"There are some who can live without wild things and some who cannot." (Aldo Leopold) Apparently, I cannot.


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Lazy Sunday: Week in Review 6/30/13

So, I’ve slowly eased back into the blogosphere after my 2-week moving hiatus. In case you missed anything the past few weeks . . .

My Blog Posts

Ok, well, the majority of posts over the past few weeks have actually not been my own. While I was getting my move on, I had some awesome guest bloggers taking over my site:

When I finally returned to writing for this week’s Too Tired to Try Tuesday post, I shared a post I wrote for Kids Crafts Fun and Games.com the day before. In this post I chronicled how the kids and I made handprint fireworks t-shirts. It was pretty fun, but extremely messy, so be warned if you’re interested in trying it out.

On Wednesday I dropped a little knowledge on you that I acquired from my move in Some Things I Learned During Our Move from CT to VA. Like the fact that there is an actual place in Pennsylvania called Shartlesville. For serious.

And I was clearly still suffering from moving brain at the end of last week because I totally forgot to ask you wonderful people for submissions for Friday’s Shiny, Happy, Sparkly, Feel-Good Friday post. Don’t fret, I filled it with pictures of my cuties, and I’ll be sure to remember to put out the call for next week. Unless I forget. And then, please, someone remind me.

My Favorite Kid

This week my favorites said:

  • Monday: “I weally wike our new house,” said my favorite today.
  • Tuesday: “I don’t want to leave, I loooooove the library,” whined my favorite today. (It was really hard to stand my ground on this one.)
  • Wednesday: “When is it bedtime?” asked my favorite today.
  • Thursday: “How come our new house makes me sleep longer?” asked my favorite today? (Because it has magical powers. And apparently we can never move again.)
  • Friday: “I didn’t know poop came in that color!” shrieked my favorite today. (No fears, it was the baby’s.)
  • Saturday: “Just call me ‘boss,'” said my favorite today.

My Top 5 Facebook Posts

This pic was by far the most popular post this week!

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Which is worse…that I laughed when he was running for his life from the sprinkler or that I took a picture? And keep laughing?

Then there were these . . .

fb statuses

There you have it. Just another few weeks with the wild things.


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Shiny, Happy, Sparkly, Feel-Good Friday: 6/28/13

It’s been awhile, eh? This one is short and sweet. One, because I managed to neglect taking many pictures during my hiatus, and two, because I’m an idiot and forgot to ask you all to send submissions this week. Criminy. Hopefully I’m back to firing on most cylinders next week.

Anyhoo . . . some things that made me happy over the past few weeks:

975588_10201347430392703_1280017341_n

Waiting for Daddy to come home

This really happens all over our house all of the time. And every time I find something like this I chuckle.

This really happens all over our house all of the time. And every time I find something like this I chuckle.

New favorite activity

New favorite activity

Sissy had to get in on the action, too!

Sissy had to get in on the action, too!

"Omgomgomg . . . grass is awesome!"

“Omgomgomg . . . grass is awesome!”

How they wanted to spend their last few nights in our old house.

How they wanted to spend their last few nights in our old house.

Getting some ice cream while waiting for Daddy's plane to finally land

Getting some ice cream (and trying to slurp it up with a straw, naturally) while waiting for Daddy’s plane to finally land

Daddy's residency graduation dinner

Daddy’s residency graduation dinner

Adjusting to VA by enjoying gymnastics camp

Adjusting to VA by enjoying gymnastics camp

Ok, so I promise to remember to ask for your submissions next week! Unless I forget again. In which case, someone please remind me. Until then . . .

Fridays on Raising Wild Things are Shiny, Happy, Sparkly, Feel-Good Fridays! Since parenting can sometimes suck the  life out of me, I wanted to do these posts as reminders of the good, the great things that happened during the week amid all the crazy, exhausting, sometimes frustrating, sometimes maddening, sometimes head-exploding moments that seem to linger in my memory and can put me in a mommy funk. What makes you happy? Please share!


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Some Things I Learned During Our Move from CT to VA

So, we moved. And I’m sure you’re tired of hearing me whine about it. So I won’t anymore. But I do want to share some things I learned in case they prove useful to anyone planning a move soon.

moving lessons

  1. Do whatever you have to do to get whatever amount of money you need to hire people to do the whole move for you. Your back and sanity will thank you.
  2. Related: To be safe, double whatever estimate the moving company gives you.
  3. Stock up on those big-ass, heavy-duty black contractor bags. Because no matter how much you do before M-Day (that’d be Moving Day), it’s never enough. You will no doubt be “packing” all sorts of crap in those big contractor bags by the end of the day. And if you’re diligent, they won’t get mistaken for trash bags.
  4. Call in all of your favors with relatives and friends to get your kids out of the house during the actual move. (And if you have amazing parents like mine, perhaps they’ll drive up to CT from VA for the sole purpose of driving your two oldest kids back down to VA and keeping them at their house for a few days!)
  5. If you’re going to lock yourself out of house 30 minutes before the movers are due to arrive, make sure you have your baby with you and that your husband is only halfway to the dump when you call him to come let you back in the house.
  6. Try to plan a nice last meal at the house you’re leaving. We kept ours classy by pairing Chinese food with champagne out of plastic cups.
  7. Keep an air mattress, pillows, and blankets handy in case you unexpectedly have to stay an extra night in the house you’re leaving.
  8. When choosing which car to drive the 8+ hours it will take to get to your new house, ensure your husband picks the car with no a/c. And the cats.
  9. If you don’t like country music, you might want to go ahead and give it a try. No matter where you’re driving, there always seems to be a country station to listen to.
  10. You may want to avoid New Jersey until the cicadas make their way back underground. The entire cicada population seems to have descended on the Garden State.
  11. There is a city in Pennsylvania called Shartlesville. C’mon, that might be the best piece of useless information you learn all day.
  12. Apparently I look old enough to be called ma’am. By everyone.
  13. It gets really dark when you live someplace with no outside street or other background lights. Like you’d probably want to buy stock in nightlights.
  14. Leave yourself 5-100 days for Comcast to get your order correct. And your service actually up and running.
  15. Move to a state like VA where even after eating crap food on your road trip and crap food the whole first week in your new house you still end up 2 lbs down. Must be the altitude difference or something. I don’t really care. I’m going with it.
  16. Prepare for the inevitability of losing your keys among the bags and boxes that will overtake your new house, and go ahead and have at least 12 spares made.
  17. Ensure you live near a Super Walmart or the like since you will spend most of your waking hours there the first few days.
  18. Speaking of waking hours, there will be many. Between trying to get everything done and your kids going bonkers (see #19 below), you’ll long for the days of sleeping in and lazy afternoon naps.
  19. Your kids will, more than likely, go batshit crazy the first week or so from all of the changes. (Actual duration: yet to be determined.) Keep some popsicles and lollipops on hand for them, and some beer or wine (or something even harder if that’s what it takes) for you.
  20. Perhaps most important, make sure your kids have their clothes on before going out to meet the neighbors.


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Too Tired to Try Tuesday: Handprint Fireworks T-shirts

In all of the hubbub of moving, I forgot to scout out an activity or recipe to use for today’s Too Tired to Try Tuesday post. So I’m sort of cheating with this one. Because I’m sharing a craft that I came up with and did with the kids and published over at Kids Crafts Fun and Games.com yesterday. So I guess I’m not really cheating because not only did I come up with the craft, but I also, like, actually did it, which goes against the whole lazy tired part of my Too Tired to Try Tuesday posts.

What is this grand craft I came up with, you’re wondering? Dooo dooo dooo dooo (*trumpet sounding*) . . . handprint fireworks t-shirts! Perfect for the 4th of July.

4th-of-july-t-shirts

Here’s what you’ll need:

  • Plain solid-colored t-shirts (We happened to have red and blue on hand.)
  • Craft paints in various colors (In keeping with the 4th of July theme, we used red, white, and blue acrylic paints; you can also use fabric paints.)
  • Small containers to pour the paint into (We used a few small paper plates.)
  • Paint brushes
  • Baby wipes (or wet paper towels/any other wet cloths) to wipe off hands

Then you do a little palm painting (with various colors) and pressing, and voila, you have handprint fireworks t-shirts. I warn you, this craft was messy, but it was easy and fun.

To read step-by-step instructions, get some helpful hints, and see some more of my photographic magic, please click here.

Oh, and a fun note: I’m going to be a regular contributor over at Kids Crafts Fun and Games.com, so you can check out all my crafty stuff here. (So far there’s only two posts.)

As always, if you try it, let us know how it turns out. And send some pics!

I’m no cooking or crafting guru, so I started these Too Tired to Try Tuesday posts to share craft and recipe ideas that I’ve come across and would really like to try but am just too damned tired (that sounds better than lazy, right?) to get around to. In addition to ideas that I find, I am open to submissions from you–either something tried and true or something you want to try but haven’t had the time to. Just send me an email at raisingwildthingsblog@gmail.com with your ideas, and I may share them here. (And by “may” I mean “will definitely”! I just confessed how lazy tired I am, so if you take the time to send me something to share, I’m going to share it!)


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Guest Post: Dating Rules for Single Moms Who Are 40 and Older (From PP at The Precious Princess’s guide to Bananaland)

Happy Monday, everyone. Hope you enjoyed a great weekend. We are now in our new house down in VA and still have a few days (optimism, people!) of unpacking ahead of us. BUT? We finally have the internet working here (first world problems, I know), so I can finally get my last guest post up that I had wanted to share last week. Woohooo!

Today’s post comes from my friend over at The Precious Princess’s guide to Bananaland. She is a funny gal and always puts a smile on my face. She tells it like it is and doesn’t mince words, which is part of the reason why I like her so much. The other part . . . she is also one of the nicest people I don’t know personally (although she’ll try to tell you otherwise). I asked her to share her thoughts on dating as a mom, and she came up with some important rules . . . 

Dating Rules for Single Women Who Are Older Than 40 and Have Kids
By: PP, The Precious Princess’s guide to Bananaland

Dating in and of itself is an awkward, and somewhat bizarre activity. You meet someone at a bar, online, at the grocery, whatever and…you make a “date.” A date is defined by the free online dictionary as :

a. An engagement to go out socially with another person, often out of romantic interest.
b. One’s companion on such an outing.

My definition of date? An awkward outing with someone you barely know.

Getting back into the dating scene after 17 years of marriage (2 husbands) is overwhelming and completely humbling. I mean really, it’s hard enough to date when you’re 22, single, and hot. 38, overweight, divorced twice, and a kid? Absurd.

young hot single chick

Here’s just a few rules I came up with for the over 40, with kids, newly single woman…

1. Sleep with whomever you want, just don’t let your kids know. Don’t get all freaked out. You’re single now. Every date does not have to be “the one.” Sometimes, a woman just wants a lil somethin’ somethin’. We have needs. Use protection, be smart, and have some fun. Do NOT, however, become the chick people are talkin’ about in the bathroom at the bar. This? Is all bad. It sucks when you hit the next PTA meeting and Barbie and Babs are over in the corner acting like you’re the sleazy chick.

2. “Practice” date. I did this. A lot. I met a buncha nice people on websites. Yes, the online dating thing can be totally creepy but you can weed through the creepers fairly quickly if you’re smart. (I could write for hours on the whole online dating dealio, that will be a whole other post). I knew these men wouldn’t be “that guy” but some were nice and guess what? I wasn’t sitting home on Friday & Saturday nights. The guys who sucked taught me all about what I DIDN’T want so that was awesome too. I was meeting people and learning how to communicate with opposite sex without having sex. I don’t regret any of these dates cause I was learning. Learning is key. This shit is tough. So a few wasted hours here and there? Totally worth it.

Seriously? These are valid questions!

Seriously? These are valid questions!

3. Don’t eat sushi on the first date. It’s just weird. Trust me, I experienced it. It’s that whole “share” the sushi thing and all that. Plus, that whole raw fish & chopsticks thing can really be awkward. Really.

4. Make sure you ALWAYS answer your phone when your kid calls. Even if you’re just getting ready to get hot & heavy. This avoids embarrassing early drop offs. It happened to me. Trust me, I know. You don’t want to have to explain who “so&so” is when your kid gets unexpectedly dropped off two hours early. All because you didn’t answer the phone. ALWAYS answer the phone. Trust me. I know stuff.

5. Don’t shit where you eat. Sorry to be so blunt about this one, but do NOT engage in dating with a co-worker, a friend of friend who you see on a regular basis, the waiter at your favorite restaurant, or the local cop who directs traffic at your kid’s school. All of these are a no-no. It seems great at the time but when you can’t go back to your favorite restaurant ’cause the waiter you went out with had Mommy issues? It blows. It’s also all bad when your kid asks “why can’t we go to Auntie so&so’s house anymore”? You really can’t answer with “Well, honey, I banged her brother and shit is awkward.” So, just don’t.

6. Make time to date. I know this is tough. It was easier for me ’cause my kid went to her Dad’s house every other weekend. I could plan ahead. Lots of you don’t have this option. But, seriously, if you can find a friend, family member, co-worker to watch your precious punkins for at least an hour here and there, you get out of the house. You get to meet people. It’s coffee. Or lunch. It doesn’t have to be a production. Just do it. It makes you feel better. I’ll be real, sometimes it makes you feel like a giant turd, but for the most part, it is way good for the self-esteem. I know stuff.

7. Never look your best on the first “meet.” Seriously. I’m not saying to go out with your hair undone, cut-offs and dirty flip-flops or anything. You know? Don’t dress like you’re going to be on the People of WalMart website. I’m just saying, look good. Not great. ‘Cause let us be honest here for a minute. We don’t look all good & cute & stuff MOST of the time. So look good. Not great. Also, if the guy is some kinda yuck? You haven’t wasted your time gettimg all purtied up. And, if he isn’t some kinda yuck? You have the chance to knock him on his ass with all your hotness on a 2nd date. Or 3rd. See? I know stuff. Really.

8. Be comfortable on your dates. There is no need to break out the leopard print spandex and create a hole in the ozone with your hairspray. Especially at our age. Don’t try to be someone you aren’t. (Unless of course you go for the whole role-playing thing.) Do not wear your brand-new linen pant suit. Scratching your nether region and wrinkly pants? Huge turnoff. I’ve heard. Dressing like your 21 again? Doesn’t help with dating. It will get you many offers that you probably aren’t interested in if ya’ know what I mean? Not to mention, if your kids happen to see you looking like a damn fool? Remember that naked bathtub picture you snapped when they were 5? You’ll never be able to use it. Your kids? Will have the upper hand. And that just can’t happen. So, don’t. Look like an old (or young) ho.

Ummmmmmm, NO!

Ummmmmmm, NO!

9. Your kids are #1 in the dating scenario. If your kids have issue with you dating? Hide it from them. Who said parenting was easy. In the long run, happy Mommy = happy kids. That being said, if your kiddos don’t approve of who you’re dating when & if they finally meet them? Run. Your kids are smarter than you think.

Dating is a risk . . . do it anyway.

Dating is a risk . . . do it anyway.

Thank you PP! To get your daily dose of The Precious Princess, please check out her blog–she’s currently dishing on things that piss her off . . . it’s looking  like it’s going to be a long series, and sure to have you laughing–and her Facebook page.


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Guest Post: My Kids Are a Couple of Talkblockers! (From Vicky at The Pursuit of Normal)

Today’s guest post comes from my friend Vicky at The Pursuit of Normal. I was supposed to share this with you on Wednesday, but we’ve had problems getting the internet connected at our new house. We still have no internet, but I was able to sneak over to my parents’ house (who are now only 20 minutes away instead of 8 hours!) to get this up. Thanks so much to Vicky for sharing this hilarious story about her kids and for her patience while she waited for me to finally post it. 🙂 

My Kids Are a Couple of Talkblockers!
By: Vicky, The Pursuit of Normal

UnknownThere’s a language that exists among mothers that desperately needs to be studied by both linguists and social archaeologists. I believe it could be the basis of a cultural revolution of epic proportions. Better yet, it is something the military should look into. Thousands of Special Ops Soldiers could become even more, er, special if they were trained to speak in the code that only mothers understand.

You think I’m kidding? OK, let’s try it out. When I say “cracked,” moms will reply with any of the following: nipples, lanolin, breast milk, “I’m on the verge of” or vodka. Maybe I’m making that last one up…? Let’s try another. When I say “Boppy,” moms respond with: nursing, tummy time, comfort, vodka. Wait, what? Why does that keep coming up in my research? How about “shower.” Typical responses are: “what’s that,” crying alone, shave or conditioner?, never alone, vodka.

Unless you are a mom or married to a mom you probably don’t understand any of these strange word associations. But if you are a mom, you’re nodding your head right now in an “Uh-huh, I hear ya girl!” Or maybe you’re just snickering. Whatever. But you get what I mean. The list of Mom’ese goes on and on: pee pee tee pee, breast pad, umbilical stub, inverted nipple, snuggie, football hold, reflux, diaper explosion which includes an “up the back”, etc. It’s the language of motherhood. It’s not taught in any college around the world, nor is much of it discussed in The Books or Bringing Home Baby classes. But go to any park around town, cruise the aisles of Target or pass by the open door of any pediatrician’s office and you’ll hear more about nipples and feces than you ever thought possible. As I said, it’s the language of Motherhood.

So imagine my excitement when I realized that I quite possibly created a new word to add to The Dictionary of Motherhood. I’m proud to say this isn’t the first time I’ve been a lyrical genius. Remember this post? This was the famous Mojito Muffs. Yes, I coined that awesomeness. It was basically the mothers equivalent to Beer Goggles. Beer Goggles make chicks hot and Mojito Muffs make your kids sound less irritating. Brilliant, if I do say so myself.

Well, I’m please to announce I’ve done it again. Now I’m nothing if not thorough so I had to do some in depth research to make sure that I did, in fact, create this word. I spent hours pouring over ancient texts, combing the halls of prestigious libraries and scanning the pages of Webster’s finest and then hopped on over to Urban Dictionary (where real words are archived). I have to admit, that I was disappointed to find my newly created morpheme masterpiece has actually been used before. But wait! There is still hope! According to the genius (and clearly childless) employees at Urban Dictionary, although the word has been used before, it has not been used within the context I created. Therefore, in my opinion, I get credit for inventing this verbal treasure…

Have you ever been in the middle of an important conversation with a friend while hanging out in the park, when your 2 year old little darling interrupted you by asking you to push her on the swings? Have you ever been on the phone with a friend in need, only to have your 5 year old approach you with a repetitive “Mom, Mom, Mom, Mommy”? Or have you ever finally found 4 minutes- in a row, no less- to chat with your spouse about who’s taking which kid to what event on Saturday, only to have your 9 year old yank the conversational emergency brake by asking 27 useless and unrelated questions? Let’s not forget the 3 hours you spent at a friend’s house for a play date, whereupon driving away you realize you only completed 4 sentences, yet started approximately 32 of them. Unfortunately the constant stop and restart because someone needed a drink or a snack or to go to the potty made it impossible to finish any one of your sentences let alone remember what the hell you were talking about in the first place!

If any of these things have happened to you.. You, my friend, have been TALKBLOCKED.

images

Honey, I love you.  But if you interrupt me one more time I’m going to rip your tiny arms off and beat you over the head with them, K? Thanks.  Love you!

And who are the ultimate TALKBLOCKERS? None other than our sweet, precious, adorable little children. No one can strip you of your conversational mojo quite like your own kid. It doesn’t matter how many snacks are on the table, trips you’ve already made to the bathroom or random questions you’ve already addressed. Your child will inevitably need something from you the moment you are approximately 9 words into any really important conversation.

According to my hours of research few minutes on Urban Dictionary (where I go for all things wordy) the words TALKBLOCK, TALKBLOCKER and TALKBLOCKED have technically been used before. However, because they are severely lacking in staff over the age of 18, the current definitions need some work. Here is how these non-parents define TALKBLOCK:

  1. When having a talk about deep matters and you don’t want others to hear and abruptly someone comes to hear what your conversation is about.
  2. The act of impeding in (I’m impressed they used this correctly) on a conversation, essentially killing any vibe that may have been present.
  3. To interrupt someone when they are talking to someone of the opposite gender whom they are interested in pursuing a relationship with

All good definitions, and quite accurate, I believe. But none really seem to be Mom-Friendly, wouldn’t you agree? Well, if you are a mom looking to hook up with a potential baby daddy only to have your efforts dashed by some clueless friend who hijacks the conversation, then they definitely have the definition for you. But for the rest of us who are happy with our current baby daddy and are simply trying to finish a freaking sentence for the fourth time, the current definitions are don’t quite meet our needs.

And so, Moms of the world just trying to have an adult conversation only to be thwarted at every turn of phrase, I feel ya. I have spent the last 8 years of my life being TALKBLOCKED to the point of learning how to speak to my husband and closest friends using an intricate series of eyebrow movements and blinking.

My kids constantly block my talk. Freaking Talkblockers.
That’s just my normal.

Thanks again, Vicky. This is one of my favoritest posts! If you’d like to stalk Vicky, too, please check out her blog and follow her on Facebook and Twitter! Just don’t talkblock her! 😉


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Guest Post: The Bat Mitzvanera (From Pete at Dadmissions)

Happy Monday everyone! Hope you all had a wonderful weekend. Today is our big move, so I’m likely in the middle of that crazy last-minute frenzy where we try to get every leftover random thing packed up and in the moving truck before the movers decide it’s time for them to take off. 

Just as I did last week, I’m sharing three guest bloggers this week while my family and I make our way down to VA and begin the process of unpacking. (That’s the part I actually like!) Up first is Pete from Dadmissions. Pete found me just after I started blogging, and I was so gobsmacked that such a professional and well-known blogger would even take notice of little old me. Needless to say, I’ve been a fan of his since we first connected, and I’m so happy to share one of his posts with you. It touches on families with mixed cultures and religions, and it’s one of my favorites!

The Bat Mitzvanera
By: Pete, Dadmissions

Deck the halls with matzah balls
Fa la la la la la la la la…

In a nutshell, that’s what is like being in a home with mixed religions and mixed cultures. It is a constant blending of traditions and a constant teaching process. It can be challenging but very rewarding as well. Translation: “What did I get myself into?”

Dadmission: Gloria is Catholic. I am Jewish. Gloria is Latina. I am white. Officially, that makes Alicia and Andreya Judeo Christian Rainbows… Or confused.

When we took Alicia in for the pre-op appointment for her tonsils, they asked us what our “religion of preference” was. That really threw me. We didn’t know what to answer. Gloria is more religious than I am. What I really wanted to tell them is we prefer the religion that guarantees us a 100 percent surgery success rate and no nasty bills from my HMO. In the end though, we just left the line on the form blank. Right now we choose to expose the girls to both religions and that’s what we prefer.

The girls find eggs at Easter and afikomen at Passover. They celebrate Christmas and Hanukkah. They know Jesus and Moses and people in between. And I admit it: I love that time of year when we have a fresh cut Christmas tree decorated in our house surrounded by our lighted menorahs. I cherish that one old gold menorah my family has had for decades. The menorah tilts to the left, frail from age, and you can smell the candle wax of generations past. The girls love lighting that menorah, decorating the tree, baking Christmas cookies, eating candy canes and making potato latkes.

With the traditions come the toys. No question, being a mixed religion family can be a budget buster. Adam Sandler sang the Hanukkah song about getting gifts on eight crazy nights. Now add the mother lode of gifts you get on Christmas. Then add the gifts from every other family member and the kids’ room resembles FAO Schwarz. Here’s the equation:

T= A + A x 8 + 2 (Toys equals Alicia plus Andreya times 8 plus two.) Two is the number of aspirin to handle your headache after.

Gifts aside, the blending of religions has made for some very proud moments like Alicia’s baptism, when she was dressed in her Tia Vanna’s baptism gown and sprinkled with holy water. In Boston, we got the tremendous honor of being there with my mother for Alicia’s Hebrew baby naming. We chose “Ellie” as Alicia’s hebrew name after her brave cousin in Israel who battled cancer. And some day soon, Andreya will also be baptized and will also receive her Hebrew name. My hope is that we can raise the girls with an understanding and appreciation of both religions and even others. One day they’ll gravitate towards the religion they identify with most.

I know Alicia, Andreya, their mom and their abuelita would like to host quinceaneras some day, the coming of age rite for young Latina girls. I’m Jewish, and I know my side of the family would love to see the girls have bat mitzvahs.

So I’ve come up with really the only logical conclusion… Wait for it…. “bat mitzvaneras.” Yes that’s bat mitzvaneras. Say it ten times fast.

It’s an original… Documenting a Latina-Jewish coming of age party could be MTV’s next big hit… The perfect Wilgoren Party. It’s the Torah, hora, Latina, pupusa, all-purpose party. They can do the quinceanera routines and then the Hava Nageela and never need to leave the room. We can do knishes, empanadas, Manischewitz and Sangria. Bat mitzvaneras… Think about it.

Along the way, Gloria and I have learned from each other about our respective cultures and we’ve passed these nuggets on to the girls. I got to teach them about my love affair with Jewish delis. There is nothing like a corned beef omelet, LEO (lox, eggs and onions) or a pastrami sandwich with brown mustard piled a mile high on a bulkie roll. In Jewish culture, you can trace your family roots by the delis you’ve been to (my first job was actually at Steve’s Deli in Sharon, MA, washing dishes and bussing tables for four bucks an hour). I got to teach them about the wonders of fresh baked challah bread. There is nothing like picking up a warm bread on Friday morning and ripping off that first chunk to eat. Unfortunately for me, the girls always “canoe” the bread and rip out the best inside part, leaving only the outside. And I’ve shared my love of fried matzah and butter with the girls although they don’t love it. With all the deliciousness comes the acquired tastes. When it comes to tongue, chopped liver or herring, I choose to Passover! I did very briefly introduce Gloria to the Jewish delicacy of gefilte fish. It’s one of those foods that tastes good if you don’t think about it too much. If you don’t know what this is, imagine a Jewish version of Fear Factor:

Recipe for Gefilte Fish

  1. Take a bunch of various fish
  2. Mince them all up into a big pile
  3. Form odd oval shapes out of them
  4. Dare to eat those odd oval shapes

Gloria’s family has its own rich food tradition from El Salvador. She introduced me to carne asada, a marinated flank steak grilled just right and never burned. It is my weakness. There is arroz con leche, quesadilla (in El Salvador this is a cheesy bread) and sweet vs. salty tamales (there are ones with prunes and ones without. Hint: I like the ones without). A family favorite is the pupusa, a thick handmade corn tortilla filled with cheese or pork or in my case, just beans. Gloria’s family knows exactly which Pupuseria makes them just right from scratch. And her family makes some killer Christmas turkey sandwiches, too. They make the turkey sandwiches with lettuce, radishes and this special sauce that her mom created which is incredible. And don’t forget the rice and beans. Yum yum yum.

Dadmission: A home filled with two religions makes for one big waistline: mine. Translation: Don’t blame my big butt on me.

Now the Latinos have some acquired tastes as well. They have menudo — and i’m not talking about the 1980′s super group. Picture a cauldron of animal insides mixed with broth. It is slow cooked and served on the weekends like some sort of special event. Thankfully, this is not a tradition in Gloria’s family, so I’d like to just move on.

The Wilgoren cultural exchange program extends far beyond the dinner table. In Gloria’s culture, she taught me about a tradition where newborn babies sleep with lettuce under their heads to ward off the evil spirits. In my culture, I taught her about a tradition where babies get the foreskin of their penis cut off. I prefer the lettuce story. In my culture we have the tooth fairy who collects teeth. In Gloria’s culture there’s the Ratoncito, a little mouse who collects teeth. In Gloria’s culture they eat grapes on New Years for good luck. In my culture, we order pizza and drink.

I learned about the wonders of the piñata from Gloria. You go and hang a candy-filled paper animal from a tree and take out your aggression over the cost of the party on it. When the candy falls out, your therapy is complete and the children are happy.

Gloria learned about the wonders of the Hora from me. You go and defy the laws of gravity by taking the adults at any Jewish party, hoisting them high off the floor on an unstable folding chair, and then dance around at a high rate of speed until they fall off or your back goes out.

Her Selena is my Jazz Singer. It’s J.Lo versus Neil Diamond in the culture clash of the ages. I have Yentl and Fiddler on the Roof. She has her novelas and Sabado Gigante with Don Francisco.

We can still learn a lot from each other. Already the girls speak fluent Spanish. And when the dishes are done and the food is put away, we can sit and relish in the uniqueness of our family. My sister reminded me of a time when Alicia was younger where she said, “Mommy is brown, Daddy is white and I’m pink.” Maybe Alicia was the original Pinkalicious. But I wouldn’t have it any other way.

Thanks so much, Pete! You love him now, too, right?! To read more from Pete, please check out his blog and his Facebook page. I promise, you’ll be happy you did. 🙂