Tuesday, October 31, 2006
Knock, Knock...

Tonight I was washing dishes when there was a knock at the door. I assumed it was a tzedoka collector, and peeked out the window.


I opened the door and burst out laughing. I completely forgot it was halloween! Not that I would have done anything about it, had I remembered. Not only is it a "goyishe chag," it's completely rooted in paganism. Even the average American knows that.

I haven't experienced halloween in over 10 years, and I felt tickled by the children at my door. They held their sacks out expectantly. "Just a second," I said. What to give them? I scanned our nosh cabinet expectantly. Aha!

Shabbos lollies!

Monday, October 30, 2006
Is it just me?

Awhile ago, I filled out some shul paperwork. I was asked to write in my anniversary, and the birthdays for my family members. Unusual, I thought, but why not?

Today I got a phone call from a shul employee. "Hi Mrs. Maven. I see your anniversary is coming up, mazel tov. Would you like to sponsor a farbrengen, kiddush, or shul event in honor of that?"

What? I thought when they asked for that information it was for record-keeping. I thought it was kind of sweet, actually. I felt so proud filling in all our special days. I didn't know it was to hit me up for money. It makes me feel sad, and used. I'm not going to say anything, though. I wouldn't know who to talk to, and I'm not sure what I'd say. Likely, I'd just come off as a complainer.

And here's another thing. Chaya had a loose tooth - her very first. She kept bothering us to pull it out, but it just wasn't ready yet. We told her when it was ready to come out, we'd assist. So today she comes to me on the carpool line, grinning like a maniac. "Look!" She waved the tissue in her hand. "My tooth came out!" I was surprised. It sure wasn't ready to come out this morning! "How did that happen?" I asked. "My morah (teacher) pulled it out!"

This bothered me. What right is it of hers to pull my kids' tooth out? She's there to teach them, not do dental work. I mean, if she was going to do that, she could have at least called and asked. We, as her parents, were not going to remove the tooth just yet. It was not ready to come out!

I love this teacher. She's very experienced, and she's sweet with the children. And they're learning so much. Rivky will likely have her as a teacher in a couple of years. Plus, I see her quite often at shul. I'm not willing to risk my pleasant relationship with her to complain about "the tooth incident."

So there you have it: Two things that happened in my life today that I'm unwilling to speak up about. I guess that's why I have a blog.


Sunday, October 29, 2006
What do YOU think?

So there's this whole fiasco now with Rush Limbaugh and Michael J. Fox. Fox stumped for some Dems to draw attention to stem cell research. In the commercials, he's got some intense Parkinson's stuff going on.

Limbaugh said he was faking it. Or that he purposely didn't take his meds. And that if Fox was putting himself in the political arena, then he had to take the heat.

I have mixed feelings about it. I think Limbaugh came off sounding like a jerk, that he was rude and insensitive. But I also think that Fox could have said, "You know, I'm a little too symptomatic in those commercials. I'd like to re-film them." Because he said himself, in his acting roles, that he's had to work really hard to control his symptoms. So why not in the commercials?

Seeing Fox so ravaged by the disease is compelling. It could make a voter think twice. Maybe there was
some calculation in letting the ads air "as is?"

I don't know, but it's interesting.

Friday, October 27, 2006

CNN reports some good news!

Wednesday, October 25, 2006
The Colonoscopy.

Today was the big day. We got to the clinic, and I signed in. I happened to catch a glimpse behind the receptionist's area, and saw it looked very hospital-like. That scared me. Hey! I thought this was an outpatient clinic! I was expecting a heimishe, birth-center kinda place.

The prep nurse called my name and we got up. Yaakov said, "Can we come, too?" She smiled and said, "Sorry, you and the baby have to stay here." I kept casting wistful glances at them as I walked toward my impending doom. Now that the whole thing is done with, I can finally admit my deepest fear: That I'd never wake up from the anesthesia. But the Rebbe gave me his brocha, so I soldiered on. I kept a little tehillim with me that I got from one of the crazy 770 ladies. I silently thanked her.

The prep nurses were awesome, they were so nice. They were probably thrilled to be around a person younger than they were - the average patient age had to be at least 60. The one who admitted me I thought was Jewish. Andrea. We filled out our respective forms. One line on hers read; "check off the psychological status of patient: cheerful, co-operative, anxious." She checked off cheerful and co-operative. That was true, but I was ragingly anxious (and she knew it). "How come you didn't check off anxious?" I asked. "Because sometimes when I check off anxious, the patient gets more anxious!" I liked her.

I had to get completely undressed and they put me under a warm blanket. They even had warm socks! The whole thing was kind of cozy. Then they stuck chest sensors on me and inserted the I.V. prep. She asked me if there were any modesty issues I wanted to address before they took me into the procedure room. At that moment I felt sure she was a Jew. I told her I wanted to be covered as much as possible. She said they'd make sure of it. Then I asked, "They're not going to be doing anything around my head, are they?" I thought of my wig, which I insisted on wearing. The Rebbe said, "it brings brocha to you, your children, and grandchildren." I wasn't about to leave my brocha behind! She said they wouldn't touch my "head covering." "By the way," she added, "it's cute!" I really loved her then.

They wheeled me into the procedure room, and there was Dr. Brown. He started making cheerful small talk. "Hey," he tells the nurses, "Her husband plays guitar with Crazyfingers." (Dr. Brown is also a deadhead). The nurses were impressed. "He plays bass," I corrected, "and he only fills in when Bubba isn't around." I felt sure he was trying to make me feel at ease, yet the whole thing seemed a little surreal. I'm about to have a colonoscopy, and we're talking about the local Grateful Dead band. Then the anesthesiologist started the drip. (ohhh...no wonder we're talking about this...) My brain started to feel furry. She tucked the tehillim under my pillow.

Then I'm being wheeled somewhere. I said, "Oh, you're doing the procedure in another room?" Nobody heard me. They wheeled me back to the prep room. It was done already. The nurse told me everything was fine, it was just a hemorrhoid problem. She said, "I still have them from my pregnancy, and that kid is 18 now." Great, I thought. I'm stuck with them forever.

The drive home was okay, I was tired but I felt just fine. I got into bed as soon as I could, and slept the afternoon away.

You see what I have to go through to get a nap around here?

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Tomorrow is my colonoscopy. I'm scared, but I wrote to the Rebbe and got an amazing brocha. I'm trying to hang on to that.

Today I drank a gallon of NuLytely. It's a prescription laxative (trust me, it's gross). I've been in the bathroom all day. I'd literally be done washing my hands and have to go again. I'm supposed to take 4 Dulcolax tablets in about another hour. Yaakov keeps cracking dumb scatalogical jokes. I love him. Tomorrow morning, I have to give myself an enema.


Monday, October 23, 2006
The Zoo.

Yesterday we went for parshas Noach. One of the most entertaining parts of the trip was watching a guy trying to get the gorillas' attention. He was waving, hooting, giving the thumbs up sign. Then there was the hugely pregnant lady, whose belly was hanging out of her too-short shirt. I think I looked at people more than animals.

Friday, October 20, 2006
Drain-o for the Brain-o...

I just had a plumber here to unclog the kids' toilet. Guess how much it cost? A hundred and fifty bucks!

I could have paid a psychiatrist to unclog my head for that kind of money!


This experiment in single parenthood has been a disaster. Last night, somebody threw up in the playroom. I was ridiculously busy, and promptly forgot about it. Two hours later, Rivky tripped in it.

Yep. That about sums it up.

Thursday, October 19, 2006
Scenes from a Mall:

Today I went for a power walk through the mall. I generally avoid mall stores like the plague, as they are ridiculously expensive. But today I stopped in a few.

My first store was Urban Outfitters. Don't ask me why, as I would never wear anything from them. Anyway, they had the "Post Secret" book there. I thumbed through it. Some secrets made me feel sad and disturbed. Some made me smile.

Then I went to Bath and Body Works, to return the yucky-smelling raspberry shower gel someone bought me. I had a 9.50 credit, so I bought liquid hand soaps (4 for 10.00, perfect!). The kids went nuts over their "Double Bubble Berry" foam stuff. I'm thrilled - I'm a stickler for post-potty hand washing.

Next on to Pottery Barn. "Do you guys have oval baking pans?" Nope. "Try Williams and Sonoma." Nope. "Try Crate and Barrel." There, I met the cutest old lady named Lorelei. (Is that a great name, or what?) She went nuts over Zalman. She could not stop gushing over him. I loved her. In Crate and Barrel I discovered all kinds of amazing cookware, but no oval baking pans.

While looking at silicone basting brushes, I thought about Sarah Shapiro. She wrote "Growing with My Children." She wrote about stuff all over her apartment that needed fixing. Though they'd been living with it for awhile, one day she called a repair man. How much easier life was! Finally, the closet door was fixed! Finally, the light was repaired! All the little things they'd been "putting up with" were now obsolete.

I thought about the things in my house that need fixing, that we refuse to deal with because we rent. The bathtub that won't drain properly. The carpet that desperately needs replacing. The fact that it really needs a paint job. If I only had the silicone basting brush! I'd wave it like a magic wand and make all our problems go away.


Wednesday, October 18, 2006

He's a turtle. He's more than happy to stay in his shell, and not interact with the world at large. He's a pleasant person to be around, and he has a healthy amount of friends, but he's not the kind of guy to run out and socialize. At work, he's the only one there. He programs all day in a little office, all by himself. And he likes it! Me, I'd go crazy.

That's why I'm glad he's in NY right now. He has the chance to connect with old buddies. People that he never calls (because he's a turtle). Like tonight he had dinner with his college roomate. This is the man who turned my husband on to The Dead (Thanks a lot, Seth! He could have graduated!). Anyway, Seth also became religious and has a lovely family of his own. And tonight Yaakov is going to a wedding in Crown Heights. He doesn't know the chosson personally, but he's in our extended network of friends and everybody will be there. Another chance to re-connect. Tonight and tomorrow night he'll be staying with old friends of ours from Crown Heights. I'm so happy he gets to be around people he loves, and who love him too.

Yay, Yaakov!

Tuesday, October 17, 2006
Not Fun.

Yaakov left to New York this morning on business. So it's Mommy Maven vs. The Fab Four until Friday afternoon.

Remember yesterday I wrote about fun? Well, today was not fun. Zalman wants to be held all. the. time. I don't know if it's a growth spurt or what, but if I put him down for more than 5 minutes, he's wailing. Tonight I did everything I could while holding him. I made dinner, did homework, you name it. I put off showering the other 3 until he fell asleep. And the second he fell asleep, I hustled.

So they're in the shower, and Chaya gets done first. I told her to go put on her nightgown. She returned with grim news: Zalman woke up. And was screaming. What was I supposed to do? I went really fast. When Rivky and Srulik were through, I ran into their room to dress them. Srulik has this whole schtick that he likes to pish on the floor (or bed), so I was desperately trying to diaper him. I asked him several times (nicely!) to get onto the changing table. He ignored me. Then I started raving like a lunatic. Rivky was rolled up in her towel on the floor, and only emerged when I started yelling at her. Zalman was screaming all the while. I was so frantic over his crying and my kids' lack of co-operation, that I yelled myself into a sore throat. Believe me, I'm not proud.

I still have to sit down and do Hebrew homework with Chaya, but all I want to do is have a drink. And if I had a cigarette, I'd smoke, too.

Monday, October 16, 2006

So today I'm at the playground talking to a lady with one kid. She looked at my gang and said, "Are you planning on having more?" I said I was. She said, "You must really enjoy motherhood to have such a big family."

The statement startled me. I never thought about whether I enjoyed it or not. It's a job to me, an obligation. I love my children, and work hard (generally) on my parenting. But enjoy it? And then I thought, "Well why don't I?"

I realized because I'm not spending enough time with them. I mean, sure, I'm a housewife. I'm home with children (some or all of them) all day. But what am I doing with that time? I'm cleaning the house, or doing laundry, or even taking care of them. But I'm not hanging out with them, having fun. I want to change that.

Tonight we played when Yaakov went to shul. We played "telephone." We played "Simon Says." They rolled on the floor pretending to be bugs. I laughed. The dishes didn't get washed, but that's okay. We had fun.

Goodbye, Chagim.

Friday was the last time we shook lulav and esrog for the year. I felt sad about it, and lovingly kissed each one goodbye. The sukkah is being dismantled as I type, although I won't miss that so much. What can I say? In and out, back and forth with all the food, bugs everywhere...not my favorite thing. I tried to think of all the hardships people had to go through with their sukkahs. Like in Russia, where chassidim would freeze half to death sitting in their snowy sukkahs. Who am I to complain about our balmy gazebo in the sun?

I had a beautiful little moment with G-d while in the sukkah one night. I thanked him for Zalman. Last year I sat in the sukkah and prayed for a healthy child. This year, I got to thank G-d for it. I told G-d that he answered my prayers, and I realized I never told Him that. It was a moment. I cried.

Shemini Atzeres and Simchas Torah were fun, and the weekend progressed fairly nicely. Friday night I took the kids to shul for "kids' hakafos", and again Saturday night. Those were fun, Yaakov had a ball dancing around with them. I had to leave soon thereafter though, the place was totally insane and kids were everywhere. Lots of small children milling around outside in the dark is a bad thing. My anxiety
was pretty high. I don't know why our shul has to be totally upside-down all the time. One out of town guest - a Lubavitcher! - said "I wouldn't want to be a member of this shul, it's too disorganized." I agreed. Our shul is nuts.

Sunday there was dancing in the streets with the Torahs, and a beautiful kiddush afterwards. Then I went to Mrs. Stein's and hung out at her house for the afternoon. THANK YOU MRS. STEIN. If I had stayed home alone with my kids, it would have been miserable for all of us. At 5:30ish we walked to shul and met Yaakov, then came back home. It was a really nice weekend.

Now, the laundry.

Thursday, October 12, 2006
You do this to people every day?

The Rebbe advised, when seeking medical help, to see a doctor who is a friend. I don't have any friends who happen to be gastroenterologists, but my mom works for one. I figured that counted.

So today, Zalman and I went to visit Nana and Dr. Brown. We brought our lulav and esrog too. While mom showed Zalman off to her co-workers, I scoped out potential lulav shakers and filled out forms.

Then I'm in the exam room staring at a gastrointestinal diagram, when Dr. Brown comes in. "So you saw blood in the toilet, is that right?" Yep. Bloody toilet bowl. He handed me a paper cover and told me to take off my skirt, then turn on my left side. Oh man. I knew what was coming - a rubber glove and complete humiliation. And even worse, in front of my mother. And my lulav.

"Well, considering you saw so much blood, I'm going to recommend a colonoscopy. It's a 10 minute procedure, with anesthetic." I asked if I could forgo the anesthesia. "Well, unless you have a high pain threshold, I wouldn't recommend it." I said, "Well, I've had 4 natural childbirths..." He explained how the little microscope tube thingy was going to inch around my entire colon. I looked at the diagram on the wall again, then swiftly agreed to drugs.

October 25th is my colon's big debut. Hooray.

Wednesday, October 11, 2006
Weight Watchers.

I went back to WW last week. Although I lost 12 pounds myself at home, after awhile it got to be 2 steps forward, one step back. I'd stay within my "points" range for a few days, then cheat for a couple of days, then go back to dieting...you get the idea. I felt like I needed to be accountable. I figured that if I spent the money to go to meetings, I would make an effort to stay on track.

So I went last week and weighed in. I was surprised at the number - I thought I weighed less! (My bathroom scale lies.) The meeting leader was an adorable 60-something lady, well-groomed and obviously Jewish. She picked me out as Jewish too, and we had a nice schmooze at the end of class (along with a Catholic lady). We talked about a lot of things, she asked me how many kids I planned on having. I shrugged. She thought that was crazy. I asked her what her Hebrew name was. She wrinkled her nose - "Yochevert." I replied, "You must mean Yocheved! She was Moses' mother, and one of the Jewish midwives in Egypt." She never knew this.

This week, before I went to the meeting, I printed out a little explanation about who Yocheved was. I rolled the paper into a scroll, and tied it with a pink ribbon. I wanted it to be beautiful, so she could celebrate her special name. I also brought along my lulav and esrog, so she could shake them. She had never seen them before. I was so honored to introduce her to the mitzvah! The secretary was a Jew, and she also did it. The Catholic lady was there again, and I didn't want her to feel left out. So she did it too, minus the brocha. "I can always use a little extra luck!" she said.

And the good news is, I lost 3.5 pounds! I am very proud of myself, especially since it was yom tov (and I didn't eat one bite of the apple pie I baked).

p.s. Today I saw the most amazing iguana. Way better than yesterday's. First of all, it was HUGE. Second of all, it had bright orange legs.
I never saw one like that - I wish I had my camera.

p.p.s. Toronto Pearl, it is indeed a minhag to light inside the sukkah, we looked it up.

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Yaakov photographed him waltzing through our neighborhood.


Last night I collapsed into bed at 2 a.m. after cleaning my entire house. I even cleaned the toy cabinet. This basically entailed organizing, and getting rid of garbage. I also put aside toys no longer being used - they'll find a new home at a thrift store. The toy cabinet is only done late at night, when the kids are deep in slumber's embrace. Otherwise, they'd have heart attacks. "What?! You're getting rid of that? It's my favorite!" (Nevermind the fact that they haven't played with it since the dark ages.)

One thing I realized, upon organizing the book shelf, is how many wonderful Jewish kids books I have. Tons. And a nice helping of "secular" books, too. Books about trains and helicopters and food, even one about snails ("Wow, look what interesting creatures Hashem made!").

I felt a pang of sadness. When was the last time I read to them? I'm so busy trying to keep up with dinner and laundry and brush your teeth please and dishes and I'll help you wipe and time to do carpool and feeding the baby and baking challah and doing homework. Whenever I do something it's always at the expense of something else! I don't even have the time to blog as much. There's things I've been wanting to write about that I just can't explore - no time. There's days I've wanted to discuss, but no time to do it.

Baruch Hashem.

Monday, October 09, 2006
The Sukkos Experience:

Yaakov built a beautiful sukkah, as he has done for the past few years we've lived here (in Brooklyn ours was small - canvas and metal).

Friday night was lovely, my mom and brother came and we all ate in the sukkah (except Srulik, who crashed out early). The bug problem was totally insane. I even had one in my drink. One little green guy landed in the broccoli slaw. I freaked out, he looked so much like the rest of the salad. I'm grateful I saw him, otherwise he surely would have been eaten.

Shabbos lunch we ate out - most delightful, since I've been having guests for weeks. It was nice to be one for a change! I agreed to make dessert though - yellow cake with chocolate icing - which Yaakov delivered Thursday. I dolled it up with confetti sprinkle stars. I think I dropped no less than four comments that I made it. I never directly said, "I made this cake," but I would say things like, "You know the cookbook "The Kosher Palette?" Well, that's where I got the cake recipe from!" I was really uptight that people would think it was a Duncan Hines mix, I'm not sure why. Anyway, we're sitting in this family's sukkah, and I look up and I see a tree way above me. Halachically, tree branches are not supposed to be above a sukkah. I didn't say anything - I figured, maybe there was some limit as to how close the branches could be? At one point in the meal I got up, and when I returned the topic was under hot discussion. Apparently, the person building the sukkah had a certain perspective, and didn't see the way the branches fell. Certain parts of the sukkah were under the tree and certain weren't. It was a little awkward. The hostess paid a lot of money to have her trees trimmed for this very reason, imagine to hear that her sukkah was not kosher after all that! But lunch was great nonetheless. On our way home, Rivky fell on the sidewalk. She really cried, I felt so bad for her. She got a big 'ol scrape under her nose. It looks terrible.

Sunday morning was beautiful, we got to shake lulav and esrog. I even put them in Zalman's hands, and he got to do the mitzvah too. Contrary to the video I posted, a lulav and esrog are handled very reverently (especially when they cost 180 bucks). For yom tov lunch we had step-shvigger, my grandparents, and my brother again. My grandparents brought over 2 overripe canteloupes, they always do. It's practically a tradition. I think they buy them for themselves, then try to pass them off on us. This may or may not be true. Anyway, we had a great time. Plus, we got our family members to shake the lulav before they left, our first mivtzoyim customers.

It was a beautiful yom tov.

Friday, October 06, 2006
Happy Sukkos!

Thursday, October 05, 2006
Ad Mosai.

The murder of the Amish children grieves me. I don't know what to say, except that I feel so very sad. I have kids the same age. I'm crying as I type.

Torah teaches that the world will be a terrible, dark place before moshiach arrives. I ask you - how much darker can it get?

13 Jews I'd like to have in my sukkah:

1. Grateful Dead drummer Mickey Hart
2. Adam Sandler
3. Matisyahu
4. Rush bassist Geddy Lee (For Yaakov)
5. Steven Speilberg
6. My high school debate coach
7. Simon and Garfunkel (they count as one, right?)
8. Billy Crystal
9. Sandra Bernhardt
10. Billy Joel
11. John Zorn (Also for Yaakov)
12. Joe Lieberman
13. NY's Mayor Bloomberg (so I could hock him about the Crown Heights crime resurgence)

Wednesday, October 04, 2006
Like a steam locomotive...

So Yaakov sent me to the bookstore today to pick up one of his favorite magazines. While there I happened to pick up another one, and literally laughed out loud at one of the ads. It showed a college kid - big Jew-fro on his head - and a Grateful Dead "Steal Your Face" poster behind him. He's laughing and eating out of a Streit's macaroon can, and the tag line read: "Best thing for the munchies." If that magazine was not so disgusting (and if it didn't cost 6 bucks), I would have bought it just to post that ad.

Tuesday, October 03, 2006
My Day of At-One-Ment.

For the record, I don't mind fasting. I mind taking care of four children while fasting! I was mean. I yelled. I told Rivky that I felt like hitting her (she climbed on top of the baby and woke him). Chaya and Rivky were at it all day. "She did it! She started it! Mommy, she bit me!" I took all candy and treats away - forever.

I thought of other Jewish mothers, locked in their houses. Nowhere to go and kids to watch. I felt connected to them, and took a sadistic measure of comfort thinking they were probably being witches, too. At one point I threw up my hands and yelled at G-d; "There's four of them and one of me - are those odds fair?!"

Towards Ne'ila time,
I asked G-d to forgive me for being a mean mother. As I stood there praying aloud, I felt a pair of arms wrap around my leg. I looked down and saw Chaya's eyes, full of love, looking up at me. It was a moment - I never realized she had Yaakov's eyes. And my heart filled with gratitude for my children.

Nonetheless, I think I need a yom kippur to atone for my yom kippur.