penelope and bumblebee

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Monday, December 18, 2006

Gone Fishing

Writing this makes me so so sad, but I'm going to have to retire penelope and bumblebee.

As a writer, one who finally found her voice again through this medium, and as a mother, one who found her stride alongside all of you, this hurts my heart more than you can imagine.

Unfortunately, the privilege to be honest and real and free here has been compromised.

I promise I'll keep reading; keep commenting, and hopefully, on the other side of '07, I'll be back, somewhere new.

thanks for reading.

aka Penelope

Friday, December 15, 2006

enter the grinch

Oh, week - how shit you've been.

Great way to start a post, innit? But true. So I haven't been around much; I've lurked a bit, commented less - especially with blogger beta sucking almost as much as my week; I'm not used to weeks like this and I'm exhausted by it.

No less than 3 ugly, face-to-face conflicts have arisen this week, and they have sucked the energy out of me. Which meant that I had little left to put into all of the things that needed desperately to get done, and all the things that I said I would do. To the many people that I have let down this week, I am truly sorry. I meant to do it; I meant to write that piece; to proof that letter; to bake those cookies; to go to that fundraiser; to spend an evening just the two of us.

I had a reprieve on Tuesday night - gold tickets to the Leafs game, which I hadn't been to in over a year, which was so awesome, which we won. Thank you my very best friend, for that.

But Wednesday morning my hockey high was completely destroyed by something that I cannot talk about, lest I be dooced.

I'm not sure what's going on. I feel like much of this conflict was not brought on by me, and may just be an issue of really bad timing, but still... I am the common denominator.

So I'm just going to let the dust settle a little bit longer, and hopefully the weekend will refresh my spirit and rejuvenate my soul.


It's not all bad news. There are lovely, wonderful things afoot. Please go see.

Her Bad Auction

oh, and ahem, a more positive, happy me can also be found at MommyBlogs Toronto. But I can't get the link to work. see sidebar until I smarten up.

Thursday, December 07, 2006

Meme for a Winter's Day

Well, I guess I can’t ignore, refute, pretend or deny it any longer: Winter is here.

To wit – it is snowing right now, this very minute, and I am cold. Bah.

Even tho I hate winter, I already have a cute story about it; the other night, I took Bee grocery shopping. It was not snowing when we went into Loblaws, but low and behold, thick, heavy, chunky flakes were coming down as we were leaving an hour later.

(By the way, if any of you manage to do your grocery shopping in less than an hour, please let me know how. I am never ever in the grocery store for less than that, and often, for far longer.)

Anyway, Bee hasn’t really seen snow yet – at least, snow that she was aware of. Last year’s infancy snow doesn’t count. So, we leave Loblaws, and Bee is enthralled. Wide eyed and speechless, she is hurried into her carseat and out of the cold, but her gaze never waivers from the falling snow. She is silent as I load the groceries into the hatch; watching. I get in and start the car.

“What do you see, love?” I ask. She thinks about it for a moment.


Bubbles. Bee thinks that the snowflakes are bubbles.

My heart near about bursts, but I am able to drive home.

Sigh. Ok, enough of the sentimentality. Moving on, I have been tagged by Metro Mama and Cakes for a fun mother/daughter meme.

So, without further ado, I give you:

Five things you did not know about Penelope:

1. Publicly, I shun, chastize and greatly dislike McDonald’s. If asked, I will tell you that I have not eaten anything from McDonald’s in over 15 years. But the truth is, I ate a mcchicken when I was pregnant (ok, fine, it was two. I ate two mcchickens in one sitting). I couldn’t help it. And it was delicious. Don’t tell, and can you give me a hand, please? I’m having a bit of difficulty getting back up on my soapbox.

2. I have dual citizenship. Mom’s Canadian, Dad’s American. I hold two passports, and I’m pretty sure Chris only married me for the green card.

3. I have many little quirks, but some of my most endearing include stirring my coffee 40 times and being completely intolerant of crumbs. I have shoved many a plate under my husband’s errant pb&j sandwiches. That said, my house is usually a mess.

4. I write poetry. In fact, I came as close to majoring in poetry as you can in university. I will spare you my gifts and never make you read any here.

5. My first job (besides babysitting) was at Bi-Way when I was 14. Remember Bi-Way? My mother, who had 4 children to clothe, shopped there quite a bit, and helped get me the job. I made $4.25/hour and was responsible for wearing an ugly smock and folding cheap ugly clothes on big metal bin/tables. My nose and throat were constantly full of dust and lint. During the two months that I worked there, Downtown Train by Rod Stewart was big on A/C radio. I hate that song so much.

Five things you did not know about Bee:

1. She has a mullet. It is an all-natural baby mullet, but still. Oh, and the bangs grow longer in 3 places, but the sides just won’t catch up. I try to put clips in her hair, but she tries to eat them. I am too superstitious to cut her hair before at least age 2.

2. She has very, very, long fingers. Since the day she was born she has had crazy long, graceful fingers, and everybody tries to take credit for them. If you ask my mom, they are her grandmother’s hands. If you ask Chris’ grandmother, they are her hands. I must be a horrible mother, because I did not think about her long fingers until others pointed them out. Also, despite everybody’s insistence that her long fingers would make her an automatic virtuoso, I’m not getting a piano.

3. Bee is a tiny peanut of a baby (toddler). At almost 19 months, she weighs a whopping 19lbs. I don’t know how tall she is. She has friends younger than her that outweigh her by a good 10 lbs. At this rate, she won’t be out of a car seat until she is 15.

4. She hates the bath right now – like kicking, screaming, crying, major trauma hates it. This seems like more than just not wanting a bath, so we have backed off. We make do with sponge baths and less than regular hair washing right now, until we sense that her mood or fear or whatever, has changed. So, my kid is a bit of a smelly ragamuffin these days.

5. Bee runs after the cat, arms outstretched, yelling ‘Up! Up! Up!” We are not sure if she wants to pick Miko up, or if she wants Miko to pick her up. Either way, the cat’s not into it.

Now, who’s secrets do I want to know? How about the lovely Cinnamon Gurl, and her little man, Swee’pea. Her baby just started sleeping once in a while, so she should have oodles of time these days. Tag, sister, you’re it.

p.s. If you're cold, Sandra's new post at MommyBlogs Toronto is sure to warm you right up.

Monday, December 04, 2006

Losing My Religion

In my neighbourhood, Christmas lights supplant jack o'lanterns about as quickly and readily as Paris Hilton supplants her BFFs. By the first of December in Toronto, the snow had not yet fallen, but my company had already had its annual holiday bash, Holt Renfrew had already unveiled their holiday windows, and the well-meaning questions had already started:

“Have you put up your Christmas tree yet?”
“Is Bee excited to see Santa Claus?”
“What are you getting Bee for Christmas?”
“Have you sent out your Christmas cards yet?”

The answer to these questions would be a respective and respectuful no, no, nothing, and no. I ain’t no grinch, and I’m not trying to bah-humbug anybody’s good time. The thing is, I’m Jewish. The other thing is, Chris is a non-practicing realistic skeptic agnostic, tho his family is traditionally Christian. The toddling, talking, soon-to-be-asking-questions thing is, therefore, both. I guess.

My – our – incapacity to identify or declare Bee’s religious heritage has not been an issue for 16 of her 18 months of life. But in December (this being her second), the question of the religion of our child inevitably gets raised, and we realize that at some point we will have to form an opinion regarding it, one way or another. I think.

You see, this vagueness, ambiguity and haziness of the issue has always been present in our relationship. Of course, we have always been aware that Chris and I come from very different backgrounds (in so, so many ways), but we have always been comfortable with each of our level of involvement (or lack thereof) in religion. We were married by a judge. We celebrate religious holidays at our respective parents’ houses. We go to church or synagogue when someone gets married or dies. We don’t say grace. While pregnant, we of course discussed the religious upbringing of our child (or, again, lack thereof), and it boiled down to this:

Penelope – I want to continue the traditional aspects of my religion that I hold dear, like big meals, Yiddish swear words and menorahs. I would prefer it if Bee knew the actual reasons for our holidays, though we must also continue my grandfather’s tradition of filling our head with stories about how we won the war with my aunt’s matzo balls and such. She must never forget. One day I would like her to go to Israel.

Chris – I want my child to make up her own mind, and to not believe the hype. However, I will not quash my parents’ attempts at showing her how to rock it, United-style.

How’s that for direction? Fine, when the idea of a child and her religious upbringing is an abstract collage of peaceful inclusion and convictions, but somewhat different when a real child enters your real world, and time for talk of what to have for dinner is hard to come by, let alone deliberations over one’s child’s practices of faith (or lack thereof).

Happily, our parents, who are completely accepting of the differences of background, have not questioned us about our intentions one way or the other. My mother did not insist on a baby-naming, nor did his on a baptism. So she had neither. I wanted Bee to have a Hebrew name, so I gave her one. Tzipporah Batsheba. I think it’s pretty. We thank whoever we believe in that day that we did not have a boy, so that we could avoid the circumcision decision. Avoiding decisions is something we are good at. Imparting a cohesive opinion regarding organized religion – mine, his, or any other – and our child, is something we are not.

I suppose the fair thing to do is to first examine exactly what religion (and it’s less bloody bedfellows, spirituality and faith) means to us. But I’ve had 31 years to figure that shit out, and I’m no closer to understanding it than I am to understanding quantum physics or the appeal of James Blunt.

The thing is, all of this proselytizing, philosophising, hand-wringing, and ultimately, uncertainty, is based not on our desire to choose one – to check a religion off of a list and say, there you go! You are a Jew/Christian/Pagan/Druze/Whatever – it’s about the fact that we don’t really want to do that at all. Is that fair? Is it fair that it seems like her religious identity, when inevitably asked about at some point, will have to be explained with, ‘Well, my mum’s Jewish, and my dad’s family is Christian?” Is it fair to assume that she will achieve a comfort level regarding this subject – this aspect of who she is – on her own, with little guidance (Chris calls it interference) from us? Is it fair to do this without completely accepting in myself the possibility that she may one day follow a doctrine that I know little about? How would I feel if Bee became a Rasta, or Islamic, or gasp! a goth? Is it fair that Christmas is going to be something that only happens at her gram and granddad’s house?

I understand that this is a complicated issue (at least to us), and in a way, I envy those whose religious footing is steadfast and unwaivering. Because for me and Chris, and so, for Bee, our grip on religion is about as precarious as a jolly fat man trying to get his jolly fat self down a skinny-ass chimney.
But I guess we don’t have to worry about that.

Metro Mama wants to make you smarter. Go check out what she has to say at Mommy Blogs Toronto
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