Putting little ones to sleep can, shall we say, be fraught/traumatizing/the WORST. But there's one part of our night-time routine that's always sweet.
It's been a minute, but here we are: the newest installment of a series featuring badass women who are working hard to improve their communities and enact positive change in the lives of those around them. Up next: Pavithra, the director of research, strategy and policy at the Center for Public Research and Leadership at Columbia University's Teachers College, as well as an education reform activist, researcher, and Ph.D. candidate studying gender and race. Pavithra was also one of the national organizers of the March for Public Education in 2017.
Welcome, Pavithra! Can you tell us what you are currently working on?
Through my job at the Center for Public Research and Leadership, I am working on a qualitative evaluation with the Gates Foundation's K-12 Networks for School Improvement Strategy. The goal is to get different schools to come together to share information, to share best practices and uncover problems so they can implement solutions that lead to improved outcomes for students.
For my Ph.D., my dissertation is on how boys, specifically boys of color, come to understand their masculinity and identity in single-sex schooling. The school where I did my data collection focused a lot on self-regulation: all about image and behaviors and regulating movements. I think a lot of that reflects the broader cultural understanding and worry about Black boys - make sure you're in the right place at the right time, make sure you look the "right" way so you don't get stopped by police, all that kind of stuff. It may be well-intentioned but it can have the effect of punishing boys for having divergent expressions of masculinity.
The other Sunday, J's parents came in for the day to watch the kids and give us a little, much-needed break.
It's been just over a week now, since the Squirrel Hill massacre. Just over a week since one man walked into a synagogue and, armed with a weapon developed for warfare, claimed eleven lives in the space of a few minutes. Murdered eleven people as they worshiped, as they prayed and chanted, as they sat and stood and bowed together, in Shabbat services.
At least part of his motivation appears to have been not just a general hatred of Jews, but also because the Jewish community has been mobilizing to assist refugees, including through the Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society. HIAS was founded to aid Jewish refugees fleeing pogroms and violence in Russia; they've since helped many others build new lives here, in safety. Because we, too, were once strangers in a strange land.
As the Squirrel Hill community sat shiva, acts of anti-Semitism continued to unfold. A Brooklyn synagogue cancelled a get out the vote event after being vandalized with anti-Semitic hate speech. The day before Halloween, a nearby block woke up to discover anti-Semitic and racist graffiti on the doors of its brownstones. We trick-or-treated there, amidst a police presence and news vans. Another synagogue about twenty minutes from where I grew up, where my parents and sister still live, was also vandalized with anti-Semitic slurs. And so many, many more, acts of hatred and cowardice criss-crossing our country.
Last Saturday was also the first Saturday of the month. The first Saturday of the month is when our neighborhood synagogue hosts Tot Shabbat - an hour of songs and stories for small children, followed of course with kiddush and challah. I'd been planning for awhile to take the girls, as I try to do whenever Tot Shabbat comes around.
But as I lay awake in bed Friday night, I worried. The massacre at Tree of Life was fresh; and acts of anti-Semitism were continuing to make headlines, including in our neighborhood. What if something were to happen? Should I stay home? Was I risking too much by taking my children to Tot Shabbat?
Had it become dangerous to go to shul?
I thought of the Jewish families before me, who had continued to attend Shabbat services despite pogroms, despite Kristallnacht, despite the Holocaust. I thought of Black parents in the American South, who continued to bring their children to church despite bombings during Jim Crow, despite Charleston, today. I thought of all the other parents before me who did not break, despite broken hearts, despite mouths full of fear. We send our children out into the world, even when that world is deformed by hatred and violence and pain.
Sometimes just getting everyone dressed and going outside can be an act of courage.
We went, and, thank God, we were safe. Many families made the same choice, and the room was full. There was, for that hour, singing and silliness and learning and prayer. Commingled with our grief and our fear, there was joy.
I still don't know what to do with the pain, or the grief, or the fear. After Tot Shabbat, J took the girls and I stayed for the adult service, which had been advertised as part of the Show Up for Shabbat movement taking place nationwide. I'm glad that I did. Prayer helped, and community helped.
Action helps too. To hold fast to our commitment to refugees, to support the organizations that do the work, to lend a hand where we can. To call out words and acts of hatred and violence. To vote.
During Saturday's service, the rabbi talked about what it means and how it feels when we come together to bury our dead. And we learned: when a funeral procession and a wedding procession meet on the road, who goes first? Who has the right of way? The wedding procession.
Because life goes on.
The spooookiest of holidays is nearly upon us! Are you ready?
This is the first Halloween P1 is really old enough to register what's going on (last year, I don't think she realized her Supergirl costume was a costume and not just a regular dress, and when we took her to a Halloween block party she freaked out at the costumes and noise and basically cried until we left), so I'm excited to see how she takes to it. I can still remember all my Halloween costumes from when I was a kid (like the little mermaid costume that my mom made from scratch, down to each individual scale on the tale), and the best houses for trick-or-treating (my friend Molly had a neighbor who would rent a cotton candy machine every year!).
Pumpkins showing up on door steps, the scent of apple cider in the air, scarves whipping in the wind: it's October, which means the fall tv season is well underway. As much as we all look forward to summer, it's definitely not a high point as far as what's new to watch. Now that the chilly air has driven us indoors, I'm enjoying catching up with some old favorites. So far, I've really been enjoying the newest season of The Good Place (above), and have been binge-watching Insecure to try to catch up. And I can't wait for The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel and Jane the Virgin to come back.
J and I used to watch tv together a lot more than we do now - Stranger Things and Game of Thrones were two series that we loved, but it's been hard for me to get back into them post-baby, so he's had to watch without me.
I don't have the same stamina or availability for tv marathons that I used to, and these days I find myself turning to podcasts instead of tv for background entertainment when I'm doing chores, so I really enjoy when I get to sit down and settle in for some dedicated tv-watching. Since it's a rarer occasion now, it's usually worthy of a drink and dessert - red wine, or a cocktail if I'm really feeling fancy (Manhattans are delicious, simple to make, and we almost always have all the ingredients on hand). I'll get myself a bowl of ice cream if we have it, or some dark chocolate if we don't (I almost always have a couple of bars of these in the fridge - the blackberry sage is particularly good).
And of course, as soon as I settle into bed with my laptop to watch some tv, Murphy hops up and joins me for a cuddle.
What tv shows are you watching these days? Do you have any go-to tv snacks? Do you and your bestie have a favorite show that you only watch together?
It's really sweater weather here now, and as many of mine have been rendered mostly unwearable thanks to hungry moths or getting stretched/worn out, or some combination of the two, I'm on the hunt for more. Here are some cute options:
And for more casual occasions, three shades of cute gray sweatshirts (I guess I have a type): gold hamburger, classic hoodie, and a babe that gives back.
*Sweater weather print by freckled fuschia.
Last week was a tough week. We experienced some minor calamities around here - the worst being when P1 slid out of her stroller on the walk home from daycare one day, introducing her face to the sidewalk in rather abrupt fashion. She's fine, thank goodness, but there was a good amount of blood and tears and wailing, and the scabs on her face are a little dramatic (it has been an excuse to bust out the cute Finding Nemo bandaids, and to let her indulge in all the ice cream once we made it home).
On top of that, my favorite sweater has turned out to be a favorite dining destination for some hungry moths, J and I both had a couple of long night court shifts (including seeing my 19 year old client, a single mom with a 2 year old daughter, have bail set that she hasn't been able to post), and P1 is transitioning her nap schedule again. Add to that the regular ups and downs of a two-working-parent household with two tiny people, and I've been feeling like my tank is running on empty.
Friends! I love these little "friendsheep." Made out of organic wool, these little cuties have cut down on drying time (I can shave at least 10 minutes off a cycle and lower it from high to medium at the same time, saving energy and being a little gentler on our clothes). You can also buy them with stars or penguins on them instead of sheep (and other brands make them as well). Plus, if I add a few drops of essential oil to each little ball (I've been using my lavender essential oil), they leave our clothes (and our tiny bathroom, where the laundry and dryer are) smelling great - no need for fabric softener.
Just wanted to share my little eco-friendly dryer trick. Have you used dryer balls? Do you have a special laundry trick? Please share in the comments!
With not one, but two, trips to the pumpkin patch, I think it's safe to say that autumn is officially here! Here's what's putting a little extra pep in my step these days: