Monthly Archives: December 2009

2009 Retrospective

Wow! What a year. My life changed so much, but not as much as we thought it would.

January was a month full of plans – we were planning our wedding, and the rest of our lives together. We continued working at blending our family. The kids were up to their usual stuff – one got hit in the head with a “light saber”.

Then February rolled around, ‘twas the nuptial month! And the month started with a bang! Prince Squiggy broke his ankle ten days before the wedding. Oy what a to do! I guess this was a way to keep me focused on the important things. February 15th came around, and the KoD and I tied the knot in front of family and friends. Truly the most wonderful day ever. The story is written in three parts. Part One. Part Two. Part Three. This post makes me smile every time I read it – perfection.

We invested in a new van that later would be denied access to Canada, but I wrote about the fun we had choosing it here.

In March I wrote about the miracle of my youngest son. He is so darn cute. The love between the KoD and I continued to grow. We spent an awesome Purim together here in Montreal.

I had a tremendous amount of fun compiling Mah Nishtanah in several languages in preparation for Passover.

Then I got stuck at the border with our new van. They didn’t let me in to Canada with it. This is an ongoing saga.

April started with a crazy amount of preparations for Pesach. We had an awesome holiday together. Soon after my neighbour volunteered the use of his car to me. It’s been a total god-send. Apart from the flat tire we suffered in NY! Doing passport pictures that month was a nightmare. This was also the month that I temporarily gave up coffee. We also crossed the border with our hearts hammering a million to the dozen because we had been told we could be turned back. It turned out not to be true.

Then came May – winter was finally over and spring well and truly here. I kept off the coffee. And continuing on the health kick I started running in the morning. Soon enough I fell off the wagon. I blogged about the seemingly schizophrenic existence of living in two places at once. We celebrated three months of wedded bliss. I had some more border trouble. I started Wednesday’s Wacky Signs on the blog. We had another “health” issue with one of the kids. I introduced you all to the parade pisher. We celebrated Shavuot up here in Montreal.

June rolled around and we were still here. I shared some stories about the kids and what they got up to in the kitchen – coffee maker and scrambled eggs. I wrote about an awesome weekend with the KoD (every weekend with him is incredible). Then he just had to play a prank on me. We talked about US English versus the language that I speak. I posted a post to the KoD on Father’s Day. The kids totally adore their step dad! Then I wrote this post “Lament of the Panty Hose” that brings more visitors to my site daily than any other post. Go Figure!

School was out for the summer and here we were in July. I posted a list of wedding necessities that was totally tongue in cheek. I realized how grown up my eldest was getting. We had our first visit to Chuck E Cheese. What an experience! More musings… that were possibly interrupted by a mouse. Obviously I was in a cranky mood, because everything was bothering me. I yelled at people that envied us our long distance marriage. Prince Squiggy was welcomed into the “Club of the tefillin Strappers”. I explained why I question so many things in Judaism.

In August I got to spend more quality time with my KoD and I totally enjoyed every single minute of it. I blogged about a miscarriage I had had years ago, an article that is read on an almost daily basis, found through search engines. The KoD took me on a Harley ride – exhilarating! I blogged about Socialized Medicine. I loved this post – a visit to the store turns out to be anything but mundane. With lead up to my son’s barmitzvah, I experienced mixed emotions. Squiggy’s barmitzvah was awesome. We were all so proud of him.

September dawned with no visas in sight. I was interviewed for a research project about divorce, which led to me writing about my own experiences at the Bet Din. I ranted about people talking in shul. I attempted to explain my Feminism here. Seems more and more people were upsetting me these days, and I again ranted about being apart from my husband. But then I shared a favourite KoD story. I received this awesome email from a reader that totally made my day. I ‘fessed up to my struggle with insomnia and I wondered if I had misjudged my stepmother. I shared an Immigration Update – not the news we had wanted. And I had more car woes….sigh.

October came around and brought with it our medical appointment for the visas. It also brought out another Parade Pisher. In keeping with the water theme I wrote about the mikvah. Firstly about dipping etiquette, followed by the secret code. I started a new occasional column called My Judaism. Readers can submit their own personal stories. This was the first. We discussed divorce and whether a Get can be rescinded. I also talked about the censorship of books. This month my comment count started to get higher and my daily hits really skyrocketed. I shared another Immigration Update.

November announced its arrival with Swine Flu hitting my house. The KoD and I celebrated the anniversary of when we met. We talked about premarital classes for brides.

Another popular post was Superstitions and Segulahs. I must have been PMS-ing really badly when I wrote this Open Letter to Men. The bad mood continued when I heard women shouldn’t blog, because it isn’t modest.

Coming back into Canada I got stopped and questioned. I also blogged about a GPS that was being passed on to me by the KoD and got my highest number of comments ever (107). Apparently wanting a GPS made me shallow and materialistic. Who knew?! I also blogged about the fact that Moms get no respect.

December brought me the realization that 2009 would end with us still up here in Canada. That didn’t help my mood much. I blogged about Queen Esther possibly being a sexual being. And why that disturbed me. I urged divorced couples to just let the aggravation go and move on with their lives. Another poular post was gleaned from the story of Dina and Shechem – that Dina “asked” to be raped. We also discussed whether its appropriate to show affection in front of children. Chanukah came around and I told you about our Chanukah Miracle. One of my favourite posts from this month was Conversations Over a Grocery Cart. After about the bazillionth comment that was so unnecessary I decided to print up flash cards. I discussed hair covering – always a popular subject.

All in all, there were a lot of ups and downs this year. But through it all my love for the KoD has grown by leaps and bounds, as has his for me. The kids have grown and matured and been totally awesome and annoying and loving and loyal.

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May this next year of 2010 bring us all health and happiness, and 5 brand spanking new visas for us!!

Fitting in

No matter how non conformist we feel we are, there is always some amount of pressure on a person to fit in to their community in some way. Whether it’s dressing a certain way for work, wearing the same designer sneakers at school, donning a sheitel instead of a headscarf etc.

When I was newly married the first time around, there was nothing I wanted more than to be just like everyone else around me. I had just moved to Montreal from London UK.  I didn’t want to stand out in the crowd. I wanted to be one of “them”. Oh how I have changed! But at that time the way to fit in 100%, or so I thought, was to have a baby. Everyone bonds over a cute baby and of course my babies were going to be cute. Without a doubt. Thankfully they all were – blonde blue eyed gorgeous bundles of deliciousness.

Now, I don’t want you to think I had a baby JUST to fit in. I didn’t. I had always wanted children, a lot of children. But honestly? I don’t know that I was emotionally ready to handle being a mom at that point. New marriage, new city – new life. I should probably have waited a year or two.

I was a different person back then. Much quieter and a lot more afraid of my own shadow. It has taken me a while to grow into the self assured woman not scared of her own opinions that I sometimes feel I am these days. I so wanted to be part of the crowd. I wanted to belong somewhere. And I saw very early on that the only way to really belong in this neighborhood was to have a baby as an accessory.

Look, let’s be totally honest here, you other mothers in the religious community – you know I am right. You might have nothing in common with the person living next to you other than religion, but add babies to the mix and you have something to talk about that you can both relate to. It elevates your status in the community. You have procreated. We had been married for 15 months before our first son was born. I know of many women who gave birth 9 months after their marriage.

When he was born, yes, he was the cutest baby in the world. He was adorable and yummy and oh-so-colicky. I used to sit up at nights crying with him. I was 22 and overwhelmed. I was so young. Within 4 months I was pregnant again. Before I knew what had hit me I had 4 kids. Pretty close together. (The first 3 were born within two and half years of each other). I was busy busy busy with diapers and feedings and potty training. Who had time for fitting in?

Let me tell you a secret though. I didn’t fit in any better after giving birth than before. Yes, we mothers had more to talk about. But I was still different. I raised my children differently, with modern notions and I treated them as if they were people not little tiny cutesy wutesy kids… I spoke to them in a grown up voice and put them on a schedule even as young babies. I respected them as individuals. I had opinions about the best way to raise a child that sometimes seemed at odds with people around me. I was still perceived as odd and British. But somehow it didn’t bother me as much to be different, because I had my kids and was busy with their lives.

I have a few friends who are newly married and feel tremendous societal pressure to have children. In this community if you are married a year and have not yet worn maternity, people think there is something wrong with you. To these women I say – wait. Wait until you are personally ready for a child to change your life and your relationship with your husband. Wait until you feel you are emotionally ready to handle everything that being a parent throws at you – no sleep, no life for a while. If finances are an issue – wait until you feel more comfortable financially so you can provide for your child without stressing too much over it. Do not give in to societal pressure to go forth and multiply. Do what is right for yourself and for your marriage. Not your in-laws. Not your parents. Not your friends.

I will never regret having my kids at such a young age. I am still young and it is awesome to be able to be a full part of my boys’ lives. It is incredible to be in my mid thirties and have a son that is taller than me, talks like a man and needs to start shaving. (ack!) But as a new bride of 21 I was convinced that motherhood was the cure to all my social ills. Motherhood brought me so much, it IS indeed the gift that keeps on giving, but it isn’t to be taken lightly. One has to be prepared to watch one’s heart walking around outside of one’s body. To feel pain when they hurt, to feel such joy at their smallest triumph. The love one feels for a child is so huge, so encompassing. It truly is life-changing. And you need to be as ready as you can be for that.

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Prove It!

Are there really husbands out there that ask for proof that their wife has been to the mikvah? Some mikvaot give out receipts when you pay your fee, some don’t. But, I just heard not too long ago about a wife whose husband expects for her to prove to him that she went. Every time. If there is such a low level of trust in that marriage, why do they even stay married? What else does she have to prove? Show him the bedikah cloth every night? I mean, seriously??!!

Am I just being naïve?

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Oh Puhleeze!

Come on! Opening the door for your female shidduch date is not tznius, nor is pulling out her chair for her at a restaurant? You are not allowed to compliment your date on what they are wearing. In fact, apparently no compliments are allowed until the wedding ring is on, because it might be seen as forward behaviour! I wonder if one can compliment the date’s car, or if that isn’t allowed either as it might make him thing you are into material possessions. What ever happened to just acting yourself???

(Keep those emails coming… inthepinkblog@gmail.com)

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Teardrops

I am a crier. I cry at the drop of a hat. I cry when I am happy. I cry when I am sad. I cry when I am angry. I cry when I am outraged. Whenever I feel extreme emotion, the tears, well, they just flow.

It bothers the KoD to some extent. He still laughs when I cry during a touching moment….in a commercial! He expects the happy tears, and the sad tears when we say goodbye. It’s the angry tears that seem to just frustrate him. He gets that I am angry and usually knows why. But doesn’t understand why I am crying if I am angry. Tears are not something he associates with that emotion.

I asked him why that was. He says because he loves me, he wants to make the tears go away, to fix the problem. Tears do not help with a solution. I guess when I am angry at him the tears are also perhaps a subconscious tool – look how upset you have made me, I am crying to make you feel bad, now fix it. Except it isn’t how I think at all. I hate being angry, especially with him. I love him with all my heart. I cry also when I am angry with the kids. It’s just what I do. I guess maybe it’s like those people that giggle uncontrollably (the giggle loop) during serious situations – at funerals for example.

Do other men feel this way when their woman cries? How do you deal with it? How does it make you feel?

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Wednesday’s Wacky Signs

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Dressing to teach in religious schools

In my boys’ school there is a dress code for the teachers. The female teachers have to cover elbows and collarbones, and knees. No trousers / only skirts etc. I have no problem with that, I have no clue how they enforce it if they do. But that’s what it is.

Some other schools insist that the Jewish female teachers who are married have to cover their hair on school property during school hours even if it is not their personal custom to do so. The non-Jewish married female teachers do not have to. Is this taking things too far?

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Oh kids! They do make you laugh!!

I had to go and apply for new Medicare cards for the kids, because somehow I managed to lose them when I took one of the kids to the doc on Friday. Argh! Oldest kid is 14, so he had to come with, as from age of 14 they need a pic on their card. He also had to sign all his forms too.

So the disheveled dude* that was behind the desk gave him the form for him to sign, told him to read it, then sign. Kid looks at me and whispers “do I really have to read it out loud?” I snortled. I laughed. I giggled. The disheveled dude cracked up too. I launched into a lecture about how you must never sign ANYTHING without reading it first. Quietly. To oneself. Then snortled again. Kids can be such literalists.

*Disheveled Dude. Doesn’t the government have dress codes for their workers? This guy had long hippy hair that hadn’t been washed in a decade, an uncombed beard with food crumbs in it. Seriously. Could he not make sure to brush out the crumbs after breakfast? He was dressed in jeans and a rock band tee shirt. I wanted to take him to the barber and then to the store to buy him a suit, or at least some business casual wear. Ick.

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Eleven Divorces?

This article talks about a man who has married and divorced eleven times. He has only one child. He says he gets married, then after two years it’s time to look for fresh meat a new spouse. The women that married him after divorce #3 or #4 – what on earth were they thinking? He obviously has a well established pattern here. Look, people make mistakes, have marriages that were so badly thought out, rebound marriages, marriages that worked for a bit and due to whatever circumstances, divorce was necessary, but this guy doesn’t even try to explain it any other way.

According to the article:

The man, whose divorces were performed both in Israel and abroad in accordance with Halacha [Jewish law], said his custom is to divorce his wives every two years and look for a new bride immediately after.

“I throw out a hook and the fish come on their own,” the man reportedly said.

The Rabbinate should stop allowing this man to get married. It makes a mockery of the whole establishment of marriage. He has no intention of ever staying married. He’s only 50. I am sure he thinks he can get married at least another 15 times. He’s probably religious – otherwise he wouldn’t need a ketubah (marriage contract) for the next “experience”.

Le sigh.

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Dating Question

Shamelessly lifted from Hashkafa.com. I find their posts so entertaining (but probably not in the way they were intended)

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Let’s say you set two people up. After a date or two, girl feels very positive, likes him a lot, etc. Guy is not saying no and does want to continue dating but he is not so excited and doesn’t think it will lead anywhere.

Do you:

A) Tell the girl exactly where the guy is holding, so she does not get her hopes up too high?

B) Do not say anything, as being fully honest will effect how the girl acts on the next date as she will lose self-confidence.

The guy wants you to pass along the message as he wants to be fully honest, but it is definately your discretion.

What would you do?

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