Friday, February 29, 2008

The Book Meme

Wow, we've been tagged twice, by Jenny and by Lynn. So I'll try to get Co to participate in this one too.

The rules:
1. Grab the nearest book of 123 pages or more.
2. Open it to page 123.
3.Find the first 5 sentences and write them down.
4.Then invite 5 friends to do the same.

I am actually reading The Namesake but the directions say the nearest book....and that happens to be Mama Leah's Jewish Kitchen. Co left it on the coffee table because she was thinking about baking challah tonight. (Yes, even though she was home all day working AND taking care of Jo. My wife is a goddess.)

Poached salmon wasn't anything my mother had in her shtetl! And it's very expensive today as well. But it makes a beautiful and special buffet dish that is also extremely easy to prepare. It's good hot or cold and will feed a lot of people. Ask the fish market to fillet the whole salmon, leaving on the skin and saving the head and bones for you.

I really love it that my answer to this meme referenced fish heads. Awesome.

Now to tag. I choose: Melody, S., Shelli, Sophia, and H. and L.

Thursday, February 28, 2008

Benevolent Freight Train

So, I'm a working mom now.

I like my job, I like my students, I enjoy being out in the world and exercising that part of myself. But ho boy, it's an adjustment. Hence the "benevolent freight train" metaphor. (And there's just one of the reasons I am not a poet...)

I miss spending the day with my boy. I have cried from overwhelm more than once this week.

And I'm EXHAUSTED, though mildly hopeful that it took me until Thursday to be quite this exhausted.

Co is still home with Jo full-time 'til April. She is adjusting to being the sole stay-at-home mom, which she will tell you about when she gets the chance.

Updating here, and staying up to date with all of you on our blogroll, are among our goals. (But don't feel too slighted, 'cause sleeping is among our goals as well, which proves that not all of the goals get met.)

Friday, February 22, 2008

Photo Friday: Tranquility

What a wonderful topic!

I mulled it over for the past few days and the following two ideas popped to the forefront.

This first photo is from our 2006 honeymoon to this wonderful lesbian-owned-and-operated resort, which itself embodies tranquility. It was taken in the literal backyard of the hotel. The town in the distance is Frederiksted.
Frederiksted Town from the beach

I absolutely love the natural aspects of the Caribbean -- the weather, the water, the flowers and trees, the animals -- though the human behavior in the region (colonization, slavery, the resulting poverty/tourist economy) is less than tranquil.

And here is the most tranquil sight that we get around these parts:
Sleeping Angel

He is clearly as peaceful as can be. And oh, the tranquility for the mommies!!

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Sweet Stuff

*Jo is currently wearing/puking on a Ralph Lauren outfit. His is the only Ralph Lauren in this house; see post below about dressing my son. It's a hand-me-down. Unlike most of his sleepers (is that the right word for the ones with sleeves and footies?), it snaps in the back, not the front, which made for some impromptu tummy time on the changing table. Jo was not thrilled. It's not a surprise to me that the designer outfit looks snazzier and is far less convenient.

*I had a really wonderful encounter on the street with Jo. I was on my way home from moving the car for street cleaning, wearing Jo in the Ergo and carrying the carseat. An older man (he seemed older than my parents) standing outside one of the apartment buildings smiled broadly at me and gave me a thumbs-up. Then a few minutes later he caught up to me as I was walking (none too quickly) and told me that he used to wear his first grandson "like that," and now he has twelve granchildren, and it is the greatest blessing, "so God bless you." He had a thick Eastern-European or possibly Israeli accent. I grew up surrounded by older men with those accents and I see a lot fewer of them these days, because of both death and distance, so I teared up over this interaction.

*Maggie went to the vet today and despite some neglect in the walkie department (but she gets lots of cuddles!) she still lost .8 of a pound since her last weigh-in. At least the dog is on track.

*Chocolate Raspberry Milanos. Not sure how new they are out in the world, but I'd never seen them before. Yum (this is why it's the dog, not me, who is on track).

Friday, February 15, 2008

Working Mom

We took Jo to show off to visit my colleagues and students today. He was a hit, of course, with everyone commenting on how big/alert/adorable/gifted he is. Someone said he had my eyes. Not ironically. (He does, right now, though we'll see if that changes.)

So, I'm not quite a working mom yet. Let's say I've been a part-time working mom, in this sense: though I've been on leave, I have the kind of job that never leaves. For those of you just tuning in, I teach 7th grade. So I've been in touch with my leave replacement, sometimes daily, about various issues with the students. I had to write the reports. Even in my time at home, with Jo, there is this other thing that lives in my head. It didn't affect my time with him negatively, by any means (well except I wish I hadn't had to do the damn reports!), it's just there.

I did go back to school once before, for a meeting in mid-January. I was stressed about having to go, about leaving Jo and Co. I was really a mess about for a few days beforehand. And then I went...and it was fun. I enjoyed being back with my colleagues, talking about our students, being in that role again. I probably stayed a little longer than I needed to, although of course my plan had been to dash in and out as quickly as I could. I called Co while I was walking to the train, to let her know I was coming home, and heard Jo in the background, and totally fell apart. I had missed hours with him, I was sure I had missed entire crucial stages of development.

This pattern has been pretty consistent; I've gone to my Hebrew tutoring job several times since he was born (that's around the corner and for an hour at a time) and I've been grim about leaving him, enjoyed the work, and then panicked that I was away.

My first day back at work is February 25, and then I'll be a full-time working mom. (Co will be home with Jo full time 'til April.) I'm scared, but I do think I can do this. It's a transition, and I hate transitions, until I establish a routine. I know there are so many moms who have gone before me, many of whom (I hope) are reading this, and I know that if they do an amazing job, I can survive.

I seem to have two compartments in my head and heart, my job/career and Jo, and I love both. I love Jo more, I don't hesitate to say that. But I enjoy my teaching too. Right now it feels very schizoid, that when I am engaged in one it is hard/painful to think about the other. It helped to bring Jo to school, that I've now changed his diaper in my classroom and introduced him to the class hamster, that everyone there has met him in the flesh.

This working mom is definitely a work in progress.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Random Stuff

*We got a Valentine's Day card today from my dad, addressed to Lo, Co, and....A. Jo's middle name is indeed A. He has been at two of Jo's life cycle events, both of which emphasized the child's name. Weird.

*I went to See Vee Ess today, to pick up some items for my poor sick wife. (We have ruled out mastitis, we think, though I did pick up an antibiotics scrip just in case.) I find it very difficult to avoid impulse purchases there. Today's were limited to chocolate covered Nutter Butters, and baby wipes.

*Somebody wrote (is that the word? drew?) a manga Bible. A click is worth a thousand of my words in this case.

*We went to our childbirth class reunion, and took the requisite photo of babies lined up on the couch. Jo is second from the right, asleep on the little girl who is last in the row (also asleep; here's a close-up of the two of them).

*Jo is two months old today! That is not random, and I need to work on a real post about his development. He is just amazing. We're going to the pediatrician tomorrow and I am a little afraid to hear what he weighs. He has outgrown all but a few of his 0-3 month clothes, and I don't think he's long for size 1 diapers, no matter how many Mama may have stockpiled.

*I'll leave you with my latest favorite photo. Co is wearing him in the Maya wrap here:

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Dressing My Son

I am perhaps the least fashion conscious person on the planet. I do try to make sure that my clothes match. I know there is a rule about stripes and floral together. And for Co's sake I don't wear the sweat pants with the big bleach stains out of the house (beware of dishwasher detergent; who knew). Okay, maybe once in a while to walk the dog, but that's it.

But dressing Jo is the most fun I've ever had. It's like playing dolls (my dolls weren't very fashion conscious either; I never had many outfits). Jo has tons and tons of outfits, thanks to Mean Mama, other generous locals, Nephew S., and the gifts. His clothing is styling, too. I'm not so sure it would be if I picked it out, but I have only bought him one item of clothing. Really.

Not only is it fun to pick from the adorable outfits, but then there is the coordination. The socks, bib (for those spitty days), hat all have to match.

This picture is a good example (admittedly, sans bib and hat). It is also a cute example of how he is trying to roll over, and how Maggie thinks his toys are hers.

I consider it a victory if I even get dressed, but my kid is going to look good.

Friday, February 08, 2008

Diaper Disasters & Tender Moments

Since I can't feed Jo (I usually tell him I "don't have boobs," causing Co to correct me, since of course I have quite ample boobs indeed), I try to do as many others things for him as I can. Diaper changes are my particular specialty.

The other day I was changing one of those generous poops that went pretty far up his back (though thankfully stayed in the diaper). In order to wipe way up his back, I lifted his legs high, toes arced over his head. He was gleefully watching his mobile and didn't mind in the slightest.

Then he peed. In his face.

I was horrified, and frantically grabbed a wipe to clean his face. He was still giggling at the mobile obliviously. While I was obsessed with his face, naturally, he pooped. By the time Co came in I was laughing hysterically.


Jo and his mobile are a match made in heaven. He can lie and watch it for hours, smiling, grinning, giggling, babbling. Too precious. I've taken several videos of him doing it. In one of them, you can hear me talking to him.

After I uploaded it, Co watched it a few times with Jo asleep on her lap. She claimed that he smiled in his sleep when he heard my voice. I was skeptical, but I came in the room, she played the video, and he really did smile when I spoke. Sweet baby knows his Mama.

Photo Friday: Organize This

I am a pathologically organized person. That's why I chose this theme when I had the honor of doing so. Before I moved in with Co, my CDs, cassettes, books, and spices were all alphabetized (the books within categories, of course). Now only the cassettes (which are mine alone) remain in this pristinely organized state. Co is not messy, but she doesn't have the patience to keep things alphabetized, and I can't blame her that manifestation of sanity.

But in some things, I prevail. Here is my beloved pregnancy organizer. Co was skeptical that I was going to organize her pregnancy, but I did. This amazing little book has lists of questions for OBs/midwives, pediatricians, and doulas; space to keep track of information for prenatal and pediatrician appointments; and I'm still using it for the space to keep track of baby gifts and borrowed items.*
The Pregnancy Organizer

The boxes below were an organization feat. See how they fit so neatly in that ridiculous space between the stupidly low windowsill and inconveniently placed radiator? The left one holds Jo's linens, the right one his toys. (The puppy sitting on the top may please Jo someday, but for now, it announces its body parts for several looong minutes if we so much as breathe on it. Kinda creepy.)
Jo's Boxes

Last but not least, this item is probably the organizing fetish that made Co roll her eyes the hardest, but she did buy it for me:
Gift Wrap Organizer

Yes, it's a gift wrap organizer. And I love it.

*When I went searching for a link to the pregnancy organizer to share with you all, I found this. I have already ordered it, and Co is already frightened.

Tuesday, February 05, 2008

Panic Disorder

I'm a little nervous about this post, which is why I jumped right into the cold water by referring to it. I feel like I'm coming out. Ha.

I apologize for how long it is; I've edited several times. It's a long story.

I was diagnosed with panic disorder when I was 17.

The full story starts back as long ago as I can remember: I was terrified when my parents went out at night. This fear was extreme in every way: it held on too long, and even when it was more age-appropriate, it was intense and unrelenting.

I believed that when my parents left the house at night, they were not going to return. I wasn't terribly specific about how they would meet their demise -- as I got older I usually feared a car accident, but when I was little we lived in a city where they usually took public transportation -- but that wasn't the point. Logic was, indeed, beside the point. I simply knew they were walking out of my life. I reacted with terror appropriate to my belief, but I was the only one who held the belief so it seemed...extreme. Through the sixth grade, I began my panic when I heard of their future plans to go out, and worried off and on (mostly on) until the event had passed. I begged them not to go, I begged them to find one of the few babysitters who would be kind to me (more on this later), I begged them to choose a locale walking distance from our home.

The rules of my fear were this: a) if they were within walking distance, or even public transportation, if I could reach them on my own child's steam, that was okay; b) if I was with a babysitter who didn't get angry at me because I was so frightened, that was okay; c) if they came home on time, that was okay. In order to manage the monster of my fear, I came up with the idea of "the latest." My mom would tell me they would be home at "10:30 at the latest" (or whatever time); then I could relax my vigilance until the hour crept closer and closer to 10:30. Inevitably, they would be late; also inevitably, the phone call with a new "latest" wouldn't come until 10:37. I don't know if you can even imagine what those seven minutes were like for me. The cold sweat, the nausea and vomiting, the animal fear clawing me from the inside out. And the babysitter, furious at me for not going to bed and convinced that I was inventing my physical symptoms for attention.

My mom later told me that they tended to miss the "latest" times because they resented being tied down by my anxiety. Um, thanks. I, on the other hand, sat at home rubbing my hands together with glee over the control I exercised over them.

I was only scared at night. My parents obviously went about their daily lives while I was at school, and we were often cared for after school by a babysitter, and that didn't bother me.

When I was seven or eight my parents took me for psychological testing, both because my fear made their lives difficult, and worried them; and because my father's brother (who died when I was 4) had been seriously mentally ill. Testing ruled out my uncle's problems (paranoia, schizophrenia, bipolar) and revealed me to be just a normal bright anxious kid. So I started seeing a psychiatrist at eight and kept going 'til I was thirteen. I went two days a week. Hebrew school and the shrink were my extra-curriculars.

But nothing changed. I didn't get even remotely better. I remember Shrink #2 (I saw two because we moved to a new city when I was ten) being impressed that I was willing to take the trolley by myself at age eleven. I got the sense that she thought my independence was a sign of improvement. But my leaving the house was never the problem! I started walking to and from school, and had my own house key, at age nine, in a city far larger and more dangerous than the one where I took the trolley (a full year before Shrink #2 ever met me). I had the sinking feeling she didn't really get it, no matter how much I explained.

As an adult, I have other reasons to be highly skeptical of both shrinks. I remember them asking tons of questions about my grandparents and my sister, and nothing else. What they should have known from my parents was: a) I lost both my grandmother and my uncle (my father's brother) by the time I was four. My uncle committed suicide by jumping in front of a subway (my parents tried to keep the details from me but I figured it out) and in the same month, my family moved to the Big Apple. I refused to get on a subway. Good times. b) By the time I was ten and met Shrink #2 I had lived in three cities, and attended six schools. I won't bother to count the Hebrew schools. Really, no consistency. c) My mom is one of the most anxious people on earth. This is readily apparent to passersby, let alone mental health professionals. What the docs could have learned from me was that d) My mom's anxiety sometimes spun into rage and she berated me verbally for hours on end and even hit me. (Never my sister.) I am not saying that any of these factors necessarily caused/affected my panic disorder (though apparently stressors, such as deaths and moves, can trigger it, and it's considered genetic). But I have just listed four serious problems for a little girl, and all they wanted to talk about was sibling rivalry and my cranky (living) grandparents.

Nothing changed until I got to be about twelve, and we stopped having babysitters. I suppose technically I was in charge of my sister but we were both good kids and we knew what to do, what not to do, and how not to get caught, so I never had to pull rank. No babysitter left me with only my own fear to manage; I could distract myself with T.V. and reading and not pretend to go to sleep, I could step out of the house if I needed to, I could use the phone if I wanted to. Knowing I had power was a big, big deal. Ironically, I felt much safer without the authority figure, 'cause all they'd ever done for me was cramp my coping skills.

I collected the few adults that understood my problem, made scratched lists in my journal and went to them sparingly so as not to wear out their kindness. Babysitters got pissed that I was so high maintenance. Overnight camp was a nightmare (and yet I got sent for three summers, my parents thought repeated exposure to agony would cure me). The counselors thought I was manipulative and bratty, no matter how much I tried to explain that I was faced with four weeks of literally not knowing if my parents were dead or alive.

In middle school I came up with a metaphor for my fear. Our language classrooms were equipped with tape recorders in every desk and a teacher's control console. She could send the same signal to every machine, so we could record dialogue practice, or she could send a tape to just a few kids. This setup had a quirk I've never seen before or since: the tape recorder recorded on both sides of the tape. If you recorded on side A, side B was the same recording, only backwards. My fear was like that tape recorder: it took over every corner of my brain, recorded on both sides. Plenty of other stuff bothered me, but nothing else took over my brain and my body.

Life went on like this through high school. I managed to be a relatively normal kid, given how much energy I spent coping with my fear. Nobody ever knew anything was wrong, beyond typical bright-girl-social-anxiety-crap. Yes, even in high school, I was scared when they were out at night. I behaved differently than when I was little, I didn't beg them not to go, but when they were late I was terrified. I have visceral memories of kneeling on the leather couch, looking out the window at the driveway, searching up and down the block for their headlights.

My junior year of high school I went through a funk and a caring English teacher (we're still in touch, she sent Jo an adorable sweater) dragged me to the school social worker (English teacher and social worker were friends). I hadn't been in therapy since 8th grade by that point. (My parents stopped the sessions when I got a little better in middle school, thanks to the disappearance of the babysitters.)

The school social worker, P., turned out to be absolutely fabulous. She had amazing artwork all over her office, and inspirational quotes, and the most colorful and daring wardrobes I'd ever seen. Her office smelled of the marvelous combination of her sweet perfume and incense-y potpourri. I talked about my adolescent angst, and then I figured, she was so warm and open and kind, I'd trot out the fear problem. She nodded and said, "Sounds like panic disorder." My jaw hit the floor. No one had ever said it sounded like anything (except for "manipulatingly spoiled" and "fake" and "indulged").

She sent me to see her friend, Dr W., a psychiatrist at the local mental health clinic. He agreed with her diagnosis and suggested we try some medications. Again, I was floored. A diagnosis and a solution?? It didn't escape me that the school social worker and health clinic doctor solved in a week a problem that all the private psychiatrists in the world hadn't even touched. Though they were happy to take my parents' money. LAME.

The meds situation was a little touchy; my dad had a lot of anger with the entire mental health profession for failing his brother and he was reluctant to let them mess with his kid. Dr. W. was amazing, explaining to my dad how much medications had changed since the 1970s, and also setting up the most extraordinarily careful medication regime you've ever seen. I am always astounded by how quickly kids are medicated these days because Dr. W. was soooo careful with me. He started me on 5 grams of Pro.zac. If you know anything about the drug, you know that wouldn't cheer up my 12 lb dachshund; and also, that to get 5 grams, you have to take the liquid. He slowly titrated me up to a normal dose, 15 grams I think.

He also prescribed a medication called, originally used for epilepsy but now widely prescribed for anxiety. I think it's similar to Xa.nax. I started off with .5 mg pills that I cut in half. (When Alanis Morrissette came out with her album "Jagged Little Pill," that resonated; I had my little bottle of bright pink pills, jagged at the edge where I'd painstakingly cut each in half with a kitchen knife.) The SSRI (class of drugs that includes Pro.zac,, and others) was to lower my level of anxiety in general; the Klon.opin was an as-needed drug that I could take when the panic broke through.

They both worked. THEY WORKED. I started the regime mostly because I wanted to go away to college but I just didn't know how I was going to do it with my fear. And those drugs made it possible. The school of my dreams was 7 hours from home, and I went there, instead of having to limit myself to a local school (which would have been easy, we lived in an area full of colleges) which I feared I would have to do if I couldn't get control of my monster. I was blown away by the in particular. It was unbelievable to take a pill and to actually feel calmer in twenty minutes. I felt like such an animal, but not in a bad way.

Today, I still struggle with panic. I take (since graduating high school and leaving the town of Dr. W, I have been under the constant care of psychiatrists, who have tinkered with my SSRI prescriptions; I've also been on and Ce.lexa). I still have the for emergencies. I am able to be a person not governed by my fear, and it has made all the difference. I ache for the little girl I was, and now as a full-fledged adult, I still can't understand why so many adults were so unkind to me. The babysitters, the camp counselors, parents on the third grade overnight trip, even my own parents, even the psychiatrists. I work with children for a living, and I've done so in many different contexts. Maybe my experience has made me more sensitive, but I don't think it's so revolutionary to listen to a child.

Super Tuesday

(I'm still working on the depressing post.)

So we voted. With the baby. Jo was disappointed that none of the candidates cater to the Boob Vote, but we're used to discrimination in this family. Don't even get me started on Maggie's issues...

This was our first vote since we changed our names, and it was fun to have our names one after another in the book.

The weather here is relatively balmy, so after voting we took a walk in the park with Jo and Maggie. It was the first time we've done that, and of course I've fantasized about it. I even got to the use the cupholder on the stroller for the first time (for my water bottle).

Now the boy is nursing, and the dog is resting, and we're watching The Hebrew Hammer. Status quo.

Monday, February 04, 2008

Stupid Things We Say (and do), Volume 2

I'll let this entertaining post sit up here while I work on the entry about panic disorder. Shiny happy blogger that I am.

1) Please keep on helping Flick Con the Bads! I know that the Bads have treated a dear friend, well, badly. But my Bads go to a good cause (two good causes if you count Jo's diapers). Flick away. (Blogfriends with Flick: I've developed the habit of flicking every time I visit.)

2) On Saturday night we were lying on the bed watching Saturday Night Fever on Vh1 Classic and enjoying the shots of our borough. (We are party animals.) Jo was napping in his snuggle nest, but at some point he woke and started doing his crazy active alert thing where his arms and legs move wildly and it looks like he’s dancing. We said he was entering the disco dancing competition. Then Co said he was doing the Highland Fling (he has Scottish ancestry on Nerdy Science Guy's side). Then we started singing "I'm Too Sexy For My Snuggle Nest."

3) Yesterday we were standing by Jo's changing table winding the mobile for the 34528th time, and we came up with the idea for an Election Mobile. Little candidates spinning around to music! There could be the Democratic mobile (it would have to include candidates who have dropped out) and the Republican mobile; or the non-partisan mobile with Clinton, Obama, Huckabee, Romney, McCain. I am not sure which mobile to put Ron Paul in. Maybe he would have to be a squishy toy on his own.

(To see Jo and his mobile, plus his "I'm Too Sexy (for my changing table)" dance, click here.)

4) Today I went out to do a few errands, including pick up seltzer for Co. I bought two bottles and as I was walking to the bank (quarters for Jo's endless laundry) the plastic bag broke. So I held the bottles in my arms against my chest as I stood in line at the bank. And at some point I realized that I was rocking and jiggling the seltzer bottles against my chest. Oops. (Fortunately Co won't be opening them for a while...)

Friday, February 01, 2008

Jo's Naming: The Post

(So mostly this is going to be a serious and intense post about my child and religion, but the title is a little Spaceballs joke. I can't help myself.)

We had a breakfast for congregants, friends, and family before his naming, which was a fun way to socialize. My mom invited some of her old friends I hadn't seen since I was a child. Both of my parents came (my dad has now met Jo twice; he is really surprising me). A few friends came from out of town, including Jo's buddy Z. -- who turned one year old that day! -- and his other buddy Z, who is almost three and treated her stuffed dog to a ride in Jo's swing.

The naming itself didn't come until the Torah service, which is close to the end of the morning. Jo patiently sat through the entire service in our arms. He slept, nursed, and at times listened to the music. He liked the singing in utero, too. Nephew S. had a rough time because the ceiling fan wasn't turning. He really, really wanted it to and yelled about it every time my sister tried to carry him into the sanctuary.

After the Torah was read, but before it was returned to the ark, the three of us came up in front of the congregation. The time the scroll is out of the ark is sacred time, when we say prayers for people who are sick, people who have just come through any life-threatening situation, and for the good things that have happened in the past week. Our wonderful cantor sang a song to Jo called Duerme, Duerme (you can hear a sample by clicking on the link and scrolling down to the song "Duerme"). Co has loved the song since long before she knew me; we discovered only after Jo's birth (from a CD my mom gave us) that it was a Ladino lullabye. Then Co and I spoke about Jo's English name, his Hebrew name, and his (our) last name. We explained that he is named for Co's father John, her grandmother Angela, and my great-uncle George. The rabbi announced his official Hebrew name, which is First Name Middle Name ben (Hebrew for son) Lo v' (Hebrew for "and") Co. This is a big deal because some rabbis would consider Jo a convert (because his biological mother isn't Jewish), and converts to Judaism are considered "the children of Abraham and Sarah." That would make his name First Name Last Name ben Avraham v'Sara, erasing us as parents. However, because our rabbi is Reform, she follows a doctrine that says a child is Jewish if either parent is Jewish and the child is raised Jewish (ironically the doctrine is called Patrilineal Descent, since it enables the child of a Jewish father and a non-Jewish mother to be considered a Jew).

The rabbi gathered us under her tallis and she and the cantor sang a beautiful melody to the priestly blessing. I had tears in my eyes. Perhaps other Jews know how it is, to have that blessing said over you.

And I can't underestimate the power of welcoming my child into my religion. Planning the naming, we were preoccupied with how many bagels to order, what to wear, what Jo should wear, would my parents behave in front of each other (they mostly did). Sitting in the service with my boy in my arms, singing the ancient melodies, was one of the most powerful experiences of my life. I was also beside my father for much of the service, and hearing him sing along as I had throughout my childhood was equally powerful. I don't see my dad much, and almost never in a Jewish context. My daddy and my baby, the bookends of my Judaism.

(And here is where I admit how unfair it is that I get so teary about my dad, when it is my mom who is there for me at every turn, who I don't need to be nostalgic about because she was here a few days ago rocking Jo to sleep so Co and I could get some work done. But that is another post, if not perhaps a novel. Or a therapy session.)

I have been a part of this Jewish community, off and on, for over ten years. Co has been coming with me for several years now. So the warm rush of hugs and "mazel tov" and affection for us and for Jo....I'm having trouble putting it all into words. It was really, really special.

Many family and friends came as well, some to meet Jo for the first time. There was so, so much love and support for our family that day. I will hold it in my heart forever.

Here's Nephew S. (he and Jo were both in green sweaters):

And here's Jo hanging out with his Grandmom after the naming (showing some local pride):