Monthly Archives: March 2012

Pesach In The Good Old Days

Up to my eyeballs in writing about Pesach preparation. Not so much in practicing what I preach. The house is organized and more or less ready, other than the kitchen. But, well, this year it’s just me and the KoD and we will be out for most meals and both sedarim, so why make myself insane, right? I have made Pesach for 17 years. It does get easier and you do realize what is necessary and what isn’t.

Truth be told though, these days with the Pesach prep starting for some the day after Purim, it’s become rather out of hand. I remember growing up, two days before Pesach we did the food / grocery shopping, we turned over the kitchen EREV Pesach, and while that was happening the Pesach dishes were dragged downstairs from the attic.

Food was cooked in time, and there was plenty of it. We didn’t need to start a week before. We sat down to seder happy and thankful and no one was like a wet schmatta.

I feel that these days we are all overachievers. We want the best food and the most choice of mains and sides at the seder, we want everything perfect. Who wants to eat a six course meal at 11 o’clock at night? Keep it simple. And remember, when yomtov is not on Shabbat, you can cook on the day.

Pesach cleaning is just about ridding the house of chametz. It is not about spring cleaning every nook and cranny. Trust me, that crystal chandelier doesn’t have any breadcrumbs in it – and even if it did, by now they’d be burnt to a crisp and inedible.

My message to you, folks, is BREATHE! (Thanks Tanya for the reminder). Enjoy the holiday – don’t make yourselves crazy.


The NOW Generation

When I was growing up, a hundred years ago, my mother used to say that I was part of the NOW generation, but this was way before instant messaging, cellphones,  iPads and email.

I am plugged in 24 / 6. I am surrounded by technology. Sometimes it gets to be too much. In the evenings I sometimes actually read a book – a real book, with physical pages and everything!!

However, because I work from home and am seemingly continuously tethered to some form of technology, I need to make strict delineations between work time and my time. What bothers me is that so many people think that because I work from home they can email / call at all hours, and expect for me to return their call / email / text immediately. And when I don’t, they sometimes take offense. I think the main culprits (in my experience) are those people who work 9-5 in an office, and physically leave their work behind. It doesn’t occur to them that home-workers have actual office hours too.

I sit down at my computer at 6 am and I start work. I have coffee in hand. I answer emails, get the kids up, start working on the day’s To-Do List. I don’t stop till 4 or 5 pm. I take a break here and there to eat.  My evenings are for myself and my family. If I choose to answer emails, fine. If I choose not to, it should also be fine.

When did it become ok for us to expect instant replies? I know I am probably guilty of the same thing about which I am complaining. You send a text – and you KNOW that the textee is never separated from his / her phone, and it bothers you that you don’t get an immediate response. When did we stop respecting people’s need for space and time?

How on earth would we have survived when we had to wait for letters to be delivered and responded to? How long do you think it’s appropriate to wait for a response to an email or a text? Are there different rules for work emails and social emails?

More “Beauty” Reflections

(This is just a train of thought, a stream of consciousness….follow along as I wend and weft my way)

When I get dressed up, made up, put on the fancy hair and the 4 inch heels – who do I do it for? Do I do it for my husband? Do I do it for myself? Do I do it for the baalei simcha (hosts) if I’m going to a wedding? Do I do it so that I don’t embarrass myself / my KoD / my children and therefore do not ruin my sons’ shidduch chances?

I would say each of those statements (other than the shidduch chances) plays a part. My husband loves me when I look drop dead gorgeous (just like I love to see him in a suit) and loves me after I have been throwing up all weekend long with the flu and look like I have been dragged through a hedge backwards, twice. I don’t need to look my best for him to continue to love me. He doesn’t love me more when I put in more effort to my appearance. However, if I gave up trying to look good the minute that  wedding ring was firmly on my finger, what would that have said?

I love to dress up occasionally. Not every day. But when I spend the best part of a week in pajamas denim skirts and tees and bandannas (working from home is great), sometimes it is nice to clean up, and make an effort. When the make up goes on, the hair and the heels and the nice clothes – I feel better. I feel more confident. I feel more beautiful. I feel good. I look in the mirror and I am happy with what I see. (Mostly. I am female, after all, and I do tend to see imperfections all over the place).

I have a quirky sense of style. Most of you don’t know that. I have toned it down a lot, for various reasons. One of them was that I moved to a new place and I wanted to fit in. Ugh, just writing that makes me feel like I sold out. But it is all part of the puzzle. We all want to fit in, yet we all want to be unique.

G-d gave me this body, this face, this life. I am blessed – after four kids I still have a trim figure. Yes, a plastic surgeon could lift things and put them back to where they used to be, do some botox, a nip and a tuck here and there but this is who I am.

Make-up enhances that which we have been given. Nothing wrong with getting eyebrows shaped, hair straightened, teeth bleached, and learning how to apply make up properly. We all need the boost that we get from knowing that we are looking our best. Not society’s judgement of best, but OUR best.

Advocating for plastic surgery to fix that which G-d gave us – how dare we second guess Him? How dare we tell Him that our daughter would look better with a smaller nose, with her ears pinned back, with smaller / bigger breasts? G-d created us ALL in His image – when did He go for plastic surgery? Where in the Torah does it permit elective surgery?

In fact, it’s a discussion if one is halachically permitted to go for such procedures. If it’s a physical need, like a deviated septum, there’s no question. Emotionally, from what I remember (and I am no rabbi so don’t quote me) if the distress is large enough to impact a person’s life if they don’t have the nose job / ear pin / cosmetic procedure then it’s possibly permitted. But to just do it because the shadchan says?

Every time my kids have had to have surgery (and there have been three surgeries that I recall) for PHYSICAL necessity I discussed it back and forth with the doctors to make sure the risks of doing it were worth the outcome. But, how can you compare a necessary appendectomy with an elective nose job? You can – they are both surgery with risks associated with anesthesia. Neither should be entered into without careful consideration.

You know, it’s days after I read Ms Halberstam’s original article and I am still boiling mad. Girls are already made to feel that anything over a size 4 is not good enough, and if this kind of ridiculous pressure is increased on girls to be a certain way – there won’t be any mothers for our grandchildren, or wives for our sons. Anorexia is already a problem. How many girls are we going to lose under the knife?

My grandfather, may he rest in peace, used to complain to me about my size while I was growing up. In Hebrew he’d say “there’s nothing to hold on to”. No man would want me unless I had more meat on my bones. Oh how times have changed. It just makes me so sad.

I can only influence my four boys the right way – what about everyone else out there? Will my boys look for a slim woman because their mother is tall and slim? Or will they look for character and soul over physicality? I just pray they make the right choice for them.

My Shidduch Experience

In continuation from my last post, I wanted to share this with you.

I went to a shadchan. Once. It was after my divorce, when I was getting back into the dating scene (and after I had dropped 45 lbs – had I gone before…..well, read on). This woman was someone I had never met before but we had a mutual friend.

She was very frank with me. “You are divorced and you have four kids. No one will want you. You will for sure have to settle. But… you are skinny, so perhaps it won’t be impossible…”

I walked out.

Through the magic of online dating I was blessed beyond belief to find my KoD – he is my everything, my soul mate, my missing piece! I certainly did NOT settle.

While my heart breaks for those poor girls mentioned in the previous post who are looking for a husband first time around, it breaks even more for those women who have been around the block like I had. I was a mom of 4 boys, 34 years of age and dating again. I had stretch marks and wrinkles and a silver hair or two. Was I supposed to get plastic surgery to hide all of that? Heck no – those are distinctions I wear with pride. Every wrinkle tells a story, the stretch marks are badges of honor from when I carried my babies, the silver hairs – well, they each have a name on them. But they are ME, they represent MY story. Do second time singles – due to divorce or widowhood – have to start feeling this crazy pressure too? Can we surgically excise our past? It’s hard enough as it is to get back out there, with kids, with history, having been hurt.

The men my age in similar situations were all dating women years younger than them. A guy in his thirties can still date a 20-something never been married and not be looked at askance. Reverse those roles? Not so much. Guys my age were not interested. And yes, I married an older guy – but one who loves my wrinkles and my silver highlights and wouldn’t want me to change a thing about myself.

Let me suggest that you go read what my buddy Eliyahu Fink had to say on this issue. How to Solve the Shidduch Crisis WITHOUT Advocating for a Bunch of Nose Jobs

Solution to the Shidduch Crisis

Read this article Purim And The Tyranny Of Beauty: A Plea to Mothers of Girls in Shidduchim. The woman who wrote it basically is endorsing plastic surgery as a way for the girls to find husbands. I mean, in a nutshell, that’s it.

Want to know why there is a shidduch crisis? Because mothers of boys (and I swear, this will NEVER be something that I do) have convinced themselves that their sons are the best thing ever, that they are the creme de la creme, the best of the best, and they deserve only the finest girl. Meanwhile said boy is pimply and fat, and has never worked a day in his life, and has no clue how to wash a shirt or make an omelet or even to tie his own shoes.

Mothers of boys are the ones that want a size 2 stunner for their son – the boys themselves, who even thinks to ask them? Seriously – the mother is looking for the shidduch, she wants someone to carry on doing everything for her son that she does, and she wants that someone to look as good as she thinks she does. Let me tell you, lady, you ain’t no size 2 and your wrinkles would make a puppy look old.

I have already told my boys that *I* refuse to look for shidduchim for them. They will find the right person at the right time by themselves. If they ask me to help them, I will, but only once I understand the type of woman THEY are looking for, and I will be there to help not to run the whole shebang. MY own ideas about the perfect woman for them – not important. I want them to be happy and have a successful marriage.

I have tried to teach my boys that it’s what a person has in their heart and their soul that what matters, and although it’s lovely to have a pretty package, it isn’t everything. I have also, FOR SHAME, taught the boys to think for themselves – so that they don’t have to come running to Ima for answers to difficult questions about themselves.

This article – if ANYONE actually takes it seriously – has done untold damage. Eating disorders are already prevalent amongst the dating girls, now there will be an epidemic of unnecessary plastic surgery.

What is this world coming to??

Can Eggs Be Chametz?

I thought I had heard it all. Then I heard that you cannot buy eggs over Chol Hamoed Pesach because it’s quite possible that the chickens who laid those eggs ate chametz ON Pesach therefore making the eggs chametzdik.

What say you, oh learned folk? Am I wrong in rolling my eyes, or is the eye rollage justified?

Macabee is so Cheesy!!

I have three huge culinary loves. Coffee, Steak and Cheeeeeese!! (not all at the same time). We love cheese in this house. All of us. Even Max the Doggle. He will do tricks for cheese, true story! My friends over at Macabee sent us over a massive amount of cheesey goodness to eat and try out. (And some tee shirts that the boys all wanted but I kept them for myself. Ha!) Truth is though, because we are such cheese fanatics, they are all products that we have had before.

First up was the Macabee Pizza Bagels with Mozzarella Cheese – we usually buy them at Costco. 18 in a box. With four very hungry boys this box doesn’t last long. Previously we have also bought a different brand of pizza bagels, in bulk. I asked the boys to compare the two. Macabee won hands down, 4 on 4, no questions asked. The other ones had been bigger, so I was sure they would pick those. I was assured that these were cheesier and better, and if they have to eat three Macabee pizza bagels instead of two other ones, well then, it’s worth the sacrifice. OK THEN. There was also the box of 6 Cheese Pizza Bagels which were enjoyed – but the boys preferred the ones in the newer packaging. Not sure if they are the same thing just packaged differently, but there it is.

We also were sent two boxes of the Mini Bagel Pizzas, one was whole wheat but we didn’t tell the kids that. Bite sized, perfect, cheesy and just mini versions of their parent Pizza Bagels. Told the kids afterwards which of them had whole wheat and they were surprised. (Did I convert them to whole wheat all the way? Not so much). Perfect snack for after school while they are waiting for a three course meal for supper. (Yeah. I can pretend, right?)

I did not share the Mozzarella Sticks. Certain foods are for Ima only. I cooked up the whole box. I think it was something like 2 sticks per serving, and 6 servings in a box? Yeah, I ate them all in one sitting. With Chili Ketchup. And licked my fingers wanting more. I wish they were bigger – but ooey gooey goodness in every bite.

The eggplant cutlets were the only pareve dish in this cornucopia of deliciousness. The KoD requested that I serve them up for Friday night. I had wanted to make an eggplant parmesan type sandwich with them instead, but I love my husband and did as I was bid. We served them with the first course, with a dollop of tehina on the side. Yummalicious. The size was disappointing though – we wanted bigger pieces! The kids wouldn’t touch it, because it is eggplant and that’s not something that my boys have introduced to their palates yet.

In the interest of full disclosure I did not eat the pizzas that came 3 in a pack. A certain child of mine who shall remain nameless (I’ll give you a clue, he’s male) took them to school for lunch. I had allowed him to take one. The next day he spirited the rest away in his knapsack. How were they, hun? “Um, Ima, I think they were good, but can you get more so I can be sure?” – yeah. Good. Why are teenage boys the masters of understatements?

Overall assessment? We love Macabee. We love pizza bagels. We love cheesey food. Best product in this plethora of cheesiness? According to the boys the Pizza Bagels with Mozzarella Cheese. According to the Mama? The Mozzarella Sticks.

Find Macabee on Facebook, Twitter and at Macabee products are available at your local kosher grocery store and at select Costco stores.

I was not paid for this review, but did receive the products reviewed free of charge. 

Kosher Salt Water for Pesach

I have heard through the grapevine, and am still waiting for pictorial proof, that there is a company / person now marketing $2 for 2 oz bottles of Supervised Kosher For Pesach Salt Water for your seder table. Because it is so difficult to make your own salt water? Because there is a need for it? Or because if you make it they will buy it?

Seriously…this is beyond normal. I thought it was bad enough that they sell bedikat chametz kits these days that include ten pre-cut pieces of bread…

If you have seen this saltzvasser – please snap a pic and send it my way.

What do you think about this idea?

Think of the Children

So many people have contacted me to ask what I think about the book UnOrthodox, its author Deborah Feldman, and if I have opinions on what Pearl Perry Reich is going through in Lakewood. (If you have no clue what I am talking about, Google is your friend). I haven’t read the book, and only watched one interview with Ms Reich, but I have read a few articles about them both.

Everyone has a right to deal with their stresses and frustrations in their own way. For Ms Feldman she has written a book about her life and her divorce, for Ms Reich – well, she landed on Dr Phil debating religious life with Rabbi Shmuley.

I am not going to comment on their choice to leave religious life and strike out to find their own path. Good luck to them on that. They both have their reasons, it has taken a lot of internal strength and fortitude to leave a life that was so firmly ingrained in them.

What I am going to comment on is the children. Ms Feldman has a young son, Ms Reich has several young children, their pictures plastered all over the internet. My heart aches for these innocent children.

I am a writer, I am a writer who could have written a trilogy about my life, my first marriage and my divorce. Post-divorce I also soul searched and questioned religion and G-d. But there were FOUR reasons I kept my private life private – my boys. As readers of this blog know, I NEVER write about my ex, except in a passing manner, I haven’t shared details of our divorce, of our legal issues, financial issues etc. Why? Because I share four awesome kids with him, he is their father and as such he has a right to his privacy and for me to respect him as their dad.

These children – Ms Feldman’s son, and Ms Reich’s children – have no privacy. Everyone knows who they are, whose child they are, people know details about their parents’ lives that are nobody’s business! These kids will grow up and be privy to all this information that will affect their relationship with both their parents. As  parents we have a responsibility to protect our children from all kinds of hurt and pain – and in my opinion, it is irresponsible to put our own needs first and allow our children to suffer so that we can get a great book deal and be on The View or Dr Phil.

Is the long term gain that they are seeking worth it? What is their long term gain, anyway? Will those children grow up resentful because mom has influenced their relationship with Dad with their negative words and deeds in the national spotlight? How will the kids be able to separate fact from fiction? How will they ever know what’s true?

I feel the pain of these mothers who left everything that they knew in order to find out who they really are.  My voyage of self discovery was a painful one too – but without the added stress of media attention. Neither of these women have reached their final destination in this journey, and all these media events and books and interviews are just small stops on the way.

I pray for those kids. I hope that they are all in therapy, and that they do not grow up feeling that they are a part of a tug-o-war between their parents. That’s an ugly place for any child to be. I hope these two women are able to work past their issues and continue on to live good productive lives, and are good role models for their children.

I am very interested to hear your thoughts on this matter. Personally, I am usually non-judgmental about how people choose the live their lives. I am very much a live and let live type of person. Except when I feel that kids are suffering because of their parents’ choices. Children have a right to be kids, to be sweet and innocent and love both parents equally. What happens / happened between the spouses needs to be adult business – there should be no need to involve the children.

Pet Family – Puppy Love Rules

I never thought we would be such a pet-centric family. Max has acclimated well to our family and we have all fallen head over heels in love with him. He’s growing by leaps and bounds. KoD and the boys have been working on teaching him tricks.

Over the weekend we watched a friend’s puppy. The “boys” (both male pups) fought so much, but their tails were constantly wagging so they were having fun.

Puppy is away overnight – went to get neutered. The house is so quiet without him.  Cannot wait to see him tomorrow and get his puppy cuddles.

I am sharing this video with you – a friend bought him this squeaky toy, it took him 2 days to figure out how to get it to squeak and he hasn’t stopped.