Friday, October 20, 2017

Fake It till you Bake It


Everyone has their talents.

And everyone has their non-talents.

And not everyone knows what their non-talents are.

Like that friend who can't sing but is always singing the loudest, right? Or the one who isn't great with colors but dives headfirst into all the new fashion...trends.

I am not her (she?). I am the one who is 100% painfully aware of my lack of baking skills. I cook. I clean. I can even sing while I cook and I clean. But I do not bake.

I try, sometimes. I think I'm just not so great at following directions. Like when the recipe calls for flour I just use whatever flour I have in the house (er, usually just whole wheat or whole spelt). Apparently this is not a good thing. Or let's say the recipe calls for amounts of 1 tsp and under. I'm confident I can just "eyeball" it and do just fine. We call that misplaced confidence (and when the kids aren't around, stupidity).

What's enthralling to me is that I have an amazing sister who, among many other talents, bakes. PROFESSIONALLY. Shameless plug for her Facebook page right here y'all: The Dessert Shoppe.

And said sister came to me for the Jewish holiday of Sukkos. And said sister is allergic to chocolate (yes, it pains me to write that). So there went all my easy-peasy-pretend-I-baked desserts like chocolate peanut butter cups and chocolate ice cream that I melt into a pie. And anything with chocolate chips which can help create a taste where there is none.

On went my big girl pants and armed with a fabulous recipe from a friend, I bravely set out to purchase the needed ingredients. Including a bag of white flour, an anomaly in this house (Leslie, my dear health coach, if you're on here you may not want to continue reading. Because I'm pretty sure the white flour was one of the better ingredients). My daughters watched me toss my attempted chocolate cupcakes from the week before into the garbage and we made grand plans about baking together and presenting Yehudis with the most delicious cake she had ever tasted!

Fast forward to Yehudis's arrival and discovery of my plans. With a big smile and a generous heart she instructed me to take a nap while she would bake with the kids (have I mentioned just how awesome she is??) Before my nap I helped her find the ingredients and tools that she would need.

Yehudis: Do you have a sifter?
Me: A who, now?
Yehudis: A sifter, for the flour.
Me: Like the thing with small holes?
Yehudis: Yep.
Me: For real? You really sift the flour?
Yehudis: Ye-e-e-e-s.
Me: Hmmmm, how about that. So a sifter. Let me think what I might have.
Me: *thinking*
Me: *thinking:
Me: *pretending to be thinking*
Me: I can take out a screen from one of the windows?
Yehudis: How about that nap now.

I didn't have a sifter. Or a normal bundt pan. But somehow my house was soon filled with the delicious aroma of cake and despite it's funny shape (I am so going to buy a bundt pan soon) it tasted like slices of non-chocolate heaven.

I likely consumed half the cake on my own but with stealth, so maybe that causes less calories. More importantly though I got some inspiration. I'm not opening a bake shop (yeah, yeah I can hear your sigh of relief from here) but I am going to try my hand at baking today. I am all pep-talked and ready to go: read the ingredients, use the actual ingredients listed, measure exactly and follow the rules. I can do this! Chocolate Cupcakes 2.0, bring it on!

How absolutely lucky for my sister-in-law who will be eating over tomorrow.

Monday, May 29, 2017

Tradition is Tradition

I may not have blogged in close to forever but tradition is tradition. Today my baby, (one of) the light of my life, the cause of at least half my heart palpitations and (one of) the reason  I get up every morning and at least once in middle of the night for blanket adjustment, turns 5. A whole, entire handful of mischievous five!

Our Birthday Interviews are serious business. Here's how this year's went down:

1. What is the meaning of life? To be happy.

2. What do you want to be when you grow up? A Mommy.

3. What makes you happy? To have shaloch manos on Purim. (If you're following, food makes her happy and life is about being happy and thus the meaning of life is food. Ah, the good life.)

4. What would you buy if you had a lot of money? Toys. Toys for my baby if I would have a baby. (Unsaid: and considering you do have kids, you should be buying toys, Imma.)

5. What are you afraid of? Lions.

6. What's a funny/silly word? Chunky. (Relax, she has no idea what that means and if she did she'd be referring to thick heels not anyone's weight. <3)

7. What is the best thing in the world? Hashem,

8. What is the worst thing in the world? My yetzer harah.

9. What makes you angry? Get back to this part because I don't have any ideas. (*Uh huh*)

10. What makes you sad? When Mommy and Tatty use a rough voice then I cry,

11. What is your favorite toy? PLAYMOBIL!

12. Who do you love? I don't have any ideas again. Ummm....yeah, get back to that part. (?!?!?!)

13. What is the hardest thing to do? Listen to Mommy and Tatty.

14. What's the easiest thing to do? Push my stroller everywhere or drive a car. (I think she means when we cart her around but I'm not 100% sure and since her sister has already requested driving lessons, I'm not asking any more questions.)

15. What is the meaning of love? I don't know.

..........Okay, are you ready to get back to those questions from before that you had no ideas about?

What makes you angry? Um. My yezter harah! My yetzer harah gets me SOOO angry!
Who do you love? *cheeky grin, fake pause* Imma, Abba, Chaya and myself!!


Happy Birthday to our beautiful Hashtag. We love you a whole lot and we don't even need to contemplate to know for sure!




Thursday, February 9, 2017

I Got Nothing Done

When Jet Blue started cancelling flights and NYC Public Schools announced their closing, I knew today would be a snow day. And I was pumped! Right toward the end of an incredibly busy week a snow day would be a gift of a day where I could get things done.

And because I'm my mother's daughter, I wrote a list. A nice, long list of all the things I would accomplish in my pajama-clad, makeup-free, wonder of a day.

I am pleased to report that it is now 2:30pm and I have not crossed a single item off my list. Not the cooking, not the cleaning, not the laundry, not the song I was supposed to edit, not the envelopes I was going to address, and not the Shabbos I was going to plan.

If you're waiting for me to write that I spent all the time engaged with my daughters and creating new memories just know that I am so tempted to lie and say that's all I did today. But it's not. Sure, I helped them bundle into their snow gear and I watched them played outside. And I made hot chocolate for them when I came in. And I rearranged the play room which inadvertently caused them to remember long forgotten toys and launch into a grade game of magnet dolls.

But mostly I just let myself be. I got distracted by random ideas (such as rearranging the playroom for the umpteenth time) and I followed through. Well, at least halway (my husband may not be so thrilled about my half started projects around the house but I am going to finish this blog post by making something inspiring out of it and then pretending that was my idea the entire time.)

I guess for most people ignoring the to-do list and "wasting" a day off of work wouldn't be something to celebrate. But for me, someone who has struggled with anxiety, it's actually a pretty big deal. It means I was able to let go of my vision for the day and my expectations for myself.

So raise those hot chocolate mugs with me and relax if you haven't made today productive: it was all part of the plan. And we are all exactly where we should be.



(Except for the dirty clothes; those should definitely be in the wash right now and all the inspiration in the world isn't gonna get me out of that one!)




Thursday, December 15, 2016

The Birthday Interview /Chaya/ Installment: 7

(Zalman S., thanks for reminding me about my blog.)

Today my oldest turns seven and thus it is time for our annual birthday interview! You can tell this angel is a dedicated student who holds on to everything her teachers say and commits herself seriously to what she believes in.

You can also tell, obviously, that she must get that serious, committed nature from me =D

---

1. What is the meaning of life? I don't know. What does meaning mean? What does life mean? Hmmm....baruch Hashem I have hands. Like that? 

What do you want to be when you grow up? I want to be a Mommy, a teacher, and a doctor. (Upon further discussion, yes, she thinks it would be a good idea for me to become a doctor now.)


What makes you happy? Connecting to the Rebbe and having hiskashrus *giggle*. Yeah? Could I do that?


What would you buy if you had a lot of money? I would not buy anything. I would use my money for Tzedaka...............also, I would buy a beautiful house. 


What are you afraid of? I don't want to say because it will give me bad dreams if I remind myself. Okay I'll just say it: Dr. Doomshtein (Maybe she wants to grow up to be a doctor so she can balance this out.)


What's a funny/silly word? I don't know. A silly word? Just start talking about clownies and you'll end up saying silly words. 


What's the best thing in the world? The best thing in the world is Moshiach.


What's the worst thing in the world? The worst thing in the world is the Yetzer Harah.


What makes you angry? When I don't get something right away that I want. 


What makes you sad? *Sigh* I told you this last year. It's when my sister starts up with me. *Sigh*


What's your favorite toy? Hmmm....you could write my American Girl doll (Our Generation brand, best $16.99 I ever spent) or all my dolls....or just write both. 


Who do you love? Moshiach and the Yetzer Tov *giggle*. Did you want me to say you? (Uh, yeah.)


What is the hardest thing to do? To not listen to my Yeter Harah, and to respect my sister.


What's the easiest thing to do? That's a good question....listen to Mommy? No way, don't write that, that's not easy. Ummmm....paint! Painting is very easy.


What is the meaning of love? Meaning again? Okay, the meaning of love is....loving somebody. Why are you asking me this?


 ----

Happy 7th birthday to our beautiful, sincere, bright and curious Chaya! We love you!!


ps. I do these interviews every year. It's so much fun to see how my girls have grown in their responses. Here is Chaya's from last year: http://motherlylies.blogspot.com/2015_11_01_archive.html




Sunday, October 23, 2016

If You Give a Mom a Blog

If you give a mom a blog she'll think, "Hey, why not write a book?"

And then she'll start writing her book.

And while she's writing her book she'll take a trip down memory lane.

And while she's taking a trip down memory lane she'll think, "Ooooh, let me look through the baby albums."

And while she's looking through the baby albums she'll remember that she hasn't printed any albums since 2014. She'll rush back to the computer to start catching up on albums.

And while she's making albums she'll remember that she needs to mail out pictures to her parents and in-laws.

And while she's preparing to mail out pictures to her parents and in-laws, she'll notice that she has pictures that still need to be hung in her own house.

And while she's hanging pictures in her house she'll see some walls that need cleaning.

And while she's cleaning the walls she'll see the floor that needs cleaning.

And while she's cleaning the floors she'll think, "I'm gonna be cooking up a storm today, why bother cleaning?" And then she'll remember that she really needs to get on that storm cooking.

And while she's cooking she'll think, "I could really use a break."

And while she's taking a break she'll take out her phone. And notice that it has no case. And remember that she was supposed to order one. Cuz otherwise the phone will crack. And then she'll need a whole second mortgage to replace it. So she'll get back to the computer to order a case.

And while she's ordering the case she'll remember that she was in middle of making an album. To go with the memories. That she was putting into her book. Because she has a blog.

And then the kids will start screaming from somewhere in the house. That they need her right now.

And she'll go right now.

Because she's a mom.

#truestory

Friday, June 10, 2016

Favorite Time of Year: Interviewing

It's Rivka's 4th birthday and that means it's time for us to sit down and talk about all the important things in life. I interview my kids each year on their birthday just to make sure they're getting smarter and not the opposite (gasp!)

Here are Rivka's fantabulous thoughts on life:

What is the meaning of life? Mmmmm....painting. (My art professor just cried tears of joy.)

What do you want to be when you grow up? A Mommy.

What makes you happy? A baby. (She has my future children planned out. It's very organized.)

What would you buy if you had a lot of money? Food. (Yes. YES. I'm doing something right.)

What are you afraid of? Lions. (This was her sister's fear in her 6-year old interview.)

What is a funny/silly word? Blahblahblahblah.

What is the best thing in the world? Hashem. <3

What is the worst thing in the world? Hashem. (Chaya: Rivka! Worst means a very very bad thing! What's the worst thing in the world? Rivka: I don't know. I just don't know.)

What makes you angry? Patching, maybe? Yeah, patching! (Don't look at me people. I'm not the one hitting her. She has a sister, remember?)

What makes you sad? Crying.

What's your favorite toy? A toy phone. (Close call. I thought it was going to be my real phone.)

Who do you love? MOMMY! I love YOU! (Her sister said: just mommy??) Mommy! And Chaya! And Tatty! And my morah!

What is the hardest thing to do? Um...um...um...fighting! (Gee, she makes it LOOK so easy.)

What is the easiest thing to do? Ride a scooter.

What is the meaning of love? Mommy. Mommy. I love you. (**heart melts** **give her all my money**)

---

Happy 4th Birthday to our sweetest Hashtag!! We love you so much and we are geared up and ready for what this next year will bring! No pressure, but less highlighter coloring on the stairs would be real magical for us.

And yes. You can have five chocolate chips because you're turning five. You're like ten hours into your journey of turning five but you got it bright girl ;)




Thursday, April 7, 2016

Pesach: My Freedom

There were a group of us sitting at the shiur when the dynamic speaker told us, “Think of the word Pesach and tell me the first word that comes to your mind.”

“Freedom!”
“Matzah!”
“Seder!”
“Family!”

I kept my mouth shut. Because the words in my head were toothbrushes, vacuum extensions, cheerios, and how-did-my-daughter-embed-pita-into-the-Playmobil-school-bus?

I couldn’t help but think, ‘What’s wrong with them?’ I mean, sure, Pesach is a wonderful time to spend with family, eating matzah at the seder and celebrating freedom, but are those really the first things that come to their mind? Apparently, yes.

And so my next thought was, ‘What’s wrong with me?’

Pesach is supposed to be about freedom. It’s supposed to be about breaking out of our personal boundaries and experiencing things that are greater than ourselves. Pesach should be about living on a higher plane, serving Hashem in ways that might not seem logical because G-dliness is beyond logic and reason.

And yet, at the same time, Pesach is about going crumb-free. It’s the crunchiest diet of all the crunchies. Gluten free, sugar free, nearly-carb free, combined with good wine and mason jars. It has Park Slope written all over it! And that’s without all the cleaning. We’ve all experienced that ethereal moment, straddling the dining room chair, trying to separate the cushions with the strength of Superman while holding the vacuum hose at just the right angle, turning the vacuum on with one foot and rocking the baby carrier with the other. If that isn’t the picture of feminine beauty and spirituality then I don’t know what is.

Well, actually, I do. Because all this time that I’ve been waiting for the freedom of Pesach to encompass me, I’ve been oblivious to the fact that the work is mine. Pesach can be all the happy words only when I make the choice to make it so.

And I am.

I commit to making Pesach freedom for ME. And that looks like freedom from anxiety, freedom from routine and freedom from the bitterness of stress. Will I clean? Yes, I’ll clean. I’ll clean with the music on so that I can sing and dance along. One Kitchen Scrub with a shot of Endorphins, coming up. Will I shop? Yes, I’ll shop. I’ll grocery shop online (the perks of Crown Heights!) or I'll shop in parts or both. There is no mitzvah to spend two hours at the grocery trying to push a cart heavier than myself. Will I cook? Yes, I’ll cook. I’ll cook like I cook every other day of the year (minus the carb-truck): inventory the food in the house and mix and match recipes for fabulous results. Okay fine, I have some great Pesach recipes to follow. The real trick is reminding myself that Pesach is just a week long and I don’t need to have food prepped and waiting in the freezer from a week before, just because that’s what works for other people.

Pesach is about being free. I am choosing to free myself of past discomforts that I have associated with Pesach and instead make this Yom Tov into a joyous one like all the others. Pesach doesn’t have to look like stress. Pesach doesn’t have to feel like a burden.

I’m burning my lists with the chometz this year and I’m starting fresh. Funny how freedom for me is really freedom from me - the old me, the one who agonized over Pesach and spent too much time thinking about all the things I wouldn't be able to do instead of all the great things that I could do. The one who worried about how much work Pesach would be instead of how much fun Pesach could be. The one who didn't associate the good things with Pesach; not because experience taught me differently, but because I had yet to fully embrace the experience itself.


This article was first published for the Beis Medrash Women's Circle Pesach Freedom Book.