Today in three year olds.…was AWESOME.

Back in the day (“the day” here being something like two years ago? ish?), my friend anibundel was a preschool teacher and would often tell us about her experiences in brief vignettes entitled “Today in Three Year Olds.” These tales tended to be priceless, and in ani’s capable hands, were always delightfully related.

And at some point in the past 12-24 months, when the whole “writing” thing really appeared to be permanently down for the count, I began to look very seriously at alternative careers, some of which were librarian technician/assistant, Trader Joe’s crew member, and preschool teacher. I didn’t get a couple of jobs for which I applied in the first category, was never called re: the second, and regarding the third, realized that going back to school in order to then earn a preschool teacher’s salary just wasn’t in the cards — but, thanks to ani’s most excellent suggestion that I try substituting, I did sign up as a substitute at the one place where I kind of knew the director already. 

And she never called.

Until a few weeks ago, when she did.

And now I’m on the list, and one of the teachers called on Monday to see if I was available this morning and I was and lo! I spent my morning playing with three year olds!


I don’t know if you’ve noticed, but my day job tends toward the dour. Indeed, even when I’m not writing about Israel/Palestine, I’m usually writing about some other horrible thing, like fires in factories or climate change. I do occasionally get contract gigs that involve happy nonprofits (why, look at these wonderful computer centers we’ve set up for our under-served youth!), but mostly it’s human muck and political mire.

But toddlers are cute as buttons only smaller, and they have goofy grins and soft hands that they rest on you as if you were a piece of furniture. They are proud (in the case of one young man this morning, very proud) of pooping in the potty, and very excited about snack. They want you to make funny noises when you read books, and if you’re very lucky, they jostle over who gets to sit in your lap (readers, I was lucky this morning).

I don’t have an anibundel-worthy story to tell — it was pretty much just cuteness all the way down — but I cannot tell you how happy I am that I did this. During those many, many months in which I was in the Slough of Despond, and not even making any money as I slogged through the Slough, I kept thinking “just find one thing to do that gives you joy,” and though I found many small things, I never found The Thing. I think for the time being, this is The Thing. Every now and then, I will spend two and a half hours of my day playing with toddlers, and even get a little dosh in the bargain.


Toddlers > than war and bloodshed, for sure and for certain.

And now for something completely different.

I actually don’t have a ding-dang thing to write about, nor do I have time to write it. I’m leaving in just a little smidge to go to two friends’ Big Numbered birthday party in Wisconsin, and you are kidding yourself as much as I’m kidding myself if you think I’m packed and/or ready to go.

But good God, y’all. Remember when I didn’t write about the misery of Israel/Palestine I do. Barely. I miss those times. They were good. Good times.

And so some random stuff, off the top of my head:

  • I learned on Monday that African Americans broadly share a stereotype of White Americans that we do not use washcloths — “just soap on body!” as one Twitter friend put it. I was gobsmacked, and protested. And tweeted out a picture of the washcloths in my linen closet because this calumny shall not stand.
  • In the past week I’ve read Virginia Woolfe’s biography of Elizabeth Barrett Browning’s dog, Flush, and Austen’s Sense and Sensibility (first time), and Bradbury’s Fahrenheit 451  (I thought I’d read it before but now I’m not sure…?) and they were all delightful! (Though I had some real issues with Bradbury the writing is so… I mean, just wow… that I couldn’t help but drown in it anyway).
  • The first two items came nicely full circle on Wednesday when I reached page 10 of my current book, The Girl Who Fell from the Sky, whereupon I read “white people don’t use washrags,” and though the book is beautiful and more than a little heartbreaking at this point, I laughed out loud.
  • Vikings punter and over-all-swell-guy Chris Kluwe called out a racist for being a “racist shitpickle” yesterday and I have determined that I must add this word to my vocabulary. Post haste. I mean: Shitpickle!
  • This is the cutest picture in the history of cute pictures, and you’re welcome:

otters floating

h/t Emergency Puppy

Have a great weekend everyone!

In which your host brings you something sweet and funny.

No, I know! It’s almost impossible to believe!

And yet here you go, a slice of adorable in support of a good cause. If you are the kind to wear bowties, you might buy one of these:


Heh! “..and mankind’s human race.”

Squeeing will ensue.

To quote my Twitter pal ImTheQ, to whom I will forever be in debt for bringing this picture into my life:


What’s that you say? Firefly’s 10th anniversary is coming up?

What I want:



What I might be getting (and which has just been made available for pre-order):

“But it ain’t all buttons and charts, little albatross. You know what the first rule of flying’ is? Love. You can know all the math in the ‘Verse, but take a boat in the air you don’t love, she’ll shake you off just as sure as the turning of the worlds. Love keeps her in the air when she oughta fall down, tells ya she’s hurtin’ fore she keens. Makes her a home.” – Mal Reynolds


The problem being that the former costs one hundred American dollars (I’m sorry: ninety-nine American dollars and ninety-nine American cents) and the latter, while a little pricey but not prohibitively so at $19.95, comes with a $9.60 shipping charge. And that just ain’t right. (For the record: I’m pretty sure that the $100 to-scale Serenity model is worth every penny. It’s just a lot of pennies).

I will say this though: Whether or not I decide to abuse my poor, post-bar mitzvah bank account for some sweet Firefly swag, I have a date marked (quite literally) on my calendar: November 11, the date of SyFy’s Firefly reunion special (“Browncoats Unite,” or some such) and day-long series marathon.

Do I own the series on DVD? Sure do. Could I stage a day-long series marathon all on my own if I wanted to? Sure could. But will it be better knowing that I’m watching with all the other Browncoats and awaiting the crown jewel that will be the special? Hell yeah! That will not only be shiny – it will be the shiniest. (No, I’m sorry. “The shiniest” would be: New episodes. “The second shiniest” would be: A second movie. Doing what I just described will be the third shiniest. Just so’s we’re clear).

Maybe I could dress like Zoe for the event!

I’m not sure I could carry off the look, though.


I’m nice, but I’m no big damn hero.


OMG arglebarglelkgfiu…ok, crying nao: Super Dad is super.

Nils Pickert’s five-year-old son likes to wear dresses.

This post is lifted entirely from BuzzFeed, which lifted it from this translation of the original German:

My five year old son likes to wear dresses. In Berlin Kreuzberg that alone would be enough to get into conversation with other parents. Is it wise or ridiculous? “Neither one nor the other!“ I still want to shout back at them. But sadly they can’t hear me any more. Because by now I live in a small town in South Germany. Not even a hundred thousand inhabitants, very traditional, very religious. Plainly motherland. Here the partiality of my son are not only a subject for parents, they are a town wide issue. And I did my bit for that to happen…

I didn’t want to talk my son into not wearing dresses and skirts. He didn’t make friends in doing that in Berlin already and after a lot of contemplation I had only one option left: To broaden my shoulders for my little buddy and dress in a skirt myself. After all you can’t expect a child at pre-school age to have the same ability to assert themselves as an adult. Completely without role model. And so I became that role model…

Being all stressed out, because of the moving I forgot to notify the nursery-school teachers to have an eye on my boy not being laughed at because of his fondness of dresses and skirts. Shortly after moving he didn’t dare to go to nursery-school wearing a skirt or a dress any more. And looking at me with big eyes he asked: “Daddy, when are you going to wear a skirt again?”…

To this very day I’m thankful for that women, that stared at us on the street until she ran face first into a street light. My son was roaring with laugher. And the next day he fished out a dress from the depth of his wardrobe. At first only for the weekend. Later also for nursery-school.

And what’s the little guy doing by now? He’s painting his fingernails. He thinks it looks pretty on my nails, too. He’s simply smiling, when other boys (and it’s nearly always boys) want to make fun of him and says: “You only don’t dare to wear skirts and dresses because your dads don’t dare to either.” That’s how broad his own shoulders have become by now. And all thanks to daddy in a skirt.


“That how broad his own shoulders have become by now.” Oh, man. If that’s not a parenting goal, I don’t know what is. Now excuse me, I have to go blow my nose. – elh

The report.

The invitation.

So I don’t know if you heard, but we had a bar mitzvah around these parts.


From beginning to end, including even the bits that went slightly awry and/or agley, because of course, as we all know, the best laid schemes o’ mice an’ men gang aft agley, and the question is only how it’ll be handled, AND IT WAS ALL AWESOME.

And, yes, Timmy the ThinkGeek monkey actually attended.

Timmy wearing the kipa I fashioned out of the toe end of a sock, and finished with clear nail polish. I crafted! (PS – I turned his tshirt around, for a more formal look).

He was going to go in (and stay in!) my purse, but as I am a person with an uncontrollable anthropomorphization impulse, I worried about him. So I took him out and placed him on the girl’s seat — and as she is a nine year old person and an anthropomorphizer, she included him in everything! He sang, he bowed at all the right times, and at the very end, he was perched on the back of a pew — and the rabbi asked, with a smile in her voice, just before her final blessing: “Who’s guest is Jewish Curious George?”

The timeline (typed out mainly so that I can revisit the glow for a minute or two):

  1. Thursday morning, 8/16/12 – Attend morning prayers, boy reads from Torah and thus officially (and kind of nicely sneakily) becomes bar mitzvah while almost no one is watching. Official photographs taken.
  2. Thursday evening – Eleven Israeli relatives (the boy’s grandmother, uncles, aunts, and cousins) arrive, hang out, eat the first meal I’ve been able to prepare for all of them in my own home in 14 years, hang out some more.
  3. Friday during the day – The Israelis + the kids and the husband go downtown; I do final errands (one of which was to fix a thing gone agley – and it worked out!) and wind up writing (unplanned) for Open Zion (a post you should totally read, if only to marvel at the fact that on the literal eve of my son’s bar mitzvah, I managed to write).
  4. Friday evening – Friday night services at shul, during which the boy did us all proud, and after which: Big fancy family dinner out.
  5. Saturday morning and afternoon – THE MAIN EVENT. Services (two and a half hours long!) at shul, at which the boy absolutely wowed the crowd, both with his skills at prayer-leading-Torah-reading-Haftarah-chanting and his speech, and everything was warm and wonderful and I felt just bathed in love and joy. The very best moment (other than all the ones in which the boy was being The Best Thing Ever) was when a friend whispered “You all look so happy!” Then luncheon in the shul’s stained-glass-window-lined social hall (a luncheon I hear was good! I didn’t really taste any of it. Like you do), and I gave a speech which, though I cried through the whole thing, I kept breathing (no mean feat for me) and thus was able to say every single word (and apparently I made a bunch of other moms cry, too, so: Score!).
  6. Saturday evening: WhirlyBall! (And laser tag! And video games! And pizza! And cake!) ‘TWAS TEH AWESOME!!1!  Oh my goodness, those kids had so much fun, as did the handful of adults who tagged along and whooooooooo!!!
  7. Sunday: Brunch at Chicago’s premier spot for Swedish pancakes, Ann Sathers, followed by a visit to the Museum of Science and Industry, and then a dinner of luncheon-left-overs at our house.
  8. MondayNothing (well, the four of us talked and giggled and took a walk and made S’mores in the backyard. But other than that).
  9. Tuesday: The Israelis + my three went museum-ing as I made faux-Thanksgiving, complete with roast turkey, stuffing, cranberry relish and cornbread (and pumpkin pie!), because I’ll never get to invite the Israelis to Thanksgiving! My family joined us, and everyone sat around and talked late into the evening and it was exactly as big family events should always be.
  10. Wednesday: First day of school. The Israelis came by in the afternoon for coffee and cake and goodbyes, and then went to the airport.
  11. Thursday: I made my usual bi-weekly Open Zion deadline. And collapsed on the couch.

Yes, really.

I would be remiss if I did not make a big point of pointing out that while I may have been In Charge of all of the above? The husband was an absolutely stellar First Officer, and aside from anything else, had he not kept washing all those dishes (and bear in mind that we keep kosher, so he was also switching from milk to meat and back again all the time) the entire jig would have been up.

After the jump, [UPDATE: figuring that most people who wanted to read this and see the pictures have done so, I’ve now removed the pictures after the jump, because kids’ faces can be seen in them (not all of them my own kids, even), and it honestly just makes me a little nervous to slap my kids’ faces up on the ‘net, given my day job] you’ll find the text of the boy’s speech (d’var Torah) – because he’s a mensch, and I’m just so proud – but first!

Pictures of the single best present the boy got (and which, btw, he presented to me as “the best gift I got”): A fully functional, The Fault in Our Stars-inspired wallet made out of duct-tape by one of his school friends (oops! Chosen by one of his school friends. Note correction, and how you can buy one for yourself [’cause you totes should] here).



TFIOS was written by John Green, author, Vlogbrother, host of Crash Course, and Nerdfighter extraordinaire, and the last line in the boy’s d’var Torah was a shout-out to Nerdfighters everywhere (and yes, in case you know what the hell I’m talking about and are wondering, he had his DFTBA bracelet on the whole time).


On women & sexism in pop culture – on bloggingheads! With Alyssa Rosenberg!

I was on again, and this time I was a guest host! And I didn’t even talk about Israel/Palestine*! Squee! (Thank you, vacationing The Posner Show host Sarah Posner!)

I was really, really lucky and got to talk with Alyssa Rosenberg, who writes for Think Progress and The Atlantic and is easily one of my favorite pop culture writers (certainly one of the very few I follow regularly). We talked about women in pop culture, the economic incentives for the production of sexist entertainment, Louis C.K.’s response to Daniel Tosh’s “wouldn’t it be funny if she was gang-raped right now?” joke, and whether pop culture can in fact be separated from politics. I talked about talking with my kids about all this stuff, Alyssa talked about the importance of diversity in entertainment, and we agreed that problematic entertainment is far more interesting than homogeneity. Plus which, I suggested that even the mighty Joss Whedon (Firefly, Avengers)  isn’t perfect—and posited that that’s okay! (And please note: I was wearing a Firefly tee as I posited that positing. I am a Browncoat).

Following is a three minute snippet. To watch the rest of the episode, please click through to The Posner Show at (and again I say: Thank you Sarah! And thank you bloggingheads!)


*as I did the first time…

Firefly reunion special! Snoopy dance!!!

Ok, so there I was, writing the previous, incredibly depressing, post, when I learned the following:

Firefly is getting a shiny new TV special.

To celebrate the cult-favorite sci-fi drama’s 10th anniversary, Science Channel is shooting a new one-hour special chronicling the Firefly cast reunion at Comic-Con this week.

The special — titled Browncoats Unite — will include footage from Friday’s reunion panel, featuring several members of the original team including star Nathan Fillion and creator Joss Whedon. Plus, the cast is shooting an in-depth behind-the-scenes roundtable interview that will dive deeper into burning fan questions about the beloved series.


(And me just sitting here in my “Also I can kill you with my brain” tshirt!)

Now, as my buddy Velveteen Rabbi points out, it would be better to get new episodes — “but in the absence of that, a reunion TV special will be shiny for sure.”

Very shiny indeed.

Also, I have a theory — one which I share not in order to invite your mockery but in the hopes of one day saying “I knew it!” as I weep with joy — that now that Joss Whedon has written and directed the biggest opening movie of all time, he will have the money to produce a sequel to Serenity, the Firefly movie (actually, I’m hoping for a prequel, because, well…. Call me, Alan Tudyk!).

And if you’re going to counter my hopes and dreams with the following Whedon quote about the Comic-Con reunion

Expect laughter, tears, faith-healing and Internet rumors about a sequel.

well, then, I will simply have to say lalala I can’t hear you.

But first, there will be the reunion special on Science Channel on November 11, and to that I say:


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