Thursday, February 14, 2013

Mishenichnas Adar Marbim B'stress

Purim is in a week and a half.  The costumes, the parties, the mishloach manot, the stress!  And, as a woman, I don't even get the joys of it all.  It's not "modest" to wear costumes OR drink.  As usual, the guys and the kids have all the fun.  Funny how this USED to be my favorite holiday.
And, just for added laughs, Purim only means one thing--Pesach is a month off.  Happy cleaning!

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Going nuts about nuts

Remember peanut butter sandwiches?  Once upon a time, school lunches meant a brown bag or colorful lunchbox with the requisite peanut butter sandwich, carrot sticks or fruit, juice box or thermos, and whatever dessert was most heavily advertised on TV. 
Sadly, our kids will never know the delight of the peanut butter sandwich in their school lunches.  Many schools, including the one where the Things have their Sunday program, are peanut-free.  My darling little Things go to their Sunday program with cream cheese sandwiches.
Now, I am aware that some people have peanut allergies so severe that even being in the same room with a peanut-based product will cause that person to go into anaphylactic shock and die.  But for the love of Planter's, how many people are like that?  And if peanut allergies are truly on the rise, how much of it is our fault?
Years ago, I knew someone who avoided peanuts during pregnancy.  Her rationale was that she didn't want her kids becoming allergic in utero.  Well, I took the opposite approach.  Not only did I eat peanuts and peanut butter while pregnant, I gave my kids peanut butter when they were toddlers.  Guess what?  Neither of them has a peanut allergy. 
In a way, I think the hysteria fuels the rise.  Our environments are so sterile that everything becomes an allergy.  By avoiding peanuts, we may be turning them into a pathogen through lack of exposure.

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Baby bling

When Thing 1 was born, my in-laws (after getting over their collective horror that I refused to name her solely for my mother-in-law, but hey, I have dead relatives too) asked me the first of what would be many questions about her upbringing.  "Nu, when are you going to take her for earrings?"  When she's old enough to take care of them herself.  First of all, my kids will have their fill of holes poked in them with all the vaxes they get (although I postponed the chicken-pox shot as long as I could--the jury's still out on it's effectiveness.).  Secondly, while an older child can appreciate earrings, I doubt a baby will.  All they'll know is that someone is punching a hole in their little ears and putting in some heavy metal thing and it HURTS!  And third, why does someone who doesn't even know what ears are need bling in them?  Call me old-fashioned, but we can save it for when they're older.
Unfortunately, the bling doesn't just end with baby earrings.  For little girls in this community, everything from hats to outfits to pacifier clips have the potential to be studded with rhinestones.  And that's if you avoid the gold and fake ruby bracelets meant to ward off ayin hara.  Moreover, it doesn't end with babies.  Somehow both animal prints and sequins are considered appropriate attire for children as young as four.  Again, I tend to err on the side of conservative when it comes to dressing my children (the Things' fall clothes come courtesy of the good people of French Toast, and their spring clothes are usually floral skirts and jumpers with pastel long-sleeve T's), but to my mind, leopard prints and sequins belong on grown women in Vegas, not on little girls in Boro Park.
And now it's time to savor the irony.
We live in a society that puts so much emphasis on modesty that even a picture of women's shoes--minus the woman--is deemed too immodest for publication.  Then, we turn around and dress our young children in attention-getting sequined tank tops (over shells, of course--because an elbow is more attention getting than all those sparkles), rhinestones, and jewelry. 
Incidentally, the epilogue to the earring story referenced above--my SIL did talk me into getting Thing 1's ears pierced when she was 2.  Then the holes got infected and closed up. She wants to take Thing 2, now age four for a piercing, and I say wait until they're 12.  The risk of infection is enough to make me leery of a repeat performance.

Sunday, February 3, 2013

Ice queen

There is something very freeing about ice skating. When the rink is crowded, when the ice is pitted, when I have to steer around fallen skaters, frightened skaters, and trick skaters alike, and when I have to keep my balance while maneuvering on two thin steel blades, it leaves no mental energy to brood on my troubles or anyone else's. Even in a crowded city rink, it's just me and the ice. And that's very liberating.

Saturday, February 2, 2013

Parshat Yitro--How many commandments?

Quick question--How many mitzvot are there is the Ten Commandments?
This sounds like one of those "what color is an orange" questions.  I mean, it's called the Ten Commandments, so the answer is right there, right?  Ten, duh.

Turns out Mel Brooks wasn't too far off.  The correct answer, according to Maimonides, is fourteen.  The Second Commandment has four mitzvot (don't take any other gods, don't make idols, don't bow to an idol, and don't worship an idol in any way that does not involve bowing), and the Fourth Commandment has two (acknowledge Shabbos, and don't do any work on Shabbos.)