Surrounded by Girls

Monday, December 31, 2007

Happy New Year


Be safe. Don't drink and drive.

Thursday, December 27, 2007

Humming coming at ya

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Legoland Xmas

See all of the photos from Melanie's trip to Legoland with Grandpa Larry and Grandma Susan here.

Helping Hand

More photos from today's visit with the La Jolla High Class of '90 (and their kids!) here, and more to follow. Go Vikings!

Monday, December 24, 2007

Hook em Horn & Hoof Mesa

Monday afternoon at the San Diego Zoo. It may be Santa Ana conditions, and it's in the 80s and sunny. I was very happily wearing shorts and a tshirt. We had lunch by the elephants who obliged with a performance.

Susan's "friends" - the UT football team and supporters - were out in force today as they are here for the Holiday Bowl. She even got a picture with Coach Brown.

Garden of Lights

Garden of Lights at the Quail Botannical Gardens. We went Saturday night with Grandpa Larry and Grandma Susan.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

The Benefits of a Jewish Pre-School Education

Walk About

Now for something completely different. As we've mentioned a few times on the blog, Jenna has been walking farther and more often. Here's video of her going around her favorite corner. However, there are no car sound effects this time.

It may be the poor sound quality, or maybe it's just our parental bias, but Laura and I are sure that at the end of the clip she says, "Ta-da!"

Bunny Leff


Each year on the Jewish anniversary of the death of a loved one, a proper commemoration should take place. If you are not sure of the Jewish date, contact a synagogue, yeshiva or funeral home and they will surely help you. Some people are careful to do the following:

  • Light a yartzeit candle at home the night before, because the Jewish day begins in the evening.

  • Give tzedakah in your loved one's memory.

  • Learn Torah that day. Read from a book about Judaism or Torah ideas, or arrange to learn with someone from the community.

  • Recite Kaddish. If you cannot, arrange for someone to recite it on your behalf. Call a local synagogue or yeshiva for help.

  • Sponsor a kiddush in synagogue on that day, or on the Shabbat that falls at the end of that week.

  • Fast from sunrise to sunset.

It is significant to note that in Judaism we downplay birthdays, never commemorating the date of birth of one who has passed away, yet we are careful to mark the anniversary of someone's death.

The Talmud compares this to a ship. How odd that we hold a big party when the ship is about to sail, yet when it arrives at its destination, nothing is done. It really should be the other way around.

Although the day of birth holds all the potential for the life that will be, the day of death is the marker of who we actually became. Our worth is measured according to how much of our potential was realized. Did we live up to who we were to the best of our ability in the time that we had?

When our loved ones die and go back to God, to their "port of call," we mourn not having them here with us, yet we remember what they were able to accomplish in this life. The yartzeit's annual commemoration is a time to feel the sadness -- but also to celebrate who they were and the life they lived.

Parshat Vayechi (Genesis 47:28-50:26), the final portion of the first book of the Torah, describes Jacob's actions immediately preceding his death in Egypt, beginning with his making Joseph swear to bury him in the land of Israel. Jacob then gives Joseph's two sons, Menashe and Ephraim, a special blessing which confers upon them the elevated status of being two separate tribes amongst the Children of Israel. Notwithstanding Joseph's protest, Jacob insists on giving the younger Ephraim the right-hand position of primacy during the blessing, stating that Ephraim would be greater. Jacob then proceeds to give each of his other sons their individual blessing, in accordance with their own unique character traits and missions. Jacob passes away at the age of 147 and is brought by his sons, accompanied by a great procession of Egyptian royalty, to the land of Israel where he is buried in the M'arat HaMachpelah alongside his wife Leah, parents Isaac and Rebeccah, and grandparents Abraham and Sarah. Upon their return to Egypt, Joseph's brothers fear that he will finally take revenge now that their father is dead. Joseph reassures them that he bears no hard feelings, stating that his being sold into slavery was all part of the Divine plan. The Torah portion concludes with Joseph's death and the Jewish people's promise to carry his bones with them to Israel when they are finally redeemed by Hashem.

This seems to be an important turning point in the bible story. It is the death of the last patriarch and the instructions to his heirs (children and grandchildren) on the organization of not just a family, but of a society. This is the transition from a familial story to a communal one. This is also a moment when we, the present day reader, get pulled into the story. Jacob is buried with his family, but Joseph only receives "the Jewish people's promise to carry his bones with them to Israel". We share that obligation as much as Menashe and Ephraim. The biological children of Israel/Jacob here become the Children of Israel writ large.

My grandfather, who passed away two years ago today, worked hard to nurture both his immediate family and his larger Jewish family. We miss him but I like to think that he would be happy with how we are carrying on his legacy. As my mom said via email, "maybe he's with us more than we know". And he is. We in the present are part of his story as much as we are a part of Jacob's and Joseph's.

Sorry... this biblical commentary is probably best left up to the professionals and a blog post may not be the best place for Talmudic heavy lifting. But I just wanted to honor him in some way today. Maybe I can't do better than this, from last year. It's what's important.

Sunday, December 16, 2007

The Wheels on the Bus

For posterity, here are the current "verses" of the song:
  • The wheels on the bus go round and round
  • The wipers on the bus go swish swish swish
  • The door on the bus goes open and shut
  • The windows on the bus go up and down
  • The Mommies on the bus go "Shh, Shh, Shh"
  • The Daddies on the bus go "I love you"
  • The Grandpa Bob on the bus goes "Pinch, Pinch, Pinch"
  • The Granny Franny on the bus goes "I want you to give me a hug"
  • The Grandma Alicia on the bus go goes "I want a kiss"
  • The Evan (Melanie's friend) on the bus goes "On Wisconsin!"
  • The Bree (Melanie's teacher) on the bus goes "Kids aren't listening to me"
  • The Deborah (Melanie's teacher) on the bus goes "Hola, amigos"
  • The Jenna on the bus goes "Hi, Hi, Hi"
  • The Melanie on the bus goes "Um, Um, Um"
Sure to be updated.

Language Barrier

"Jenna says, 'Uh-oh, Spaghetti-O's.' That's Spanish."

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Vital Stats

Jenna had her fifteen month appointment yesterday. And you know what that means...
  • Weight: 24lbs. 2oz. (70%)
  • Height: 31' (75% - but there's a lot of wiggle room here, literally and subsequently figuratively)
  • Head circumference: 18.5' (80%)
She's happy, healthy, has several words & gestures, and even blew a kiss to the doctor at the end of the visit.

AND... she's walking now! A few steps at a time. But all by herself.

The Most Important Meal of the Day

Future's So Bright

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Everyone can be a Macabee

Happy Hanukah, everyone!

Caption Contest

What, oh what, can Zoe and Melanie be saying to each other? Give us your best guess in the comments.

Monday, December 03, 2007

Jenna loves Melanie

Not the Melanie you expect - though she certainly loves her big sister. But she LOVES Melanie Jacobson (far left). You can't tell from the photo, taken at yesterday's Hanukah themed "My Family and Me", but Jenna is sitting on her lap. Jenna chose Melanie's lap over mine. Not that I'm jealous. But when one of Melanie's twins - seen here sitting on their father Michael's lap - walked over to Melanie - their own mother - Jenna shoved them over!

Melanie is the one who gave our Melanie her "Melanie" tshirt. (Can I type "Melanie" more?) It was hers as a child and she is very sweet to have passed it along.


Kudos for our Pink for October design. Not sure what "something tells me they have had a bit of practice with the pink palette" means, but I'm always a sucker for a compliment.