What Nobody Tells You About Hannukah

For nine out of 10 Americans, it’s the most wonderful time of the year. Whether you’re Christian or not, Christmas is a big freakin’ deal. Even the buggiest of bah-humbuggers can’t escape the incessant ringing of the Salvation Army bells and the red Starbucks cup fiasco in their social media feeds.

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But here’s what almost 10 out of 10 Americans don’t know: Hannukah is NOT a big deal.

Because it runs in tandem with Santa’s reindeer, many think that this Jewish holiday must hold a great deal of importance. But truth be told, it’s not even in the Hebrew bible. Historically, Jews gave and received gifts on a spring holiday called Purim. The story of Hannukah, which comes from the book of Maccabees, is a minor Jewish holiday at best. And don’t get me started on the Maccabees. How bummed was I to find out only recently that the heroes of our Hannukah story were equivalent to modern day religious terrorists?

And then there’s the oil that was supposed to burn for one day but miraculously burns for eight days, hence the eight nights of presents (the part most folks are familiar with). As a child, I felt smug to have a holiday that lasted longer than Christmas and milked more gifts out of my family. As a parent, I’m glad my children have a reason to get gifts at a time of year when they would otherwise feel left out. But truth be told, Hannukah is not the Jewish Christmas. If you’re not a kid or don’t have kids, then Hannukah is hardly a holiday at all. It amazes me how businesses try to capitalize on such a trivial holiday, even making Hannukah toys for dogs (which of course, I can’t help but buy every year, they’re too funny!).

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Our big holidays are known as the High Holy Days: Rosh Hashanah (the Jewish New Year) and Yom Kippur (the Day of Atonement). They are nowhere near as fun as Christmas and Easter. No candy or presents. No bunnies or fat, jolly white guys (unless you count the sweaty dude in the third row at temple). Kids can miss school — they are excused absences, but absences nonetheless. And for what? To sit in services all day wearing itchy tights and neckties, followed by more sitting around the family dinner table (in Yom Kippur’s case, after a day of fasting). It’s arguable that being in school is more fun than sitting through a two-hour guilt-ridden sermon about why you should come to temple for more than just two days a year for the holidays.

So if you accidentally wish me a Merry Christmas instead of Happy Holidays, don’t feel bad. Or if you wonder why I might not travel to spend Hannukah with my family, you can stop wondering. Have a very Merry Christmas, and don’t worry about us. We have our Chinese food on Christmas Eve, and our movies on Christmas Day, and we love it.

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This Is the Most F-ed Up Toy I’ve Ever Seen

So I’m perusing Zulily for some clothes for my daughter, and see a sale called “All About the Human Body — for budding biologists.” My son loves science, so I had to take a look. Amidst the expected puzzles, models, and books — for children — there was this:

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That’s a plush fetus. Which is f-ed up enough, but then when you squeeze it, it makes a heartbeat sound. It’s marketed as a “fun gift idea for expectant parents.” I’d kill to be a fly on the wall at the baby shower where a mom-to-be unwraps this.

It turns out the company behind this, Giantmicrobes, makes a whole series of larger than life microbial designs. What started out as educational toys have also apparently become gag gifts for med students among other things.

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Let’s play a game called “Can you spot the herpes?”

 

Some of their best sellers include Swine Flu, Salmonella, and Herpes. So now you can give Herpes to your children. Okay, that’s kind of funny. My birthday’s coming up next month, and in case you’re wondering, I do NOT want a fat cell (got enough of those already):

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Or cancer.

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Is ‘Mompreneur’ a Bad Word?

image-2-1Earlier today, I fell into a stream-of-consciousness-like click hole on Facebook, during which I discovered Bump Water. The vitamin-fortified, flavored water designed for moms-to-be was created by two women entrepreneurs in Brooklyn (one of whom is married to a guy who lived in my neighborhood growing up, hence the six degrees of Facebook).

My first thought after checking out the Bump Water website was, “Shit, I wish I had known about this when I was pregnant,” followed by an involuntary twinge of jealousy for not having thought of this myself. My second thought, after perusing their press coverage and seeing outlets like the New York Post call them “mompreneurs,” was, “Blurg,” followed by a self-righteous, guttural harumph. 

I don’t know why, but the term “mompreneur” just irks me. Wait, I do know why. It just sounds condescending. Why isn’t Bill Gates called a dadpreneur? Or why isn’t a mom who is a cancer doctor called a momoncologist? I can only imagine that a female doctor would find that term insulting just as I’m insulted for women who are launching their own businesses (not an easy feat), and because they happen to be moms, are puffy painted as bored housewives who needed a hobby to keep them busy.

Then I started to wonder, am I the only one who feels this way? So I did what any person would do: I Googled it. In searching for “mompreneur condescending,” I found that I wasn’t alone. But what surprised me most was discovering that there’s an anti-anti-mompreneur movement.

Marika Jeziorek of Mom’s 2-Hour Work Day says, “By arguing ‘mompreneur’ is a negative word, you are reinforcing the negative connotation of ‘mom,’ and are thus not improving the status of women, but are rather pushing women to be ashamed and embarrassed of being mothers.”

I don’t believe by being anti-mompreneur that I’m bolstering a negative image for the word “mom,” but I do believe that whether or not you are a mother should have no bearing on your professional accomplishments. Should a mom who launches a product be seen in a different light than a business woman who doesn’t have children? Yes, moms are busy and have a lot to balance in their lives, but so do all women, and in fact, all people.

I remember when I was in my 20s and first started a blog. It was mommy blogger madness (another term that drives me crazy). All of these mommy bloggers were able to join with other mommy bloggers in special groups with spiffy blog badges … and I felt left out. Did being a mom mean that their opinions on a certain dishwashing liquid or beauty balm was more valid than mine? Why did companies pay moms to go all over the country (and the world) to try out their products and services? What if I didn’t want to — or couldn’t — become a mom? Would I feel permanently ostracized from these blogospheric and societal privileges? So, on the other side of the mompreneur coin, there’s that.

What do you think of the term mompreneur? Are you for it or against it?

If it weren’t for birth control…

…I’d never know what day it was.

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Happy Friday!

Flower Power

I got these gorgeous flowers as a very generous but unnecessary thank you for the baby shower we threw the other week. Have I mentioned that we have the best friends here in Asheville?

I love how FTD sends flowers in their budding stage so they last longer. Over the past three days, I’ve literally watched them bloom before my eyes. So pretty! Getting flowers as a thank you was a wonderful surprise. And finding out how much I truly love getting them was a nice surprise, too.

When I first wrote this post, it was simply about the fact that I loved these flowers and the surprise of getting them. But after I hit “publish”, I started thinking about why I’ve been so resistant to embrace things such as flowers and chocolate. Why do I cringe every time I even come close to resembling a cliché? At first, I chided myself for being pretentious and self-centered. Perhaps I thought I was too special for things that were so obvious and bourgeois. But then I realized that’s the eight seasons of Frasier reruns I’ve been watching on Netflix talking, not me. I wouldn’t turn my nose up at a gesture because it wasn’t good enough for me. If I like something a little different it’s only because I’m a little different… some might even say quirky. Some have flat out said weird (which I take as a compliment). And then I realized why I resist the joy of flowers and resent the housework that rightfully comes with the territory of being a stay-at-home mom.

I love wearing skirts, reading chic lit, eating ice cream in my sweatpants and drinking too much wine with my girlfriends, but I’ve come to the realization that I (albeit subconsciously) earmark certain female stereotypes as signs of weakness. I never wanted to be the blushing girl at her desk getting a dozen roses on Valentine’s Day. When’s the last time you saw a man get flowers at his desk? Men and women shouldn’t be viewed differently, but they are, and flowers or a mousepad that says “You Say I’m a Bitch Like It’s a Bad Thing” doesn’t help blur that line.

I supposed this threshold is different for everyone. I know there are people a lot less neurotic and “quirky” than I am who don’t even have a semi-feminist threshold.

I also know flowers delivered from friends to your home is not the same thing as getting a bouquet from your hubby at work. And perhaps that’s where my line lies. I can be a blubbery PMS-ing housewife in my “Head Bitch” t-shirt*  guzzling wine and ice cream** by the gallon at home, while putting on a strong, put-together face for the world. Like a superhero with two identities… or an everyday woman trying to balance work and life without going crazy. Potato, po-tah-toe…

All this from flowers. No wonder I don’t get them often:)

*T-shirt description is for dramatic effect. I do not own said shirt.

**Ice cream is used here for stereotypical purposes. In my case this would be replaced with cheese, which I wish was sold by the gallon.

 

Artichoke and Crusty Bread Kebabs, Discovering Barramundi

Last night, we went to our friends’ house for Father’s Day. It was very modern meets nuclear — the women worked away in the kitchen while the men drank and the children frolicked. But they were drinking microbrews, not scotch neat. And we were not wearing ruffled aprons and getting lightly slapped on our bottoms by gin-blossomed, cigar puffing misogynists. And because I was charged with the grocery shopping, we ate fish, not steak:) I guess it wasn’t so much nuclear as I was actually doing the cooking for a change. Some women make dinner for their families every night. I’m not one of those women.

This month’s Whole Living has a great collection of grill recipes, and I decided last night was as good a time as any to try one out. Usually with kebabs, I get stuck in a rut of green peppers and onions with either chicken or beef. But we did the Artichoke and Crusty Bread Kebabs last night and they were delish… and so easy!

Photo from Whole Living. Artichoke + Bread kebabs, all the way on the left.

I just followed Whole Living’s very simple recipe:

Artichoke + Crusty Bread: Skewer two 15-ounce cans artichoke hearts (drained) and 2 1/2 cups torn crusty bread. Generously drizzle with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Grill, turning, until lightly charred, 2 to 3 minutes.

The best part? Unlike other kebabs, there wasn’t any chopping, slicing or dicing. The hearts come out ready to skewer from the can, and you simply tear the pieces of bread from the loaf (I used ciabatta). I can’t wait to try the others!

We also grilled up some yellow peppers and onions from my friend’s garden, a bulb of fresh garlic (tastes great spread on the bread), and a whole eggplant, which my friend seasoned after it was grilled with tahini and fresh cilantro. It was a-MAZE-ing. Like grilled baba ganoush (also good spread on the grilled bread).

And then there was the fish. It was an Australian white fish called Barramundi, which isn’t well-known here, but is very popular down under. I admit I chose it because it was on sale, but I’m glad it was, because it’s now on my fish list. Apparently, it’s Dr. Oz’s number one super food, being very high in Omega-3’s. I’ve seen it called “the sustainable sea bass” because of the way it is harvested, but whatever you want to call it, it has a wonderful, rich flavor that you don’t want to over power with a marinade that’s too strong. I don’t know all that my friend mixed into her marinade, but it was gooood. She combined tahini, rice vinegar, soy sauce, brown sugar, red pepper flakes… and I lost track from there (cooking with wine will do that to you).

All in all, an amazing Father’s Day feast. At least I think it was. I forgot to ask Dave what he thought:)

Look Ma, no man!

Today is my son, Jed’s second birthday. (Thank you, thank you. Yes, they grow up so fast.) His party isn’t until tomorrow, but the grandparents are all coming in early for a more intimate celebration. Just the fam, a nice dinner (read: takeout) and a HUGE pile of presents. When I saw my folks hauling in the loot he was getting from our side of the family alone, I thought to myself, “We’re going to need a bigger boat.” (Please forgive my random, loosely applicable movie/TV quotes and references. And get used to them.) That’s Jaws, and I’m referring to our need for more toy storage. We’ve already repurposed some peach baskets as toy storage for both boy and dog. And I purchased a few apple crates, which are on my to-do list to be transformed into bookshelves for Jed. But this afternoon, while he was sleeping and while Dave was at work (you silly people with your silly jobs), I put together this “super size toy organizer” all by myself!

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After!

It’s not like it was a huge feat. The directions were only one page. But ever since I got married, I realized I’ve gotten lazy when it comes to things like repairs and home projects. Why do it myself when there’s a man to do it for me? I think I threw up a little in my mouth just typing that. The Semi-Feminist in me is sickened by these thoughts, while my id applauds my banal instincts. But from now on, I’m going to make a much more mindful effort to do things myself when I am capable. Because I know I can unclog a toilet. And kill a spider. And start a fire. The first step in any addiction is admitting it. My name is Lindsey, and I’m a husband-aholic.

Do you rely on someone or something in your life too much? Step forward and share. This is a circle of trust:)

When one door closes…

I’m on day five Post Pink Slip, and I’m happy to say I’m out of the sweat pants phase (wearing jeans today!) and starting to look at things in a better light. If you asked me earlier this week, I’d say when one door closes, it gets very dark. Now I’m warming up to the old adage, “When a door closes, a window opens.” Well folks, I’m window shopping. And to get myself in the spirit of things, I found some new muses. Insanely successful women who were at one point in their careers and lives even downer in the dumps than I am now. If they can do it, so can I!

Great Women Who First Didn’t Succeed (via onlinecollege.org):

Oprah Winfrey: Most people know Oprah as one of the most iconic faces on TV as well as one of the richest and mostsuccessful women in the world. Oprah faced a hard road to get to that position, however, enduring a rough and often abusive childhood as well as numerous career setbacks including being fired from her job as a television reporter because she was “unfit for tv.”

Emily DickinsonRecluse and poet Emily Dickinson is a commonly read and loved writer. Yet in her lifetime she was all but ignored, having fewer than a dozen poems published out of her almost 1,800 completed works.

J. K. Rowling: Rowling may be rolling in a lot of Harry Potter dough today, but before she published the series of novels she was nearly penniless, severely depressed, divorced, trying to raise a child on her own while attending school and writing a novel. Rowling went from depending on welfare to survive to being one of the richest women in the world in a span of only five years through her hard work and determination