Monthly Archives: November 2009

With death comes honesty

I have a neighbor in my building who is quite a kooky character but a lovely man. He always looks upbeat and happy, but seems sometimes kind of lonely. Anyhow, he is Jewish but is very firm in not believing in the Jewish traditions. However, he has respect for the way we live our life and is very careful not to denigrate any of our practices.

He recently told me that when he dies he wants to be cremated, by the funeral home, with no service. He said he didn’t want people standing up at a funeral ceremony and spouting bull*&^% about what a wonderful man he was. He doesn’t want the hypocrisy and the shallow pomp and circumstance. He wants his son to scatter his ashes and just move on with his life.

He has a point. I am sure we have all been to funerals of people who were just regular people, but in death they seemed to have attained sainthood. But that doesn’t explain cremation, just not wanting a service. Although knowing my neighbor he probably doesn’t want a shrine to his memory, hence the scattering of his ashes.

What do you think?

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Oh, you don’t work?

Holy heckers woman! Of course I work. I work my fingers to the bone day in day out. What’s that? Right, I don’t do paid work. So that invalidates everything I do? Soon I shall start being paid for my writing. But apparently that matters little around here. Writing shmiting – unless you are published in Binah or Mishpacha it doesn’t count, and I have set my sights higher than that.

Yes, I am a mom. A full time stay at home mom. Is it a choice? Well, sort of. See I was working, until, due to the terrible economy, I lost my job the week before our marriage. I didn’t seek another because we thought it would be only a couple of months until we moved. Little did I know that I would be stuck here this long. For most of my kids’ lives though, I have been a stay at home mother. It was only last autumn that I decided to get out and work a little for my own sanity, since all the kids were then in school for a full day. It just increased the amount of stuff on my plate.

I am married, but to most intents and purposes, while I am up here, I am still a single mom. Therefore all the childcare, housework, bill paying, grocery shopping etc falls squarely on my more-than-capable shoulders. Each day is a flurry of activity from the time I wake up till the time I drop into bed exhausted at night. Plus I write in my “free” time. I make the time to do it because I enjoy it. Does that make me a WAHM mom even though it isn’t paid work?

Moms do not get enough respect. Single moms get even less. We work damn hard day in day out to make sure our kids are well taken care of. Yes, if I went out to work we would have more disposable income so I could hire a cleaning lady if I wanted to or buy the shoes I lust after. But when I was working, I found the time I was home, I was so busy taking care of everything in the house, and groceries etc, that I didn’t seem to have as much time for the kids as I wanted to have. Were they neglected? Absolutely not. I worked 25 hours a week, with a 90 minute commute total each day. Then I had all the shopping to do, the groceries, the laundry, the cleaning, the cooking etc. Homework and fun time with the kids was a must, a priority – but by the time they went to bed, I was exhausted, this was no way to live. Then throw in long distance dating and organizing a wedding and a kid with a broken ankle – my plate was overloaded. Just as well I was let go.

Life is a little quieter these days, but my plate is still full. Kids still need to be fed and clothed and bathed and homeworked and nurtured and loved and disciplined and fed again. I write every day. One day I will finish my book and start on the next. I am still on the road a lot. It will only get crazier once we get the notification of when we can move. Then I have to add packing to the list – but that will be an awesome addition.

So yes, madam, I work. Shove that in yer pipe and smoke it!

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Enjoy your food

Enjoy your food. What a concept! Food should be tasted before being swallowed. One inhales fragrances and such, not food. Savour it, taste it, enjoy the textures on your tongue before swallowing. Sigh.

What the heck is the rush with eating and teenage boys? They shovel the food in, as if there is no tomorrow, as if they have not been fed in months! You have spent an hour slaving over a hot stove, and the food is gone in sixty seconds. 2 hours later (if I’m lucky) the bottomless pits are hungry again. There should be a revolving door on my pantry and my fridge. Even better, we should live at the grocery store.

Thank God I am able to feed them healthy food as often as they need it. Thank God I am healthy that I can spend inordinate amounts of time cooking in the kitchen, preparing them their favourite dishes. Thankfully they have learned how to wash dishes and clean up after themselves because all this food preparation exhausts me some days. At least they go to school so my kitchen can stay pristine for a couple of hours in the day!!

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I got my baby fix this last weekend. Family and friends with babies came in for my friend’s wedding, and stayed for Shabbat. I got to hold babies, snuggle with them, have them fall asleep on me (which even the crankiest of babies does) and feel my arms go numb. I loved every second of it.

There is nothing in this world yummier than snuggling with a little baby. Of course the fact that if it cries or has a dirty diaper you can give it back, well that’s a good thing too. My youngest is seven. He still comes for morning snuggles and cuddles, but he’s all long legs and arms, and a hug last 2.5 seconds at best. It isn’t the same. That little downy head wedged into your neck, that soft rounded cheek resting on your silk-clad shoulder, drooling through their dreams. The deep rhythmic breathing of a sleeping baby is so relaxing.

I got my baby fix. I am good for the next couple of months.

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No Offense……

Puhleeze. When you preface any phrase with these two words it totally means “I am going to offend you but by saying no offense I am trying to blunt the edges”. Somehow my kids have learned this phrase and have started using it left right and centre. “Ima, no offense, but next time you make this could you put less salt / pepper / attitude?”. “Well kid, no offense, but how about next time you open you mouth you think before talking?”

In the same vein, when you vent, and then you add “I’m just saying” at the end – again it’s a tactic to minimize the bite, but I don’t think either of these tactics work. They are passive aggressive and are meant to absolve the talker of any responsibility for his/her words.

If you have something to say, say it nicely. Don’t think you can add a little phrase and it makes the pain of your words go away. Have the courage and belief in yourself that what you have to say has merit and just say what you need to say but in a polite and respectful way.

….just sayin’ …..

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How Many Candles?

How many Shabbat candles do you light? I light nine. When I was first married I only lit two, the minimum, in honour of Shabbat. As each child was born I added a candle as was the family custom. So by the time my first marriage ended I lit six candles every Friday night.

Soon after I was looking to do something symbolic to help me look to the future. I decided to start lighting three more candles every Friday night – one for Briut (health), one for Parnassah (livelihood) and another for Shalom (peace). I have a pretty candelabra with nine branches – and every time I light my Shabbat candles I am suffused with warmth and peace. When I light my candles I daven for people near and dear to me.

God works in mysterious ways. There are now nine people in our family. Me and the KoD, and our seven accumulated children. If all of these children had been born to me I would now be lighting nine candles.

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Boys and Their Toys

So, I am on the phone Saturday night with the KoD. We catch each other up on how our Shabbat was. He casually mentions “Oh, by the way, you now have your own GPS”. Sweeeeeet. “Did you get me the Pink Garmin one I wanted, honey?” I said, all excited. “Uh no, I got myself a new one, the one I told you about, so now you can have my old one.” (Black Friday sales are awesome!) Gee, so very nice of you, my dear. I get your old hand-me-downs of tech stuff. Apparently this is an unwritten male / female rule. Men get the new version of the toys, their wives get the older generation cast-offs. Not thrilled.

But here is the kicker. KoD added “Hmmm, perhaps you should really have the new one, it tells you when you are going over the speed limit.” Ouch, my dear, truly oucheriffic. Next time I see you I am gonna smack you upside the head with a wet fish, darling husband of mine. And you never go above the speed limit….no. Never.

So, people, does the tech rule exist in your house too?

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Parsha Question

In today’s Torah reading we read “and it was in the morning, and behold it was Leah”. Jacob had been tricked and had married Leah instead of Rachel, and apparently didn’t realize it until the morning! How on earth is this possible?

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Panic Mode

This has been an insanely busy week. My girlfriend got married yesterday – she was the most beautiful bride anyone ever saw. Seriously. It was an awesome wedding. But because of the wedding, and helping her with preparations and trying to run my own life at the same time I got next to nothing done in the house this week.

This morning I woke at 5.45 (my usual time, after falling asleep at 3 am) and had my coffee, wrote my weekly email to friends and family, and started to think about all I needed to do today to get ready for Shabbat. Then my son told me he was out of white shirts and needed me to do a wash before Shabbat (I had been planning on doing laundry on Sunday). And then I started to panic.

“How am I going to get everything done? There are 5 loads of laundry to do (once I am doing one, I may as well do the rest), the bathrooms need cleaning, my bedroom is flying, the kitchen needs to be cleaned, I need to cook up the regular storm for Shabbat – and get the kids off to school and I have to sew buttons onto the HockeyFan’s suit jacket, and have more coffee”. I was convinced that there was no way on God’s green earth that I would ever be able to accomplish anything today. I had a mini tantrum, the tears were rolling down my face, I bemoaned the lack of paid help in the house (a luxury I would love to be able to afford), I hugged the kids fiercely and explained I was overwhelmed, not mad at them. Of course, them being the delicious boys that they are, they offered to stay home from school and help me (didn’t happen), or to help me when they get home from school. They all cleaned their bedrooms before they left for school, which was a big help.

All the while I was panicking I kept hearing the KoD’s voice in my head. “You will get everything done, you always do, take it one thing at a time” – you think he knows me yet?!! Of course he is right, he usually is. Thank you Dude….always there when I need you.

Here it is now 8:15 a.m. and I have two loads of laundry going in the washer and drier, one waiting to be folded, the chicken soup is bubbling on the stove, my bed is made, and inroads have started to be made on the mess in my room, the dining room and living room are neatened up, the dishes from yesterday have finally been washed, the kitchen has been swept. It’s too late or too much to bake challah today, but I am forgiving myself for that.

I will do all I need to do, and I will do it without this panicked feeling in my chest. I am going to chalk that up to overexcitement and lack of sleep.

Remind me next time I am totally overwhelmed, that I can do it all. I know I can, just sometimes I guess I doubt myself.

Have an awesome weekend – I am off to clean some toilets. Such a glamorous life I lead!

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Kosher Cooking Carnival

Go check out the Thanksgiving Kosher Cooking Carnival….it features my recipe for chicken soup and matzah balls and the recipe for my world famous pie cake.

Have a thankful day!

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