Monthly Archives: November 2010

Laundry Experimentation

I have spoken before about spoiling my boys, about doing things for them. When they are not in school I expect them to fold their own laundry. When they are in school, they don’t have to fold it, but they do have to put it all away. Neatly.

In our laundry room we have a handy dandy shelving unit that has four shelves. One for each child, oldest has the top shelf, youngest has the bottom shelf. Generally I fold laundry in the living room on the homework table, and put the separated piles on each kid’s bed.

Lately I decided to just put it on their shelves – and see how long it takes them to realize that they need to put their clothes away. All their school trousers and shirts are hung up on this unit when fresh out of the drier as it has hanging space – so they need to come down there and get their clothes for school anyway. It’s been two days. Only one shelf is empty.

What’s the point of my lesson? Perhaps to teach them not to take me for granted? To teach them some personal responsibility? Or is it to see how long they can last without running out of socks and underwear? Is this an exercise in futility? Probably.

Salami and Eggs – 7 cents

So some of the boys wanted salami and eggs for supper last night, and I had no reason to say no. That way the salami would get used up, the kids would be fed, and all would be well in the world. Well, for a few minutes anyway.

The little one decided he didn’t want any. Which was fine by me, I wasn’t eating it either. But his reasoning was of the “I have never tasted it, but I don’t want to like it” variety. KoD decided to see what would happen if he gave the kid an incentive.

ChatterBox came into the kitchen with 7 cents (!!!) that he had received from the KoD as a positive reinforcement– and decided that he would at least try the salami and eggs because he promised the KoD that he would. He was well prepared to not like it.

Everyone sat down, I served up dinner. I heard a little voice ring out “wow, I like this!!” Like we ever have steered him wrong??!!

7 cents to eat supper. Not a bad deal I suppose.

Open Letter to the Men in my Life

Why is it that when you boys were younger I used to pray that you would stop talking bathroom stuff at the table, and now that you have segued into talking war and weaponry I am still not happy?

I just sat there for five minutes trying to have a discussion with you all about the merits (or lack thereof) of allowing a 16 year old to get his drivers’ permit and all you guys could talk about was the new gun that has come out. How is it that it is so new, yet you all know its specs etc?? Could you be this obsessed with your schoolwork please? And could you not ignore your mother when she is trying to get a word in edgewise?

Well, I may know nothing about guns, or war, or even care about that type of thing – but you see that kitchen and that dining table? Yours to clean up. Those dishes – yours to wash. That is of course, if you guys ever finish your discussion on the best way to load a freaking rifle or the best tank or the best bullet to kill your enemy with.

Oh, what I would give for some extra estrogen in the house about now….

Switching Off

Now that I am working I am very quickly learning that it is important to be able to switch off from work mode. This is especially vital when one works from home. I have a set number of hours that I need to work per month, and tasks that all need to be finished in a certain time frame. Of course, at the beginning it will take me longer as I am not that familiar with the software and every step that I have to take – but it’s already getting easier.

That being said, it is so easy to just run downstairs to my office and take care of a couple of emails in the evening, tweak the HTML for the next days posts, so that I don’t have to deal with it all the next day. Bad idea. A couple of emails could turn into an hour that I am sitting in my office taking care of things that can wait till the next day, instead of spending time with the family.

When I eat lunch or dinner I am deliberately leaving my blackberry in the office, and when I am doing homework with the kids, or just chillaxing with them and the KoD in the evening, I make it a point that I don’t check my work email.

The hardest part, so far, was last weekend. I don’t work Fridays, but other people do and there were emails coming in. I had to work hard to ignore them, and to also ignore the thought in my head that said “you have 34 emails (and counting) in your inbox to deal with Monday morning….” I totally switched off.

I spent the weekend immersed in the children, the KoD and household stuff – and came to my office refreshed and ready to take on the week this morning. I accomplished. I did more than I set out to do on my to-do list, and I feel extremely efficient.

There will be emails that trickle through in the hours that I am not working, but it is getting easier and easier to tell myself that I don’t have to deal with it now, and that it can wait.

I have to be firm with my work hours, otherwise I will be burned out. I want my job to get the best ME it can, and I want the kids to have the best IMA they can, and for the KoD to have the best QoH that he can. And that means compartmentalizing, which is no easy feat. But I am working on it.

How do you switch off from work mode?

Grinchitude

I was with the KoD yesterday at the mall doing some shopping, and we were bombarded, as is everyone this time of year, with Xmas music. Every single store, every single mall, every single Christmas song being played over and over and over again on a loop, until you feel your brain turning into one huge mess of tangled holiday lights that are flashing on and off without cessation.

Yes, I do enjoy the occasional Xmas song – I will find myself singing along when an old favourite comes on the radio. But I am already fed up of the endless loop. At one store yesterday I felt like running out while clutching my head and screaming.

And don’t even get me started on Chanukah this year. My recent tummy issues mean no latkes and no donuts. This holiday is all about OIL – and it’s a big no no for me. KoD and I have decided that the household is going low-fat – ALL of us, but in the interests of fairness I think we have to put that aside until after Chanukah. Yes, I have to suffer the torment of frying latkes that I cannot eat, and smelling donuts that I cannot scarf down, watching the kids lick the powder from their fingers, wiping up the jam that dripped down their chins.

The menorahs are in the basement, I don’t think I cleaned them last year before I packed them up, waiting for our move to NY. I haven’t bought oil or wicks or candles, and presents? Well, we don’t really do Chanukah presents.

I am hoping I can find some Chanukah happiness before Wednesday night. Until then, I need my daily dose of Grumpitol.

Don’t forget to enter our Chanukah Giveaway!

Sweet Potato Pie

This is totally yummy – I had never had sweet potato pie until the KoD asked me to make it for him almost 2 years ago, and my sister-in-law very graciously provided me with her recipe, that she got from a friend….

You will need:

2 eggs
1 cup of sugar
1 tsp. of salt
1/8 tsp. of nutmeg
1 tsp. of cinnamon
1 cup of milk (or pareve substitute – I use Rice Dream)
2 Tablespoons of margarine, melted
1 1/2 Cups cooked, mashed sweet potatoes (I usually nuke them in the microwave until soft, and then peel them)
1 8” pie shell (Or just pie pan, no pie shell necessary)
White marshmallows.

Preheat Oven to 450. Beat eggs slightly.  Add sugar, salt, spices and milk.  Add margarine to sweet potatoes, or stir in while hot.  Blend with milk and egg mixture.  Pour into pie shell.  You may use no pie shell at all, or even double and put in a 2-qt. Pyrex.  Bake in oven at 450 for 10 minutes.  Reduce to 350 for 30-40 minutes until filling is firm.  May put marshmallows on top and brown in 450 oven for a few minutes until light brown.  Do not overload the marshmallows.

Please Note – I once used multi-coloured marshmallows and let’s just say while the pie tasted wonderful it looked “interesting”.

Hacking Attempt

Someone wants my email address details. They sent me this email – purportedly from Gmail but the link I removed had nothing to do with it:

Dear Email Client.

You attempted to access your account from an unfarmiliar location,your security is our concern

it’s strongly required that you should Validate your login and security Details.

Gmail account login [I removed link]

This email was sent automatically please do not reply

Seriously, Ms / Mr Hacker? If you want to be taken seriously learn how to spell and form grammatical sentences. And don’t send the same email 5 times too….

Hadassah’s Thanksgiving Shabbat Dinner

We decided to make Thanksgiving dinner on Shabbat – to save me the insanity of cooking for two days straight.

After reviewing our options and consulting with those in the know, I present to you my menu.

Of course I will be baking challah to start off our meal – does one make braided challahs or round ones for Thanksgiving?

We will start with a Butternut Squash Soup (I hope the kids don’t complain that there is no gefilte fish or that there isn’t chicken soup).

Main course will of course be the turkey that is currently defrosting in the fridge. It’s 14lbs so it will take a while to cook. I don’t think I am making stuffing – there will be plenty of side dishes, so I don’t think it’s necessary. I will just put some lemon wedges in the cavity with an onion or two. I will (gulp) buy cranberry sauce – never having had it, I have no clue how to make it or how it should taste. I usually have my turkey with applesauce. Hmm. Maybe I should make my own….

The KoD has requested my crustless sweet potato pie with marshmallows on the top. I got this recipe from my sister-in-law, who got it from a friend…

I will also be making my “Crapple Cobbler” – ok that’s short for cranberry-apple, or cranberry-pineapple. What I love about this dish is that you can eat it hot, cold, with a main course, on its own. It is yumminess personified.

Another side will be steamed green beans, either with slivered almonds or toasted sesame seeds. I may even make them into a cold salad and add sliced Italian tomatoes and make a zesty vinaigrette.

I will also be making mashed potatoes just in case my boys won’t eat the sweet potato pie. I mash them with a little margarine, some chicken stock, some dill, salt and pepper. We like them very creamy. (I am so hungry right now.)

For dessert – well, I doubt anyone will have room for afters, but I have to prepare something, maybe baked apples? Or apple pie cake a la mode? Suggestions?

The kids are so excited to have turkey – I haven’t roasted a turkey in donkey’s years – all they remember is that when I last roasted one I roasted it upside down. I shall see if I can do the same this year, and follow in the family tradition.

Gobble gobble ya’ll!

The Kindness of Strangers

One of my boys had to come home by cab yesterday after school. The school was kind enough to call the company and have him driven home safely. This morning (no school) it was time for him to go to shul to daven and he realized he did not have his tefillin with him. He was absolutely convinced he had brought them in the house, but once we had turned the house upside down, it was obvious that he had not. He knew he had left school with them, but then again – maybe not.

I had him call the cab company himself to find out if anyone had handed them in. He ended up leaving a message for the lost and found person to call him. Luckily it was a Jewish firm – Emunah Taxis, yes I am naming them, because they were awesome!! Ima could totally have done this for him, but I wanted him to learn to fix his own mistakes. If parents keep swooping in to solve problems, the child never develops problem solving skills.

The lost and found lady called back and we set about trying to narrow down the list of possible cabs his tefillin could have been in. I asked my son about the car, about the driver. She said she would call her list of drivers and get back to me. Within a half hour she had called me back, said that they had found his tefillin. What an absolute relief. That band that was squeezing my heart loosened considerably.

Before I could even ask her where I should come to retrieve them, she said that she would have her husband drop them off at our house, after he had picked them up from the driver. These people went out of the way to return the tefillin safe and sound. She sympathized with me, and told me that if her son had lost his tefillin she’d also be stressed.

My son learned an important lesson – to keep track of his things, but I also learnt that there are people out there who do believe in common decency and who do go out of their way to perform a mitzvah.

Do you have any stories where people went out of their way to return something to you? Or where you went out of your way to return something?

Don’t forget to enter our Chanukah Giveaway!

Shaken

I didn’t get much sleep last night. I have been sleeping so well since I moved to NY – and I must have given myself an ayin hora (evil eye) telling someone yesterday how my insomnia improved as soon as I was settled here.

But it wasn’t that I couldn’t sleep. I fell asleep perfectly well. Then I had dream upon dream featuring someone in my life that is no longer on this mortal coil. In every dream this person was telling me very strongly “I never liked you”. I gave up sleeping at around 2 am because repeatedly waking up with my heart beating out of my chest was just scaring me.

I don’t know why this person was infecting my dreams – I hadn’t thought of them in a quite a while. Now I am groggy and cranky and a little bemused….

Don’t forget to enter our Chanukah Giveaway!