Wednesday, June 22, 2011

I've Moved!

Hi Everyone!

I haven't posted in awhile.  A post is coming about that. No really.  It is!  BUT... the post will be ON THE NEW SITE:

I still have A LOT of kinks to work out over there.  Like... a lot, a lot.  No judgments, please.

Looking forward to hearing from you all from the new site.

Friday, May 20, 2011

Basically Done!

Table set. House vacuumed. Kitchen getting there. Glue gun STILL being held hostage, but this is probably for the best. We are almost there!

All I really need to get done is clear up the breakfast mess in the kitchen and mop. About 30 minutes worth of work, at most. All in all, I would say that my back-to-basics approach worked fairly well this week. Granted, I didn't keep my schedule AT ALL, but I feel a little bit more on top of things. Like I am getting my balance back. This experiment really does require planning. Without deliberate action every day toward the goal of having things done earlier, it won't happen. I have a lot more to say on this, but I have some time before I need to pick up DS from school. A little present to myself: rest a bit and then finish up!

Thursday, May 19, 2011

A Basic Accomplishment

I can't believe it! It is 11:10 and I am done cooking. My goal was to have all of my cooking finished by 10 pm. I was done at 10:25, but only bec-Aause I had to chuck my romaine (again) due to an infestation. Lucky for me, I had all of the makings for a chickpea salad waiting in the wings.

So what is left on my list for tomorrow?
  • Set the table
  • Kitchen Floor (it is NA-A-A-STY)
  • Vacuum
  • General tidying around the house
  • Find a way to ransom my glue gun (it is being held hostage)
That, my friends, is a very doable day. Chatzos, here we come!

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Still Working on Getting Back to Basics—A Menu

I thought that I was being SO smart by giving myself a goal list earlier this week. Just to recap my expectations for myself (the red is what I actually got done):

SUNDAY: My list was short and I got it all done!

  • Decide on guest list: No one.
  • Inventory freezer for things that are already made: I have sweet potato mash, onion kugel, and chopped herring already made and in the freezer. I can pull at least one of those things out to make for Shabbos.
  • Put away last week's dishes.
MONDAY: I wrote the post on Monday—so you would think that I had made progress.

  • Inventory fridge and pantry for other "freezable" side items—and make at least one thing: Mango soup will be happening later tonight.
    • I did make mango soup… on Tuesday night. At about 11 pm. After I made bows. I think that I may have a bow problem. I can't stop playing with them. It is like bow crack or something. I need a bow intervention.
  • Laundry—or maybe not? We will see how the night goes on this one.
    • I thought about the laundry, but didn't actually do any of it.
  • Watch 6 episodes of Glee on Netflix. Check and double check! I did this one, no problem.
  • Leftover laundry. Or at least start the laundry. Yes. I did start the laundry. WOO HOO! That is a half check!
  • Clean the bathrooms—l'cvod Shabbos—I will do a quick once over on Friday morning, but I will get the dirty work done tomorrow. Of course I didn't get this done on Tuesday? Why? Yup. My bowdiction. I did the hallway bathroom this evening.
  • Mango soup got made!
  • Clean the floors--l'cvod Shabbos—will spot clean on Friday morning. Unless I do it after I post this, not going to happen.
  • Change Sheets-- l'cvod ShabbosI decided that it is nicer to have fresh sheets RIGHT before Shabbos, so I didn't get this done. What?!? Of course that is the reason it didn't get done!!
  • Menu—and I will incorporate things that I already have prepared in the freezer. I will try to double up anything that I make on Thursday to freeze.-- HAHAHAH! I GOT ONE!!
    Menu is below!
  • Most of the laundry is finally done.
  • Shop after school drop off—Probably not a problem.
  • Cook starting before school pick up.—Probably a problem. I need to pick the van up from the body shop (don't ask) in the morning, so I don't want to set my expectations of myself too high.
  • Finish cooking and have kitchen basically clean by 10 pm (this is a MAJOR stretch, by the way… 10 pm is my witching hour. It is the time I go from an efficient-let's-get-it-down-person to a stalling-let's-play-on-the-computer person… so we shall see).—As long as I hide my ribbon box, this shouldn't be a problem. Doing WAY easy this week.
  • Set the table.
  • Spot clean.
  • Relax, do my nails, make a bow, read Dr. Suess, or do some other random non-stressful activity (read: NAP!!)
I wouldn't say that this week was a total failure at getting back to basics. I did get my coupon list together for Wal Greens. I made it over to Target with the kiddos. I took my car in to the shop. I made some things for Shabbos BEFORE Thursday. Time to start looking for successes—and also time to start putting less on my plate.

Without further ado, a BASIC menu (and yes, I know I need to post the recipes. I hope to be back to normal with that… um… next month?):
  • Challah—Done and frozen
  • Chopped Herring—Done and frozen
  • Hummus
  • Meatballs—Quick & Kosher—Why? Just because I am really craving some!-- making triple batch—two for Shabbos and one to freeze.
    • Anyone have a good idea re: how to heat these on Shabbos day?*
      • Queen Lieberfolk suggested pulling them from their sauce and putting them on the plata dry. The sauce can sit next to the plata. Will the sauce get warm enough? Will the meatballs dry out?
      • DH thought the crockpot may work. In my experience, ground beef in the crockpot over Shabbos is no bueno.
  • Brown Rice
  • Onion Kugel—Prepped and frozen.
  • Caesar Salad—Quick & Kosher
  • Cucumber salad
  • -----
  • Mango soup over soy ice cream
I want to get back on track this week! Who wants to take away my hot glue gun?

* The laws of heating food on Shabbos are pretty complex. Long story short, one cannot cook on Shabbos. This means that heating up food in a way that may lead to cooking (or look like cooking) is a no-no. Typically, people use a warming tray (called a plata) or a blech, a piece of metal that sits over the burners on the stove, to warm food. There is an issue with putting liquid on either of these warming devices, so my question is about the meatball sauce.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Back to Basics

Last week, I said that I felt like my brain was a hard drive had been gunked up with peanut butter. For whatever reason, I just can't get into any sort of groove since we have been back. I won't bore you with all of my theories about why I can't seem to get my act together. Whatever the root cause of the peanut butter brain disorder, I have decided to take drastic action to get myself back on track: I am going to pare my "to do" list down to only the barest of essentials. If I can handle the minimum things (um… like cooking dinner for my family and making sure everyone has clean underwear), then I will add in "extra" things that I like to do (like working on the new site and my little bow making obsession). Of course, it goes without saying that having Shabbos ready early (and trying my darndest to blog about it in the process) is a minimum thing.

So that I REALLY go "back to basics", I am giving myself a goal toward Shabbos every day this week. I will NOT be cooking all day on Friday again. I will NOT be setting the table after I have lit candles. I WILL be enjoying my little people and playing sidewalk chalk or something equally fun on Friday afternoon. Here is how I am going to get there:

Back to Basics: Daily Goals Towards Shabbos

SUNDAY: I am happy to report that I did all of these things.
  • Decide on guest list: No one. Hubby has five nights of twelve hour ER shifts this week. I have a feeling he will be sleeping before the fish.
  • Inventory freezer for things that are already made: I have sweet potato mash, onion kugel, and chopped herring already made and in the freezer. I can pull at least one of those things out to make for Shabbos.
  • Put away last week's dishes: I know this sounds basic, but last week, I was doing this on Thursday.
  • Inventory fridge and pantry for other "freezable" side items—and make at least one thing: Mango soup will be happening later tonight.
  • Laundry—or maybe not? We will see how the night goes on this one.
  • Leftover laundry
  • Clean the bathrooms—l'cvod Shabbos—I will do a quick once over on Friday morning, but I will get the dirty work done tomorrow.
  • Clean the floors--l'cvod Shabbos—will spot clean on Friday morning.
  • Change Sheets-- l'cvod Shabbos
  • Menu—and I will incorporate things that I already have prepared in the freezer. I will try to double up anything that I make on Thursday to freeze.
  • Shop after school drop off
  • Cook starting before school pick up.
  • Finish cooking and have kitchen basically clean by 10 pm (this is a MAJOR stretch, by the way… 10 pm is my witching hour. It is the time I go from an efficient-let's-get-it-down-person to a stalling-let's-play-on-the-computer person… so we shall see).
  • Set the table.
  • Spot clean.
  • Relax, do my nails, make a bow, read Dr. Suess, or do some other random non-stressful activity (read: NAP!!)
Everyone needs to hold me to these daily goals. I don't think I can make it through another Friday like last week. No. I am not going to write about it. It was that bad.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

The “I need a reboot” Menu

I hate it when my computer gets the hiccups.  It never fails that I will be in the middle of doing something REALLY important (like watching Top Chef on iTunes) when everything starts to run like there is peanut butter in the hard drive.  Drives me batty.  My cure for the computer hiccups is invariably to hold down the power button until the whole thing turns off and then turn it back on.  I know that rebooting with a hard shutdown isn’t the best way to deal with the problem, but it always seems to do the job!  Well, this week, I need a hard shutdown followed by a reboot.
I am probably trying to put too much on my plate again and I am probably still recovering from a month away, but, those excuses aside, I seem to have a case of the life hiccups.  My internal hard drive is running like there is peanut butter stuck inside.  I can’t seem to get my act together to get my coupon deals arranged (I even went to the grocery store WITHOUT my coupon book and WITHOUT looking at ads earlier this week).  I keep intending to work on my new site, but get sidetracked on a million other things.  I start to reply to one of the 500 emails I got while I was gone and I get um… delayed (read: stuck on Facebook).  Don’t even ask if I have done anything towards Shabbos yet.  I need someone to come and press my power switch until I shut off and then reboot me.  
So, in honor of my inability to get my act together and start cooking earlier AND because it is officially summer in Houston, I give you the “I need a reboot” menu—mostly salads, easy, and refreshing.   I am actually making two meals this week (two DIFFERENT meals, that is) because I am craving this dinner and it doesn’t work well at lunch (chicken dries out).  I will be repurposing many of the components to make up for the extra work of a double menu.

** Recipe links are not posted yet.  Why?  MY BRAIN IS A PEANUT BUTTER FILLED HARD DRIVE.**
·         Challah—Done
·         Hot & Sour Soup—Kosher by Design Short on Time
·         Indonesian Chicken
·         Ginger Quinoa
·         Cucumber and cilantro salad
·         Corn Salad—Quick & Kosher
·         Berries
In honor of Yom Haatzmaut, this is a seriously Israeli menu.
·         Challah
·         Hummus
·         Egg Salad
·         Chopped Herring (yuuuuummmmmmmmmmmmm)
·         Guacamole
·         Spring Marinated Chicken—Kosher by Design Entertains
·         Onion Kugel
·         Israeli Salad
·         Corn Salad—Quick & Kosher
·         Red Cabbage Salad—Quick & Kosher
·         Lieber-strawberry-shortcake-triffle (doesn’t have the same ring as Lieberkugel, but same idea… Queen Lieberfolk is going to bring dessert).
Tomorrow is shopping day!  Have I made my list?  Um.  No. 

Monday, May 9, 2011

The Chatzos Challenge, Back from the Holy Land: May Their Memory Be for a Blessing

Reflections, observations, and general musings from our family’s month in Israel.

Yom Hazikaron, Israel’s day of remembrance for fallen soldiers and victims of terror, is ending tonight.  Tomorrow is Yom Haatzmaut, Israeli Independence Day.  The days are juxtaposed so that we should not forget the young men and women that selflessly gave everything they had so that the state could exist. 
In Chashmonaim, we met a little boy that was named after one of these young men.  One of our hosts’ grandsons came to visit the second week of our trip.  The youngest boy, about 18 months, is as sweet as can be.  Our hostess told me the story of his name:
Our hosts’ daughter was married the summer of 2006, right after the second Lebanon War.  Their new son-in-law had a best friend—a guy that was supposed to be a witness at their wedding.  The friend was also engaged.  It was a great summer to be married.  Of course, all of these guys were still serving in the reserves.  They were called up and they went to Lebanon.  The best friend served in a tank division.  He never came home. 
The sweet little boy shares his name with a hero that sacrificed everything just as his life was about to start.  The best friend would never experience the joy of fatherhood, but some part of him lives on in the little boy.
She told me that story and, of course, I got choked up.  It reminded me of a similar story of a life that ended too soon:
My husband and I were also married in the summer of 2006—the week that the war started, in fact.  We spend a good amount of time on our honeymoon checking the news and keeping tabs on the war.  We share a strong affinity for the land and were heartbroken to see the rockets falling throughout the country.  For my husband, there was an added reason to watch.  He had spent time with cousins when he was in yeshiva the year before.  Those cousins had a son that was a little younger than us that would be fighting in the war.  His cousin was also engaged and about to start a family.  Of course, watching the news can’t save a boy and we found out that his cousin was killed in his tank when we returned from our trip. 
The two stories were too similar.  The young men seemed too much alike.  They even had the same name.  In another instance of “small world, big family”, it turns out that the sweet little boy that was named after his father’s best friend was also named after my husband’s cousin. 
As we move from Yom Hazikaron to Yom Haatzmaut we remember the heroes, like Noam Mayerson, his memory should be for a blessing, that gave everything that they could give for the sake of the Jewish people.  We also remember the loved ones that are left behind—the parents, fiancés, best friends, siblings that are left with nothing, but memories far too early.

Friday, May 6, 2011

Whew! I almost have my groove back!

I am thrilled to say that I made it this week!  I know.  I can't believe it either.  Maybe next week, I will even be able to blog while I am getting things done...

Good Shabbos, everyone!

Thursday, May 5, 2011

It is late on Thursday night

On a normal week (read: a week when everyone is on schedule and things are running smoothly), I would be posting all sorts of adventures in getting my cooking done at this point.  Needless to say, we are all still a bit off.  No one is sleeping well.  No one is eating well.  And the little Houston "friends"-- and if you don't know the "friends" I am talking about, you have never lived in Houston (maybe one day I will write about the "friends" because they always seem to visit when I am cooking on Thursday night)-- have taken over my house. 

Despite the total exhaustion and invasion of creepy crawlers, I have managed to get some of my Shabbos preparation done.  Most important, a menu:

Challah-- made on Tuesday
Gefilte Fish-- done
Hummus-- done
Israeli salad
Onion Chicken-- Quick & Kosher-- in the oven
Challah Kugel-- Spice & Spirit-- made on Tuesday and frozen.  This is a first in my house.  I had a lot of challah leftover from last week.  I hope it is good!
Broccoli Salad
Quinoa Salad
Green beans
Pistachio Chocolate Chip Cake

This menu is a lot of comfort food.  Maybe the comfort will be a fun nights sleep for the first time since we have been back.

The Chatzos Challenge, Back from the Holy Land: Even our Cousins Know About Chatzos

Reflections, observations, and general musings from our family's month in Israel.

 I could write at least six posts about cousins. The topic seemed to come up again and again during our trip (for example, I met cousins that I didn't even know I had!). On our very first erev Shabbos in Israel, we had a reminder that there are other sorts of cousins around.

During the first half of our trip, we stayed with an amazing family in Hashmonaim, a small community about 5 minutes outside of Modi'in. How we met our very special hosts and all of the wonderful things that we learned from them will have to be the topic of another post. Suffice to say, they are models of how to do chesed. Our hosts' selfless drive to give is not what is important to this post, though. What is important is that you understand that Hashmonaim teeters the line (ie pre-1967 v. post 1967 land). After the start of the second intifada, Israel constructed a security barrier as a deterrent to would be terrorists. Hashmonaim sits right on the Israel side of the security barrier.

My husband has a nickname for the folks that live on the other side of the security barrier—los primos. Technically speaking, they are cousins. Very moody, dysfunctional, sometimes violent cousins. And because cousins are still family, they can't be all bad, right?

On our very first Friday afternoon is a good example. Our hostess in Hashmonaim is a chatzos-y type, too. She does all of her Shabbos prep on Thursday—and then relaxes on Friday. My type of lady (in more ways than this!). She did not need any help on Friday (being that she was already done!) so DS and I headed outdoors to enjoy the view of the hills, the weather, the smell of Shabbos cooking in other homes, and the slide in our hosts' backyard. From the backyard, you can see the neighboring town on the other side of the security barrier.

DS and I were having such a grand old time playing farmers that we must of lost track of time. I still had quite a bit to do before Shabbos—our things were a mess from our trip and I wanted to make sure that I got everyone showered early in the day (before the jet lag really hit them). My little chatzos experiment has become so ingrained in my head that I wanted to make sure to get as much as possible down before chatzos. But the weather! And the flowers! And the air! There is really nothing like playing outside in Israel—you can almost smell the kedusha. We must have lost track of time.

B"H, los primos kept me on track for chatzos on my first Shabbos in Israel! A short time after their noon call to prayer, they headed outside to make their presence known to the surrounding communities. POP POP POP! After I coxed my very indignant son back inside, I asked if I should be concerned.

"NO!" my host told me, "This is just their friendly reminder that Shabbat is coming! They are nice enough to remind us it is midday—only half a day until Shabbat—every week!"

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

And we’re back…

Or maybe I should have titled this one, "101 ways that things can go wrong on a Friday."

But before I get there—we are back! Everyone in our house misses Israel dearly (and we are all still trying to get over our jet-lag), but we have made it back to Texas. I can't wait to post updates to my series on Chatzos in the Holy land. G-d (and jet lag) willing, I will try to post about all of the fun chatzos-y things that I experienced.

In the meantime, we got home last Thursday evening—a mere 20 hours before Shabbos. I didn't think that the timing was going to be much of an issue. I had the whole 20 hours planned out to get us to Shabbos smoothly and effortlessly. I even envisioned a way that I would have all of the really-really Shabbos things (like food, table, ect) done before chatzos, while leaving the things that could wait (unpacking, laundry, ect) for the afternoon. It was really a genius plan. Of course, what happens when man plans??

In my brilliant plan for the day, my kids were going to sleep in. We woke up to leave Jerusalem at 3 am and no one really slept well on the plane. By the time we were back in Houston, it was over 24 hours from when they had awoken. I was going to use their sleep deficit in my favor—while they were trying to catch up on their zzz, I would start the laundry and pull our Shabbos food from the freezer (with the exception of salads and challah—which DH was nice enough to offer to pick up for me). I made sure to get to sleep as early as possible—10 ish-- so that I could really take advantage of the time that the kids were sleeping. When DS woke up at 11:45 (pm… that is right… a mere hour and 45 minutes AFTER I went to sleep), I figured he would go back to sleep. I gave up on that notion at about 3:30 am when DD also woke up.

Okay. Fine. No sleep. I have done a lot more on no sleep. As long as DH was able to get the things I needed from the store, we could still do this. No problem. That is about when we discovered his car battery was dead. DD decided that was also a good time to start vomiting. A lot. Like, Dr. Dad kept mentioning a trip to the ER.

And there we were. Three o'clock on a Friday afternoon. Four suitcases had exploded over the floor in the living room. Food was slowly defrosting (but still no challah). Whole family walking around like zombies. One car not starting. And an infant that was unable to hold down liquids.

Needless to say, we barely made it to Shabbos—let alone making it to chatzos. I should have known better about making a plan. There should always be some wiggle room in your plan—you never know you will need it.


Sunday, April 10, 2011

The Chatzos Challenge in the Holy Land, Part III: Watching Pesach Happen

Thoughts and reflections about my visit to Israel for Pesach.  I am going to try to keep this as chatzos related as possible.  There will be fewer hyperlinks, however, because I have less time to write.  Enjoy!

It was a very busy day in my host's home: one granddaughter is here while her brother is in the hospital, her daughter and two other grandchildren are in from Beersheva to escape any rockets from Gaza, and my host is turning over her kitchen for Pesach.

Wait.  WHAT?!?  SHE IS TURNING OVER HER KITCHEN FOR PESACH?!?  There are 5 kids here under the age of 4!  The seder is A WEEK AWAY!  IS SHE NUTS?!?

Rest assured.  My host is NOT nuts.  She is just an expert chatzos person.  And when I say expert, I mean she was done with Shabbos last week at 3 pm.  On Thursday.  What did she do on Friday?  Took my son and her granddaughter to a bakery, took them to the park, bathed them together, ect.  Basically, she was the best savta a kid could ask for.  I envy her calm.

So, why turn over the kitchen SO early with SO many kids running around (with cheerios, bamba, lady fingers, you name it)?  "I would like to finish cooking for the whole chag by Wednesday because I plan on taking a two day trip with my ima and sisters erev Pesach."  Brilliant.  That is going into the holiday in style.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

The Chatzos Challenge in the Holy Land, Part II: What happens in Israel... Stays in Israel

But only because I can't get to a computer long enough to write a proper post.  There is a lot of chatzos-y goodness going on in these parts.  I can't wait to update when I get a chance.  In the meantime, here are excerpts of an update that I sent to friends and fam this evening:

DH's schedule has been very flexible and we have been able to take many little day trips around the country.  Unfortunately, our GPS, I have named her Brenda, is not the best navigator.  We have taken quite a few detours.  No matter!  We are having fun, all the same. 

On Sunday, we planned a trip to Ramat Beit Shemesh to pick up our cell phone.  This was supposed to be a simple trip and then we would stop at the home of our host's daughter on the way back to Chashmonaim so that DS could play with our hosts' granddaughter.  Brenda had other plans for us.  After a tour of the West Bank from the Israeli Route 443 (very safe highway!  Stop freaking out!), Brenda brought us to the center of Jerusalem where she had us circle a spot that I can only guess was the geographic center of the city.  For those in Houston, this was like trying to get from Katy to Sugerland via I-10 through downtown (and then circling downtown instead of actually going to Sugerland).  We had fun trying to get to where we needed to be and the drive was BEAUTIFUL!  I can't even describe it.  The wildflowers are blooming right now-- the hills outside of Jerusalem are green and gold and purple and yellow.  Incredible.  We all had a very nice time (had some marvelous bagels in Ramat Beit Shemesh) and then went to caves with stalactites and stalagmites close to Beit Shemesh.  DS's favorite part of the caves?  Hearing all about the explosion from the quarry that led to the discovery of the caves.  He could care less about the rock structures.    

Today, we had in mind that we would visit Jerusalem to run some errands and see some friends.  Brenda only got us a little confused trying to find parking.  But then we tried very hard to make sure that we got thoroughly lost on this trip, also.  After a little 40 minute detour trying to find a place to eat our lunch, we set out to meet our friends S & B.  Very long story short, it wasn't going to work to see the Bormasters.  It was ALSO not going to work to do our errands.  Rather than scrap the whole day, we decided to just take a nice walk to the Old City (for those of you that know the city, we were up by Center One).  Things like this ONLY happen in Jerusalem: we were at the corner of Yafo and King George when who do we see?  S & B!  And then we ran into another Houstonian about 3 minutes later.  It was meant to be.  B had great perspective for us: this only happens in Israel-- you make plans and things just go the opposite direction.  Why?  Because G-d is trying to remind you that you are not in charge.  It is so much more evident here.  We were obviously meant to have coffee with the B and then visit the Gush Katif museum today.  And it was a great way to spend the day.

Can't wait to update more... and tell you all about my host.  She is my chatzos (and chesed) role model! 

Thursday, March 24, 2011

The Chatzos Challenge in the Holy Land: Part 1—I need your help!

This just doesn't feel right. It is Wednesday (actually… Thursday in about 30 seconds) and I haven't done a Shabbos menu. I haven't even looked at the circulars! What is going on?! Oh yea. We are invited out for both meals. I am still in a little bit in shock—we rarely eat out for both meals on Shabbos. This little miracle couldn't have come at a better time—this is our last Shabbos at home before our big trip to Israel!

DH will be doing an away-elective at a clinic in Beit Shemesh and then we will spend Pesach with family. All in all, not a bad way to spend April! But before I can soak up the ruchnius in the Holy Land, I need to make it there. With two kids. And I need to make sure that my apartment is in some sort of shape to be left alone for a month. Needless to say, even my to-do lists have to-do lists at this point. Nothing is organized and I am feeling super overwhelmed at the prospect of the trip (not the "being in Israel" part, rather just the "getting to Israel" part).

I am enlisting you! Help me out! I am looking on information on:
  • Fun things to do with kids in and around Chashmoniam. Thanks to Houston Ima for a start on things to do in Jerusalem.
  • The best provider from which to rent a phone.
  • Where I can get a pack-n-play in or near Rechavia
  • How to keep a three year-old happy on such a long flight
  • Things I have to buy while I am there (um… like tiny tzitzis and kippahs)
Rather than cook tomorrow, I will be consolidating my lists into one really BIG list of things to do. I figure if I keep writing down all of the things I need to do, they will magically get done. That is the way it works, right??

Can't wait to start posting from Israel!

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Post Purim Detox

Wow! Purim was fun! The Superfamily enjoyed seeing everyone and truly relished the day. Superman and Superbubbe flew all over the place with one another. Superbaby sucked on her fingers (a superpower SO top secret that even I, Supermommy, have no clue what it does). Clark Kent, aka Superdaddy, even had the afternoon off to spend with us! We were so excited to have the family time. But the best part about the whole thing: the Chatzos Challenge is starting to influence holidays outside of Shabbos! This year, costumes were ready (complete with custom bows for me and mini-me) and m'shaloch manos were mostly put together BEFORE Purim! That is a first in these parts! Even though being ready early help us all enjoy the day more, it did not help with the post-Purim detox.

Every year, I feel like I spend about a week getting back to baseline after Purim. All of the sugar, running around, sugar, dressing up, sugar, partying, and sugar throws me for a loop. When Purim is on a Sunday, like it was this year, I feel like the detox period extends past a week. Add in a nasty cold and the fact that we are leaving for Israel in about a week and a half, and, well, you can imagine how disoriented (um… hung over?) I am. This week, I am going to have to pare down my Shabbos prep to the bare essentials or else I will never make chatzos AND be ready to leave on our trip (laundry, hold the mail, clean out the fridge, clean the house, unplug appliances, pre-pay bills, pack… I could keep going). I am getting panicky just thinking about it. Maybe that is just the sugar wearing off.

Okay, let's regroup. Queen Lieberfolk, the very cute downstairs neighbor, has invited us to her for Shabbos lunch. Phew. That is one down. And I still have a few things in the freezer that I can put together for dinner. I will throw in some salads and we will be set. Repeat after me, folks, "It is going to be okay. We are going to make chatzos this week."

Whether we will make it to the plane with everything done? That is another story…

Sunday, March 20, 2011


Purim semach from Superfamily! Can't wait to share how we got ready for Purim early (sort of).

Sent via BlackBerry from T-Mobile

Friday, March 18, 2011

Don’t forget to bring some light into the world

Don't forget to light tonight in the memory of the Fogel family. Already lighting? Maybe light a few minutes early, in their memory.
For candle lighting times in your area, click here. For more information about the spiritual side of candle lighting or how-to, visit

And we made it!

Maybe I should call this one, "How I got my groove back."

Table is set (complete with a special shout out to the birthday boy). Food is done. There are a few non-essentials left (and I have to pick up Superman's birthday cake!), but we are ready to light candles. Sigh. It feels good to be back in the swing of things.

The real question is this: since Bubbe is here and will play with anyone that doesn't want to take a nap, what should I do this afternoon? I think that a Mommy nap is in order.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Learned my Lesson

After spending most of last Thursday night in front of my computer, instead of in the kitchen, I resolved to get my cooking done BEFORE I did anything else this week. A tall order considering there are still parts of Purim costumes to make, mshaloch manos to put together and cards to create, birthday surprises to arrange, and a dining room table piled with at least a foot of junk to clean off. But I did it! I am done in the kitchen (mostly)! I need to bake my tri-colored gefilte fish once my corn kugel comes out, but everything else is done! My wonderful mother-in-law, Bubbe, even helped me do most of the dishes already!
This feels so much better than last week (at this point in the evening, I was thinking, "Well, it isn't THAT late yet. I will just go take a shower.").

What did I do differently? Instead of getting on my computer after the kids were in bed, I went straight to the kitchen and finished up the things I had been working on during naptime. I used that momentum to get everything else prepped and ready to go. I even found time to make another kugel—onion, this time, to utilize the AMAZING Texas sweet onions that seem to be on sale everywhere.

I learned my lesson. From now on, I will make like a Nike and JUST DO IT!

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

It’s a Bird! It’s a Plane! It’s SUPER SHABBOS MENU!

I bet you didn't know this, but DS is SUPERMAN. I may have broken some top secret superhero code by publishing that information, so please! Don't tell anyone!
Being that Shabbos is Superson's third birthday on the Jewish calendar and Purim is his third birthday on the English calendar, we thought that is would be nice if SUPERMAN was able to reveal his true identity on Purim. No need to be Clark Kent! Everyone will be dressed up and no one will know that he REALLY IS Superman. The rest of us will be Super, as well. Superbaby, Supermommy [not implying I am anywhere near it], and Super… oh wait… Daddy is going to be Clark Kent… all plan to make an appearance! Teddy, Superson's sidekick/bear/baby/best friend, is getting in on the action, too. He will be dressed as Jimmy Olsen.
I really don't know what is so SUPER about my Shabbos menu. It is mostly a repeat of last week—it is pretty easy to prepare and I am looking for redemption from my failure last week. There will be SUPERMAN cake—and that is SUPER!
Without further ado—*cue theme music* What is that over on my blog? Faster than a kugel is eaten on Friday afternoon! Able to finish cooking with hours to spare! It's a challah! It's a gefilte fish! IT'S SUPERSHABBOS MENU! Do-do-do-da-dooooooo-do-da-do. Do-do-da-do-do, do-da-DOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!
PS We are eating out for lunch. For dinner, we will be joined by Bubbe—all the way in from Denver! and some friends.
  • Challah—DONE
  • Hummus—EARLY TOMORROW— will make enough for SUPER M'SHALOCH MANOS (get it… a super food…)
  • Tri Colored Gefilte Fish—Kosher Delicious
  • Hot Dogs—Bet you didn't know that Hot Dogs are Superman's favorite food!
  • Onion Chicken—Quick & Kosher
  • Sweet Corn Pudding—I cut this recipe out from a coupon booklet in Dec… looks YUM. If it tastes good, I will post it.
  • Green beans w/ garlic
  • Caesar Salad—Quick & Kosher-- the jury is out if I am brave enough to try romaine again (after last week's infestation).
  • Supercake
So, clearly, I am already behind where I was this time last week. That means nothing, though. This week, I will do it!
Some of you are thinking, "Yeah, but what about your Purim seudah?" Well, we go to a massive party at the shul for the seudah every year. So what do I still have to do for the chag? Two capes, cards for my m'shaloch manos (tonight), and put them together (will have to do last minute because food is perishable). We are ALMOST ready!

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Learning from losing

For the first time since I started my little experiment, I did not have Shabbos ready by chatzos on Friday.  In fact, I barely had Shabbos ready by candle lighting.  Now, I have had bad erev Shabbos experiences (think: stuck on a tarmac in BEAUMONT, Texas because there are storms around Houston and the plane couldn’t land… with only 3 hours until Shabbos, a 40 minute drive to make once I got to Houston, and some food to prepare once I got past the drive).  I can’t say that last week was like THAT.  It was pretty hair-raising, though. 
I won’t go into all of the gory details (kvetchy baby, messy kitchen, buggy romaine, oh my!), suffice to say, the stars were not aligned in my house and much that could have gone wrong, went wrong.  It was really a shame--things started out so good last week!  I had a few things done early.  I wasn’t planning a large crowd for either meal.  I was really making only one meal (and not a lot of fancy food, either).  I should have easily had Shabbos done by chatzos on Friday. 
SO WHAT HAPPENED??  How did I derail when I was doing so well?  How can I keep myself from making the same mistakes again? 
After some reflection, here is some wisdom that I garnered from my first chatzos defeat:  
ü  A journey of one thousand miles begins when you TURN OFF YOUR COMPUTER, already!  A major part of my downfall was my failure to turn away from my computer on Thursday night.  I did not have that much to do!  I needed to just stand up and DO IT.  It is Facebook’s fault.  
ü  If not now, when?  I am still not clear what I was thinking, but I went to bed on Thursday night before I cleaned my kitchen from my cooking sprint.  I have never done that before.  Not even on a regular week night.  I woke up on Friday (late, mind you) and my kitchen was in no shape to make breakfast, let alone get ready for Shabbos.  Getting that room back in shape took a good hour while DS was at school.
ü  If not me, who?  B”H, I have a husband that likes to help get ready for Shabbos.  He sees bathing the kids as relaxing time.  He enjoys setting timers and the hot water urn ready.  But if he has worked a 30 hour shift, he is probably not the best person to rely on to get major things done on Friday. 
ü  Do not do today what can be saved for tomorrow night.  In other words, only do those things that MUST be done before candle lighting.  Everything else can wait until motzei Shabbos.  For example, folding the shmattas that are in the dryer (and have been there for at least a day) is probably NOT an efficient use of time when there are still salads to make, floors to clean, kids to bathe, dishwashers to empty and reload, ect.  Not that I would ever waste my time on Friday afternoon doing something so silly.    
I am going to take my new wisdom and make it happen.  I mean, I have a whole extra hour this week, right?  In the words of Bob the Builder, “Can we make chatzos?”   YES, WE CAN!
Sorry.  Sick kid means lots of Bob. 

Monday, March 14, 2011

Bring some light into the world

All of this news got you down?  Looking for a way to do something positive?  Want to bring some light into the world?  Join thousands of women as they light Shabbos candles in memory of the Fogel Family, this Shabbos, March 18. 
Visit the Facebook event dedicated getting as many women as possible involved in this mitzvah.
For candle lighting times in your area, click here.  For more information about the spiritual side of candle lighting or how-to, visit

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Tsunamis and Terror

I would really like to write a post about winning and losing the Chatzos Challenge.   I have the whole post planned in my head.  But I feel like I would be remiss if I ignored everything that has happened in the world since we woke up on Friday morning. 
The gravity of the situation in Japan is striking.  Even before we heard the news about the partial meltdown at the nuclear power facilities—and before we saw the videos of the tremendous devastation—we heard that this earthquake/tsunami may have taken the lives of tens of thousands. There, in a first-world-developed country, tens of thousands of people were killed?  By a natural disaster?  That sort of thing is not supposed to happen in first-world-developed country. 
And then, as if our minds were not reeling enough, motzei Shabbos, we turned on our phones and our computers, to hear about the horrific murder of five members of the Fogel Family in Itamar, Israel.  I learned the news while I was scrolling though Facebook updates on my phone.  “Three year-old stabbed in heart, baby’s throat slashed.”  That was enough of a headline to make me burst into tears.  I couldn’t read the story.  I couldn’t read that there was another child, 11, murdered.  I couldn’t read that the parents were murdered.  I couldn’t read that the oldest daughter (only 12?!?) found her family.  I couldn’t read anymore.  Just that headline was enough to keep me from sleeping last night.   
Many of us look for ways to distance ourselves from the horror of tragedy.  This is a natural defense mechanism.  When the Indonesian Tsunami of 2005 hit, for example, many of us were moved to tears, we contributed to the cause, we felt the pain, but in the back of our heads, we were saying, “That could never happen here.  All of those Indonesian islands are developing.  They don’t have warning systems.  They don’t have technology.  They are not us.”  I think the psychologists call this bargaining.  When you separated yourself from the bad, the bad is more bearable.  I guess this is how we find solace.
But in the story unfolding in Japan, and so much more so in the story of the Fogel family, hit too close to home.  Japan is a country like our country.  They have the conveniences that we have.  They have the technology to warn.  But warning is not prevention—and it could happen here, too.  That is scary.  That makes you stop short and re-evaluate. 
And if we distance ourselves as a method of emotional self-preservation, how do we distance ourselves when we hear about a family—for me, a family very similar to my own and living the life that my husband and I hope to live in our own land-- is brutally murdered, on Shabbos?  How do we cope when that could have just as easily been us?  My first reaction was to check on my own baby and three year-old.  To kiss them.  To say a prayer over them.  Past that, I don’t know.  There just aren’t words. 
This week, we are going to be rushing around getting ready for Purim.  We will get dressed up in our costumes as a reminder that Hashem works in hidden ways.  We will read Megillas Esther and be reminded that even though He works through man, at the end of the day, the King is in charge. We will be reminded that nothing is coincidence.  In fact, the letters in the Hebrew word mikreh—coincidence—can be rearranged to spell rak m’hashem—only from Hashem.  These two tragedies occurred—and so close to one another—and so close to Purim-- for a reason.  And I don’t have the slightest clue what it is. 
I do know that we have an opportunity to see beyond the politics and the headlines (or lack thereof) to the people in the midst of these horrendous events.  We may feel hopeless to help physically, but we can always say, “Hashem, yerachem,” hug and kiss our families, and do a chesed in the merit of the victims.  Maybe we can even find comfort in the fact that this, too, is from Hashem.