Summertime challenges with hair covering

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I’ve been covering my hair for almost 6 years.  Truth be told, it was a bit of a struggle getting started since my husband wasn’t really on board with the whole concept of covering hair after marriage. So, I didn’t push it and after our wedding, I didn’t cover my hair. About 6 months after our wedding, my husband told me that he was okay with me covering my hair. I remember being so excited when he got on board with it!

The next day, I went into town to a hat store that sold different types of head coverings. And, I was like a kid in a candy store. I tried on hats and berets, half scarfs and full scarfs, fedoras and even some snoods. Since it was February and quite chilly, I decided I liked the whole beret look. I liked the way it felt on my head, and how it looked on top of my straight fall.

I convinced myself that covering my hair was going to be super easy, and for about 4 months it really was. Until I encountered my first Israeli summer covering my hair. The beret and fall combination was just way too hot for the 90+F heat. I started searching around for a hair covering I could wear that didn’t require a wig underneath. And, I settled upon the colorful bandanas that I could wear with my hair up in a ponytail or wrapped tightly into a bun.

But, after 6 years of the summer bandana being my staple, I’m finally ready to admit that it just doesn’t work for me. Somehow, on my head, it makes me look like I’m either ready to go out and milk a cow, or that I’m about to perform as one of Tevye’s daughters in Fiddler on the Roof.

If I’m really being honest with myself. I don’t just dislike the way I look wearing a bandana, I miss my hair. I miss walking around with a nice blow out, running my fingers through my straight hair with the sun beating down on it. And, if you know me at all, you’d realize how shocking this is. I have spent YEARS fighting with my hair. I was born blessed with curly, frizzy, light brown hair. I’ve spent majority of my life fighting my hair in its natural state. I’ve cut it short and grown it long, I’ve had bangs and layers. I’ve highlighted, straight out dyed it, and chemically straightened. I’ve been blonde, blonde with brown highlights, brown with blonde highlights, brown with red highlights,  Goth black, and last year – on a whim – I went black with purple streaks. That little experiment was just an absolute disaster.

In high school and college I would fantasize of the day when I would be married and I could wear a really, really nice straight wig and be done with worrying about my kinky, frizzy, curly hair. And, I am lucky that I own a really, really nice wig. But, living in Israel, my nice wig is worn only during special occassions like conferences, work meetings and weddings.

I remember laughing when we learned the Halachot (laws) of hair covering after marriage. My hair, I exclaimed, was not a body part that was particularly attractive to men. Especially not in its natural state.

I have never had a man come up to me at a bar to tell me that he had to buy me a drink because my hair was so gorgeous.

I’ve never had a man tell me that he wishes he could spend hours just running his fingers through my hair.

I’ve never had a man turn away from me because my hair was just too darn beautiful to look at.

But, even though I didn’t think that my hair was particularly beautiful, these days, I absolutely love and miss it.

So yesterday, when I was so frustrated with my bandanas that I just threw them on the floor, one by one, I stopped and considered walking outside sans covering. Of course, I totally chickened out.

Instead, I grabbed a pink baseball cap my in-laws bought for me while they were on an Alaskan cruise. It was 95 degrees yesterday and, when I walked the couple of blocks to gan to pick up DD2, I was sweating. By the time we got home, my hair was drenched and my face was bright red from the heat. Baseball caps just won’t do in the Israeli summer heat.

So, I’m at a crossroads. Do I continue wearing my coolest (in terms of weather, not style) option of the bandanas and just not care that I look like I’m about to go to work on a dairy farm, or do I search for something new?

Truth be told, it’s starting to be really difficult to keep my hair covered when I just don’t like what looks back at me in the mirror.

Most days, I feel like I want to just rip off my bandana and let my Jewfro hang out.

 

 

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The One that Broke My Heart

They say you never really forget your first love. I don’t think it’s the love part you don’t really forget, I think it’s the heartbreak that you remember. That pain never really fully goes away, and it sometimes resurfaces at inconvenient moments in your life. And, no matter how happy, satisfied, or content you might be in the here and now, you might still feel diminutive pain. It could be negligible, but it’s still there.

On Friday, DH and I were paying a shiva call in the neighborhood. The avel (bereaved), ever the hostess even in her time of mourning, introduced us to the rest of the visitors and the name of one of the guys seemed so familiar. While walking out of the shiva house, I asked him what year he graduated from my brother school, and we realized that we were the same grade. It immediately clicked how I knew him, and so I played a quick game of Jewish geography with him. I asked him if he knew Motti (not his real name) and, when this guy said that they were friends, it all fell into place. I told him that Motti was my “ex-boyfriend” and then I asked about his wife and kids. I told him to send my regards, and revealed my maiden name. We parted ways with a hearty “Good Shabbos” and DH and I walked back to our car, where I promptly began to wish the conversation never happened.

I laid awake from 3:15 a.m. – 4:30 a.m. on Saturday morning, thinking about the encounter. Thinking about Motti, and how he completely shattered me. How he spent years playing with my head, giving me false hope for a future, when he knew that he was never going to marry me.

I met Motti when I was 16 years old and we were both junior counselors at Camp Mesorah. His sister was my camper and, coincidentally, my brother was his camper. We immediately had plenty to talk about. Over time, I became attached to him – in that 16 year old way. We would spend more time together, going on regular evening walks up and down the road. It took a while for me to  become attracted to him. But, after a while, that all changed. It wasn’t long before I had fallen for him, and I fell pretty hard. I loved his quick wit, his sardonic smile, his intellect. We were really close that summer, and when the summer ended, I was devastated. I didn’t know how I could sleep at night without seeing him.

We kept in touch Senior year of High School mainly through late night phone calls. It was pricey since he lived in another State and my Dad wasn’t willing to upgrade to a better long-distance plan. That changed, over the years. The summer before seminary, we finally got together. We went out on two “dates” that were really special, and then he left for Yeshiva and I went to Michlalah. After Succot that year, I called him at Yeshiva and gave him the ultimatum the Rabbi’s had advised us to give to our “boyfriends.” I told him that I would only continue talking to him during the year, if he promised we would get engaged when we got back to the States. He couldn’t/wouldn’t promise, and so we said our goodbyes. But, after a couple of months, I missed his voice. I missed talking to him, I missed the things we talked about. And so, I caved, and I called him at Yeshiva. We decided that we would only talk if we had a phone Chevrutah, and he was willing to give me a 3:00 a.m. slot once a week. We decided to learn The Book of Job together, and each week I set my alarm to wake me up for our early morning learning session.

It didn’t really last too long. We were both tired and, truth be told, I didn’t really want to spend that time on the phone with him learning Torah. We ended our Chevrutah about as quickly as it began, got into a fight, and I walked away. Until Michlalah ended, and I got back to the States, and heard he was having surgery. About a week before his birthday. I caved, and called him to wish him a happy birthday and to see how he was feeling.

It was just so amazing talking to him. I didn’t realize how much I missed him, how much I missed our chats. And thus began a four year phone relationship with a guy I was hoping would one day be my husband.

Four years. It’s a really long time to talk to one person, practically every single night, for hours on end. But, that’s exactly what we did. We talked. And talked. And talked. In my head, he was my boyfriend. We just never got together. We never met in public. We never went out on a date.

My Mother would beg me to walk away. She would spend hours pleading with me, saying that this was not a relationship. That he was not my boyfriend. She said it’s not dating unless a guy was spending money on me. I brushed her off, telling her that she was old-fashioned and we were more modern. I refused to let her words penetrate. I didn’t want her to be right, I wanted to continue to live in this warped fantasy of mine where the man on the other end of the phone line cared about me as much as I cared about him. My friend Shulamit would tell me that I was delusional, she would point out that she saw Motti frequently at the Stern dorm, going out on Shidduch dates. I ignored her, and said that he was just testing the waters. I convinced myself that he was dating other people but that it would be okay, he would realize just how right I was for him, and we would plan our future together. But, I was really hurt when Shulamit told me he was dating, and so I started dating, too.

And that’s when his roommate started talking to me on the phone. It started innocently enough, we would chat a bit when Motti wasn’t in his dorm room. Pretty soon, though, I would call to talk to him as much as I would call to talk to Motti. And suddenly, I started wondering if he was interested in dating me. After months of spending hours on the phone with both Motti and his roommate, I broke down. I demanded to know if the roommate was talking to me because he wanted to date me. He admitted he didn’t, he just really liked “the practice” of talking to a girl. He was naturally a bit shy, and talking to me was helping him come out of his shell. And it was helping him while he was dating.

I decided to walk away, from both of them. I wasn’t attached to the roommate, and I was angry at Motti for letting him talk to me. So, I stopped calling. I hit the gym harder, lost weight, straightened my hair, went out with guys who I wasn’t interested in, and waited for Motti to come back.

I read “The Rules” and promised myself that I would use them if Motti ever called again. And, sure enough, the phone rang one night and it was Motti. And, after 15 minutes, I sighed and said that I had to go. I was vague as to why I was going and, after a couple of nights of following the rules laid out in the book, I felt it working. I heard his frustration when I hung up after 15 minutes, and I felt a thrill. I thought that this was going to take us to the next level. We were finally going to just go out and get engaged. And, as with most of the people I know who followed “The Rules,” I gave it up and went back to my old, needy, ways. Because, as many of us have learned, if you need “The Rules” to get a man, then he isn’t really the right man for you.

We got into another fight about not dating, and once again, I stopped talking to him. It was just another one of our breaks, I thought, and he would come back to me sooner or later. But, I guess I wasn’t really that surprised when I got a phone call at work from a friend, with the news that Motti got engaged. We had decided on a phone chat break 2 months earlier. And, in those 2 months, he managed to get engaged.

I was just shocked. I looked up at the photos in my cubicle, at the picture of us taken on the last night of camp. I wondered how on earth he could be engaged to someone else, if I had our picture hanging up in my cubicle. I slowly took the picture down and hid it in my desk drawer.

And then, I walked. I left the office, crossed the street to Lite Delights, and ordered a burrito. It was my first non-kosher meal, and it was just the beginning.

For years, I thought that I left religion as some sort of post-adolescence parental rebellion. This Friday night, I realized that I left religion because of Motti. Because of his roommate. Because I let two YU guys, “top of their classes,” treat me like shit. Play with my head and my heart. Use me for whatever it was that talking to me did for them.

And, I realized, that as long as I kept living in this sheltered world of Orthodox Judaism, I was never going to grow up. So, I walked away from religion. And, I grew up. I dated non-religious and non-Jewish men who treated me badly, and those who treated me like gold. I also dated Orthodox Jewish guys who played with my head and my emotions, and I dated religious guys who were the male versions of my naive self. I toyed with them as Motti toyed with me and, while I am not proud of my behavior and how I treated them, I managed to justify it at the time.

Over the years, I developed a sense of self worth. I discovered self confidence. And, just when I finally realized that I mattered, I met DH. And, I thank G-d every single day that I didn’t end up with the slew of men who mistreated me, and that I managed to find the man who truly loves me.

If I could take back Friday’s meeting with Motti’s friend, I would. I can just imagine him talking to Motti, and Motti laughing his head off. Laughing that I called him my “ex-boyfriend.” He must think I’m pathetic. Truth be told, I felt pathetic. If anything, the years have taught me that our phone relationship was not a relationship.

But, the memories of those years still stings. I have so many unanswered questions, and I wish for closure that I will never, ever, get. I wish I knew why he did it. Why he spent hours upon hours just talking to me. Leading me on, perpetuating this delusion of a relationship that I clung to. What on earth did he get out of those hours on the phone? I was in love, but what was he doing if he wasn’t interested? What was the point?

I tell myself that I had to go through the Motti experience to appreciate the gem that is my DH. I tell myself that the Motti experience was part of life, a painful part that I had to endure in order to learn about myself, to discover my sense of self worth.

In a couple of days, any residual thoughts of Motti will fade from my mind. I will go back to living my life, in the here and now, without those painful memories. But I will never forget the thorns on the road.

 

 

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My Michlalah Reunion

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18 years ago, I was a seminary student at Michlalah’s Machal program for overseas students. 18. Years. Ago.

That year was, as with many seminary and yeshiva students, an absolutely pivotal year for me. It was my first time living on my own, away from my parents, and I absolutely loved that freedom. It was my first extended stay in Israel, and I fell in love with this Country. It was a year of many firsts for me, and I did not want to leave. So much so, that I threatened my parents that I would join the IDF  if they didn’t let me stay. Not really the path most Michlalah girls go down but, I was desperate to hold onto that experience. I was desperate to stay in Israel, and I was willing to enlist to do so.

I didn’t end up staying Shanah Bet (nor did I join the IDF), and as the years went by, I became more and more distant from my seminary year, and from my classmates. The invention of Facebook bridged that gap and, suddenly, I was reunited with Michlalah girls from my year! Its been amazing reconnecting with so many of my seminary friends, and suddenly a new connection back to my seminary days was reestablished. Truth be told, I am still close with the Rabbi from Michlalah that I developed a kesher (connection) with during my year. But, aside from a few close friends from childhood, I let a lot of those relationships fizzle. Most of my friends got married in their young to mid 20’s, and as a single gal on the UWS, I didn’t really relate to their life. So, it was easy to just let go.

Fast forward to our Michlalah reunion, which was really 20 women from around Israel – and abroad – coming together at a classmate’s home in Ramat Beit Shemesh. We kept it intimate: husbands weren’t invited, not were Michlalah staff or Shana Bet girls. It was just classmates from our year gathering together to catch up. Unfortunately, some people were overlooked but – for the most part – many of those invited were able to attend.

In a word, it was overwhelming. We milled around and flitted from person to person, trying in a couple of minutes time to catch up on 18 years a part. Some women brought actual photos, others traded cell phones to scroll through pictures. The mood was so festive, and people who weren’t necessarily part of the same chevra in Michlalah, interacted with genuine happiness to see each other again.

I was caught up in a conversation with a former friend, someone I haven’t seen or spoken to since the day we left school 18 years ago, and she asked me the usual questions: residence, husband, children, etc. (Interestingly enough, very few people asked me what I actually do for a living.)

When I told her that I got married 5 1/2 years ago and that my girls are both toddlers, she seemed surprised. I told her that I spent my 20’s living and working in Manhattan, and I really enjoyed it. And, I also told her that I was not ready to get married until I was 27.

That seemed shocking to her. And, she asked a question that I hadn’t really had to discuss with someone in a very long time.

She asked me if I ever thought I wouldn’t get married.

Now, that’s a really, really personal question and not really something I expected to discuss during my Michlalah reunion. It opened up a floodgate of memories, of bad dates, broken hearts, abusive and difficult relationships, etc. It brought me back to those years when I honestly wondered if Hashem made a match for me, or if my destiny was to be single forever. If I was ever going to be a Mother, and have children of my own. Of the years I sat alone in my apartment on Friday night, with the glow of my two little candles to keep me company and no one to make Kiddush. There was no one there to hold my hand and comfort me when I had an emergency MRI, there was no one there to celebrate with me when – at 26 years old – I became a Vice President of Corporate Communications and was making more money than I ever thought possible. There was no one there to comfort me when my beloved Grandfathers passed away, and the chair next to me at my parent’s dining room table was empty for far too many Pesach seders,  birthday parties, Rosh Hashanah dinners, and Fourth of July BBQ’s.

And so, as I always seem to do when I am asked a question I’m not really comfortable with, I honestly answered. I told her that, of course I thought I would never get married, but that I had a plan.

“A plan?” she asked.

“Yes,” I said. “If I was 35 and still single, I was going to have a baby on my own.”

Can we say stunned silence?????

I continued and told her that, in Israel, there are many single mother’s by choice and that it is amazing.

She nodded her head, as if she understood. But, I didn’t really think she truly got it.

And then, I excused myself from the conversation and sought out another friend. I took a moment to survey the room and realized that, many of the women are planning bar and bat mitzvah’s for their children. Some of them got married one to two years after seminary, and have never lived on their own. Many of them went from their parents home to their married homes. Some of these women got engaged on their third and fourth dates, while at least one got engaged to the first guy she ever dated. Some don’t know what it’s like to attend a client meeting, go on a business trip, or even read an email.

And that is really wonderful.

But, I didn’t have that experience. I was single until I was 30 years old, and I had more than one serious relationship. I moved out of my parents house when I was twenty and had (and still have) serious career ambitions. I was not ready, when I was in my early twenties, for marriage. I was not ready, when I was 25, to take care of children. I didn’t know who I was in my 20’s, and it took me an entire decade to really find myself, before I was ready for a serious relationship, marriage, and children.

And, that is okay.

It is okay that, during the past 18 years, my journey was different than many of these women. I am proud of the path I’ve forged for myself. I think my single 20’s has made me a better wife and a better Mother. I think, had I gotten married at 24, I would not still be married today.

And I’m counting my blessings that I finally found my one and only, and that we have been given these amazing, wonderful children to care for.

Our journeys, though vastly different, makes us who we are as individuals.

And I cannot wait to see where this path will take me during the next (P”G) 18 years.

 

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Why I don’t just want to Google it

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What happened to asking other people for their advice or opinions? When have we become a “just Google it” culture? And, for that matter, why has that happened?

It drives me insane when I ask a question online, usually via Twitter or Facebook, and someone responds with: “just Google it.”

Do you think I’m not aware that Google exists? Do you think that I’m too lazy to use Google?

Well, let me set the record straight. I am well aware of the existence of Google and no, I am not too lazy to use it.

For example:

1) When I ask online for recipe ideas, I don’t want to Google it. I want to hear from ACTUAL people who have an opinion about a recipe. Tell me that you’ve either a) made the recipe and b) liked the way in turned out, so that I have something to go off of. Sure, I could read all of the comments below the recipe, but I don’t want to hear what a stranger has to say. I want to hear from you, my friend/acquaintance /relative who either knows me/my family/my palate and would think that the recipe would suit us.

2) When I ask online about something relevant to my industry (i.e. public relations, media relations and social media), please don’t tell me to Google it. I’m asking because, I would love to know what YOU are telling your clients. If I ask about a study regarding social media  driving sales, I am asking what YOU are using when you report to your clients. When you sit down with your client and you need to justify your fee, or when you are pulling together a reporting document, or if your client is complaining that they are sinking in $X amount of dollars into social media but they only sold 5 items after one month of working together, how are you responding? And, if I’m asking today about a recent study, that means I’ve already seen the study done in September 2012 and I’d LOVE to know if you have a study that’s more recent. And yes, I went to Mashable before I asked the question on Twitter.

3) When I ask you a question about a child related product, such as a car-seat, stroller, toy, etc., please don’t tell me to Google it. I want to hear from you, Mommy’s and Daddy’s, who have actual experience with said product. I want YOU to tell me that you’ve either used the product, liked the product, would not recommend the product because your child fell out of the product, etc. For those who don’t know me past acquaintance phase, know that I used to work with a line of children’s furniture. I am very familiar with the JPMA and consumer reports. I’ve already checked out both of those places before I posited the question to you.

And please, let’s do both of us a favor. If your response is “just Google it”, please just don’t respond at all. I’d much rather feel ignored than patronized.

 

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Marketers Have It In for Moms

Sometimes I think that marketers have it in for Moms. I came to this conclusion this morning, as I was opening up a new box of Pampers diapers, only to discover a sample ‘gift” of the Gilette Venus Embrace razor.

“Hmm,” I thought. “This is an odd product to be in my toddler’s diaper box.”

Sure enough, I started to ruminate on its placement. And, it quickly became clear, the message the marketers are trying to send to me. The Mom. The one who is too busy putting diapers on her baby’s bum to shave.

And it opened up a whole universe of useless products that marketers can go ahead and put in a box of toddler pampers. I still haven’t lost 25+ kilo since I had my baby a year and a half ago, why not also stick in a Slim-fast bar? Know what else I haven’t had time to do? I also haven’t had time to tweeze my eyebrows or take care of my mustache. Why not send me a free box of Bliss at-home waxing kit? That will just sit, unopened, in my cupboard collecting dust, because who the hell has time to wax their own mustache when there’s a toddler in the house? Clearly, my hygiene is in question, so why not throw in a couple of boxes of Oral-B floss? I keep meaning to buy a box, but always forget when I’m rushing, last minute, to the drug store to replenish the wipes supply that we depleted during the baby’s last bout of the stomach flu.

Hey marketers, want to really be helpful to this Mom? This is the first time, in 5 years, that I am neither pregnant nor breastfeeding. How about sending me a new bottle of Nyquil to help me get rid of the lingering cold that I caught from my toddler?

I’m not actually angry that there was a razor in with the diapers. But, it was just thrown in there, stark, all judging me and everything. And, truth be told, I think they really could have made it humorous. Why not wrap the razor with a funny note that says something about how they understand I really DO want to shave my legs, but they know that I probably am so scattered with making lunches, doing laundry, waking up a million times in the middle of the night to retrieve lost pacifiers, and give sippy cups of water, and I’m juggling my day job along with running the household, that I just haven’t even considered replacing the now blunted razor sitting in my shower, so here’s one last thing I don’t have to remember to put on my to-do list? Now that type of note, I could totally appreciate. That would make me feel like the marketers understand that I don’t want to be a hairy beast, I just don’t always remember that I am one.

Or, the folks at Pampers can just do me a favor and stop judging me, and just send me a sample of some diaper cream instead.

(PS. The razor works great!)

 

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Guest Blogger: American Diabetes Month

Carolyn at FullonFit blog approach me to write a guest post this November, in honor of American Diabetes Month. It’s a topic that’s so important, especially with the rise in obesity amongst children in the United States. I’m so thankful that she contributed to my blog with such an important post!

Type II Diabetes & Children: What You Need to Know

It’s November – which usually is attributed to changing seasons,
preparing for Thanksgiving, raking (lots of) leaves, and the start to (for me anyways) highly-anticipated shopping for the holidays. However, November is also American Diabetes Month, and as Type II Diabetes has become much more prevalent in children, it’s important that you inform yourself about this disease and how you can prevent your child from developing it. People normally think of diabetes as being a disease that only affects adults, however, the fastest growing group affected by Type 2 Diabetes is actually children. It’s important to take this issue seriously, as diabetes is directly correlated with heart disease. Proper diabetes care will reduce a child’s risk of developing heart disease later in their
life.

What the Research Says : Risk Factors
The spike in Type II Diabetes cases mirrors an increase in obesity
among children. Since being overweight or obese is a major risk factor for developing diabetes, this makes perfect sense. It also shines a spotlight on the need for greater physical fitness in our young people.

It has been known for a while that unhealthy diets can lead to
developing diabetes. A study published in Diabetes Care found that
drinking just two sugared beverages daily raises your risk of developing diabetes by 25 percent. These same people also had a 20 percent greater chance of having metabolic syndrome — something that people develop prior to developing diabetes.

Another risk factor for developing Type 2 Diabetes is a lack of physical activity. That is why it is so important to be sure that your child gets regular exercise or physical activity several times a day! This exercise does not have to be drudgery either. In fact, you will want to make sure it is fun for them so they stay with the program. Regular physical activity is one of the best things you can do for your child in preventing diabetes.

Exercise
You are only limited by your own imagination in coming up with ways for your child to get some physical activity. Just playing with their friends outdoors is often enough – jump roping, playing hop scotch, playing tag or hide-and-seek — provided they work up a good sweat. The important thing is to make it fun for them so they will stay interested. What you are doing is making health a lifelong habit for them.

Yoga
Yoga is an alternate form of exercise that is growing in popularity. It
can help your child maintain a healthy weight, increase flexibility, and improve joint health. The various yoga poses encourages joint fluid to circulate in the joints and prevent arthritis from slowly developing.

You can perform the yoga at home with your child or have them take
classes. If you live in a reasonably-sized city, chances are good that yoga classes are being offered in your area. You may want to attend their first session to reassure them. Be sure that you first discuss your goals for your child with their instructor.

Encouragement
Many children are resistant to starting an exercise program at first. You might encourage them by rewarding them for meeting goals, such as weight loss. Or another great way to motivate them is by participating with them and making it a fun activity that the both of you can share together!

Carolyn is a 20-something year old with a passion for life, fitness and
overall well being. She is an avid cycler, golfer and has known to bust
some serious moves on the dance floor. Check out Carolyn’s blog!

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When the Sirens Wail

I’ve been having a difficult time formulating into words how the past couple of days have been for us, as a family. Truth be told, I didn’t really think the blogosphere needed to hear our rendition of what happened when the sirens wailed in Jerusalem on Friday night. Do you all really want to hear what I think? But then, the women of the IDF’s Facebook page, posted this video this morning. And, while watching it, I was absolutely appalled. I don’t know why it surprised me so much, that the children in the South of Israel should play pretend rocket fire. And, once my shock wore off, I was filled with just unbelievable sadness and anger.

So, here’s the bullet point version of how we’re doing and how I’m feeling:

  • Angry at the media – I’m just so unbelievably angry with the mainstream press right now. As someone who makes a living working with journalists on a daily basis, the mainstream news coverage of Operation Pillars of Defense, is shameful. If you don’t believe me, check out Honest Reporting’s live blogging of the media coverage. It’s the job of a journalist to check their facts, to not be one-sided. To report the news, not some made up version of reality. I was really upset that CNN’s Anderson Cooper got to Israel and went, immediately, to the Gaza Strip. Why didn’t he position himself in Sderot, Ashkelon or Ashdod? There are hundreds of missiles launched at those areas EVERY single day! Why didn’t he interview the families sitting Shiva in Kfar Malachi, where a direct rocket hit killed 3 innocent civilians and wounded many others? He could have gotten plenty of rocket shots, and spoken to the traumatized people in the South of Israel. Are the war images on this side of the Gaza border not as compelling? Well, why not?
  • Anxious – After Friday night’s siren and rocket attack at Jerusalem, I’ve been on constant edge. In my head, I hear the siren wailing over and over, and I’m poised to run for cover. Every time I go to the bathroom (sorry for the image), I wonder if the siren is going to go off in the middle. During bath time, diaper changing time, and when the baby is strapped into her carriage or high chair, I wonder if the siren will go off. I wonder if I would have enough time to take her out, grab my other child, and run safely to the Mamad (reinforced bomb shelter in our home). When I leave my house to go out for errands on foot, I look around to see where I would hide during an attack. Do I knock on stranger’s doors and beg to come inside to use their bomb shelter, or do I just lie down on the ground with my hands covering my head. What do I do when I’m walking with my girls, alone? How do I shelter a wriggling 19 month old and a frightened 4 year old? When my husband is driving to and from work, I wonder what he would do during a siren. Would he have time to pull over to the side of the road, exit the vehicle, and find shelter? 90 seconds is what we have in Jerusalem. We don’t have an Iron Dome defense system nearby, and so any missile launched our way will definitely have ground impact. Could I get us all to safety in 90 seconds? Can you imagine what people are doing with only 15 seconds? I don’t need to imagine it, I see it on the news. Comprehending is quite another matter.
  • Disappointed with America’s Rabbinic Authority – Majority of my family and friends are supportive of the operation here in Israel. They understand that no one should have to live under the constant threat of rocket fire. But then, an Orthodox Jewish Rabbi named Eliyahu Fink, goes ahead and writes this blog post about war. He subsequently apologized in this post, but I think the damage was done. My response to his first post was a not nice word, which I posted on my friend’s Facebook page when she shared his blog post. This started a Twitter war with Rabbi Fink, where he questioned my ability to have intelligent conversation. I think having intelligent conversation under 140 characters is difficult. At the end of the day, his initial post makes me question the role of Rabbi in the community. Sure, every man and woman has a right to their opinion. But, I do believe that a pulpit Rabbi has more of a responsibility towards his congregation. And, one of the biggest responsibilities, is to provide factual information. I’m disappointed in Rabbi Fink, not for having his opinion, but for choosing to share it with the world in this manner.
  • Frustrated – No one wants a war, but no one wants to live under rocket fire either. I’m just so frustrated with all of this. Look, why can’t we all just do our OWN things. You do you down in Gaza, and we’ll do us here in Israel. We just want to live our lives! We just want to have kids, go on vacations, listen to music, dance at our celebrations, go to the movies, pig out on junk food, pray in our synagogues, and just be US. Why can’t we be allowed to do that? Muslims, Christians, Buddhists, Jewish, it DOESN’T matter! Really, why can’t we all just get along? The world should be big enough for all of us to coexist together, respectfully.
  • Appreciative – I’m SO unbelievably appreciative to the people who have shown support for us and for Israel. Whether it was on my Twitter feed, or in private messages and phone calls. The support is what keeps me moving, keeps me sane, keeps my family together.
  • Thankful to G-d – for the IDF, Iron Dome, the Miluimnikim (reservists) who have left their families, jobs, and lives, to mobilize down in the South and prepare to defend this Country when the time is right. And, for keeping my family and friends safe during such a difficult time.

So, there you have it. I’m praying this Operation will end soon, with minimal civilian casualties on both sides. And that we all can just live in peace.

The children in this video should be playing pretend hero, firefighter, baker, falafel maker! They shouldn’t be playing pretend missile attack. That’s a cruel and terrible atmosphere for children to grow up in.

And it’s time they stop having to.

 

 

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Why Life Is Like High School

Do you remember when you came home from high school, upset and crying because someone was really mean to you? Like the girl whose locker was underneath yours and she went nuts because your tehina accidentally spilled all over the leather knapsack her Dad brought her from Hong Kong? And, no matter how much you apologized and offered to replace it, she still made you feel lousy?

And, remember how your Mom/Dad listened to you crying on the couch, and patted your back softly and wiped away the tears, and empathized with you? Do you remember when your parent told you that it will all be okay, and that “life isn’t like high school,” and you’ll come into yourself/find yourself/enjoy life better once you graduated?

Yeah, your parents were totally lying to you.

Because, as I recently concluded, life is EXACTLY like High School. And, no matter how you try it, you cannot get out of High School.

So, what inspired me to write this post? This week, I met a friend for brunch on Emek Refaim. We were having a lovely time, when a patron at the restaurant who knew my friend, came over to our table. I have never spoken to this girl before, but I knew who she was. After we exchanged pleasantries, she proceeded to tell my friend to stay away from Girl X because she was mentally unstable. This woman then spent 15 minutes going on and on and on about Girl X, spewing accusation after accusation about her, until I had literally had enough of listening to it.

As someone who has been bullied and, let’s be honest, we ALL have been on the other end of gossip, I spoke up. I asked her if she had proof to her accusations. Well, she launched into a tirade about how people were doing some digging and the stories weren’t holding up, yada, yada, yada. I decided to stop engaging her in this type of banter and she finally walked away.

I left feeling very unhappy about the exchange. I thought, if there really was a situation that she needed to discuss with my friend, she should have done so in private. I did not know Girl X, but now I know more than my fair share. I thought it was very Mean Girlish of her to stand there and malign Girl X in such a public manner.

And, it got me thinking, about the way society really works. And, human nature. And, of course, High School.

I started thinking about my own actions, the things I’ve said about people, and the way I’ve treated people. And, of course, I thought about the way people have treated me.

Like the girl who had no problem asking me for help (which I did) and then she didn’t invite me to her party. Now, I haven’t been invited to many parties in my life. And, truth be told, I’m pretty anti-social, rarely go out at night because I work evenings, and have a much thicker skin than that. But, I just helped this girl out, so it was pretty hurtful that she didn’t even invite me to her party.

Or, the woman I interact with on a more professional level, who keeps blowing me off when I’ve asked to meet up. Since we are really more like colleagues than friends, I thought it would be nice to actually meet face to face. Rather than having the balls to just say “I’m just not that into you,” she’s been vague and actually just ignores my requests to meet, while continuing to interact with me. How very High School of her. Seriously, just tell me that you don’t want to meet and I’ll stop asking!

I have tremendous respect for people who are direct, to the point, and tell it like it is. But, I have zero respect for bullshit.

Or the woman who was getting married and having a very small wedding. We were friends when I lived in Tel Aviv, she was invited to my wedding, and she attended my Sheva Brachot. I completely understood not getting invited to her wedding, and I even lent her my veil. Then I found out that she invited all of our mutual friends to her Sheva Brachot, but did not invite us. So, I’m good enough to use when she needed something, but not good enough to invite to her Sheva Brachot? WTF?

And, if I really thought about it, the examples of High School BS since I’ve graduated, abounds. It happens when you’re single in your 20’s, married with children in your 30’s, hell I even know stories of High School like BS with people who are Grandparents and in their 60’s.

You can never escape High School!

Yeah, I know that there is more to life that this crap. And, truth be told, I rarely let myself think about it. What’s the point? It’s just hurtful and frustrating. And, sure, you can say that my blog post today is just some whiny woman’s rantings.

But, the actual purpose of this blog post is to tell all of my readers out there with kids. Do yourself and your kids a huge favor, stop feeding them the BS line that life isn’t like High School.

Tell them the truth! That you can never get out of HS.

And then, give them the tools they need to deal with this crap for the rest of their lives. I know I will.

 

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Your Kids Are What You’ve Eaten?

This is a follow up blog post to the one I wrote for The Times of Israel about Israeli’s lax attitude towards food allergies. I recommend you click on the link and read that post first, since it will put this blog post into context. Also, as serious as this topic is for me, I’m also doing a fun giveaway for my US readers. Read through to the end for the giveaway details!

So, this photo is the new food pyramid as created in conjunction with Michelle Obama. But it’s really the old food pyramid that has gotten me thinking.

Both of my children have food allergy/issues. Our eldest daughter was born allergic to all dairy products. This is different than a lactose intolerance, and dairy allergies are very serious. She would vomit after ingesting dairy products and was anemic for the first year and a half of her life. When we realized she had a dairy allergy, she started improving. Her iron levels went up, her pale skin started to have some rosiness, and she had a lot more energy. We had finally gotten her allergy under control, learned how to lead a pareve lifestyle, when we got her retested. At age 2, she tested negative for a dairy allergy and we celebrated with a giant pizza!

When I was pregnant with my second daughter, I remember remarking to my husband that I hoped she wasn’t allergic to dairy since it was not easy. When she was born, I nursed her and stayed off of dairy, in the off chance that she was in fact allergic. I was not at all prepared for what we would learn six months later, when we started feeding her rice cereal and she would violently vomit. She dropped from the 75% in weight to the 5%, would cry non-stop (she was very colicky from the day she was born) and wasn’t thriving. We immediately sought help and went to a pediatric gastroenterologist, who sent us back to our allergy doctor. The scratch test was eye opening! She was allergic to egg protein, oats, rice, sesame and peanuts.

I came home and cried. I had no idea how I was going to feed this child! And, even the doctor telling me how happy we should be that it wasn’t a dairy allergy, didn’t help at all. It took us months and months to figure out how to feed her. Instead of weening her at 12 months, I continued to nurse her until she was 17 months old. I vigilantly read all ingredients, moved the Cheerios (my eldest daughter’s staple) to the highest shelf in the house, and made a list for myself of foods we could no longer offer her. For weeks, she existed off of chicken soup, until I felt comfortable with other food items. And then, after a couple of weeks, we finally figured it out. We realized which foods she could eat and how to feed her. She started to thrive again, her weight slowly inched up although she is still at the 5%, and she began to develop nicely. When we could finally breath a sigh of relief that she was on the right road, I started to question how she got here in the first place.

My husband and I have no food allergies. I am not even lactose intolerant although I’m convinced my husband is. My parents have no food allergies, nor do my siblings or Grandparents. As far as I know, none of my first cousins on my Mother’s side have any food allergies either. My Father’s entire extended family was killed in the Holocaust, so I don’t have much to go on from that side. From my husband’s side, same thing. As far as I know, his parents have no food allergies, nor do his siblings. Same with his extended family.

Yet, here I have two children with food allergies!

So, I took to the internet and began reading. I spoke to other parents with children who have food allergies, and I tried to cobble together some truths.

In all honesty, I am not much closer to the truth. To understanding WHY my kids have food allergies. And, instead of focusing on the why, I’m now trying to focus on the WHAT NEXT.

Because, if my children have food allergies because of what I ate as a child, than I want to make a big change. I want to change the way our children eat.

But, how can I do that when the information that’s available is so conflicting?

1) Growing up, the USDA food pyramid insisted that we consume 6-11 servings of grains/carbs a day. And, that’s what my folks did. We ate carbs all the time. Big, heaping bowls of pasta. Cereals for breakfast. Sandwiches for lunch. Pretzels for snack, etc. Today’s food plate has carbs as a much smaller portion. It’s no longer the largest food group. So, if I blame the carbs from my diet, does that mean I no longer feed my family grains?

2) GMO’s -I had no idea what GMO’s were until I started reading Homemade Mommy’s blog. Then, I read about the top 10 GMO foods to avoid, and the list was frightening!  Wanna know where else GMO foods show up? Watch this video!

3) So, we decided to try to switch to organic as much as we possibly can. We signed up with a CSA, but in Israel I have no idea where to find organic meat and chicken. We eat only free-range, organic eggs and I try to buy organic whenever I can. But, how do I feed my family if I cut out all GMO’s? Besides the added cost to feed a family organic, items are not always available in my neighborhood.

4) The giant oil debate: Canola vs. Coconut oil – When it comes to the oil wars, my head feels like it’s going to explode. Suddenly, EVERYONE is talking about coconut oil. How much better it is for you,  how much canola oil is terrible for you. With such a giant PR push for coconut oil, it makes me wonder who is funding that effort. Why is coconut oil suddenly the “in” topic?

This brings me to my biggest problem, to date. Who to believe? How do I know which is better for our family? I learned a long time ago, at the beginning of my career in PR, not to always believe what I read. But, now that we are dealing with the health of my family, reliable sources are much more crucial.

Many people I’ve spoken to have suggested Robyn O’Brien. I’ve seen her Tedx talk and it was very interesting, and I have also read some of her information online. But, it doesn’t seem like she has many answers, just lots of the same questions.

I don’t have any answers, and I’m not any closer to where I want to be. I have tons of questions, though. And, I’m hoping, the more I question, the closer I’ll get to the truth.

Because, at the end of the day, I just want to create a nurturing, healthy, home environment for my family. So that we can live long and healthy lives, and so that P”G our grandchildren can be born into a better, healthier, world.

Do you or your kids suffer from food allergies? Do you think you have the answers, or reliable sources? Please let me know in the comment section!

Giveaway!

I was approached by the guys over at Xenon Project to giveaway an awesome radio controlled helicopter. I picked the one pictured above, because I think it’s pretty cool! Click on this link for more information! Comment on this blog post and you’ll be automatically entered to win. I’ll pick a winner, at random, on November 1st! This contest is open to US residents, only.

 

 

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My history with Kiehl’s

When it comes to building a brand, the most important element in any brand’s success, is loyalty.  Every brand wants to know that people buy their products, recommend their products, and pledge to be product devotees for as long as they live and breathe. There are very few products that I can say I’m loyal to, and Kiehl’s used to be one of those brands.

It goes all the way back to Christmas of 1999, when I was a Junior Account Executive at my first PR firm. Clients were sending gifts to staff members and, around the holiday season, it wasn’t unusual to see baskets and beautifully decorated wrapped gifts flanking the secretary in the lobby. I remember that one morning, coming down to the main level from my cubicle on the 11th floor, and making my way past reception. There, at the front, was a beautiful basket of Kiehl’s products. I was not familiar with the brand and so I asked the secretary who the basket was for.

It was for Julia Roberts’ Publicist, and right away I absolutely KNEW I had to learn more about the company. You see, I was going through my Julia Roberts phase, and was obsessed with just about anything she wore, bought, ate, and drank. I knew I didn’t have the money to shop at Armani, and I kept kosher so I certainly couldn’t frequent the eateries she was photographed at. But, the cosmetics she liked and sent as gifts? Well, that was definitely something I thought I could swing on my meager budget.

I can’t remember where I purchased my first Kiehl’s product, but I soon discovered that their products were fantastic. And, over time, I became extremely loyal to the brand. From body moisturizer to under eye cream, hair masks to toner, my bathroom was stocked with their products. And, I’ve been using and purchasing Kiehl’s products for years! Before my daughters were born, I used to covet their now-defunct line of baby products, and vowed to one day purchase their entire line of baby products for my future children.

And, when I moved to Israel six years ago, my precious suitcase space was packed with my essential Kiehl’s products. I discovered that Kiehl’s held up really well given Israel’s harsh water conditions, and that my avocado under eye cream was still the most important thing I put on my face every day.

So, imagine my confusion and surprise when, weeks ago I was unable to access the Kiehl’s website. At first, I brushed it off and chalked it up to the site just being down. But, a few days later, I still couldn’t access the site. It was confusing but, again, I decided to give it a few days. Truth be told, I forgot about it for a couple of weeks until today, when The New York Post ran an article about their Top 25 beauty product picks.  I was not at all surprised to see Kiehl’s Rosa Arctica lightweight cream as one of their picks and, since I’m not familiar with the product, tried to access the site again for some details.

Denied!

So, I took to Twitter and asked my friends living in Israel to access the site. I thought, perhaps, that maybe it was a problem with my browser. But, they weren’t able to access the site either. Then, I asked my friends living in the good ol’ USA, to try to access the site. My friend in Florida had no problem getting in.

So, what’s going on?

I like to give Kiehl’s the benefit of the doubt and just think that they were unaware that people in Israel can’t access their site. I wouldn’t want to think that the brand I’ve been so loyal to for all of these years, the brand I have literally dropped THOUSANDS of dollars on, would be intentionally blocking access from Israel.

Kiehl’s, I wait to hear from you! And, hope with all of my heart, to be able to access your website tomorrow.

 

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