?  Feel free to share this post.  And you're welcome.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Unnatural Nature in NYC

Well, peeps, its come to this. A tropical hurricane and a winter storm all within barely a week of one another. A hurricane in New York at any time is rare. A hurricane in October even rarer. A winter storm in early November is rare. A storm on the heels of a hurricane is unprecedented. 
 
Has this ever happened anywhere in history? We'd venture to think not, but if anyone can find examples to cite, we're all ears as we'd love to hear evidence to refute the scary implications of an unprecedented freak show of weather in this state.

Many of you have inquired as to how we fared with these storms. Fortunately, we kept our power and are fine. Sadly, many others are not, and it is them we have been thinking of.  As for lessons learned, we now know that we are a total scaredy cat and should not weather storms as the only grownup in the home next time. The only person crying like a baby should be the mini. Just sayin'...... (In our defense that was some wind though.)

Meanwhile, the freakish fall snowstorm brought up memories of our post last year, The Halloween Horror Snow. One of our all-time favorites, so please to enjoy.

Monday, November 5, 2012

This Public Service Message Has Been Brought To You By The Letter B

Hello, peeps.

It's been a while.  Worse, we're about to go preachy on you for a bit.  Suck it up, 'cause this one's important. 

See, we'd like to ask you to go vote.  Except we know that won't work because, for starters, scientific research has proven that asking people to vote isn't enough.  And by "scientific research" we mean because we said so.  Secondly, we know that if you're reading this you're either already going to vote, or you're Canadian, in which case you get a pass -- but only just this once.

So instead of asking you to go vote, we're going to ask you to stop anyone from talking yourself OUT of voting, and to help get others to vote. 

Observe some typical barriers to voting, along with responses you can use:

Argument: "My state's going all blue (or red), my vote doesn't count"
Response: "Awesome! Let's skip the lines and go get ice cream.  Just kidding.  Even if your vote might not make a difference that year, it's a symbol of your freedom, and it sends a signal to others.  Telling people you voted might inspire 10 other people to vote.  Conversely, not voting breeds additional non-voting.  See what you did there? You made us say boring words like "conversely". Can we go get that ice cream now?"

Response: "I don't like either of the candidates"
Answer: "Tough sh-t.  You get two Presidential candidates.  But that's not all - there's loads of people to pick from in the local races, and you might actually like one of them! As an added bonus, those political peeps probably affect you way more than the head honcho."

Argument: "I have better things to do"
Response: "Maybe, but will any of things give you an awesome sticker you can wear all day long to tell people that you did it? We didn't think so.

Argument: "I have no childcare"
Response: "Nothing says Democracy like shoving a bunch of kids into a voting booth with you while they whine for Sponge Bob.  What do you think we'll be doing on the way to school tomorrow?"

Argument: "I don't know who to vote for, so I'm just not going to vote"
Response" "Grow a pair and pick one".

As a bonus, if you live in New York City, the Governor just signed an order that says you can vote at any polling place.  So there's no excuse peeps. 

We know this may be mind-boggling to some, but the idea of a participatory government is that you actually participate.  And other than jury duty, which is forced on you, that leaves voting.  Now, notice we haven't told you who to vote for, nor have we engaged in partisan politics bashing each candidate.  We're not trying to influence your decision, because that's the point.  Everyone's had months to make their arguments, and at this point, it should be your decision.  But no one will know what it is if you don't actually make one and mark it on a ballot somewhere.  So please, vote, remind your friends/family/coworkers to vote, heck, pass this along to them if it'll help.  The point is to talk any sissies that want to willingly abstain out of it.

See? Told ya we'd get preachy on you. 




Monday, October 15, 2012

Problems With Our Second-Graders

Exhibit A: Typical second-grade humor
Since we seem to have lost our funny of late, we'll share a story from mini.

At baseball practice today, we were eavesdropping just hanging out and overheard her talking about what sounded like a joke with a friend.  All we heard was "see, a mom, a dad and a baby are on a plane..."

Bored and curious to hear what seven year-old kids find funny these days, we asked to hear the rest.  Apparently the mother dies on the plane, the baby disappears, and the father comes home, looking for the baby, only to find it sitting happily at home.

"How did you get home" asks the father?

The baby, apparently a prodigy, replies with a song, to the tune of "This Old Man".

"You went pfffftttt [insert loud fart sound]
I went zoom! [say in sing-songy excited voice]
That's how I got back so soon...."

We were of course, shocked.  Killing off the mother?  Letting the now-widowed father think his child is gone? Really? Poor taste and serious offensiveness aside, do we need to start educating you on the elements of story structure and how this has no relevance at all to the flatulent story they're trying to tell?

There's a clear answer to this problem.

We need to help our kids come up with better fart jokes.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

When to Fight and When to Let it Go

When it comes to many things in life, I find myself* frequently debating in my head when to make a big deal of something and when to let it go.  In a weird way, managing food allergies in a child is easy in this way because most times it's not a choice - you can't let go, not even once.

What that in mind I'm finding myself in an odd position where I do have to let some things go for the first time that I haven't before, and it sucks.  While I've recognized that, the hard part is finding that line.

For the first time, mini is eating lunch in her school cafeteria.  It's not what I'd have picked and it makes her mother hyperventilate sometimes. But circumstances have played out such that here we are.  And despite meeting upon meeting starting in May and all of our requests and all the information we provided the chaos we feared is here.

On the plus side: a nut and seed free cafeteria, so concerns about cross contamination are limited to eggs, which is very helpful.  Also in the plus column, epipens everwhere, 1-2 teachers always present, and the entire staff at the school trained on food allergic reactions and epipen use.  Also on the plus column (and no small point as our experience shows that this, more than anything is what ultimately leads to a good result) is a school and kitchen staff whose intentions are good and who do not dismiss our concerns as neurotic, take food allergies seriously, and genuinely wish to do everything they can to minimize a reaction.

I frequently pause to remind myself this, as this cannot be taken for granted.  Loyal readers will think back to when the local public school (who serves pb&j sandwiches and sesame bagels in the cafeteria) wanted mini to eat there with no teacher to supervise, no adult trained to use an epipen, and no full time nurse in the school, not to mention a principal who called us "crazy" and wanted to focus on other kids with "real medical issues".  So compared to that, we are a million miles ahead.

In the minus column, while intentions are good, execution, planning, and communication has fallen short.  Questions have been ignored or dismissed.  There is still no procedure for how we know what mini will be eating.  I have found myself too often emailing at 11pm the night before, extremely frustrated, trying to find out the ingredients for lunch the next day or what mini can eat.

She is frustrated when she asks me in the morning what's for lunch and I don't know.  I am frustrated when we find out at 11am that day, and have to drop everything to email her teachers so she knows the food is safe.  They are frustrated because they don't want to deal with the last minute email.  Mini is anxious if we're at work and can't do it, and then she's told by someone else that we agreed but without having heard from her teachers that her parents said it was fine she's not sure whether or not to eat it (pause to both commend this 7 year old for her maturity and responsibility, and lament the fact that she needs to be this mature at such a young age).  The disorganization worries me and shakes my trust to a degree.  Will they know to re-check labels if vendors of "safe" change? Will they let me know so that I can?  How is the person giving her her food sure that it's the "safe" pasta and how will mistakes or confusion be avoided? These are things I can't let go, so sadly I've had to become more than a bit of a pest, which I hate.  I'm sure other "allergy moms" can relate.  When it comes to food allergies, there's really no room for error.

I continue to voice our concerns and things are slowly improving now that everyone has a few weeks' experience under their belts.  But each day brings new decisions.  What do I do when I find out that day the whole class is getting pizza and come to find out it has eggs? Do I let her sit there with plain bread? Or drop everything at work to get a cab and bring her safe pizza? (which is what her father ultimately did after I cleared it with the school)  Some would say that those are the things that I need to let go.  But then I think about my little girl, watching all her friends eat her favorite food, smelling it, and eating a sad sandwich -- all of which could have easily been avoided with some planning which would have resulted in a solution that didn't exclude her.  That one, I decided, I couldn't let go.

There are some things I let go.  I didn't love the fact that there's an "allergy" seat at the table, which affects her socially, but if the school felt they needed that to properly keep an eye on her then that's that and I haven't even brought it up.  They're not going to do everything the same way I would, and she's old enough to handle feeling a little different sometimes I guess.

What else can't I let go? Unsolicited feedback about how I'm handling it.  You may not agree with having my daughter present during some planning conversations, but aside from the fact that it's my choice and obligation as a parent to do what I think is right, she's going to need to do this for herself one day.  So that one I couldn't let go.  That, and I take criticism of my parenting personally.  That one's black and white, peeps, blame it on the Aquarius in me.  Which brings me to my next point:

Though this keeps me up at night, eventually there will come a time where I can't know or control every single thing that goes into mini's mouth.  After all, I won't be there in college, reading over cafeteria ingredients.  I won't be there when she's out with her friends, judgement impaired from a couple of drinks as the menu comes by.  I won't be there when she has her first kiss, wondering whether or not she was brave enough to ask the other person what they ate that day.  So yes, I need to know that she is prepared and will know what to do when those times come.

I know every parent struggles with this.  As our kids get older, we have to learn to let go, little by little.  But trust me on this one: it's so, so much harder to let go when it comes to this food allergy stuff.  I'll get there eventually.  And the rest of you?  Have a little patience.

*Had to write this one in the first person, peeps.  Sorry 'bout that.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

The Work vs. Stay Home Debate, Summed Up in a Half-Ass Poem

Staying home can suck.
There's more dishes than anyone ever tells you.  
But the smiles are so rewarding.
There's no dishes at work.
And a job well done gives you satisfaction and a paycheck.
But oh, the guilt.
Either way, in the end, it will be o.k.

 

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Back To School Stress is a Worldwide Issue

Mel from Pig in the Kitchen recently wrote a piece about what it's like to prep for back to school when your child has food allergies.  What we love about this (other than its humorous tone) is that it illuminates how similar we all really are.

We could have written this ourselves, despite the fact that we're all the way across the Pond.  OK fine, so we might say "expiration" instead of "expiry", but you get the idea peeps.


Thanks for sharing, Mel, and thanks for giving yours truly some content to post in a month with so little free time :)


Sunday, September 9, 2012

Working Mothers in September

September is by far the hardest month to be a working mother (Truthfully, it's probably the hardest month to be a working parent, period, but since we've only experienced the mother side of it personally, we can only speak to that.) 

We've been saying this for years.  Since 2007, to be exact.  Last year, we even wrote about it on someone else's blog, so that makes it even more legitimate!

So imagine the validation we felt when Laura Rowley shared the same exact insight over at the Huffington Post this week.

This is an issue that's not talked about enough, so we're glad to see this being elevated in the public consciousness.  Please share her piece with as many parents as you can think of.   It's a good first step to creating a more family-friendly culture in the workplace, something we believe is more critical for successful companies than they realize....mostly because people don't talk about this stuff enough.

As always, you heard it here first, peeps.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Moin Moin Speaks

Follow the adventures of our new fuzzy friend as this sweet little lamb navigates the complicated world we live in today. 

Sunday, August 26, 2012

On Children and Pamphlets

After several years of motherhood, we're used to being prepared for certain situations.  Lately, we've got you covered in ways one would never have guessed.

That's right, if you've been dying to work at the Gap, boy do we have the application for you.  Find yourself wanting nutrition information on Starbucks beyond just the calories they post? Look no further than our kitchen.  Feel like making a big donation to a synagogue, even if you may not be Jewish?  Oh, do we have the pamphlet for you, peeps.

We've got pamphlets upon pamphlets upon pamphlets.  Political pamphlets, pamphlets to help you talk about your grief, pamphlets to help you part with your money, and even pamphlets in Spanish.

Why, you ask?

Because, apparently, children go through phases and we are now in the little-documented "pamphlet phase".  After digging out of a sea of paper we set out to find out more information about this odd phase, seeing as how we can't possibly be the only parent going through this.  After finding little information online about sating your child's appetite for collecting random pamphlets, we thought we'd share for the benefit of others.

What are the signs that we're in a full-fledged pamphlet phase? Mini's face lights up whenever she finds a pamphlet.  In waiting rooms she happily walks around hoarding them, making sure she has one of everything.  Rather than avoiding those people on the street handing out paper, she flocks to them, grinning from ear to ear after she sees just how many pamphlets they have to offer.  And lest you mistakenly think she is not aware of what she is collecting, allow us the indulgence of telling you about the last time we were on line at Barnes and Noble.  Despite the fact that this mother was purchasing her three (three!) brand new books, upon seeing the membership applications at the register mini abandoned all good feelings toward the books and exclaimed "pamphlets!"  She promptly grabbed one, handed it to her mother, and said "Here, Mama, another pamphlet for us to keep for my collection" and grinned.

However, as we're told nature has a way of working things out and that children do have survival instincts, we're sure that the famous pamphlet phase will be followed by the next common phase of childhood: 

urban dwelling syndrome (noun): the sudden realization of just how shockingly small your apartment really is, and how few things you'll actually be able to fit inside.

Sorry, kid, if you want another red then something's got to go


Saturday, August 18, 2012

The Allergy Mom Back-to-School Wish List

Groan.

We know, you thought we were in for another "Back to school with food allergies" post.  No, peeps,  Though we probably should post one, truth is there has been an explosion in the amount of information available in this stuff: so much so, that anything we had to offer would be highly redundant and even more highly yawn-inducing.  The truth is, even though we've only been dealing with this managing a food allergy a few years, the changes we have seen in awareness in the past few years are HUGE.

For example, there are now so many more allergy-friendly brands to choose from - we can get cake mixes, frosting, cookies, granola bars, chips, etc. and the selection is big and growing.  Soy nut butter has become so mainstream it's in the regular supermarket.  Five years ago no one we knew (except us) had heard of that stuff, much less used it regularly.
No really, they are. See?

Other changes? Airlines are becoming more accommodating: Delta, for instance, just changed its policy from three nut-free rows forward and back to a whole nut free plane if you give them advance warning.

Food allergy awareness posters are easily visible in many New York restaurants.

States are beginning to pass laws that would allow schools to carry epinephrine to administer to students in an emergency.  This is huge as many allergic reactions in school happen to kids before they are even diagnosed.

In fact, one company is even providing free Epipens to schools in order to prevent cost from becoming a barrier to obtaining potentially life-saving medicine.  Read more about it here: http://www.EpiPen4Schools.com/

If that's not proof enough for you skeptics out there that knowledge and sensitivity to food allergies is becoming more mainstream, we have one more point for you: less eyerolls.  Yes, we still get lots, but we get significantly less "you're crazy, lady" eyerolls than we used to even three years ago.  These are statistically significant quantitative eyeroll differences, peeps.

But a step in the right direction isn't enough, is it?  So, we present our food allergy wish list, brought to you by one crazy mother in New York.  We predict that all of these will be true 10 years from now.

Top Ten Eleven Predictions for Food Allergies in Ten Years

Top of the Wish List? A cure for food allergies

1.  "Nut free" or "gluten free" meals will become standard options for all airlines.  Yes, we'll all probably be paying $39.99 for airline meals at that point, but the allergy options will be standard.  Nuts will no longer be distributed on any flight.

2.  School and college cafeterias will have standard "allergen free" sections as routine part of meal preparation.  Knowledge of safety and cross-contamination will be an automatic part of any kitchen safety training.  

3.  Ingredient lists will be readily available; all will clearly label the possible presence or contamination of allergens.

4.  All MLB stadiums will have nut free sections.

5. Much like the "first aid for choking signs", all restaurants and public places that have food will have "first aid for anaphylaxis" signs.  In addition,  Epinephrine will be standard issue as part of any first-aid kit for schools, libraries, restaurants, camps, etc.  All Red Cross first aid classes will automatically include training on anaphylaxis.

6. Allergy-friendly Halloween candy.  'Nuff said.

7. Getting allergy-friendly food and an adult to take responsibility of epinephrine at a drop-off birthday party will become standard. 

8. Gap, Old Navy, Children's Place or some mainstream brand of children's clothing will make cargo pants with a special epinephrine pocket.

9. Auto-injectors will talk to you, reducing human error in training.  Oh wait, that already happened last week.

10. There will be a vaccine to prevent food allergies, or a treatment to prevent them from being life-threatening.

11. "Anaphylaxis" will become a standard term in spell-check.




Thursday, August 9, 2012

How Do You Safely Set up an Entire School Cafeteria???

We are in unchartered territory.

Rather than being in the position of asking an existing cafeteria for their policy, we are entering a brand new school in a brand new building who is building an entire cafeteria from scratch.

The best part? They're looking for input from parents of children with multiple food allergies on how to safely feed them.

The worst part? Ignorance and disorganization.

Can anyone point us to any documents, training organizations, or general information that we can use to help set up a kitchen in a way to safely feed children with multiple food allergies?  This is a dairy-only kitchen that would also prefer to make as much from scratch as possible, and is balking at the suggestion of baking with Ener-G egg replacer instead of eggs, because they want to avoid using processed foods.

We are working together with parents, school administrators, the catering company, and the nurses, however we feel we will end up with a poor and disorganized process if we do not help with specific steps, training, structure.  We need to make it as easy as possible for them or we fear they'll take be less likely to take steps to make things safer.  We'll happily report on the process, progress, lessons learned when school opens in September.

Any and all information is welcome. Please share with others who may have experience managing food allergies as this will impact 600+ children.

Thank you!

Monday, August 6, 2012

A Weekend in Vegas, Screenplay-Style

Rather than a diary, it was suggested we convey the excitement that is a girls' weekend in Las Vegas through dialogue.  As a bona fide delusional aspiring screenwriter we thought we'd give it a try.

EXT. VEGAS POOL - DAY

Two chicks sit by the pool in their sunglasses, sipping drinks.

Cabanas by the pool that they enjoyed in their dreams.

[K-girl]
This is so relaxing...

[Poker Chick]
I know! By the way, just curious, why is your underwear still hanging up in the bathroom?

[K-girl]
Huh? That's not my underwear. I thought it was yours.

[Poker Chick]
No way! I thought it was yours!

Sudden looks of realization and disgust.

[Both]
Eeeeeeeewwwwwwww!

We shudder wondering where these might have been


INT. POKER ROOM - DAY

2pm.  K-girl is the only woman in a poker table full of men.  The dealer deals her two cards, face down.  K-girl takes a peek, carefully guarding them out of sight.  She gets up and shoves all her chips in the center of the table.  The man to her right immediately calls.  She gets up and flips over an Ace King.  He looks at her smugly and flips over two aces.  The dealer deals five cards face up in the middle of the table, and shoves all the chips towards the man.

K-girl walks over to the next table, where Poker Chick is sitting at an otherwise all-male table.  She looks down at a sad "stack" of chips in front of her girlfriend.

[K-girl]
Looks like you'll be out soon, huh?

[Poker Chick]
Sure looks that way.

[K-girl]
Ok, come find me at blackjack when you're done.

[Poker Chick]
(not looking up)
K. See you soon.

1 hour later......

K-girl walks back into the room and eyes a huge stack of chips in front of her friend.

[K-girl]
Looks like you'll be here a while, huh?

[Poker Chick]
Looks that way.

[K-girl]
Ok, come find me at the blackjack table when you're done.

INT. CASINO - DAY - 2 HOURS LATER

K-girl sits in front of a blackjack table.  Poker Chick walks up.

[K-girl]
So?

[Poker Chick]
8th.  Only top 3 pay out.  Still, 8th!!

She takes out $100 and sits down next to her friend.  Many giggles and high five's ensue over the course of the next few hours.  Finally, the two chicks walk away, each carrying about $250 in chips.

[Poker Chick]
Sigh.  I love gambling.

[K-girl]
(enthusiastically)
Me, too!!!

INT. CASINO - NEXT DAY

The two friends sit at a table with sign that reads "Switch Blackjack".

[Poker Girl]
What do I do? Am I switching these?

[K-girl]
Yes. And then double your 11!

[Poker Chick]
Gulp. More money on the table?  Okay, this is my last $30 after I put back the $100 I started with. When that's gone I'm done.

1 hour later....

[Poker Chick]
Last hand for real this time.

Ahhhh.....Blackjack Switch.  A brilliant maneuver by casinos to take your money twice as fast.

INT. CASINO CASHIER - 1 hour later

Poker Chick and K-girl walk away laughing as PC holds a crisp $500 bill.  A burly man at the cashier looks K-girl up and down.

[Burly man]
Young lady, can I see some ID?

[K-girl]
I love gambling.

[Poker Chick]
Me too!





 

Thursday, August 2, 2012

The 30,000 Foot Update

We're on our way to Vegas to meet up with K-girl, and things are looking promising.

Arrived at the airport with enough time for an iced coffee.  Laughed silently at the man in line behind buying a beer at 9:40am. Found a 10-minute manicure station right in front of our gate.  This brought back memories of years past when we flew weekly for work, when we'd travel with our work buddies A&A and used the frequent delays in Indiana to get a margarita, chips and guac bring it next door to consume over pedicures.  (We have yet to find a better way to survive an airport delay!)  Sadly, the manicure lady, herself a mother of four grown girls took it upon herself to lecture us on divorce. She clearly is among the "you stay together no matter what" camp.  It took everything we had to bite our tongue.  Seriously, lady not all ladies traveling to Vegas are totally-immoral-gambling-degenerates.  No really, it's true!  Look up "totally immoral gambling degenerate" in the dictionary and you will not find mommies from NYC who like manis and pedis.  We swear.

Now, anyone who's ever taken the NYC-Vegas morning flight will be used to the number of sleeping passengers.  While it seems counterintuitive to sleep like that in the middle of the day, the sight of all those people clearly gearing up for a long night is rather amusing when you consider it in that context.

However, yours truly is working, not sleeping.  Working on a deck for work (please tell me most of you know what that means?)  After over an hour of sitting with the fasten seatbelt sign - apparently due to heavy turbulence we have yet to feel - we decided we needed a stretch and lavatory visit.  After passing the flight crew despite the safety lecture from them, we went back to them, tail down, with a broken lock on the door that fell off in our hand.  Clearly clumsiness knows no bounds. 

However all this aside -- the part of our travels thus far? Winning the "lucky seat" game and getting free wifi.  So y'all have Delta to thank for this boring and uneventful lovely update.

And who said airlines don't give anything for free anymore?



Sunday, July 29, 2012

The Week Ahead: Poker, Screenplays...and a Fish Tank?

It's been quite an eventful summer.  So it's not all that surprising that the week ahead offers the possibility of many interesting stories for you peeps.

What's on the docket?

Coming up: girls playing poker, coming to you live....

Well, in a rare nod to the name of this blog, we'll be talking about poker.

That's right, yours truly will be headed to Vegas in a few short days to live it up relax with her old friend, K-girl, aka the only other girl we know who could kick someone's @ss in poker.  She may not know it yet, but she shall be playing in a poker tournament this Friday with PC.  Will either of them win? Will they play blackjack in the pool? More importantly, will there be dancing? What about a crazy fish tank? Stay tuned for these answers and more in a few short days.  Perhaps if y'all are interested we can convince her to do some live guest-blogging from the event.

What else lies ahead this week?

Only two of the biggest screenwriting competitions in the business, who will break the hearts of 95% of  aspiring writers this week, probably convincing at least 40% of them to give up on their writing dreams entirely.

(That's our not-so-subtle way of asking you to be nice to us this week, peeps).

And finally, rounding out our highly anticipated week is the alleged launch of a website update we've been working on at work for over a year and a half.  Will it launch this week as planned or will it be delayed yet again?  Is anything in it for you either way? (that was rhetorical, peeps).

Now that we've sufficiently bored you by asking and answering our own questions several times, we hope we've at least planted a bit of a seed of anticipation for the upcoming week.

Stay tuned for some interesting stories.  In the meantime, we're off to take mini and her friend bowling. Not as exciting, but equally fun.


Monday, July 23, 2012

When Are Allergy Accommodations TOO Much?

Any mom of a child with food allergies knows the anxiety that comes with the word "camp".  This summer, for the first time, mini is attending a camp outside of the city, leaving home each day on a bus for the 40-minute journey that will take her out of the city into "nature".  Even more concerning for this mom: the cafeteria (by the way, one must read "cafeteria" with the proper intonation to get the full effect, those familiar with the term Voldemort will know exactly the right tone of terror to hit).

Now, we could write a whole post about the level of coordination required to send mini there AND live without constant heart palpitations, but we've done that on smaller scale in years past.  Suffice it to say we are now on a first name basis with the head of the grade, the nurse, the head of catering, and might even have a few personal cell phone numbers.  It can be done.

In fact, the camp has been so good about accommodating mini at lunch that she is starting to take advantage of it.  You see, like many kids, mini is a picky eater.  She might be allergic to sesame seeds, eggs, and nuts, but when you throw in the fact that she refuses to eat fruit, doesn't like leftovers, and generally avoids foods that aren't white or brown, you can see how lunch might be an issue.


The counselors and kitchen staff, worried about making something she'd eat that was safe, bent over backwards to try and please her.  They sent the camp driver to buy a bag of a safe brand of fish sticks so she could eat what the other kids had (the bulk fish sticks had egg).  They made her her own pizza bagel when the frozen pizza bagels had egg.  They made a special batch of egg free fried chicken drumsticks on fried chicken day.

Experienced parents will see where this is going.

Yes, that's right, mini declared the safe fish sticks "disgusting".  She wanted a plain bagel and cream cheese instead of the pizza bagel, which was "mushy".  And apparently she does not like fried chicken, and the kosher kitchen will not serve it with ham and the green eggs...well, you can see how those might be an issue in this case.

The staff, who is absolutely wonderful, offered to make her a bagel and cream cheese or pizza every day, the two things she has eaten that are safe.  And truth be told, with the amount of physical activity they get at camp every day, she needs to eat.  So it makes sense to just say yes.  But here comes the parenting dilemma....when are the accommodations TOO much?

It's one thing to say she can have a bagel and cream cheese on fish stick day if the fish sticks aren't safe, but if she can have what the other kids are eating, why should she be special? After all, if a kid without food allergies declared the fish sticks "disgusting", he or she wouldn't have a special meal made for them.  So why should she get special treatment?  She's using her allergies to game the system!

So this is where we struggle.  She needs the food.  And on another hand, with mild sensory processing issues (typically these go hand in hand with food allergies), one could easily argue that she should eat whatever you can get into her.  But at what point are we as parents over-indulging our kids and letting them take it too far?  At what point do we invoke the age-old rule" You get what you get and you don't get upset!"?

We'd love to hear if other parents with food allergies struggle with worrying about spoiling their child with too many accommodations.  Heck, we'd love to hear from any parent who struggles with this in a related area.

Feed the kid and spoil the child?  Or do whatever you need to to get them to eat?

What say you, wise peeps?

Monday, July 2, 2012

Pumping Your Child For Camp Deets

Anyone with a school-age child is probably familiar with this conversation:
Hi sweetie! What'd you do at camp/school today?
Nothing.
Nothing? What were the best and worst and most interesting parts of your day?
Nothing, mama. It's the same as every other day.
Sound familiar? Ever wonder how to get the info out of them in ways that don't involve bribing their friends for details?  Fear not! Though pulling teeth can be easier than getting information on what happens at camp from these kids, we have discovered an easy way to have them share.

It's simple, really.

Just try and put them to sleep.

We have put together an easy script for you to follow below.  Behold the brilliant stall tactics in action, and the treasure of nuggets of info that are so deliberately doled out.

8.50.  You have spent the better part of 20 minutes trying to get this child to sleep.
Mama, I can't sleep.
Okay, let's try this. Close your eyes and I'll rub your back for a few minutes, ok? Think about your favorite part of your day and imagine you were there.
Woodworking!
Pause to think to yourself: really!? My child?
Okay, then woodworking.
A minute later.
Mama, woodworking's not working. Can I think about the sing-along?
You had a sing-a-long? (doh! Just broke cardinal rule! Must not encourage stalling!!)
Yeah, we all learned this song, and this dance (she sits up and tries to do it)
Okay, sweetheart. Show me tomorrow, ok? Time to sleep.  Good night.
Mama, will you check on me?
Three minutes.
One minute.
Three. 
Okay, but mama, will you promise to come in and tuck me in again.
Only if you promise to really try and sleep.
I promise, mama. 
Good night, sweetie.
9:05.  First "check-in". She's sitting straight up.
It's not working, mama.
Shhhh..... (stroking hair and whispering). What's not working?
Going to sleep.
Well, remember the rules of going to sleep? You have to keep your eyes closed and your mouth closed too.
But if my mouth is closed I can't breathe. Sometimes when I'm asleep my mouth likes to be open.
Okay, mouth open, but no talking.  Eyes closed though, that's a rule.
But it didn't work.
Sweetheart, your eyes are open.  Of course it didn't work. You didn't actually try it.  Can you try again?
Mama, did you know, that sometimes, at camp, when it's hot, they put the sprinklers on and we can run around in them.  We got to run around in the sprinklers today.
She smiles sweetly, one new tooth sticking out from her gummy smile.  You take a moment to try and force out ("this one time, in band camp...") quote that won't leave your head for some reason now.
I'm glad you like the sprinklers. It's time to go to sleep, okay? One more check in, that's all.
One minute.
Five.
Two minutes.
Shhhh... Five. And you need to follow the rules the whole time, okay?
Sigh. Okay, mama. 
9:15.  2nd "check-in". Her eyes are wide open.  Pull up her covers, give her a kiss on the forehead, stroke hair and attempt to walk away.  Make it three steps.
Mama.
 Go to sleep, love.
My eyes are open.
Yes, I can see that.  Eyes closed, no talking, k? 5 more minutes, okay? Last one. I mean it.
Pause to silently curse yourself for being a marshmallow and vow to read up on how to actually follow through on discipline.   Tiptoe away.  Quiet.  Retain hope she will actually finally sleep.

9:25. 3rd "check-in". Calm, eyes open. Walk in, kiss child on the forehead and try to walk away.
Mama?
Yes, baby. 
Did you know cherry tomatoes were invented in Israel? (calmly)
I did. Where'd you learn that? (doh! another moment of weakness!)
In Shi'ur.
Go to sleep sweetie.
But mama....
Okay, did you nap on the bus? (doh! you did it again! She gets you every time...) 
Try and walk away. Almost make it out.
Mama, one more time? Pleeeeeeeeese?
Sigh. Okay. 
Wait six minutes. Tiptoe in.  She's finally asleep.  Breathe for the first time in an hour.

So there you have it. You may not get your child to sleep until too late, but if you want to loosen their tight lips about camp, just try and enforce bedtime.

Oh, and you're welcome.

Friday, June 15, 2012

Is Your Brand Red or Blue? Apparently, it Matters.

If you like Starbucks, does that make you a Republican or a Democrat?
What about Dunkin Donuts?
Are Animal Planet lovers Blue or Red?
And name the brand with bi-partisan support: Visa, Subway, or MLB?

The answers might surprise you.  An article in yesterday's LA Times highlights where Democrats and Republicans differ in their brand preferences. 


We'd like to suggest that the next time there's a stalemate in Congress, peeps pass out the Coca-Cola instead of coffee.  It's the little things that bring us together, you know.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Please, Don't Let Me Blink

Today was mini's last day of first grade.  She's definitely not a baby anymore.  So what did this mother do? Yup, same thing mothers have done for generations before us.  Have lunch with a friend and the children and spend the hour lamenting about that fact that you spend all this time taking care of a baby who grows up the second you blink.

Silly woman. She blinked.

It all goes by so fast.

You've heard this cliche before.  You don't understand it until you actually have kids, but it's really true.    However, what they fail to prepare you for, is just how much of your life ends up revolving around theirs.  We're going to botch this explanation horribly, but we'll try to articulate what we mean.

See, their first day of nursery school is your first day of school.  The first day they read on their own, it's just as much a milestone for you.  You begin looking forward to and enjoying their birthdays more than your own.  You get the idea, peeps.

So every year is different.  As they get a year older your life changes in ways you never thought possible.  Your life ceases to revolve around your age, your marital status, your career level, and exists solely on the basis of your child's age, grade, developmental level.  So at the end of first grade, when people tell you what to expect in second grade, they're telling you just as much about how your life will change as how your child's life will.

And so, because your life revolves so much around theirs, the last day of school becomes your last day of school.  So today, we bid goodbye to a first grade we haven't attended, and to a classroom that wasn't ours.  And because they're all growing up faster than you can say "mini", all we can do is sit here quietly, holding our eyes wide open, praying we don't blink.


Saturday, June 9, 2012

After the Men, the Mice...

Alone. Finally.

As many of you know, Poker Chick Brother moved out not too long ago, leaving this girl with a quiet evening at home alone.  Or so we thought.

Something looked like it was on the floor next to our handbag so we went over to inspect what mess we made this time.  Except this mess was moving.  And furry.  And it had a pink tail.


And so, the freakout began.

Next thing we knew we were digging out the only mousetrap we thought we had stashed in an old cabinet from years ago and going on YouTube to find out how to set it.

Minutes later we had successfully set our first mousetrap, taken one brief minute to pat ourselves on the back, then sat barricaded in the bedroom, blankets pulled up to our chin, looking all around, hoping not to see or hear anything.  Needless to say, we didn't sleep much that night.

Married for years....no mice.  For months the brother slept on the floor... and nothing.  And now,  NOW that the mice-catching men have left, NOW this thing decides to pay us a visit?  Now, this isn't to say that a woman isn't just as prepared to catch a mouse as a man is.  We're just saying that THIS particular woman happens to be a bona fide wimp when it comes to the crawly things.  Why, why, why did this happen right when we were doing so well with the independence thing?

We were prepared for being a single parent, but we were not prepared for this.  Perhaps independence is overrated.

Let's just say if we suddenly become yet another single mom with a cat, you'll know why.

Sunday, June 3, 2012

The Least Grateful Houseguest You've Ever Had

What do you get when you put two 30-something divorced siblings into a small Manhattan apartment together for several months?  (Three months, one week and 3 days to be exact, but who's counting?)
Sibling rivalry, revisited in adulthood, still looks like this
Strained relationships? Lots of snapping? A child that delights at seeing her Uncle dressed up in a suit, because she's put together the fact that job interviews will lead to his moving out?

Well, we wouldn't know about any of that.  But we do know for sure that it leads to high comedy.

Today we bid dear Poker Chick Brother farewell .  You may remember him from guest posts such as "Clumsiness Runs in the Family", which we sort of hate because it's the most read post on this blog ever.  Don't read it, ok? Definitely don't click that link and give him the satisfaction.   We're not bitter at all.   Nope, not us.

Poker Chick Brother and his amazing sturdy back spent a few months blowing up and deflating an air mattress every single day and sleeping on our never-as-neat-as-it-should-be living room floor.  He grudgingly *tolerated* being woken up at 7am every day, as mini would stare at his but crack over her breakfast cereal, which according to him she slurped unnecessarily loudly.

Most people, we'd venture to guess, do not get the pleasure of living with their siblings all over again after everyone has left for college and started their own lives.  That said, you were all horrible teenagers, right?  It would be much more civil in adulthood, right?

Right?

Wrong.

Turns out all those immature fights as children had nothing to do with childhood and everything to do with two siblings living together, period.  Bumping into each other while trying to brush teeth at the same time in a tiny bathroom.  Running out of the room in disgust as one sibling laughs with glee after encouraging a malodorous waft of you-can-guess-what into the other sibling's direction.  Coming home late from work excited for leftovers only to find out they are gone.  Fielding insights and criticism into one's housekeeping or lack thereof...

We got to relive that all over again.

So....

You'd think after all this we'd be happy to see the least grateful house guest in America finally leave, yes?

No.
 
After finally living alone for one night, it is eerily quiet and not nearly stinky enough around here.  You see, the sibling moved out.  After months of mooching, he moved all the way cross country to the West Coast.  Moving out and not even staying in the same city to babysit?  That, we believe, is the least grateful thing he's done yet.

Congratulations on finally landing a gig, Poker Chick Brother.  This floor is always here when you need it.





Friday, June 1, 2012

Food Allergy Awareness on the Rise

CDC chart showing incidence of food allergy in children rising at alarming rates. 
Things are looking up for peeps with food allergies.  While the CDC reports on the rising incidence of food allergies, a highly scientific and statistically sound poll by Poker Chick shows awareness and food-allergy friendly policies have increased by 324% in the past year alone.  We're talking better labeling, more nut-friendly schools and camps, more routine Epipen training in those who work with children, and better awareness and training in restaurants.  This explosion in the level of awareness and accommodation in the world makes it much easier for a child to live a normal life despite severe allergies.

Oh, wait. You were looking for scientific proof to back up our data?

Behold.  This week alone we had a few excellent experiences:
  1. A mother, on her own, made an egg, nut, seed free cake for her child's birthday party simply because mini was attending.  While this has been done before, note in this case the person in question is not an old close friend of yours truly, simply a lovely member of her community who wants to be inclusive.
  2. We are sending mini to a day camp for the first time which is not only a half hour bus ride outside of the city, but a place where someone else will be providing mini's meals, for the first time in her little life.  While we'd be lying if we said we weren't having heart palpitations, the numerous calls from camp staff (nurse, head of her age group, head of catering, head of the whole camp) have reassured this mother completely that they are taking all concerns seriously, not mocking or judging this mother as "neurotic" (see earlier post on this topic) and making every accommodation one could possibly hope for.
  3. Just this week, Delta finally changed their allergy policy* to restrict peanuts on the whole plane vs. just clearing a 3-row area.  As a mother who watched her daughter start to sneeze repeatedly by the end of a 3 hour flight with said "3-row area", we are most relieved to hear this news.  It may even make us feel safe enough to try a *gasp* 5 hr. flight.
Thanks to our friends at Home Free for sharing that last bit of news.  You can read more about research they've done on food allergies on their latest blog.

*If you're looking at the link, scroll down to the section marked "peanut allergies"

Sunday, May 27, 2012

The Good, the Bad, and The Dairy

We interrupt the seriousness of late to bring you a special edition of....Poker Chick in Israel!


Today's edition is a series of brief summary points.  Stay tuned for a longer post in a day or two.

The good
True to our disorganized spontaneous style, we took a last-minute opportunity to visit with family in Israel over the holiday weekend.  Good way to scope out places to bring the mini to next time.

We finally logged into email to find out that Condolence Call placed in yet another screenplay competition! Nice, random surprise.

Enjoying a typical Tel Aviv Shavuot agenda:
   11:30 brunch at Brasserie
   13:00 Gordon beach
   16:00 roof party 

The bad
Last minute ticket to Israel = most expensive middle coach seat you'll ever buy.

No advance plans means sleeping on an airbed with no blankets on a dirty living room floor with no shades on the windows. Oy.

The dairy
Landed just in time to make it to a special pre-Shavuot Shabbat dairy lunch with 12 of our closest cousins (5 of them children).   Mmmm.....blintzes......

The just-plain-odd
Spending time with a woman who lives in Immanuel.  Wow is life different there.

Looking for a pharmacy open on Shabbat (there are whole listings in the Tel Aviv paper devoted to this topic).   Still, it's a must.  Beach without sunscreen here = death wish.

Sitting here writing with windows open, busy street below, a cool breeze, and....wait, is that techno music we hear in the background!? Never mind, we're in Tel Aviv, that isn't odd at all.

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Proof That Advertising Peeps Are Not Normal

An article from Fast Company confirms what we've said all along: advertising peeps are not, in fact normal.

We all knew this of course, but someone has finally run the numbers to prove it.  Our favorite stat is that 70% of ad peeps knew about BK's "subservient chicken" campaign, vs. 8% of non-ad peeps.  We know what you're thinking.  We were surprised to see it as low as 70%. too.


Saturday, May 19, 2012

Can't Fight This Feeling Anymore

Now that we've put REO Speedwagon in your head (you're welcome), we'd like to interrupt our usual schedule of negativity with a blast of....

it's coming.......

wait for it.....

optimism.

Yes, you heard us. Optimism.

It's funny how life doesn't work out the way we expect.  After struggling for a while, this week seems to be the week that the universe finally said "Ok, Poker Chick! We've handed you enough piles of crap for now.  Time to experience something different."  In one week we have sudden grown up ten years.  We've purchased an apartment, taken care of ourselves despite a broken toe, volunteered at school, danced all night, laughed with friends until our stomach hurt, hugged mini tightly after her piano recital, met some awesome new peeps, and finally figured out how to fix that leaky faucet and broken cabinet that have driven us nuts for years (hint: it involves two simple words: call, handyman.)

We had this vaguely familiar funny feeling for a while and we ignored it for a while and it went away.  It came back little bits at a time, and today in the glorious spring sun we realized what it was: happiness.  Hello, happiness.  Even if you're fleeting, we missed you.  As a temporarily happy person, we are now ready to use that horribly ugly-sounding word people use to describe women like us without shame.   Mrs. Costanza accent and all.

Yeah, we realize we still don't know how things will turn out.  We realize next week might suck.  Or, it might now.  We've got optimism now.  Bring it.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Motherhood Ain't For the Faint of Heart*

Terror.

That's what I felt that day, in the cab, wondering if my child was going to pass out right then and there, before we could make it to the doctor's office.

You see, about an hour earlier, she had arrived at my office and ran into my arms crying, saying "Mommy, I don't feel so good".  She had had an allergic reaction a couple days back and a cold on top of that, plus she can be somewhat of a drama queen (we mean this in the most loving way) so it wasn't surprising.  But something felt...wrong.  A person wouldn't look at her and say there's something serious going on, but we heard a little wheeze and she seemed miserable and something just felt...wrong. 

So a few minutes after calling the doctor and making an appointment for later that afternoon, I found myself hurrying to a cab and telling her father to come because something felt...awfully wrong.  Five minutes into the longest cab ride of my life she went from miserable kid with cold to child in obvious respiratory distress and I found myself doing the mental math of which would get us help faster, staying in traffic in the cab, or stopping and calling 911.  "Should I use the epipen?" I kept wondering.  Except it wasn't an obvious allergic reaction.  But something was clearly wrong.

So there I was, terrified, terrified I wasn't doing something I should, terrified I didn't go fast enough, terrified because I couldn't figure out anything to do other than sit there next to her in the cab and wait for it to get to its destination.  I knew I had to be calm for her, to allay her fears, but at that moment I just couldn't.   Apparently, I'm not the maternal rock I'm supposed to be in a crisis.  Check #317 in the slacker mom box.

On the plus side, I did learn the secret to not waiting at the pediatrician's office.  Seconds after walking in and yelling "my child's not breathing!" she was surrounded by several nurses and doctors that appeared out of nowhere.  Before you could say "drugs" we were in a room, she had a nebulizer mask on her face and they were pumping her full of steroids, and we were told we may be there for hours.  I looked at her sad wet eyes.  I felt a bit better knowing the immediate danger had passed, but now she was clearly terrified.  How I wished I could have taken that sad face away.

Fortunately, a few hours later, though still struggling to breathe, she was smiling again.  We were sent home, so long as I promised to continue the steroids, give an inhaler round the clock every few hours, and bring her back in the next day.

It took a few days for the news to really sink in.  Asthma? My mind immediately went to all the stats I'd read about food-allergic kids at higher risk for anaphylaxis if they have asthma.  What did we tell the school? If she suddenly started wheezing, did she need an epipen or an inhaler? How would you know?  The thought was overwhelming.  And a cat allergy?  What else would send her off? What about camp - could I not send her to camp? Could she not visit her school friend with a cat anymore? Did I need to worry? And if I didn't know any of this, how could I trust babysitters, teachers, counselors to know these things? Could I safely leave her with anyone anymore?

All this is just fear talking, of course, and let's hope a calmer mind will allow us to get educated and somewhat rational again.  In the meantime, I struggled with the weight of all this information.  It took a good week to even feel like I could breathe again.  It took two weeks before I could write about it, because I was just too shaken to put it into black and white.

I keep going over "what-ifs" in my head?  What could I have done differently? How did it get so bad? How did I not realize it?  The attack was set off by an allergic reaction to a cat a few days' prior.  I knew she had had a reaction, but didn't know to what.  Sure, there was a chance it could be the cat, but she'd been around the cat for over 24 hours, and the reaction was sudden. Maybe she touched a trace of food?  You never know with food allergies.  But after a few long minutes, while I had a huge debate in my head on whether or not to give her the epipen, the antihistamine kicked in and she got better.  Sure, she wheezed a few hours later, but I called a doctor and followed their instructions to give her an inhaler and Benadryl to help her sleep and prevent another reaction.  Anyone who's ever tried to give my kid Benadryl knows it's easier said than done.  After an hour of fighting, she finally took it.   When she woke up, she had a cold, and the reaction was simply a moment that had passed.  How could I have misattributed the symptoms to a cold?  How could I not have realized she needed an inhaler earlier?  And who knew cat allergies could cause anaphylaxis? I certainly didn't.

I hadn't counted on the emotional responsibility of single parenthood.  I took for granted the presence of another adult who was equally responsible for the outcome of the decision at hand, not to mention one who could actually help me get her to actually take her medicine without losing my marbles in the process.   My friends haven't really spoken to me since, and I can't say I blame them.  They didn't sign up for that drama when they invited us. 

The experience was humbling, to say the least.  We all think we'll know what to do in the moment of crisis, but the truth is we have no idea how we'll react and often all our education goes out the window.  We may know intellectually we're supposed to remain calm and not panic, but that's a heck of a lot easier said than done.

Parenting is one giant exercise in humility.  It's so easy to know what to do in hindsight, but not when it's new.  If it's not allergies, it's behavioral issues, if it's not behavioral issues, it's poop issues, if it's not poop issues, it's school issues, etc.  All of our kids have their own unique challenges that make it impossible to know how to parent by reading a book, or an article, or a checklist, or even a whole  library.  They don't tell you that when you sign up, do you?

We'd love to hear from other food allergy parents as to how they handle reactions, and how they handle the asthma vs. food allergy situation.  We'd love to hear from other single parents as to how they handle crises on their own.  Heck, while we're at it, let's invite any struggling parent to share.  Because for one day it would be nice for everyone to able to take off their "I'm perfect" "I'm a great parent" facade and admit that yes it's worth it, and yes there are wonderful moments, but sometimes....sometimes, no matter what your situation, parenting is just plain damned hard.  Oh, and to all you parents who still want to fight for your child's "right" to peanut butter in schools: you suck.

One final note: with the rise of childhood allergies, we predict a rapid increase in demand for paper bags over the next few years.  You might want to invest now.  Just sayin'.




*Or, I'm just a wussy.  Distinct possibility.



Friday, April 20, 2012

Test your ability to spot SPAM!

It's real soup! Or is it.....?
As we've stated in the past, peeps, SPAM is getting smarter.  Below is a great example of something that we initially thought was spam, then realized it wasn't.  Then we realized it wasn't.  Then we started to wonder.  See how long it takes you to figure out if this is Spam or not!





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Sunday, April 8, 2012

The Schizophrenic Jew

As we made our Kosher for Passover meatloaf in a pan previously used to prepare a very dairy and wheaty zucchini cornbread just one week ago, it occurred to us that while American Jews are offered a variety of categories to self-identify with, as a culture we are sorely lacking a category for the "Schizophrenic Jew".

The above is a perfect example of the schizophrenia which we refer to.  Generally speaking, if you're keeping Kosher for Passover to the point of switching to Temp-Tee cream cheese for a week, you'll have a separate pan for Passover cooking.  Or at the very least have separate dishes for meat and dairy.  Obviously that was not the case in this example, which we shall refer to as "Proof point number one".

If you only consume this if it's Kosher for Passover, you might be a Schizophrenic Jew 
What else makes one a Schizophrenic Jew? Many contradictions.  Perhaps you speak Hebrew but can barely read and write.  Perhaps you are currently affiliated with a Reform Synagogue despite an upbringing in a traditional Conservative one, as well as an Egalitarian Conservative one, plus stints in a Modern Orthodox shul abroad, and time spent with friends in a Reconstructionist one.*

The Schizophrenic Jew defines "Kosher" really loosely.  While it's more than just a kind of salt, it doesn't extend much further beyond avoiding pigs and shrimp.  Often it involves avoiding cheeseburgers, but waiting until the plain burger is finished and swallowed before drinking the milkshake.  This Jew may live a 100% secular life, having never observed Shabbat, yet makes a conscious effort to check work email more on Sunday vs. Saturday.

The Schizophrenic Jew may have one Seder or two, depending on how Israeli they want to declare themselves on any given year.  They may know all the "laws" in general yet pick and choose what to follow, and even within those that are chosen they can be changed when it's convenient, which brings us to "Proof point number two".  In this example, the subject in question searched all over for the cranberry sauce without corn syrup yet when eating an omelet at a diner did not ask what kind of oil it was cooked in, deciding to live in the delight of the "don't ask, don't tell" policy at that moment due to extreme hunger.

There are many other varieties of Schizophrenic Jews, but the easiest way to spot one is to ask what their religious affiliation is.  If the response you get is "I have no fucking idea," you know you've found a bona fide Schizophrenic Jew. 

Now, we've given you two double-blind randomized trials of American Jews behaving oddly in the absence of a way to identify with their Judaism.  Isn't it high time we legitimize this phenomena and give these peeps a community of their own? 

As always, you heard it here first.   Happy Passover, peeps.

*Hypothetically speaking, of course. 

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Occupy Pregnancy Street

We're so focused on our election we've missed the threats against women's rights across the globe lately, so we thought we'd help point them out.
What do women have in common with barnyard animals? Read on to find out.

Imagine for a moment a third-world country far far away where women have no rights.  If a woman is raped and wants an abortion, she is forced to carry that child to term.  If a woman is carrying a child that will be stillborn, she must suffer through the remainder of her pregnancy and put her body (and the mother of her children's body) at risk because the country won't support an abortion because of its fundamentalist regime.

Sounds bad, right?

Now, see if you can guess where this is:

Imagine if that same country said "No, no!" "We're progressive, really!  Women can get abortions.  First, they need to go through counseling and answer a million personal questions.  Then they must undergo an invasive ultrasound, even if they don't want one.  At that point, they can make their decision."  Of course, if they still want to proceed with terminating the pregnancy, they'll be subjected to repeated judgment as medical professionals show them ultrasound pictures and force them to listen to a heartbeat saying things like "Look at your baby! There it is! Listen to the heartbeat! You really still want to proceed?" And if the answer is yes,  then of course you have the right to say that, you just need to talk to two or three more other professionals who will all give you guilt trips and then force you to go home and think about it for at least 24 hours and then, if you still want it 'sign here' about umpteen times, assuming of course you haven't shrunk to the size of a pea by the judgment you've endured.

To be fair, there are exceptions for extreme cases, such as women that are victims of rape or when the fetuses will be stillborn and/or endanger the health of the mother.  Oh wait, no exceptions for those? Sorry about that, peeps.  Almost let them off the hook a bit.

Have you guessed the country yet? No?  Let's look at some statistics.


"But Poker Chick", you say, "that's the U.S.A.! What facts are relevant to this post?"

Surprise!  It's all the USA.  While you were distracted by the how-much-money-does-Romney-really-have debate or the which-wife-is-Newt-on game, millions of women in our country are having their reproductive rights taken away, piece by piece. 

We watch in admiration as citizens in nations around the world are speaking up for their rights and overthrowing totalitarian regimes in unprecedented numbers, yet we take for granted that we have complete freedom here.

Democracy is a team sport yet we've become complacent.  So in case you haven't been following this in detail, here's a half-ass roundup of some news lately, news from a country that is a role model of democracy everywhere. 

Last week, the Georgia State legislature debated a bill in the House that would make it necessary for a woman to carry a stillborn baby until she ‘naturally’ goes into labor.  Yes indeed, HB 954 makes it illegal to obtain an abortion after 20 weeks even if the woman is known to be carrying a stillborn fetus or the baby is otherwise not expected to live to term.  You can see the rationale of Georgia's esteemed leaders here:




Pennsylvania recently introduced a bill that will force women to go through personal procedures and medical guilt trips before they can make any decisions regarding their care.  Also very recently Virginia actually passed such a law, and it was the seventh state to pass a law requiring women to undergo invasive ultrasounds if they want an abortion.

There's so much more to read.  States with "let women die" bills, states criminalizing acts women do while pregnant that would otherwise be lesser offenses (or not offenses at all).  And the change in the last 10 years has been staggering.   How does it compute that in the last few years of the technological revolution our country has simultaneously experienced a seemingly backwards phenomenon where "religious" values are infiltrating our government.  Is this the "moral" reaction to the digital revolution?

Democratic, objective and free?  Or religious, dictatorial and puritanical?  It's a continuum peeps, but you can't assume you'll stay where you are.  Just like with relationships, if we continue to take our freedoms for granted, maybe someday they won't be there anymore.

Maybe it's time to take the "Occupy" movement a step further.  We have more problems than we think.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

I Don't Write Anymore, But....

I have not blogged in forever.  Sorry, peeps.  Reality of single motherhood, an unexpected roommate (more on that another time), and a bad case of bronchitis has sort of put a crimp in our writing time.  But lucky for you we have not one, but two awesome friends who have each "arrived" in their own way.  Also, they're kick-ass peeps.  So there's that.
Emily writes about the challenges of raising boys and girls to be themselves while trying to buck gender norms at the same time.  We've always had a link to her blog here, love her writing, and today's piece was in the New York Times.  The Times, peeps!

Lani has her debut post out in a local NY magazine site.  It's about the humor of being a parent, so we're sure even our non-NY readers will relate.  Plus, newbies need encouragement.

Please check out their work and join the other mothers commenting discussion!
 

Monday, February 13, 2012

Step away from the cheese, peeps.

This message will always be true, peeps.


Ahhh, Valentine's Day.   You're expecting some sort of snarky post, aren't you?  Well, surprise! If you've got a hankering for some classic Poker Chick, you can read our favorite Valentine's Day post circa 2007.  Cracks us up, every time.  No, really...read it.  Please?





This year we're bypassing the usual cynicism; partly because we'll never be able to top our favorite post from 2007, and partly because this year we seem to have unearthed some hidden *gasp* optimism.

You see, this Valentine's day, things are different.  Poker husband moved out a while ago, though we can't legally call him that anymore.  We're checking that "other" box on forms now.  While we're no experts on this subject, based on what we've seen in the movies and pop culture (which must be true, right?) the usual pattern is this: big fight - maybe even violent, someone yells sweet nothings such as "they're how old?!" or "your secretary, how could you!", someone moves out and overpays for a tiny hotel room, everyone is notified immediately, the lawyers are summoned, someone starts dating too soon, one wants the other one back but they're not interested, then they decide they do want them back and the other is now sleeping with their best friend, lots of drama, families involved, no one speaking to each other, yadda...yadda... yadda...

That's how it works, right?  Oh, not quite? Interesting.

So that wasn't the case here either.  Just a plain old boring case of two good people trying to be good parents and struggling to do the right thing and be [mostly] mature about it.  For mini's sake, that's all we're going to say about that. 

Which brings us back to Valentine's Day, clearly!  You'd think that our first Feb 14th as a single mother would bring us down.  But we're determined to create a happy home with some new traditions, and somehow Valentine's Day has us thinking about the people we love, and the people who have supported us, and we can't help but feel this wonderful appreciation for those loyal friends and family who were there for us.  And so we had a sudden urge to buy mini a card, which we didn't understand.  And then we had a sudden urge for chocolate, which we did understand.

And then we had this epiphany that we didn't actually hate Valentine's Day.  We still hate the cheese and chintz, but the concept? Not as much.  We realized that we were trained to hate Valentine's Day:  Jews don't celebrate it.  It makes people feel lonely and left out.  Mom was diagnosed with an inhuman fatal illness that day.  You know, the usual excuses.

While those were all very, very good reasons to hate this day indeed, it finally occurred to us that those were other people's reasons, not ours.  We actually don't have a reason to hate it ourselves.  So this year we're trying love and a couple of cards on for size. 
Ahh, anti-Valentines...we will always love you so


But don't even try to come near us with those candy heart things or we'll barf all over you.  Just sayin'.  Love and optimism aside, it's still horribly offensive.  Cheese is still cheese peeps, no matter how you slice it.  You can quote us on that one.