Out of Town

We moved 1000 miles away from our friends and family and just had a new baby....

Thursday, April 27, 2006

Barry Bonds

I recently read the new book about Barry Bonds and the Balco scandal called Game of Shadows : Barry Bonds, BALCO, and the Steroids Scandal that Rocked Professional Sports. It is really a very convicing documentation of the steriods scandal that is currently rocking baseball. It goes into the drug use of several track and field athletes as well as a slew of other professional athletes. For those of you who don't pay much attention to baseball, there has been increasing steriod use over the past 10 or so years. Jose Canseco recently "wrote" a book about his own steroid use and how he introduced steriods to many Major League Baseball players. Just by looking at some of these players, it is clear they are doing something to become 250 masses of muscles. These days, some baseball players look more like football players.

Until the last couple years, baseball had no steroid policy. However, the culture of the game, was so stay long and lean. Weight lifting was shunned because it was thought that too many muscules would slow down your swing. That all changed when Mark McGuire and Sammy Sosa broke Roger Maris's homerun record. Both those men are giant. They both look like they could be linebackers. And they proved that being big and strong can produce homeruns and homruns are what the fans want to see. So MLB ignored the charges of steroid use.

So why should anyone care about this? Well, first of all, it is cheating. And it isn't just cheating against other players and teams now. It is cheating the whole history of baseball. Unlike other sports (like track and field or swimming) where records are made and broken all the time, baseball records endure. Babe Ruth held the homerun record for upwards of 30 years, as did Roger Maris. Since 1998, the home run record has been broken 3 times.

It is my opinoin that any players being caught using illegal, performance-enhancing substances should be banned from baseball. I think that steroids are worse for baseball that anything Pete Rose ever did, and he was banned for life. I think all the records of those who use these types of drugs should at least have an asterisk, if not be totally expunged. I hope MLB cleans up this problems.

But a more personal reason to care is for the kids who love baseball. My son plays baseball with his father almost every day. They go to the park on Shabbos to play with the other neighborhood kids. At least in our city, baseball is widely loved and played by young boys. I hate to see them looking up to baseball players who are cheating. I do not expect athletes to be exceptional human beings. Trust me, I am aware that most professional baseball players should not be a role model for any child in their personal lives. However, they should be looked up to as athletes. They should be expected to follow the rules of the game and if they cheat, they need to be publicly punished.

I know I have been writing a lot about baseball. I was never really a fan until about 4 years ago, after I got married to my husband who is a big fan. Now my son loves baseball so much too, so I had to learn to like it. It is a great sport, and it is really fun to be able to go to a game and not break the bank. Basketball and football games are both too expensive Baseball still offers an opportunity to take a family out for the day, at the last minute, for a small expense. Try getting football tickets the day of a game. The reason for this, of course, is that there are hundreds of baseball games in the season, and only a dozen football games. It is logical, but it doesn't change the fact that I can't afford football.

I really hope Major League Baseball can clean up the sport and keep it something I am happy to let my son enjoy.

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

The Greatest Invention Ever

As I am typing, my lovely daughter is asleep. She is a little older than 6 weeks now and is a wonderful baby (b'li ayin hara). One of the things I love about her is that she loves to cuddle. She wants to be held all the time, and I love to hold her, so it is a match made in heaven. But how can I work, cook, or do anything else if she wants to be held constantly? Well, the answer is The Moby Wrap. It is a piece of fabric that is about 20 feet long that you can wrap around your body and fit the baby into it in a variety of ways. So far, Sima really likes the newborn hug hold
and occasionally the regular hug hold. But the greatest thing about this, is she can be held like she wants, I can hold her, like I want, but I can still have 2 free hands. She falls to sleep almost instantly when I put her in it and I can even nurse her in it (theoretically).

If anyone has friends who are expecting, it is the greatest gift ever. I received mine as a gift, and I can't tell you how grateful I am to the person who sent it. I also have a Baby Bjorn, which is great as well, but not as snuggly as the wrap. The Baby Bjorn is fine for the mall, but the wrap is way better for around the house. Also, when it is cold out, she stays protected and warm in the wrap, since I can keep her completely covered and she is pressed against my body, which really keeps her warm. In the sun it is great also because the fabric is light enough that she and I do not roast, but I can keep her head out of the sun. I think my husband will prefer the Baby Bjorn however, especially in public. The wrap makes me look a little like an Indian villager, a look I think is charming, but might be a little embarrassing for a man....

For those of you who don't want to click through to the site, here is what the wrap looks like on. (NOTE: this is NOT me...)

Monday, April 24, 2006

Last week's reading

Since I just had a baby, I actually have been reading more books than usual. How is this possible, some ask. Well, when I am nursing, I generally read a book. So that means I have about 20 minutes at a time, about 10 times a day, to read. If you think about it, that is a ton of reading a person can get done. So last week, I read three new books. Two were books about economics, and one was fiction.

The first book I read was called Strapped. The main arguement of the book is that today's 20 and 30-somethings are unfairly disadvantaged from the start of their adult lives. Because of student loan debt and lower salaries available to those without a college degree, there is no way for our generation to get ahead. We start out in the red. To some extent, I agree with these points. Some people pay hundreds of dollars a month in student loans. Add on top of that exorbitant housing costs if you live in a major city, and it can be hard to get by on the kind of paycheck one usually receives from a first job. Most people, however, don't stay at the bottom of the salary ladder forever. Although this book makes it sound like people are drowning in debt into their mid-thirties, I don't think that is the general experience of my generation, nor can it be blamed on student debt.

There are, of course, many people in debt from my generation. Some of those people have had a lot of bad luck, spent time unemployed or underemployed and still had the fixed costs assosiated with housing, transportation, and school loans. Add to that any sort of emergency (medical especially) and you can easily see how the debt could spiral out of control. However, there is another group of my contemporaries who are also drowning in debt, but entirely through the fault of themselves. These people make average or above average incomes, but feel they either need to appear wealthy, or feel entitled to a wealtlhy lifestyle while they are still in their twenties. They finance these marvelous lifestyles primarily with credit cards. It is hard for me to feel much pity for these people. The author, however, seems to beleive these type of people are mythical; that they don't actually exist.

What are the solutions to these problems. Well, according to the author, the government needs to take care of these problems. The government should finance college completely for lower income people, and almost entirely for the middle class. Also, the author would like the government to provide high quality day care for all children who has two working parents (or for single parents).

When I picked up this book, I was expecting some solution to the massive debt problem in our society. However, I was dissappointed that the only suggestions were that the government provide MORE services and spend MORE tax dollars.

In my opinion, the best way to help combat this problem would be to create a tax on consumption, rather than income. That way, people who feel the need to keep up with the Jones can do so, and help finance the government. Those who would like to save for the future would be rewarded for doing so by paying less in taxes. Do you remember the first time you got a paycheck and saw how much came out in taxes? I do, and I was shocked. Imagine how much more income you would have, if the payroll taxes were not removed.

This leads into the next book I read called The Number. This book was really interesting. It is about how to figure out how much to need to retire and what to do to get there. It was really aimed at readers in their late 40s and 50s, but I found it compelling. When planning for retirement, the author points out, times have changed. First of all, many people who are now in their 50s or younger could easily live into their 90s. We need to plan on our money lasting a lot longer than it used to. Also, pension plans have gone the way of the dinosaurs. So our savings have to cover a larger percentage of our retirements. This book has no worksheets or other quick ways to figure out how much you will need, but it will help you think about it. I think retirement planning is easy to put off, especially if you are in your 20s and have a family and you feel like to barely make it from paycheck to paycheck, but it is so important to start early. If you put off saving until you are in your 40s or 50s, the task can seem overwhelming and in some cases will be too late. Unless you plan on working into your 80s, out of necessity, you can put off thinking about your savings. But if you want to have options at the end of your life, you need to think about it at the beginning of your life.

Monday, April 17, 2006


Yesterday, we went to our first baseball game of the season. We got pretty good seats, but then we found a friend who gave us even better seats, right behind home plate on the first level. Aryeh loves baseball and was so excited to be at a game. We went early and got an autograph from a player and even the mascot signed Aryeh's glove. This is one of the best things about living out of town. In big cities, going to a baseball game is super expensive. Between tickets and parking, you are looking at spending at least $50 for a family like ours to go to a game, and to get bad seats. Here, parking was free and we were able to walk to the stadium and tickets were $6 each. Really, it was amazing.

Although we moved here for financial reasons, we have found that living in a smaller city really makes a big difference in quality of life apart from being able to own a house. Going to any public places is way more fun. The zoo, the museums around town, baseball games, parks: all of these places are more convenient to get to and less expensive and less crowded than in big cities. Even on a Sunday, the zoo is generally easy to get around.

For anyone with small children I say: Get out of New York and L.A. True, you give up some conveniences when you leave a big city (kosher dining is not amazing here), but you really gain so much more.

Here is a picture of Aryeh in the new shirt his uncle gave him. It is supposed to be 80 degrees today, so it is the first time this year Aryeh has been able to wear shorts. Yipee....summer is almost here.

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

My Little Major Leager

Well, baseball season started this week, but in our house, it is always baseball season. Today Aryeh got to play with the 8th graders at his school during their afternoon recess. Aryeh is a little more than 3 1/2 and usually 13 year olds have very little interest in letting little kids invade their games, but Aryeh is like a mascot to them. They love him and let him join in their games a lot. Today, he hit a "home run" and all the boys gathered around him cheering like he won the world series.

Sima Today

Here is a new picture of Sima that I took today. She was born on March 11, 2006 (which was also my sister's 26th birthday), so today she is 25 days old. She looks a lot like her brother Aryeh did at this age. Unfortunately, I don't have any digital pictures of Aryeh when he was 3 weeks old, so you'll just have to take my word for it.

Sima is really a great baby. She has been sleeping well and eating well. She was 6lbs. 13oz. at birth and at her last check up she was 7lbs 10.5 oz. Aryeh gained weight much more slowly, so I can really feel what a blessing it is that she is eating so well.

Aryeh has been an amazing big brother. He loves to help Mommy and Abba, and he also loves to kiss Sima. I'm really proud of him. He has been adjusting to all the changes like a champ. Of course, he still likes to come and sleep in Mommy's bed in the middle of the night, so between the two of them, I can be a little squished, but I'm not complaining! I feel very lucky to be blessed with two babies who love to snuggle....


Well, I've been thinking about starting a blog for a while now, and now that Sima has been born, I have something to write about.....I will probably also write about other issues, but for now, I am planning to focus on Aryeh and Sima and post pictures so everyone can see how cute they are :). Since we are so far away from our friends and family (and I am sooooo bad at sending pictures) this will be a good way to keep everyone up to date.

So, here is the first picture I am posting of Sima and Aryeh.