Thursday, November 30, 2006
Someone please tell me how...

...a man who studied engineering in college,

...taught himself hebrew in his mid-twenties,

...programs computers,

...who told me (just yesterday!) the physics behind the ball point pen,

could dress our 3 year old in his 5 month old brother's pants?

Can someone please answer that?

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

So everybody's heard of Sasha Baron Cohen, the Jewish comic behind "Borat." And though I'll probably never see the movie, I can't help but be fascinated.

Yaakov and I saw the following clip and we both laughed hysterically. We laughed at the dopey rednecks, at the absurdity of the song. There's something wickedly funny about him - as a Jew - singing this.
But then I thought, "Maybe this isn't funny." I mean, those patrons are really singing with gusto!

I'd like to hear your opinion.

Sunday, November 26, 2006
Sunday Fun!

Yaakov had an all-day class yesterday, so me and the kids went to mom's (yaaaaay Nana!).

As soon as I got on 95, 8 bikers got on too. Safety in numbers! So I'm following the bikers for miles and miles, when all of a sudden (out of nowhere!) another biker joins. Bearded and burly, riding his big 'ol hog. No helmet, with long hair trailing in the breeze (and a bald spot). AND he had a cigarette in his mouth! I found the whole thing terribly amusing, and called Yaakov right away. "You're calling me to tell me that?" he said. I guess I found it funnier than he did.

We went to the local pizza shop, but I didn't eat a thing. I had purposely eaten turkey before I left home, to "fleish" myself so I wouldn't be able to eat there. I keep wanting to offer this tip at a weight watchers meeting...

Then we went to the local playground, where I was surprised to see tons of moms and kids. I got into an interesting conversation with a Jewish couple there, who wanted to get married. I gently broached the topic of family purity to the bride, who seemed enthusiastic about it. I got her email address so I'll try and keep up with her.

On the whole it was a wonderful, productive day.

Friday, November 24, 2006

My family came and it was great. Everything got eaten up
(even the publix cranberry sauce). Chaya stood on a chair and said the 12 pesukim for everyone. All I have to make for shabbos is soup. Yay!

p.s. 2 thumbs down on the weight watchers pumpkin pie.

Wednesday, November 22, 2006
Turkey day.

It's that time again. For the record, I'm not interested in this holiday. I make it for my grandparents, who won't come for a shabbos or yom tov meal. So they're coming with my great-aunt Sylvia, plus my mom and brother. And maybe Yaakov's parents. So as far as I'm concerned, I'm saving a handful of Jews from eating treif tomorrow (which is what they'd be doing if they weren't coming to me).

This year, I'm serving:

- 15 lb bird stuffed with vegetable kasha
- corn bread
- mashed potatoes (instant - very yummy with margarine)
- sweet potato "boats"
- corn (canned - too many dentures for "on the cob")
- cranberry sauce (from a can - nobody eats it anyway)
- a weight watchers pumpkin pie recipe
- a "happy 20th anniversary" cake, for my grandparents (courtesy of mom and her local kosher bakery)

Wishing y'all a good one.

Tuesday, November 21, 2006
You GO Girls!

Show 'em how it's done!

Sunday, November 19, 2006
No, it's not Quasimodo...

It's Yaakov "toiveling" our new silverware!

Saturday, November 18, 2006
Puberty Class:

That's what my friend's 11-year-old daughter called it. You know, the class where they talk about "your wonderful, changing body." Where they tell you (in a very pareve way), where babies come from. Well, that's how it was for me, anyway. No body parts - just "sperm meets egg." If I didn't know better, they could've met at a Star Trek convention. "Oh, you're sperm? Nice to meet you. I'm egg. Love the Vulcan costume."

Nowadays, the puberty class is downright ribald. At least, that's what I read on CNN. They talk about contraception and demonstrate with vegetables. They talk about "lifestyle choices" and different types of "activity."

When I was in 5th grade, the classes were separate. I fondly remember a boy accidentally interrupting the girl's session (while a female reproductive chart was on the projector). He was so embarrassed, he was shaking. What happened to the good old days?
Doesn't anyone blush anymore?

Here's more fun on this topic. Thanks, DinoMama for the inspiration.

Friday, November 17, 2006
Thanks, Matt.

Q - How do you tell a friend when you think they are doing something wrong without them getting angry or thinking that you are judging them?
A - You can’t control your friend’s reaction – but you can consider your “approach” on the subject and you can control your response to their response. The deepness of your friendship will determine whether your friend considers your words helpful or hurtful. And ALWAYS pray before you speak to them to get clarity on whether you are really judging them or trying to help them. (Matt.7:1-5)

I was hitting the "next blog" button, randomly trolling the blogiverse, when I stumbled upon a youth-group website. I read the question, and thought, "Gee, I have the same issue." Then I read the answer and thought, "Wow, what a Jewish response." And then I saw the source.

I remember reading a quote from the Rambam once. I don't remember the exact words, but it went something like; "Accept the truth from whatever source it comes from."

p.s. When I went to pick up Srulik from playgroup today, I found a book by Rabbi Chaim Dalfin on the teacher's shelf. I opened to a passage about criticism:
To give rebuke you must possess three conditions: (a) no preconceived negative feelings, (b) no anger or frustration if the person doesn't listen to you, and (c) concern only for the other person, not for yourself.

Thursday, November 16, 2006
What Say You?

We're debating: hippopotomuses (Yaakov) or hippopatomi (me)?

Did I spell those right?


It is said that to have guests is to have the Shechina (G-dly presence) in your home. Why do we merit the Shechina simply by having guests? Because having guests is not simple! That's why - when done properly - G-d fills the home.

Who is our role model? Avraham! His tent was open on all 4 sides, so guests could come from every direction. He fed them, loved them, talked to them about G-d. He even had guests right after his bris (when he was 99 years old). That's serious business.

Having guests is a mitzvah - hachnossas orchim. And when doing this mitzvah, you strive to do your very best. I like to do little things, like buy them nice shower gel and shampoo. I have fun rolling up towels and washcloths for them on their neatly made beds. I like to leave them little gifties; a pair of earrings, a book, a toy. And that's what I'll do in January: a family is coming for 2 weeks to stay with us. We know them (but not really), we're friendly (but not really). I'm nervous (really).

When I broached the guest-idea to Yaakov, he waved his hands dismissively. "It's such a big mitzvah, don't worry - everything will work out." But I am worried. For one, They have 2 small kids, so there's real insanity potential there with my gang. Two, they have this crazy diet with all kinds of specifications (their nutritionist eats buffalo meat. Does that tell you anything?). Feeding guests always takes some fancy footwork (you don't want to give them fishsticks, the old stand-by). But special restrictions on top of that? Plus, they're traveling while they're here. So they might come, go, and then come back again. A little hectic.

I know the wife, she's awesome. I'm looking forward to getting to know her more. Nonetheless, I'm daunted. It's a big deal to host a family. It's expensive, it's nutty, it's crowded. You really have to be on your best behavior (no farting outside your bedroom).

Not only is this big January trip coming up, but my dad wants to come in February. And so does Canada-friend. So we really have a lot of chances to be like Avraham.

I hope G-d doesn't ask us to sacrifice any of our kids.

Sunday, November 12, 2006
Keep on Blogging in the Free World...

One of my friends has started blogging again after a long hiatus. Her return made me think about blogs, and blogging in general.

The blogs I read, I feel like I sorta "know" the blogger.
I get involved with their lives and their stories. There's a certain familiarity there. But the truth is, I don't know them at all.

The converse is also true. Most of my readers don't know me at all. (I say most, because some readers are my close friends. One is even my husband.) I feel when I write, I project a certain personality - my "blog persona". And while that is a true refection of me, there's so, so much more (both good and not). Thank you for reading.

Some people have said that blogging is therapeutic, and I agree. Although I think they are referring to writing about their problems. I write about everything else! My deepest issues I save for friends (except the things I've wanted to send to postsecret).

I think I've explored a lot on this blog: My bi-polar father, fights with Yaakov, my parenting challenges. I've talked about the Grateful Dead, Weight Watchers, and struggles with frumkeit. I wrote Zalman's birth story. But I never talked about the relief I felt when my step-father died (there, I said it). I've never written the wretched secrets that burden my soul. I never wrote about losing a friendship I thought would last forever.

Maybe I will someday. Or maybe I'll find a therapist.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006
Random Thought!

One of my BIG pet-peeves is when I'm washing dishes, Srulik pulls up a chair reallllly close to me and starts messing with stuff by the sink or on the counter tops.

Another one is when I'm trying to cook or bake, and my kids are all "on top of me." They mess around with the flour or batter, and fight over who gets to use the mixer first.

Also, I frequently say, "Back off, I need some space." And then there's the fact that I'm terrified of elevators. I think I'm a claustrophobe.

(Big chiddush, right?)

Tuesday, November 07, 2006
Where Shopping is a Pleasure.

My local grocery store is a Publix. I shop there twice or three times weekly. I'm trying to get my act together though, and shop only once. Working on it.

Anyway, being there so much, you get to recognize people. The Indian manager, often in a dark blue button-down. The old dude who sneaks cigarettes while collecting shopping carts. Rosa, the pretty cashier. The chatty hispanic bagger who's going to night school for his GED. And then there's the
mentally disabled guy.

One reason I love Publix is they hire people like this. I have shopped in several Publixes, and they all have mentally disabled people. I think this is super-great. I should write a letter!

But anyway, today I happened to be on line behind the mentally disabled guy (and my cashier happened to be Rosa). I couldn't help but notice what he was buying, it was right there on the belt thingy. Four cans of baby beans. A roasted chicken. Several cans of Chef Boyardee. Sliced turkey. Strawberries. Whole wheat bread with oatmeal.

They were joshing him as he wrote a check. "Hey, lemme see your I.D. Lemme see your driver's license." "Want my passport?" He said. I wondered if he drove a car. I wondered about his life. Does he live alone? With family? Who's gonna eat that rotisserie chicken with him?

Sometimes, thinking about other people stops me from thinking about my own life. I'm can't help but wonder if it's a defense mechanism.

p.s. Totally unrelated, but Chaya told me her teacher pulled out another girl's tooth. I guess it's her thing.

Sunday, November 05, 2006

I heard this on shabbos:

An Israeli woman desperately wanted a baby. She sought the blessings of many rabbis, yet remained childless for years. Finally, she decided she was going to pray at Kever Rochel. Nine months later she gave birth to a boy, and went back to "invite" Rochel to the bris. She left a handwritten note.

At the bris, suddenly, a beautiful woman in white walked in. Nobody knew who she was, but everybody was interested in her. All the women went to shake her hand or stroke her arm. The woman went to the mother, hugged and kissed her, wished her a mazel tov, and promptly left. Nobody knew who she was!

A videographer was filming the event, and when the video was played back, they saw the strangest thing: All the women were shaking hands with nothing, the mother of the baby had her arms around empty space. The dazzling woman in white was nowhere on the video!

It is Jewish custom not to "invite" people to a bris. Eliyahu haNavi attends each one, and it would be wrong not to accept. Thus we simply tell people. For if one specifically invites...

The other is obligated to attend.

Thursday, November 02, 2006
Carpool Therapy.

Going home from school today, I noticed the 5th grader in my front seat looking glum. "what's up, Yossi? You look pretty sad." He immediately burst into tears. "Well, you'd be sad too if everybody in class was picking on YOU!"

I gave his shoulder a squeeze. "Yeah, I know how that is." He started regaling me with tales of the bully. "I was just sitting there and he came right into my face! He ripped up the cards in my hand! He shoved me!" "That's not okay!" I said. "Yeah, and I shoved him back!" "Oh," I said. "That's no good. Chassidim don't hit each other." "Yeah, well it was like nails in a hurricane. You know how they pop out? Well that's how it was. I tried and tried to hold it in, but then I just snapped like a hurricane." Then he started crying again.

"You know," I said, "Sometimes people bully when they aren't happy with themselves. Maybe he's picking on you to make himself feel better. I know that sounds weird, but it can be like that sometimes." "Yeah, my mom told me that."

"Maybe you could write him a note? Tell him you want to be friends." "If I wrote him a note he'd just rip it up and laugh at me. I told him if he keeps being mean, I'm going to have my mother call his mother." I inwardly groaned - no better way to ascend the ranks of nerdiness. "Anyway, I'm never going back to that school again. I'll go somewhere else." "Awww, Yossi, I sure would miss you in carpool if you left. And besides, Hashem is going to keep sending you these tests until you pass them. It doesn't matter what school you go to."

We continued talking as he got out of the car. "You know Yossi, you're a great kid. Just because someone is mean to you, doesn't take away from how special you are. It just shows that the other kid has a problem."

I said all the right things, was kind and empathic with him. Nonetheless, my words felt hollow. Getting picked on hurts. Period. And no carpool mommy can fix that.

Not even one as awesome as me.