Its my birthday and I’ll blog if I want to

Post by Melissa

Post by Melissa

I’ve started to write a few blogs recently, but feel like its weird to just dive back in after my hiatus without saying hello and giving some closure. So, I figured what better day than my 32nd birthday to do just that!

I had a very difficult pregnancy, then a very intense labor and delivery, and then got to snuggle an adorable baby boy at the end of February. He is quite possibly the cutest giant tiny human on earth (and I’m not the only one who thinks so). At this point, I am planning on not posting his photo or many stories about him on the blog, though I do occasionally post it in semi-public places online, the blog is more public than I’m willing to make his life right now.

In June we left Israel as planned, just days before the kidnapping and the subsequent turmoil and war. It broke my heart to be in CA and not in Israel, but alas – it was what it was.

We mostly spent our summer in CA with my dad, learning Gemara, visiting people and places in San Diego, and getting ourselves reacclimated to life in America. After two years in Israel, it definitely took time to get used to customer service, not bagging our own groceries, and having to check for food being kosher.

Also this summer we had the unveiling of my mom’s tombstone and the whole family was together for that, which is always nice – though I hate it has to be for such sad reasons. We tried to balance the sadness of that by the joy of spending the time with the youngest member of the family and remembering the cycle of life.

We did take some time to sign our lease in NY and then visit our friends and family in Denver, reconnecting with a place that meant so much to us for so long. And we took some amazing family photos and new headshots (as seen above) with our beloved wedding photographer/friend.

Our first Shabbat in our new community was my mom’s first Yarthzeit and yesterday was my first real Yizkor, so I’m now in a new phase post-aveilut. I’m trying to embrace all the things which reminded me of her and were too hard to deal with last year as ways of honoring her memory in the coming years. (This includes recognizing and celebrating birthdays, hence my acknowledging that in this post.)

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What now, you ask?

Well, we are finally living the dream.

D (who is now going by his Hebrew name, so shall hence forth be N as in Nachum) is now a first year student at Yeshivat Chovevi Torah (YCT).

I am also a first year student – at Yeshivat Mahara’t! (Surprise! Only not, right?)

When Jessica and I started this blog, N going to rabbinical school was the goal but it seemed far off, and then as life happened it kept getting pushed back – so its crazy to think that its finally happening. And that I’m doing it too.

Not surprisingly, having a high-needs baby and being in my first year at Yeshivat Mahara’t already keep my plate quite full. Yet, I find writing cathartic and good for processing my thoughts – so I’m hoping to post semi-frequently both here and on the JOFA blog, “The Torch,” but I make no promises on frequency or remembering to cross post the ones from JOFA.

I hope you all had a wonderful year, and a rejuvenating Rosh Hashana/Yom Kippur. 🙂

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babysitting is not birth control

Post by Melissa

There, I said it.*

I am not one of those people who fawns over infants and wants to hold them and coos and stuff. However, give me interactive kids and I’m so beyond happy.  Even when misbehaving, I find kids to be so entertaining and intriguing and I love it much more than I dislike it.

Recently D and I had the pleasure of having a sleepover with a five-and-a-half year old friend.  We went swimming, watched some cartoons, had dinner, and watched a Pixar movie.  All in all a good night.  “Uncle” D read him some books while I got some of his other bedtime needs handled. I even bartered with him for 15 min of laying in bed resting, and that if he still couldn’t sleep then I’d read to him – which seemed to do the trick as he fell asleep shortly thereafter.

I slyly checked in with mom via instant messaging while the boys were reading, and she reminded me that this is good birth control and I had to laugh to myself.  Having over such a great kid does the opposite for me.  I am excited to one day get to do these rituals with my own children.  To teach them to swim and to love to read.  To play fun games at the kitchen table while D cooks dinner.  To have to to figure out the best lighting and window situation for sleep.  These little things are so integral to a child’s life and being a small part of that is a huge honor.

So, while this is yet another postponement of the reflections on my first year of marriage, in some way – it ties in.  One year into our marriage D and I have learned a lot about each other’s parenting styles from watching our interactions with the various young children in our life, and that has been an invaluable experience.  We know where we act similarly and where we don’t, and have some time to find a common ground before we are not on the same page for our own children.  Its easier to conflict with someone else’s kids, because ultimately its their parents who set the real ground work and rules they live by.

I look forward to the day when D and I can have to face these issues for our own children, but in the meantime, I’m happy to keep playing Aunt Melissa to whomever will have me.

*And by it, I do not mean to give anyone the idea that I am announcing a pregnancy. Just to clear that up and not let rumors get started!

Picking a Life

Post by Jessica

There are moments in life when you know that the decision you are making will probably impact your life for a long time. The past few weeks have contained a lot of those moments for me. And it has panicked me a lot, for all of those weeks. Things are better today, though.

We’ve been trying to decide what kind of graduate school I will attend when R begins rabbinical school in the fall. We decided that we’d go the starving student route, rather than the domino route, because it seemed to make sense to us. It will be difficult financially, but I think we can manage. We’ve saved quite a bit here, so that’ll help us avoid “starving student” status  for a while. Hopefully, anyway.  In any case, I originally had a very clear picture of where I wanted to be, and what I needed to do to get there. Things were becoming less clear as reality kicked in.

What was the big dilemma? Mostly, it was to do with the intersection of work and family. Could a family survive with two people in high-powered careers? Could it survive if one changed their dream to accomodate family more? Was the change necessary? What if debt from school prevented us from starting a family when we wanted to? Which, in turn, prevented us from having as many children as we’d like (not that many, but maybe more than two?) A tumble of what ifs? were racing around, muddying the waters of decision.

I pretty much had no idea what to think. I thought I might have an answer ( a less demanding program, costing less money, for a different degree). When I asked my boss for a reference, he sat me down and asked me what was going on. Having given me references previously, this was clearly a totally different thing. We talked through some of my concerns, and the only ones he couldn’t fully address were the challenges of being a woman in a demanding career (for obvious reasons). He also reminded me that, no matter what, this isn’t the only choice I’ll make. I make the choice every semester, every little while, to stay with what I’m doing or move on. It was cathartic in a way, and I wish I had talked to him sooner. Someone who had way less of  a stake in things talking me through things was important. It also didn’t hurt that my program of choice offered me a significant amount of money almost the next day.