Monthly Archives: March 2011

How to hang a shirt on a hanger

Tips from a younger person:

First of all you need to determine if the shirt is in need of being washed. If it has been on the floor for only three days, it’s still wearable. Do the sniff test just to make sure. When the mother-person asks you to pick up your stuff off the floor, this is when you need to determine its wearability. If you do this earlier you run the risk of wearing something that smells like fresh laundry –a big no-no if you want to be cool. Once you have ascertained that it doesn’t smell too bad, you need to find an empty hanger – they generally make their habitat in that closet place in your room, that has a door in front of it. They like to cluster together and shiver because they have no clothes on. Poor hangers.

You then stand there in your room, shirt in one hand, scratching your head with the other, examining the hanger for instructions on how it works. You give up in total frustration. You then decide that you don’t want to anger the mother-person by leaving the shirt on the floor any longer, and stuffing it in the closet doesn’t seem to work either.

You put the hanger back in the closet and stuff the shirt in the laundry hamper – because you know that it will show up sooner or later in the closet – on a hanger – so you can knock it off onto the floor while rummaging for something else, and repeat the cycle.

That mother-person, she falls for it every single time. It works if you do it with pants too. Heck, if you cannot be bothered to put away your clean laundry, dump it into the laundry hamper! It won’t get put away in the closet, BUT it won’t inhabit the floor and then the mother-person will be happy.

We must keep the laundry elves in business. Who is with me??!!

Salads

I need salad recipes, folks. I am tired of the same old boring stuff. I want some with pizzazz and panache and lots of zing.

What are your favourite salads? And don’t lecture me on dressings, the boys hate dressings on their salads.

Wednesday’s Wacky Signs

I took this from Mendy Pellin’s FB page – thanks Mendy!

Post Simcha Slump Syndrome

Yep. That’s what I am suffering from. We planned the barmitzvah for almost a year. It took over every non-working waking moment for the past couple of months, and I put so much time effort and energy into making it a barmitzvah fit for a prince and his blended royal family. It paid off, handsomely. But after the adrenalin rush, comes the slump.

Now I am totally wiped. I am exhausted and just want to sleep. The blues are nipping around my heels but I am banishing them. Pesach is coming, and summer is around the corner. The PSSS has orders to be gone by the weekend.

We are having our first official Shabbat lunch guests this week (about darn time) – and I need to put on a meal fit for Kings and Queens and their adorable progeny. My boys will eat anything so long as I call it cholent 😉

Luckily I have access to some great recipes through work, and I will try to focus on that in order to banish all vestiges of PSSS.

How did you banish your PSSS? Help me re-energize.

In Praise of the Men in my Life

I have to tell you, I could not have pulled off this barmitzvah without the KoD. He has been my rock and my support, my sounding board, and my comfort. He provided reason and rationality where I was emotional and perhaps not seeing the bigger picture (I did get a teensy bit stressed once or twice). He balances me. He completes me. His unconditional love surrounds me daily. I am in total awe of him.

I am also thankful to my ex-husband. How hard it must be to come to a different community (in a different country) to celebrate a son’s barmitzvah – a community where the ex-wife is married to someone else, and the couple are entrenched within this community where he has no connection. But he came, along with his wife and their families – and they were welcomed with such warmth by us and the community.

He has worked hard along with me to put the post-divorce bitterness and resentment behind us, and to focus on the children at every point. I could not have this kind of relationship with him if he was NOT interested in the boys’ best interests. From day one we have both been focused on doing what’s right for the boys – and to have a willing partner in that is a gift beyond measure.

My boys do not ever have to choose between their parents. They are free to love us both (plus our spouses) equally without reservation, without worry of disloyalty. As co-parents, we back up the other’s decisions even if we disagree. We take that disagreement to a private discussion.

I cannot tell you what a bracha it was to celebrate this barmitzvah with both sides of the family and for everyone to feel comfortable. To welcome everyone into our home and into our community and not be afraid of someone saying the wrong thing – how special is that? Even in families without various steps and exes and all of that, simchas are fraught with stress…how much more so in our situation??

My children are of the impression that this peaceful co-existence is somewhat normal in divorced and remarried / blended families, but as we all know, this is far from the norm. But I so appreciate the support from the KoD, from my ex, from his wife, from the whole family – we are all doing our best for these kids, to make sure they grow up properly, with the right values. How important it is for them to learn that you can have differences, even huge ones that may lead to discontent and divorce, but you can move past them if you want to, if you strive to, if you are motivated to do so. They can take this lesson and apply it to their own lives – to failing tests, or losing a friendship etc – how priceless is this lesson?

There was so much love in that room over the weekend – so many people to love my boys. They are blessed beyond compare.

P word

It’s after the barmitzvah. The P word has been mentioned. Denial has set in big time. Where on earth do I start?

What’s the FIRST thing you do when preparing for Passover?

The Barmitzvah Boy

Barmitzvah Bliss – Part Two

Where did we leave off? Oh yes, the kiddush. The kiddush was a huge schmoozefest – and a chance for us to catch up with all our guests. HockeyFan’s part was over and done with and he could take a deep sigh of relief, and kick back and relax with his friends. At one point the attention overwhelmed him and he stepped outside with a few buddies to just get a little peace.

Once the kiddush was over the catering staff worked very fast to set up for lunch for 55 people – mostly out-of-towners and family members. The rabbi graced us with his presence even though he had a full house at his home, celebrating the birth of a new grandson! We were so honoured that he attended.

We had four speeches – the kids’ Abba spoke first, and spoke well. He spoke of my late grandfather, after whom HockeyFan is named, and was quite emotional. He was extremely gracious in thanking me and the KoD for welcoming him and his family to our home and our community. He thanked the Rav too, mentioning that it means a lot to him that our sons are being brought up in a community that is imbued with Torah values. He shared a Dvar Torah from the Torah reading.

Then I spoke – my speech was posted here last night. We ate some more, and some more and more, and then the barmitzvah boy got up to speak. He spoke about tefillin and tzitzit and which was more important and why.

The rabbi shared some Divrei Torah and was his usual fascinating self – I love that he blends a speech on Torah in with literature, and modern culture and can find a message in anything. He is so tuned in to his subject – truly a pleasure to listen to him.

One great moment – little ChatterBox was being his usual yummy 8 year old self and went up to Mr and Mrs KvetchingEditor and asked “Do you want me to sit on your lap? You could practice for when you have babies”. Too cute…

After the meal people retired to their accommodations for a nap, or they came back to our place to hang out (and eat some more). After mincha the men had a seudah shlishit in the shul, and all the women came to our house to eat. We set up a lovely table (thank you to my darling party planner) and had so much yummy food – sushi, trifle, veggies, cakes and cakes and cakes, chocolate, fruit, cookies and candies, salads, challah rolls, dips, crackers. I invited some of my local friends too to join us – this was my first time entertaining in our new home.

It was so lovely to have so many different women from various places and varying ages – all together under one roof. There was my family, and the KoD’s family, and my ex husband’s family and his wife’s family, and many of the ladies with whom I have become friends over the past few months. Such a warm feeling to see people I have brought together forge friendships. I was also blessed that three of my girlfriends, who at various times were Shabbat guests in my Montreal home, made the trek in from Montreal and Brooklyn and NYC – it was just like old times. It was awesome introducing them to my new friends and seeing how they all got along….

My Monsey Mama was there too – and she deserves a special shout out as she was so generous of her time and her culinary talents! She sent over kugel and gefilte fish, and cake, and salad. She ran to the bakery to pick up challah rolls. She sent over such a delicious array of chocolates, and has blessed us with the gift of her friendship! She went out of her way to enhance our simcha.

In fact, I prepared NOTHING for the ladies seudah shlishit – so many ladies sent over food that I didn’t have to stress about it at all! I cannot believe the generosity of our community.

After maariv everyone came home to ours to hear havdalah – we had about 22 people standing around our table to mark the end of a very wonderful Shabbat.

I could not have wished for a better barmitzvah for my son, although there were several people that were dearly missed. The only criticism that I heard was that there was too much food – better that than too little, no?

My son had a wonderful weekend, and that’s what counts the most to me.

Barmitzvah Bliss – Part One

Where to even begin?? Let me just start by saying this weekend lived up to my dreams, and even surpassed it. Big huge shout out goes to our caterer who listened to me, and provided delicious meals, an abundance of food, and set everything up perfectly. His staff were so courteous and respectful. Truth be told, I walked in to the hall to check on the kiddush and was moved to tears by how beautifully it was all set up. So L’chaim to Rabbi Kiss of L’Chaim Catering (seriously, call them for your event. 845 354 2626 – you will not be sorry. I have not been compensated in anyway to bring you this message!)

The family started arriving Friday afternoon, after I had spent the day getting prettified and getting the house ready. The photographer showed up at 2.30 for 2 hours of shots with us and the boys. He certainly managed to work around four rambunctious boys who were not very interested in posing for pix. It was so lovely to see my boys all dressed up in their new barmitzvah finery, ties knotted properly (for once), cufflinks twinkling at the wrists, and their shirts perfectly white.

At this point, I want to add a note of thanks to the community. The warmth that they have shown us for the simcha was truly amazing. Before Shabbat there were candy and chocolate platters delivered, cakes and delicacies – just to wish us mazel tov. We have been so surrounded with love and light by our new community – it makes me truly grateful to be living here. They welcomed all our guests into the shul, gave up their seats for them, all out of the goodness of their hearts.

By the time we had to leave for shul, all the guests had arrived, hugs and kisses had been exchanged and the excitement was palpable.

We headed to the shul for candle lighting and evening services. After services we had Friday night dinner in the shul hall for about 40 family members and out of town guests. The barmitzvah boy made kiddush and hamotzi, although I had to help him hold up the challah as it was HUGE!!

Now, you have to understand, there were 5 grandparents celebrating HockeyFan’s barmitzvah, but only ONE of them is actually biologically related. There were 2 parents and 2 step parents, siblings and stepsiblings, and a whole bunch of friends and family  – and everyone made a huge effort to get along. There was tremendous simcha in the room. Not one note of disaccord. We are blessed that we were able to make this simcha all together, but it’s something we all work hard on every single day.

There were no speeches Friday night – I made a quick welcome remark, nothing major, and Prince Lenny peformed his grammen.

Shabbat morning we were up early – I hadn’t slept much that night, so was raring to go by 7 am. We walked to shul looking forward to the big event.

It was truly a family affair. My oldest son davened shacharit (seeing him standing at the amud (podium) I was struck by how grown up he’s become, HockeyFan’s father and stepfather, grandfather and uncle, had aliyot, Lenny had Hagba (lifting the Torah) and Squiggy and Chatterbox both had Gelilah (dressing the torah). His step brother sang anim Zemirot and another stepbrother opened the aron. But the main event was when HockeyFan was called to the Torah – the chazzan called him up in a special way and I would like to say it brought tears to my eyes, but by then I had already been crying for a while!

I watched his father drape him in a tallit, my little boy who is now halachically a man, and I got chills. This was the moment we had been working towards since his bris, and here it was! His voice rang out – young, unbroken, and clear. Soon enough his voice will break and he will sound like a frog, but for now it was perfect! His father stood next to him encouraging him throughout.

Once the last note of his brachot died away it was time to throw candies. A very good friend, Lady Florence, had put together candy pecklach (packages) of soft candies and marshmallows for us. The boys had handed them out earlier during the Torah reading. There was mayhem as the little kids scrambled on the bima to collect up the candies – but there was plenty for everyone.

Once the mussaf service was over everyone descended to the shul hall to enjoy the delectable array of yummy foods set up for the kiddush. It was a chance for all to mingle and wish mazel tov and enjoy some food.

Barmitzvah Grammen

Again, I have to say there will be a detailed post about the barmitzvah soon – the house is now eerily quiet after the constant hum of activity over the weekend, and I need to catch my breath.

My oldest son performed a grammen on Friday night – and here I share some of the verses. [some have been omitted to protect privacy] It was funny and sweet and everything in between.

Thank you to all, who came from near and far….
To those who came by plane or by car….
It’s good to see you, I’m glad you’re here….
The least you could have done was to bring some beer….

I was asked to speak but that wouldn’t do…
Since people make grammens, I made one too….
This’ll be great, I’m sure you’ll all have a ball…..
I sure will enjoy making fun of you all….

I’ve never seen HockeyFan so happy as now….
He has enough money to invest in the Dow…
Even though the market hit the deck….
HockeyFan will still accept cash or cheque…

My dear brothers, stepbrothers and step sisters too….
At times I wish you were in Kalamazoo….
But aside from that I’m glad you’re here…
But you didn’t either bring any beer…. [I don’t let the kids drink, but being true Canadians they like beer]

……

……

My step-father KoD drives like a cabbie….
He has a sense of humour that isn’t too shabby….
He keeps us laughing and on our toes….
Where his next prank will come from nobody knows…..

My dear brother HockeyFan, the centre of attention….
I know that you know this but just let me mention….
HockeyFan, you can never give an answer straight……
For you to be a politician I can hardly wait……

…………

……….

My dear mother Ima, you know how to cook…..
Eventually you’ll get around to writing your book….
With your blog and twitter and facebook too….
It’s a wonder you have any time for YOU….

Friend one, friend two and my auntie…..
You came from New York but didn’t bring candy….
It’s been so long since I’ve seen ya’ll….
I’m sure you’ll say I’ve grown really tall…..

If I haven’t mentioned you it’s not my fault….
Even I have an editor, and she wanted to keep it short…
Even though you are not part of the grammen it’s ok…
You should consider yourself lucky I didn’t make fun of you today…