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Archive for December, 2012

Flashback Friday! (Shangri La, Part 1)

posted by BatSheva Vaknin 9:15 AM
Friday, December 21, 2012

Most Fridays, I post an oldie but a goodie blog for your enjoyment. To those of you who just started reading The Grownup Girl recently, enjoy the “new” blog! To those of you who have been with me from the start, but have memories like mine, enjoy the “new” blog!

And to those who were with me from the start and who already read this blog and burned it into your memory, word for word, photogenically, I say:

What are you doing wasting your time dilly-dallying on my website? Get out there and find me a book deal!

If you hate to read, just click on the audio link, below.

BatSheva (BatSheva Vaknin) – Shangri La Part 1 – the BLOG

My last blog about lice, bullies and Lafayette Elementary reminded me of something else: lice, bullies and Lafayette. AKA, why I got the hell out of Lafayette first chance I got. Oh there were other reasons too, like the sub-standard education (my mother likes to remind me about my fourth grade teacher whose spelling was only one or two notches above her students’), the large classes, and – oh yeah, the anti-Semitism. (My mother insists that my 4th grade crush, Chris Q, once called me a “Kike” but I’ll never believe her. How could he have done so – he was so tall and cute and his eyes were so blue!?)

But I was smart, and I would have been able to thrive in a large class with a stupid teacher. And let’s be honest, lice are in every school. And, I didn’t really get the whole Jewish thing either, my parents having divorced and re-married non-Jews anyway, so I didn’t mind not calling attention to the fact that me and the snot-eating Benjamin Rosen-something-or-other were the only two Jews in my class (& maybe the whole school).

But the bullying – that got to me.

Mary was the worst. Mary was in 6th grade when I was in 4th. She had the best (and loudest) singing voice in the school, and would always get cast as the lead in every musical. She was popular, pretty, and for some reason, she didn’t like me. She used to run after me with her girlfriends in close second position. When they caught me, they’d call me names, tease me, and pull up my skirt or pull it down, depending on the waistline (elastic or buttoned/zipped – you other bullied kids know what I’m talking about). I think she gave me wedgies too, but lucky for me, my memory tends to erasethe worst of my sufferings from any place of easy recall, so who really knows.)

I was teased because I was too tall, I was too skinny, I was too geeky, or maybe just because I cared too much about being liked. When I would cry to the student counselor, Mary would rush over and interrupt and argue very convincingly that I had instigated the whole thing, that I had been teasing and taunting them, that I was to blame. Ugh. It’s not just the movies where the teachers are so dumb they don’t know which kid to believe…

Lucky for my self-esteem, my parents decided (and were financially able) to take me out of the DC public school system forever (which itself was lorded over at that time by our crack-smoking mayor Marion Barry not to mention the target of several drive-by shootings) and bring me to a new school, GDS… AKA…

Shangri La.


Sheva (BatSheva Vaknin)

Brings back such fond memories of torture and hell

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Forty is the New Thirty!*

posted by BatSheva Vaknin 10:20 AM
Wednesday, December 19, 2012

*…except when you’re pregnant!

Hey folks! I’ve got a neat new game, and I’d like to invite all of you to play! It’s called, “Except When You’re Pregnant!” See if you can follow along.

You know that silly game you played once in college that was totally & completely hilarious (especially after downing 3 sakis, 2 large Sapporos, and possibly having smoked weed before even entering the restaurant)… that “between the sheets” game? If memory serves (which it rarely does), the phrase was most popular paired with a Chinese fortune:

“You will have great luck”

… Between the sheets!”

“You find beauty in ordinary things, do not lose this ability.”

… Between the sheets!”

“Plan for many pleasures ahead.”

Between the sheets!”

“Make two grins grow where there was only a grouch before.”

… Between the sheets!”

“Something you lost will soon turn up.”

… Between the sheets!”


Well, I’ve got a NEW game, a GROWNUP GIRL game, and it goes like this:

I’ll say a statement of fact, and then you yell, “except when you’re pregnant!”


Here goes:

Going out to the movies and a late dinner is SO MUCH FUN! (your turn: “Except when you’re pregnant!”)

Cleaning the house isn’t too hard! (“Except when you’re pregnant!”)

Staying away from ice cream and chocolate is hard, but I do it because I care about my weight. (“Except when you’re pregnant!”)

No one eats pizza every week, chocolate chip cookies and/or ice cream every single day, and full meals of a block of cheese with ten rice crackers every day too!! (“Except when you’re pregnant!”)

It’s so easy not to get emotional about the silly stuff. (“Except when you’re pregnant!”)


Well, that’s it for now, folks. Thanks for joining in, you did great!



Sheva (BatSheva Vaknin)

P.S. Bonus points for coming up with your own phrases for the game and writing them in the Comments Section!

Getting a good night's sleep is easy! (EXCEPT WHEN YOU'RE PREGNANT... or married to someone who is pregnant!!!)

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Yum, Baby Smells like… Italy?

posted by BatSheva Vaknin 9:11 AM
Tuesday, December 18, 2012

You know that delicious, baked-bread smell of a small baby’s head? Well, my littlest one (not SO little anymore – 3 1/2 going on 19) still smells delicious and adorable.

And lately, she also smells like… Italy.

Or, to be precise, Italian food.

It all started with my quest to help quell her incessant, never-ending itchy scratchy skin. For the first couple of years, it was mostly her lower back that bothered her – I’d find her little back & tushie striped with fingernail marks and scratches where she had scratched herself raw from sheer itchiness. (Mind you, no actual RASH or bumps existed there. Even the skin didn’t look or feel particularly dry to the touch. But to her? Drove her CRAZY.)

Los Angeles is a dry place. I’ve been told it’s up there among the worst cities for skin. (Yes, that is the kind of thing we Los Angelinos talk about at parties. Sometimes beauty really is only skin-deep.) But I’m not planning to move my family out of here just because it’s not the best for our complexions, nor can I afford any of those fancy high-tech, no-mold, room-moisturizing and water-moisturizing systems.

So we get itchy. And Esther, with her daddy’s beautiful Moroccan-Isaeli skin, gets, as we say in the Vaknin household, “super itchy scratchy.”

For her first couple years, I mostly used Aquaphor, which has a sort of Vaseline-like consistency. It helped a bit, if I slathered it on her body day and night, but it didn’t seem to penetrate particularly deeply. This past year, the itching has spread to her front calves where she has torn them raw from scratching, and also to the base of her little neck, where she got a bit of sun poisoning this summer and now it keeps flaring up again and again.

I took her to the doctor to look at the sun poisoning flare-up and ask about the itching, and she shrugged & casually diagnosed that it ‘probably is eczema’ and wrote a prescription for some extra-strength cortisone cream that didn’t help whatsoever. Our insurance doesn’t cover fancy dermatologists, and it didn’t seem important enough to shell out that kind of dough, out of pocket, for another diagnosis.

So, back to the home remedies. Baby powder seemed to help the sun poison rash for a bit, until it didn’t. Oatmeal baths didn’t help at all, nor did baby oil baths. The expensive oatmeal creams, ‘natural eczema creams’, and other creams? Tried those too. Nothing worked.

Then, a new friend who owns a skin care empire made a suggestion. No, it wasn’t to buy $300 bottles of his company’s version of La Mer or whatever. It was simple: break open vitamin E capsules and put the vitamin E goo onto the open scratches. And use olive oil for daily maintenance.

Guess what!?

Yup. Ever since, Baby’s skin has been smooth as butter, silky as… um… silk.

And best of all, she smells like my favorite food.

Pasta olio.



Sheva (BatSheva Vaknin)

Mmmm. smells like Esther! (and yes, those ARE 'Star of David' pastas)

The Circle of Life (and by life, I mean, um, clothes)

posted by BatSheva Vaknin 9:55 AM
Monday, December 17, 2012

You remember that blog I wrote last week lamenting the dismal state of affairs as it pertains to maternity wear? (No, no one ever accused me of lacking hyperbole.)

Well, turns out, there is a silver lining: hand-me-downs!

During my 1st pregnancy, I was oblivious to this gift that keeps giving, and so that was the pregnancy where I laid out the most cash – easily a couple thousand dollars for 9 months worth of – with a few notable exceptions thanks to a fire sale at NOM, cool maternity store that I think no longer exists – badly made, butt-ugly maternity clothes.

But that was then (9+ years ago, to be exact), and the next pregnancy, dear readers, was 2 years later! Meaning, I was 2 years wiser, 2 years less vain, and 2 years more broke.

Which is how I re-discovered the power of coveting another woman’s clothes that she’s outgrown/grown tired of.

I say “re” discovered, because this was an old move of mine wayyyy back in the day, growing up under the shadow of my 4-yrs older sister, whose clothes in general didn’t excite me much but whose BETSY JOHNSON RIBBON SKIRT was – in my 12 year old eyes – the Be All End All of all things hip, cool and cute. I had to have it. I wanted it! I asked to borrow it at every turn. And my loving, caring, sharing’s sister’s answer, no matter what?

Hell-to the NO.

I pined over that skirt. I dreamt about that skirt. I swear I probably cried once or twice over not being able to borrow that skirt.

And then.

The happiest Christmas ever.

(Um, other than the one when I was 10 and got the drum set AND the real wedding dress to play dress up in. And – um – other than the one where I got a new car. Okay, this is beginning to look bad.)

My point is, there was a Christmas that I was maybe hoping to get X from Mom, or maybe to get Y from Dad, when – lo and behold, I opened a smushily-wrapped gift from my sister, and found…

The Betsy Johnson skirt. THE RIBBON SKIRT!!

Sniff! Still brings a tear to my eyes.

I loved that skirt like a mother loves her child.

Which reminds me… this blog was supposed to be about hand-me-down maternity clothes!

So, yes, by my second and third preganacy, I not only wised up and started asking all my way-better-dressed-than-me ex-pregnant friends if I could give their maternity clothes a happy home (which worked out fabulously), but I even got ballsy enough last year when I was NOT pregnant, to ask my pregnant friend if I could borrow her beautiful Max Studio dress while her belly was too big to wear it, and I scored that for a good 9 months too.


This time around the pregnancy block, I bought a few new things, and re-adopted some of the hand-me-down maternity clothes I had borrowed for previous pregnancies, which I had returned and had been held onto. The icing on that cyclical cake was the other week, when a friend I hadn’t bothered to ask for hand-me-downs (she is half my height and still very pregnant) stopped me in the street during school drop-off.

“BatSheva! I have a bag of clothes for you!”

Turns out, she had gotten hand-me-downs from someone else, and many of the clothes were way too big for her, so she thought I could use them.

What I found inside?


They came back home! Back to their mommy! Just in time – sniff!

The circle of life – and by life, I mean clothes, duh – is beautiful, isn’t it?



Sheva (BatSheva Vaknin)

My intention was to draw my fantasy maternity outfit - a cool, punk-ish outfit (ie, fishnets) topped off with a maternity version of the Ribbon Skirt. Unfortunately, I forgot that I don't know how to draw. Sigh....

Flashback Friday! (Lice)

posted by BatSheva Vaknin 9:12 AM
Friday, December 14, 2012

Most Fridays, I post an oldie but a goodie blog for your enjoyment. To those of you who just started reading The Grownup Girl recently, enjoy the “new” blog! To those of you who have been with me from the start, but have memories like mine, enjoy the “new” blog!

And to those who were with me from the start and who already read this blog and burned it into your memory, word for word, photogenically, I say:

What are you doing wasting your time dilly-dallying on my website? Get out there and find me a book deal!

If you hate to read, just click on the audio link, below.

BatSheva (BatSheva Vaknin) – LICE – the BLOG

Dude… SO unfair. I went through this already. As a kid, in second grade or whenever, I paid my dues. My lice dues. I sat forever as my mother combed poison through my scalp and hair, tearing the clumps that would allow quick passage and generally freaking me out to imagine those disgusting bugs laying their eggs in my head. Didn’t help that my school – a public school in DC, Lafayette – had a nurse’s office with a giant poster of a louse magnified, like, x 10,000.

If you’ve never seen a louse magnified 10,000 times, let me enlighten you: they are horrific. Seriously. Like, Roger Corman, or whoever is the current Horror Movie Master of our day (Andrew Weiner?) – I’m now giving you a free idea (though I do expect top billing and points on the back end if you use it): GIANT LICE. Seriously, they would be scarier than any Chuckie, Freddy, or Jason.

I’m not kidding! Take a second, and Google them. Or just click here. I didn’t want to actually put the image in my blog because honestly, I don’t want my blog to be directly associated with hurling. (Unless I’m doing the hurling, in which case I may write about it but I’m still not going to post a picture of it happening, ya know?)

Ok, so back to the main point of this blog. Me. I had lice. FUCKING LICE!!!!!!!!!


Excuse me. I think the lice took over my brain and tripped a wire there. I’m back.

My middle daughter brought it home from school or wherever about two weeks ago. She had about ten of those little suckers crawling around her scalp. Her little sister had three. Both cases were gone in a day, after our nanny – who turns out to be a Lice Commando – seriously, she’s like the Rambo of Lice– hey, Roger Corman/Andy Wiener – there’s your Angelina Jolie! Lice Raider! – anyway, my nanny got a hold of some Pantene conditioner and a good lice comb, and, “voila!” Lice: Exterminated.

Not so easy with my lice. MY lice, turns out, had staying power. It was like all the coffee I drink had gone into their little lice bodies through my blood that they were sucking and turned them into Super Lice. Oh, I had the Lice Commando comb my hair, too. Twice. Didn’t work.

I had to take matters into my own hands (10 hours of running after three crazy out-of-school-for-the-summer kids, I can’t imagine why my nanny didn’t want to stay at my house yet ANOTHER hour just to help comb through a lice-infested head), so I continued her good work, every day, in the shower, myself.

The itching continued. And continued! What is up with that? The itching seemed to spread all over – the lice finally went away after the first week but the itching would flaring up any time I’d think about the whole nightmare. Psychosomatic, I know, but come on – enough already! Why don’t you leave me along and go pick on a kid who is only 400,000 x your size, you big bullies!!

Okay, I’m done ranting. Anyone have a hairbrush I can borrow?


Sheva (BatSheva Vaknin)

Shangri La for Lice

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Clothes that Suck

posted by BatSheva Vaknin 8:59 AM
Wednesday, December 12, 2012

So by now we all know I’m pregnant. Which means… ladies, altogether now:


Why do maternity clothes suck? Let me count the ways. (and btw, I apologize for the lack of SPACE between each listed item, below. HOW DO YOU F$*#(&%#$-ING USE WORDPRESS TO CREATE A PROPER LIST WITH NORMAL SPACING???!!!!?? ARGHHH!!)


  1. 1. Cap sleeves. Didn’t like them when I was four, don’t like them now. What do the designers think happens to a woman when she gets pregnant – that her fashion sense and style automatically reverts to Laura Ingalls circa-1820?
  2. 2. The belt below the bra. I mean, come ON! Really? Really?? Just because my belly is growing larger, doesn’t mean you now need to amplify it’s existence by strapping a ribbon or a belt below my boobs to help the belly-part of the shirt poof out even that much more. Don’t you have ANY imagination? [PS - and what is up with women wearing those types of shirts when they are NOT pregnant??? Ladies, don't you realize that shirt is making you LOOK 5 months preggers? Don't get lazy, find another style to suit your beautiful if not stick-skinny body! Don't give in to the bra-belt hype!]
  3. 3. Shitty construction. And by that I mean: my 6 year old could have slapped a few pieces of material & sewn them together in a more lasting and secure way than these people do! Why does the fact that you only wear these clothes for a few months mean the seams need to start coming apart and the whole thing starts to lose shape after 3 weeks?
  4. 4. If it doesn’t have shitty construction… it cost about a million dollars. Seriously. A million. This prowling, selfish industry is out to bankrupt us, my pregnant sisters! Because if you want to wear something half-way decent WITHOUT cap sleeves and WITHOUT a belt below your bra and WITHOUT the thing falling apart in 2 days… you have to empty your bank account to afford it. What is up with that???

After 3 kids & now into my 4th pregnancy, I realize the only way to go is to buy clothes in bigger sizes that are cute and fashionable and cut in a way that allows for tons of room in the belly arena. Too bad that is also expensive, time-consuming, and altogether nearly-impossible for a shopping-impaired person like myself.

Don’t get me wrong – I love to shop – but I simply don’t have the 3-4 hours it takes PER STORE to look, try on, and find those affordable gems that will look great, fit perfectly, and last forever.

Sigh…. gotta go throw on my old, non-maternity baby doll dress as a shirt with my over-priced maternity pants.



Sheva (BatSheva Vaknin)

FYI, you can click on the image if you want to read all my really pithy explanations of why maternity clothes suck so much without having to squint (for my over-40 and reading-impaired readers).


And then THAT Happened

posted by BatSheva Vaknin 9:17 AM
Tuesday, December 11, 2012

It’s always fun for my children to visit my mother in Maryland because her house is kind of a Shangri La for kids. (And since I’m her kid… the place rocks for me too, and really anyone who visits, even the GrownupGrownups.)

Mom has giant house with a dock, perched on a beautiful creek. There’s a giant pool, lots of wildlife and forest-ish stuff for kids to pretend to get lost in, a jet ski and a motor boat that are always the hit of the party despite occasional whiplashy side-effects.

My stepfather is cranky but completely loveable and he seals the deal by holing up in his ham radio shack all day to escape the madness (did I mention he doesn’t like mess? and when we visit it’s like we brought the NY zoo with us?) and when kids venture to his shack they are rewarded with gizmos and dials and hoozy-whatsits more dazzling than a 747 cockpit, along with Oreo cookies and personalized ham radio postcards to take with them.

My mother cooks and bakes and buys nonstop goodies so we all enter into a sugar coma immediately and usually only wake up from it about halfway back on the 6 hour flight home. And while the outside is fun and the kids would swim from sunup to sundown if we’d let them, the giant TV in the upstairs playroom is the perfect babysitter, keeping the kids quiet and happy while the adults get some ‘us time’ at the dinner table downstairs.


No one knows how to use the TV remote. Or maybe my step-nephew does, and possibly my brother does, but they usually aren’t around. To my stepfather’s credit, he FINALLY got rid of the “Universal Remote” (that was literally IMPOSSIBLE TO USE) after only 5 years of insisting “it works” so it is now sort of possible to navigate around the various shows, but it’s not easy.

So when I went upstairs to take my son through the play room to my bedroom where his night clothes were, the TV show programmed for the kids had ended and there was another program running.

Hmmmm, how shall I put this delicately?

A pornographic program.

Regardless of who is watching it, I think porn sucks. But when it falls under the unsuspecting gaze of my EIGHT YEAR OLD????!!!

Oh hell-to-the-NO.

My son went hyper immediately (may have had something to do with my hand that slapped down hard over his eyes), and it was him-against-me for a few seconds of primal struggle until I managed to grab the closest remote and NOT figure out how the fuck to turn the danged thing OFF.


I finally got it – close enough – the TV still buzzed but no show ran – and hurried my giggly son off to the bathroom to brush teeth.

The whole thing was forgotten in a minute, as no pornographic show holds a candle to a new toothbrush that lights up like a firefly when it comes to an eight year old.

Or so I thought.

Because as I walked my darling boy from the bathroom to his bedroom, he remarked sweetly, “Ima? When I’m thirteen, can I watch whatever TV shows I want?”

Little bugger.



Sheva (BatSheva Vaknin)

Burned into my memory. And now, into yours. You're welcome.

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Holy Sh**t – Ballet IS for boys!

posted by BatSheva Vaknin 8:41 AM
Monday, December 10, 2012

You remember how I got all excited when Yehuda (my 8 yr old) took a ballet class with a few other boys?

Yeah – that was 2 years ago.

He loved the class but in the end after only about 4 or 5 sessions of sort of leaping around aimlessly, the session ended and never picked up again. He got distracted with Karate, Basketball and Chess (yes I am endlessly driving my kids around after school – I think I’ve taken all my ‘executive/professional writer’ energy and thrown it into child care/tutoring/chauffeuring), and then he lost the interest in ballet altogether.

But my husband and I had a plan.

We observed, and told Yehuda, that the things he loves most – karate & hip hop dancing – would be well served by ballet class. He’d open up, get stronger, and kick WAY more karate and hip hop ass (um, well, you know what I mean), if he also studied ballet.

And guess what. It worked! He tried a class and loved it. (I’m sure it had NOTHING to do with the 4 pretty girls he got to be in class with.) Actually there is another boy in his beginner ballet class but the boy wasn’t there Yehuda’s 1st trial day since he was rehearsing for the Nutcracker (something Yehuda already has his sights set on, I think).

Anyway, short story shorter: he rocked it!

See for yourself:

P.S. We took the kids to The Nutcracker yesterday, and I think that sealed the deal – Yehuda was just disappointed that he wasn’t allowed to be in it this year (I mean he did already take one class, right!?) Even Racheli who gets bored out of her mind every time she tries a ballet class (she’s a karate kid through & through) told me she wants to take ballet “so she can be in the Nutcracker”.




Sheva (BatSheva Vaknin)

Looks like a future Baryshnikov to me!

Flashback Friday! (Ode to Andy)

posted by BatSheva Vaknin 9:07 AM
Friday, December 7, 2012

Most Fridays, I post an oldie but a goodie blog for your enjoyment. To those of you who just started reading The Grownup Girl recently, enjoy the “new” blog! To those of you who have been with me from the start, but have memories like mine, enjoy the “new” blog!

And to those who were with me from the start and who already read this blog and burned it into your memory, word for word, photogenically, I say:

What are you doing wasting your time dilly-dallying on my website? Get out there and find me a book deal!

If you hate to read, just click on the audio link, below.

BatSheva (BatSheva Vaknin) – Ode to Andy – the BLOG

He was in the first (and only) rock band I ever interviewed. He was in Kingface, one of the way coolest bands in DC when I was growing up. He was cool – really cool – and such a nice guy. He wasn’t ever slimy. He is Jewish. Andy Rapoport.

Andy Fucking Rapoport.

Which, by the way, is the tile of his blog. His blogs are hilarious. But his Facebook postings are even funnier. How does he drink Red Bull, vodka, and Budweiser for breakfast every other day and still appear healthy with his wits about him? How does he think of all those funny things to say, and funny observations about life? How does he never tire of posting pictures, song lyrics, videos, and ruminations? Andy Rapoport.

Andy Fucking Rapoport.

This is a guy I haven’t physically seen in forever. Fifteen or twenty years at least? (I’m only twenty-eight, don’t get confused, my childhood existed in a time warp.) These days… I read Andy’s updates every day, all day. He has made Facebook a funny, friendly place. The employees lounge. The water cooler. Andy Rapoport.

Andy Fucking Rapoport.

I have a husband, I have many friends, I have kids, I have a family. But today, Andy Rapoport, I write an ode to you. Because, quite simply, you make me laugh, out loud, every day, and sometimes I snort too.

Plus you were always a really nice guy.

The End.


Sheva (BatSheva Vaknin)

The man himself

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Happy Birthday, My Love

posted by BatSheva Vaknin 9:44 AM
Thursday, December 6, 2012

I hesitate to make public my love for my husband, out of the feeling that the best things in life should be held close to the heart, and not always shouted from the mountaintop.

On the other hand, after 9+ years of marriage, I want to say it loud, say it proud, and say it emphatically:


Thank you for the life you have given me – the love, support, challenges, laughs, amazing kids, amazing food, and so much more.

We have not just grown together throughout these years of marriage, but what is so much better – we have finally begun to ‘grow up‘ together, and for this I am truly grateful.

I am in awe of your perseverance, your ability to make the impossible possible, your sensitivity and gentleness, your strength, your sense of humor, your love of life and especially of your dedication to leading a spiritual life.

Thank you for being my husband. May we celebrate many more birthdays together, to 190 + beyond…



Still cute at 46. (him! not me!)

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