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Archive for the ‘Kids’ Category

FOUR MORE YEARS! (of diapers)

posted by BatSheva Vaknin 9:03 AM
Tuesday, January 15, 2013

My littlest daughter did not potty train as quickly as I expected. My other two kids potty trained on the later side of normal – one a couple months before his 4th birthday, the other when she turned 3 – but my 3rd kid has already way surpassed the other two in “grownup-ed-ness” (duh, because she’s the 3rd), so I was pretty sure she’d nail the potty training thing early on.

Turns out?

Not so much.

It was more like – “Yes, Mom and Dad, I know I’m extremely tall and self-possessed and athletic and coordinated and smart and well-spoken and I can scribble a mean princess drawing… but nonetheless, you will have to continue to change my poopy and pee pee diapers for as long as I very well want you to.”

At first, her teachers were also confused, and tried to put the blame on my lack of “training” her since she was clearly such a “big girl” in all other ways. But I’m a big believer in keeping the diapers on until the kid really can make it happen in a permanent and significant way, vs. living for six months on my hands and knees mopping up ‘accidents.’

Finally, her teachers took matters into their own hands, and at last… it happened! Esther was using the toilet.

It is possible we made too big of a deal of this transition.

“Guess WHAT?! Esther’s wearing UNDERWEAR!” I screeched to any family member and close friend who would listen, as if my repeating of the triumph loudly and proudly would somehow reduce the number of accidents in her (and therefore my) near future.

So this resulted, of course, in Esther telling ANYONE she met about her new accomplishment. Including, for example, the bell man who took our bags from our car over at a resort in Palm Springs:

Esther: “Hi, what’s your name?” (our Esther is very social)

Bell Man: “Hi there! I’m Michael! And what’s your name, pretty lady?”

Esther: “I’m Esther. I wear underwear!”

Cut to: Michael’s face – paralyzed with fear and confusion over what Pandora’s Box his well-meaning question has now opened.

Anyway, the GOOD news is that for the first time in EIGHT AND A HALF YEARS… I don’t have ONE CHILD IN DIAPERS! So much fun & freedom! Lighter suitcases, worry-free trips & outings, no more leakage stains and smelly bottoms!

Next one’s due in May.




Sheva (BatSheva Vaknin)

She's like, "Ha ha! I may be out of diapers but YOU are about to have another FOUR YEARS of them! Sucker!!"

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Serves me Right

posted by BatSheva Vaknin 9:07 AM
Monday, January 14, 2013

It all felt very right, very – “communicative.” In the car last week, when my 6 year old daughter asked me a really thoughtful question, “Are all girls born with a teeny tiny baby in their tummy?” I was excited at the prospect of helping her to understand – just a little – about the biological beginnings of a baby.

She already understood that only women get pregnant, and so by extension, it made sense that she would imagine all girls would hold the teeniest, microscopic baby in their tummies until they were finally old enough and ready enough to be Mommies and really ‘grow the babies.’

I told her she was very close in her guess – that when girls go through the process called ‘puberty’ – when a girl’s body goes through many changes and becomes a woman’s body – one of those changes is that she gets ‘eggs’ in a special part of her body called the ‘womb,’ – eggs that are basically “half a baby” only super teeny tiny. (No, I didn’t elaborate, nor did I explain anything about the ‘1 egg per month/period’ thing. Let’s let the child live in a blood-free fantasy world just a bit longer, shan’t we?)

At the same time, I added, boys’ bodies go through puberty and when THEIR bodies change from boys to men, they get these things called ‘sperm’ which also have all the ingredients for half a baby. In this way, when the Mommy and Daddy are finally ready to ‘make a baby,’ the baby is made from the ½ baby in the dad and the ½ baby in the mom, and becomes a ‘whole baby seed’ that grows inside the mom.

The few questions that followed were lively and logical, and didn’t lead us down any paths I couldn’t answer for her 6 year old capacity to understand. (She didn’t wonder too deeply when I contradicted her claim that “that’s why babies can ONLY come when a Mom and Dad get MARRIED” – I did tell her it can happen other ways but that, bottom line, there has to be the ½ from the boy & the ½ from the girl to get the whole things started.

I was faintly glowing all evening from having such a successful ‘mother-daughter’ talk – and then forgot mostly about it until the next evening, when Rachel announced knowingly to her older brother: “Did you know you are pregnant with half a baby? It’s true! Ima told me!”


I think I should have just changed the subject back when I had the chance.



Sheva (BatSheva Vaknin)

And the moral of the story is: Never try to have "that talk" with your child. Ever.

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)

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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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!

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!)

I’m not Martha Stewart (but my daughter is!)

posted by BatSheva Vaknin 9:07 AM
Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Many of you know me. I’m hard-working, caring, a great writer (& obviously not afraid to toot my own horn cause I’m also a Leo!)… Bottom line, I have many wonderful qualities and I’m not ashamed of them.

But I am a little ashamed… of my complete and utter lack of talent or desire when it comes to anything in the realm of home decorating.

In my house, don’t be shocked to walk by ancient photos framed in even more ancient frames – mis-matched, of course. Bookshelves in random areas like the hallway, stuffed with appliances, tools and “stuff” that doesn’t fit anywhere else.

The stains on our couches? Look, I tried to clean them! They don’t come out!

The lack of proper utensils or matching plates for more than 4 people? Who knows what happened to those 20 other matching sets over the years!

The bare lightbulbs here and there? The nails without pictures, and the pictures without nails, leaning haplessly against the walls on the floor?

What do you want from me?? We can’t all be Martha Stewart!

Though apparently, our daughters can.

My youngest daughter already shows great promise in the realm of the visual arts. I’m told by her teachers that her careful “coloring inside the lines” foretells great things for her future – decorating and other.

But meanwhile, the actualized talent of my 6 ½ year old is quite exciting. I mean, that girl can organize and decorate a room! She doesn’t just clean up and then stuff all the crayons, hairbands and tiny toys into one box and shut the lid (like I MAY have POSSIBLY done once or twice) – she actually takes the time, effort and care to sort them and arrange them in a visually pleasing way.

She loves to draw, paint, and do crafts, and yes – to decorate our home. Often I’ll find a new picture hanging from the hook in my bedroom where the curtain ties hang.

“Surprise!” The picture shouts at me, with its rainbows, hearts and beautifully red-lipped girls, “at least someone in your house thinks about making it look pretty once in a while!

Dear readers, my daughter has set the Martha Stewart bar in our house, and she has set it high.

Alright, little lady: Game On! I learned how to draw a ‘legible’ picture by the age of 40 – this old dog’s got some home decorating tricks up her admittedly partially-stained and in-need-of-patching sleeves!

Until we meet again…



Sheva (BatSheva Vaknin)

"What you need a little menorah? Sure, I'll whip a little something up for you. One sec - TA-DA!"

Three Year Old Wisdom

posted by BatSheva Vaknin 9:00 AM
Monday, December 3, 2012

Overheard last week in our morning drive to school:

(8 yr old) Yehuda (trying to get his sister excited): Esther – you can go to Disneyland when you’re five!

(3 yr old) Esther: I don’t WANT to go to Disneyland!

Yehuda (knowing how much his sister absolutely loves & is borderline obsessed with princesses): But Esther! Disneyland has PRINCESSES!

Esther: When I’m five, I’m going to HATE princesses.


6:45am on Sunday – Esther lies on her back in the bathroom next to her nighttime diaper, as I get dressed. The door is open between my room & the bathroom. ["Dipe" is shorthand for "diaper".]

Esther (in a sing-song voice): Pee pee dipe, pee pee dipe, coming to destroy you! Pee pee dipe, pee pee dipe, coming to destroy you!

Me: Wow. ‘Coming to destroy me?’ That’s pretty dramatic.

Esther: Noooo! Not you…. coming to destroy a BEAR!

Me: Ohhhhh. Got it.


This morning, as we are all racing to get dressed before driving to school…

Esther (sing-song voice, her tonality EXACTLY matching Psy’s): Hey! Woppem Gangnam Style!


And with that, dear readers, I leave you. Happy Monday!



Sheva (BatSheva Vaknin)

Hey folks! Whomp'em Gangnam Style! (she hasn't nailed the 'holding the reigns' bit of the dance move yet. I give her a week, tops.

Drumroll, Please!

posted by BatSheva Vaknin 9:04 AM
Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Okay, readers! As promised, here is my “official first blog back.” (yesterday’s was kind of a warm-up)

Let’s see… how do I say this delicately?

I think there’s no way but the straightforward way.

Here goes.

I’m pregnant.

Yes, again.

That’s right, you calculated correctly. Number four.

No, I wasn’t lying when I wrote about turning blorty this summer.

Yes, we actually did want another.

Seriously. It was not an accident.


(I know you didn’t say that OUT LOUD but I heard your brain. You think very loudly.)

We were keeping it a secret until we passed the 1st trimester safely. And I discovered something: because my blogging is intimately tied up with my ability to say whatever I want about whatever is current and pertinent in my daily life, as I kept this big secret inside, I found I had no ability or interest whatsoever to write or blog. I was tired, I was excited, I was nauseous, I was nervous, I was giddy about the fact that a few other of my friends had just revealed to me THEY were pregnant… and I was unable to write about any of it.

We told the kids and our close friends & family a couple weeks ago. Then, last week, I started to feel listless and ‘down’ and verging on being unhappy for no obvious reason.

Until I realized I hadn’t written the blog (or anything creative) for months.

Once I realized that, ideas started pouring in for new blogs. Versus the prior three months, when even when I tried my hardest to thing of a good blog, nothing seemed worth the trouble.

So… in a word, dear readers (or 2 words, to be precise):

I’m back!

Hope you’ll still have me.



Sheva (BatSheva Vaknin)


Don't blame me for this drawing. Blame copyright laws. And my lack of funds for hiring a decent graphic artist support staff.

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