Monday, December 10, 2007

How Adventurous Are You?

This is the question Aviv asked before coming to stay with us for Shabbos Chanukah.
He brought with him a selection of Chanukah Themed Sodas - "jelly doughnut" flavor, "applesauce" and "chocolate coin" flavored as well. Thankfully (??) the "latke" flavor arrived broken in shipment. That might have been a bit much for me...... The entire crowd sampled the assortment, while the more adventurous of the bunch (i.e. Aviv himself, lol) actually attempted a bit of "flavor mixing". I say they all could have done well with a shot of vodka added.........................
Motzoei Shabbos Moshe, Erica and Aviv stayed, Estie stopped by and we had a bit of a game night and a wonderful pizza fondue served up with garlic bread chunks. It was such a hit that it is definitely going on the New Years Eve party menu.
Sunday night I made fresh latkes for the second time and after that we went over to Yosef B's for an impromptu get together - loved the little chanukah votives... I am such a sucker for chanukah kitsch...................

Thursday, December 6, 2007

Happy Chanukah



May the light of Chanukah burn brightly in our hearts and souls and bring warmth, comfort and enlightenment to all.

Sunday, December 2, 2007

Mother in Law 104

Moshe took excellent care of Erica when she was sick last week. So much so that he NOT ONLY made dinner, but he DID THE LAUNDRY and baked cookies!!!
I emailed Moshe a "mitzvah note", telling him how proud we are that he takes such good care of our daughter.
Now his facebook.com status reads - Moshe is a mitzvah boy (go ask my mother in law....).

Ask me! I 'll tell you!!!

Friday, November 23, 2007

Life's Conundrum #127

How come Joseph can get up and be out of the house at 4 a.m. on Black Friday but can't seem to make a 7 a.m. shacharis minyan on all the other days?!?!?

Monday, November 19, 2007

On Giving Thanks......

While Thanksgiving is not a traditional Jewish holiday, it certainly reflects many of our Jewish beliefs and traditions. It stresses the importance of Hakoras Hatov and family unity.

I have heard numerous times from people who seem to have very short memories for the fact that the United States saved countless Jewish lives during WWII and that gratitude for our nation is certainly in order that "Every day is Thanksgiving". Oh...... would that this were true!! How many of us truly take the time to give thanks each day for all our blessings? And even if we do, my answer to these people is thusly: Though we are commanded to remember Yetzias Mitzrayim EVERY DAY of our lives, Hashem still gave us a special holiday to commemorate it. (This proof also works similarly for Mothers/Fathers Day).

In order to make sure we are not appearing to schedule our "commemorations" according to a Christian calendar, we enjoy our turkey dinner on Friday night thus enhancing our Shabbos. Additionally, I am going to post a few things that I am thankful for this year prior to Thursday....
  • I am thankful for my family (both near and far...and the memories of those who are no longer with us)
  • I am thankful for Moshe joining us
  • I am thankful for my good friends
  • I am thankful for my community
  • I am thankful for my cyberfriends/community
  • I am thankful for good health
  • I am thankful for Shabbos
  • I am thankful for music
  • I am thankful for little everyday miracles
  • I am thankful for Hashem's artistic eye when creating the world
  • I am thankful that the 14 lb. frozen turkey fell ONLY on Avram's toe and nowhere else ;)

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Quotes Of The Month....

  • "Erica G. is NOT walking through that door!!!" {when "whatever" is not getting done in the kitchen.... apparently it's a takeoff on some sports quote}

  • "We put the FUN in dysfunctional!" {of course one of my kids says we put the FUNK in dysfunctional, but I prefer the first way}

  • ... and the newly discovered mantra, "Remember! As far as anybody knows we are a NORMAL family!"

Sneak Peak at Jen's Birthday Cake

Shhhhh..... don't tell her! It's for Friday night when the gang's all here to celebrate.

Erica and Moshe are coming, as is Oma. Eric will be joining us. Estie is AWOL... If anybody has heard from or seen her, tell her the search party goes out in the morning.

Thursday, November 8, 2007

The Parable of the Potato Kugel

Here's a question for you. Sometimes we give to people for purely altruistic reasons but in the end we realize that it doesn't have the positive effect on the other person that we thought it would. We tried .... we did not succeed.....

Sometimes we give too much and the people to whom we give don't have the capacity to appreciate and/or value what we do.

It's sort of like when we make potato kugel and we choose the wrong sized pan to load it into. What happens? It drips. It spills over. Is there something wrong with the recipe? No. We just chose the wrong vessel.

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Where Everybody Knows Your Name....

I spoke to Binny yesterday. Binny is currently is South Africa on a kiruv mission. We met Binny when he was in Michael's 7th grade class and we adopted him as sort of a home away from home.

Binny has never forgotten. Neither have we. But today, believe me a day I needed it more than most, he reminded me of things long forgotten by me but not him.

He reminded me of weeks he had stayed by us , looseleaf labels I made for him, bundt cakes that I only frosted on one side because one friend of Michael's liked frosting and the other didn't (Hi Simcha! How's the new wife? :) ) and then he said the nicest thing.... He told me that our home always reminded him of the theme song to the television show "Cheers" entitled Where Everybody Knows Your Name. I almost cried. That's exactly what we go for here..... nice to know we succeed some of the time.

Sunday, November 4, 2007

Many Colored Crayons.....

After meeting and speaking with Louisa yesterday morning, I realized that I have never expounded in this forum on the theory of the many colored crayons.
We love to have Shabbos guests. We love to have many Shabbos Guests. We love to have many different Shabbos guests - and by different I mean those with different ideas, experiences, backgrounds and personae.
It's kind of like a box of Crayola crayons (disclaimer here: Neither I, nor anyone in my family is remotely related to anyone or anything Crayola... I just have very fond childhood memories of brand new boxes of Crayola crayons.... midnight blue, periwinkle and a whole host of other colors that have since been renamed in the interest of political correctness and/or the dumbing down of America {Show of hands... how many of you remember "Indian Red" [don't date yourselves...]}). But I digress..... the wonder contained in a box of crayons is precisely the VARIETY ensconced therein. I mean, how dull would it be to have an entire box of Navy Blue crayons.... what could you draw? What could you create? And yet, time and time again, I see people insisting on surrounding themselves with navy blue crayons or whatever colored crayons they perceive themselves to be. I prefer to put a whole bunch of colors together and see what kind of masterpiece can be created. Setting two different colors side by side in the box in no way damages the integrity of either color, which I think might be the fear of some. As far as I'm concerned - let's make that rainbow.....
{In answer to all your requests, I'll be glad to give you my opinion of which color YOU are in "private", though we all know as Moshe stated nearly two years ago, he is "whatever color Erica likes best".....and Lester is definitely Orange - no doubt about that.....}

Saturday, November 3, 2007

It Must've Been Another Snowglobe Shabbos....

....judging by the avalanche sink and snowdrift countertops that greeted me this evening.....

I've expounded on the concept of the Snowglobe Shabbos in previous posts and this week was yet another lovely example.
Erica and Moshe were here for Shabbos. Oma came for Friday night dinner as well. You might call the evening loud and long... I call it lively and spirited. There was a wonderful kiddush after shul on Shabbos morning in honor of the birth of a daughter to friends of ours. Out of town relatives we don't see often enough were in for the occasion and it was nice to do some catching up.
After two relatively quiet shabbosos following yom tov, it was nice to have the mayhem return. And it seems like it's here to stay. We're alraeady partially lined up for next shabbos and the following week is Jen's Birthday Bonanza!! Stay tuned for more details on that.

Thursday, November 1, 2007

Mother in Law 103

Erica and Moshe are coming for Shabbos.
The best part is that it was MOSHE'S idea!
It's a great feeling when you "give them wings" and they still fly back to visit occasionally.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Norby's Home

The following is an excerpt from Norby's Refuah Sheleimah Page:

Tov L'Hodos Lashem!Shimshon Naftali Ben Esther will (IY"H) be returning to his apartment in Washington Heights tonight October 25th!!!
Sorry we haven't been updating this site as regularly as we would have liked. The good news is that we have been attending to slightly more important things, which enables us to finally BRING OUR FATHER HOME!!! Departure date is, b'ezras Hashem, Thursday October 25th!! He is absolutely THRILLED to be leaving "this meshugenah place" and is overjoyed to be getting back to the beloved Heights.
He has made incredible progress in all areas: his cognitive abilities are up to about 95% of what they were; he is walking well with a walker or cane, even going up and down steps on his own. He can eat just about anything, though thin liquids are still a bit of a challenge. His sense of humor has emerged unscathed. His voice is still a bit scratchy due to the breathing tube he had weeks ago, but that too should improve with time. All in all, he has thus far recovered faster than anyone predicted (except me, that is) and will hopefully continue to improve.
Let me take this opportunity, on behalf of myself, my siblings, and my father, to wholeheartedly thank all those who have been instrumental and helpful to us during this trying time. To those who housed us when my father was in Columbia Presbyterian, who provided food, who visited or wrote, and who offered their services, whether ultimately used or not, we are truly grateful.


Even with the torrential rains over Shabbos, Norby managed to come to all three tefillos in shul.

I must say, Norby's recovery is definitely a testament to the power of tefillah, the power of zechusim and the importance of quality Kibbud Av V'em.

Saturday, October 20, 2007

What Happens When NOBODY Comes to Dinner?

As you may or may not know, I initially began this blog as a way of keeping track of our Shabbos guests, the food I made (this weeks orzo ROCKED, by the way... ), what did or didn't 'work' and the general comings and goings across our welcome mat.
This hasn't been exactly the way it turned out but there is an element of oral history to it on occasion.
With Yom Tov over and receding in our memories, the multitude of guests having gone home, we didn't have plans for a very busy Shabbos. Mom went away for Shabbos, Erica and Moshe planned a quiet weekend at home and we had only Chaya S. was slated for Friday Night dinner. Unfortunately, Chaya caught a bug and called late Friday afternoon and canceled. I was hoping that due to the monster rainstorm we were having that Avram might be able to find some stranded guests who needed a meal in shul, but no luck. It was going to be just us - - - nobody was coming to dinner.
And do you know what I discovered? I discovered that my own family make VERY LOVELY Shabbos guests! First of all, for some unknown reason, there were way more Divrei Torah shared than is the norm. There was also some very interesting and enjoyable table conversation. Who knew?

Saturday, September 29, 2007

The Second of Three "3 Day Yomim Tovim" - Over the Hump

I'm not quite sure why Hashem, in His infinite wisdom, allowed His calendar to produce the much dreaded 3 Day Yom Tov, but I'll leave that to minds greater than my own.....
As far as they go, our three-day was quite lovely. The food was great (don't bring up the liver-sicles...somebody turned the succah fridge on maximum...). There was singing in the succah, there was dancing in the succah....
We were lucky to have Tante Meta and Uncle Jerry join us on the first night (us - including Erica & Moshe who will be staying for the duration). Gabriel ate with us on the first day as well as shabbos lunch. Though Mom went to Monsey for Yom Tov, she invited us to be her guests in the Kehilla's Catered Succah on Friday night and I'll tell you that by that point, not having to shlep all that food and paraphernalia up and down 6 (!!!) flights and serve, and wash (we use silver and stemware in the succah) was a much welcome treat. I did miss the "drop-in" phenomenon that night though. This occurs when the Catered Succoh "lets out".... all the people who ate catered wander by and drop in, for a peek, a shnapps, a smile, a marzipan brownie {wink}..... and we love it. At one point today Chazzan Frankel ambled in and Jen pipes up, "OK, now it's a party!".
Binyomin (a.k.a. Joseph 2.0) is returning to our home for the last days of Succos. We are looking forward to laughing with him and remembering "old times". Mom will also be back in town, which will be very nice for the whole family.

Monday, September 24, 2007

Kickoff! - Joey

Kickoff! - Sports

Here's a link to Joey's first article for the Queens College Knight News.
He wanted me to wait until his second article comes out on Wednesday. He says it'll be better.
I've been working on my patience lately, but I haven't reached that level {grin}

Saturday, September 22, 2007

I Missed Mario

Mario is the superintendent of the building adjacent to ours. Mario is a religious Catholic. Mario has an appreciation for Orthodox Judaism dating back to the days he pushed Rav Schwab zt"l's wheelchair.
Whether it was a theological discussion that he had with the Rav or merely watching the middos of a Godol is unclear, but Mario has been coming to Neilah for quite some time. He stands quietly and solemnly in the back row, wearing a white yarmulke and appears to be "hedging his bets". I've always liked to see Mario present at this time. It reminds me that when Moshiach comes, all the nations of the world will concur that Hashem is the one and only.
Mario wasn't there for Neilah tonight...not for Ashrei, not for Shemona Esrei, not for Avinu Malkeinu - not even for Sheimos. This bothered me.... I don't know what to make of it...
Avram tells me he saw Mario come to shul on second day Rosh Hashana so I suppose I feel a little better...

More Tales from the Mikveh

Back in the day when Michael was the "mikveh man" on Erev Rosh Hashana and Erev Yom Kippur we heard some pretty great stories. I mean, who can top the guy who managed to lock himself in the changing room or the unclaimed pair of men's underpants left long after the Yomim Tovim (did he NOT feel a breeze???!?)?
Honestly, I thought we'd heard it all. Unil Michael tells me that he was standing in the vestibule of the Mikveh this Erev Yom Kippur and a guy breezes past him in a robe and flip flops, wishes everybody a "gmar tov" and exits to the street.... Michael was astounded. He was informed that the man arrived in the same dubious attire... Now keep in mind, we DO NOT live in a bungalow colony, nor to we live in a totally Jewish neighborhood, nor did the guy live next door (I know this because Michael was so fascinated by this phenomenon that he ran up the stairs and visually "followed" the guy for two blocks).
I'm not going to even comment on this one. I'm just going to let it stand on its own......

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Prepared, But Never PREPARED...

As Yom Tov approaches, I am once again struck by the eternal "homemaker's conundrum".
Although I have completed all {well most...} of the physical preparations for Yom Tov {yes folks, there will be raisin challah, tongue, sweetbreads, lox quiche, salami quiche florentine, butternut kugel, apple kugel, apple cranberry kugel, potato kugel, veal (woo hoo!), sole/salmon medallions, potato kugel, stuffed cabbage, broccoli kugel - did I leave out any body's favorite/special request? Whew....}, my spiritual preparations have suffered markedly....
There never seems enough quiet time to sit down, reflect, repent and come up with a viable "teshuva plan". Yes, you heard right. I've made "menu plans" for this never-ending succession of three day Yomim Tovim, juggled guests to fit with various meals, and yet my non-existent teshuva plan is appalling.... How do I figure out a way to prioritize this along with my guest lists and menu plans? This year, as every year, I MUST find a way. I just know that if I don't, when I stand in shul on Rosh Hashana, I will once again realize that I have failed miserably in this regard.

Wednesday, September 5, 2007

Two Neginah Orchestrated Weddings In Three Days...

What did you say? Speak up! I see your mouth moving but I don't hear a thing! What are your lips mouthing? Oh, my ears are bleeding? How perceptive you are! That may be a tiny minor side effect of being forced to listen to Neginah Orchestra play at two weddings in the past three days. Don't get me STARTED. I went to the ladies room to ESCAPE the noise last night and I swear the stall was shaking. Dinner music? Dinner music? Aren't people supposed to be able to have conversations during the dinner (non-dancing) portion of the evening? Must I listen to some fellow SHRIEKING while the band beats some jungle tune of indiscriminate nature?

This rebuttal from Neginah as posted in one of their ads: (Colors added by me. Comments in parentheses added by me as well)

Neginah has been delivering supreme happiness (oh is that what I felt?) for over four decades, with only one mission—your absolute satisfaction. (Or deafness, whichever comes first). There's a leader in the Jewish music world. And there's a reason that leader leads.From simple celebrations to spectacular sixty-piece orchestras, from Chasidic to contemporary, Neginah gives you everything you want. Any style. Any sound. Any instrument. Any band size. Any way you like it. (I'd like it if you'd leave my auditory nerves intact, thank you) Anywhere. Anytime. It's your simcha. And Neginah is your band. (Maybe the band of others who don't particularly care about their guests, but not of mine)

Tuesday, September 4, 2007

Mother in Law 102

Erica called from the grocery store yesterday because Moshe wanted her to find out from me which kind of chicken he likes.
I guess all the surreptitious scrutiny pays off {grin}.

Mother in Law 101

I'm smiling.
I'm really trying hard to get this mother in law thing right and although I do kick myself silently on a regular basis (you know me... hard on others... even harder on myself), I truly think things are going well.
Sunday night was my nephew Dani's wedding and Moshe turns to me at one point and says, "Hey, tomorrow is Labor Day. Are we doing anything together?". {Insert big smile here}
Since the weather was perfect we decided on an outdoor activity. But as Avram had to bring my gown to Boro Park, I had to work and Erica and Moshe had laundry/shopping to do, we got a late start - sadly too late for Michael, who had a previous chavrusah commitment. We met E & M in Bryant Park and they brought a new game they had purchased and we played until it was too dark to see the board anymore. Aviv showed up right in time to play with us as well. We then set out to the nearby pizza place, but apparently, New York is less and less the "city that doesn't sleep" and it was already closed for the night. We went to Mr. Broadway instead and were reminded what a nice deli place it really is. The mood was great and the mini soccer ball that Joseph had brought along helped keep the guys walking/running/whatever-they-do-with-a-soccer balling all around the streets of Manhattan.
All in all a GREAT FAMILY EVENING.

Monday, August 27, 2007

Why Are Proofs Called Proofs?

Yes.... amazingly, the wedding proofs are in already!
I'm on photo overload. Too many of the same thing :) .
But I'm curious to know why proofs are called proofs....
Anybody?

Norby's Page

I wrote a while back about our friend Norby. B"h he's doing much better.
Norby's family started a Refuah Sheleima Page.
Please visit his page for updates and sign his guest book.


Friday, August 24, 2007

Does "Dan L'Kaf Z'chus" Ever Become Ridiculous?

Please refer to my post about People Who Need Professional Help (a.k.a. D). Read also my follow up post on being Dan L'kaf Zechus.
Now I've gotta tell you... it was REALLY hard for me to truly internalize my favorable judgement of her..... but I succeeded - - - UNTIL TODAY. Believe it or not SHE DID THE EXACT SAME THING AGAIN.
Now mind you.... she's a adult, or a fair approximation of one. And to top it all off, several weeks ago my husband confronted her about her door slamming rude behavior and she told him, quite loudly, that he had no right to tell her how to behave. But this is just over the top funny - or sad - depending on your point of view.
May Hashem grant a refuah to all the mentally ill people among us....

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Musings....

..... Le Gabay is even MORE fun to dance to with abandon with your daughter at her wedding than it is with your daughter in the kitchen......
Just thought I'd share that thought as the memory flitted through my mind.

Shabbos Approaches

Guess who's coming to dinner?
The honeymooners !
I was reluctant to push and start off as the "annoying mother-in-law" but lo and behold, I guess they find our home an inviting atmosphere and have decided of their own accord to join us for Shabbos.
Estie is moving to the Upper West Side and has chosen to spend her last Friday night at our table as well.
Michael's chavrusah Steven is finally coming to our house too.
Chava called and in her inimitable style is arranging meals for all of her friends and will be joining us with one other guest.
So that brings us to a grand total of 11 - - - seeing as I had a week off of cooking for Shabbos Sheva Brochos, I guess I had this coming to me.

Monday, August 20, 2007

And Life Returns to Normal....

Well, it will when I'm done doing 20-25 sets of sheets and towels and remaking all the beds in the "guest apartments" that we used for Shabbos Sheva Brochos. (Oh, and catch up on about 94 hours of missed sleep....)
Everyone has now gone home - to England, to Switzerland, to Israel, to Toronto, to Amsterdam and to everywhere in between.
Everything was slow motion today.... so quiet......
I miss them all, but it WAS a blast, from start to finish.
A simcha is just an "occasion" without family and friends to share it with.
And share we did.....

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

MAZAL TOV!!!

With much gratitude to Hashem Yisborach, all I have the energy to say now is that everything was WONDERFUL WONDERFUL!!!


Of course my house now looks like a wedding threw up all over it, but I guess that is exactly what happened {grin}.









Wednesday, August 8, 2007

...Tick Tick Tick......

...wow! Less than a week until the 'big day'. Erica moved her stuff out this past Sunday, including all the gifts that arrived since we shipped the first batch to my mother's, so the house no longer looks like the "beyond" in Bed Bath and Beyond. As I've mentioned in a previous post without giving proper credit, my cousin Annette described her home just prior to her granddaughter's wedding as looking like backstage at a Broadway show. I know what she meant! Wigs.... petticoats.....gowns..... scripts (ok, ok...so they are seating plans and schedules....work with me....).
People stop me in the street and ask me how I'm feeling. They want to know if I'm nervous, excited, worried.... truthfully? All I am is EXHAUSTED. I really need to get some rest so that I don't sleep through my own daughter's wedding day. Perhaps if response cards would stop coming in mere DAYS before the event (I guess the world isn't made up of only yekkes, but why can't it be? {grin}) so that all the seated guests need to be juggled and re-juggled, I might be able to...
Oh, and mystery solved! The response card we received, entirely in Hebrew stating nothing else but wishing the young couple to be zoche to build a bayis neeman b'yisrael and looking forward to "Biyas Goel Tzedek, Bimhayrah Biyamenu Amen!" was just another Lubavitch way of saying YES. Who knew? :)

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Please Daven...

... for SHIMSHON NAFTALI BEN ESTER.
Our friend Norby was tragically injured yesterday when he fell off a forklift.
Not Norby.
Not Possible.
Not Processing.
Norby is young. Norby is healthy. Norby is vibrant. Norby does mitzvos nobody even knows about.
Please read my post about Norby.

Update on Norby: Michael went to visit him this week (end of August) and he's gone :)! Gone to rehab!! How wonderful is that? Keep davening everybody... it's working.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

The British are Coming, The British Are Coming!!!

... and the Israelis and the Swiss and the Dutch and the..... :) :) :)
This is AS exciting to me as the wedding itself I must say!!!
Family and friends will be arriving shortly (the wedding is now a mere 2 1/2 weeks away). It was an exciting thought earlier this week when I looked down at my milk's expiration date at breakfast and realized that it was the date my nephew will be arriving in NYC. Milk doesn't keep at all so I know it won't be long now.
I haven't seen my sister in over a year and I'm sooooo excited. (I do worry though what will happen when we run out of simchas to run for....) I hope there are enough hours in the day to handle this wedding AS WELL as spend quality time with my family. For me, family is what it's all about!

Counting Down to Laundry, Shopping and Music...

I'm sure glad the fast is over. The Kinos, the fasting (I was surprised at how ill I felt, especially considering the great weather we had), the entire aura of the weeks preceeding were both physically as well as emotionally draining. {Of course there was that brief moment of lightness when we heard a bench in the Men's shul collapse with a loud thud during Aicho and I just knew it was the bench my guys were sitting on.... too well fed before the taanis I say! Of course, both Michael and Aviv agree that they heard it coming, even before the collapse. If that's so why didn't they just get up???!?}
The rest of the day was much more somber and as I alluded to earlier in this entry, I got quite ill (dizzy & nauseous) during the last few hours. But "show must go on" and we were 11 for the meal and the "Craig Sauce" needed to be made for the pasta. So I stood there sauteeing garlic and swaying woozily as Jennifer slept on the sofa and I worried about passing out and burning the house down. The Excedrin was passed around the during the meal and we all recovered in relatively short time.
Now I'm just counting the hours until I can do mounds and mounds of laundry, actually order all the things Erica needs for the wedding that we've been holding off on, and playing some much missed music.

Sunday, July 22, 2007

A Harry Potter Weekend

Yes folks, the day has finally come and gone.
Joseph anxiously awaited delivery of the final chapters of the saga that began when he was eight years old. He spent the better part of Shabbos afternoon fondling the unopened box, that is, with exception of that moment during lunch when he discovered that Michael had hidden it {grin} and took a break from his adoration to cut off his older brother's airway {big grin}. All in good fun, all in good fun.
After an UNhurried havdalah (I am quite proud to say...) he retired to the living room to savor this long in coming finale. Avram passed him in the same spot at 5 am as he was finishing the saga, having not slept a wink. So I guess we have Harry to thank for the fact that for the first time in weeks, Joseph made a Shacharis Minyan on a Sunday morning without oversleeping... apparently you can't OVERsleep when you don't sleep.
Aviv has recommended a book entitled "World War Z: An Oral History of the Zombie War", in his opinion the "best book ever". Hmmm, don't know if it's up my alley, but if I run out of Jodi Picoult books (my new fave) I just might try it.
We had a rousing game of scrabble today (minus Michael who was next in line for the Harry Potter marathon) and Jen and I (who were playing as a team) CLEARED OUR RACK for a bonus 50 points... woo hoo!!!!
We went more "gown gemach-ing" this weekend too. Some people go "antiquing", with the wedding a mere three weeks away, we go gown gemaching. But in all seriousness, I've met a lot of amazing women doing a lot of amazing things with the resources that Hashem has bestowed upon them and they are quite inspiring.

Michael Totally Rocked the Torah Im Derech Eretz Speech!

OK, so permit me to be the "braggy" mother for a minute...

Michael's speech on Shabbos at the Kehilla Shalosh Seudos was ***Awesome***!!!

I walked into the room, took my seat at the table and a kindly (albeit ditsy) woman of a "certain age" in the community leans over to me and asks me, "So where is your son now?", which of course, we all know is a euphemism for "Where is your son learning now?".... {Hey, that's an idea! I should have said, "oh, he might be in the bathroom, but he'll be out shortly...." ...but I didn't} What I said to her was, "He's in NYU Medical Center's Human Resources Division". Hmmmmm.... that ended that conversation. Fast forward to the end of Michael's speech: Same sweet old lady.... "Wow your son's speech was WONDERFUL!! He speaks like he LEARNS!!" to which I proudly responded, "That's because he does".

I like it when people are afforded the opportunity to see that working and learning are not mutually exclusive - That one can truly uphold the Hirschian Legacy. I hope Michael's actions inspire others to try the same most difficult balancing act.

For those who may be interested, Michael gave me a glimpse into his three necessary criteria for giving a good speech. I'm not saying they'll work for everybody, but they sure work for him:
  • Be animated. (Michael is a pleasure to watch and listen to)
  • Use ONE metaphor that will stick in the listeners head (In Michael's case this weekend, it was comparing Har Chermon - the landmark for outsiders looking towards Eretz Yisroel, to the Statue of Liberty's significance to outsiders arriving at New York City).
  • Use one reference/tie in to a specific part of tefillah, so that each day when the listener davens, he/she will be reminded of the speech and the message therein.

Friday, July 20, 2007

The Story Of The Man With The Pig, The Goat & All The Animals....

Remember the story of the guy who goes to the Rebbe (or whoever) and says his home (or tepee, or hut or whatever) is too small? The Rebbe tells him to take his goat into the house. He is perplexed, but listens. He comes back a week later and tells the Rebbe his house is STILL too small. The Rebbe instructs him to take his pig into the house (ok, ok, I know I'm telling it wrong, so skip to the next paragraph if you know it better.....). He does as the Rebbe bids him but returns days later complaining that his house is more crowded than ever. This goes on for days and days, each time the Rebbe telling him to take more and more into his house, until one day, when the man can stand it no more, the Rebbe tells him to remove all the animals from his home. He returns to the Rebbe the next day and thanks him - - - his house is SOOOO spacious!
Well, I'm that guy today. Last night we took most of Erica's wedding gifts to date over to my mother's house for storage. They had been stacked just about everywhere. In case you don't know Bed Bath and Beyond has a "thing" for oversized boxes and lots and lots of bubble wrap (oooh, did somebody say bubble wrap?). We also took my gown for the wedding, which has been hanging since Monday from the chin-up bar on the kitchen door. So basically our house has been looking like a cross between backstage at a Broadway Show and BB&B's basement. Well, this morning, I've got my big lovely apartment back (save the box of Erica's good china which is too fragile to shlep back and forth). Time to fill it up with FAMILY AND FRIENDS!!!! (Woo Hoo - my family is coming and Erica's friends are coming for the wedding. Oh, and Lester is coming!! It just wouldn't be a wedding without Lester!!)

Thursday, July 19, 2007

The Return of Aviv

...so here I am with Shabbos fast approaching and feeling woefully behind. Not behind really, but let's just say I'm not 100% comfortable with how laid back I've become of late. It's not such a problem now, but when Shabbos comes at 4:15 in the winter, it might be a problem.
Aviv will be returning this Shabbos. He must be a glutton for punishment! I mean, our dining room light blew 5 minutes before Shabbos last week so we had to quickly haul the halogen light from the living room and we had "mood lighting" for dinner. This was nothing compared to the fact that Michael forgot to set the air conditioner in the boys' room to go on over Shabbos! When I heard this (at midnight Friday night) I was horrified (some Hachnosas Orchim!) and told Aviv that if he couldn't bear it, our sofa pulls out. Well, Avram didn't hear this conversation because he had already retired for the night. When Avram woke on Shabbos morning, he saw what he thought was JOSEPH sleeping on the living room couch and *blew a gut* yelling at "Joseph" why he had the nerve to pull out the couch when his own laziness made his room hot - - - ONLY IT WASN'T JOSEPH. Poor Aviv was shocked out of his less than comfortable night's sleep, lol. And yet - - - he's COMING BACK this week. I guess our home must have some redeeming qualities.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Lester's English Has Just Improved

After months and months of me reprimanding Lester for using the non-existent word GINORMOUS, it appears that the folks at Merriam-Webster have caved.
According to this Associate Press Story, since it appeared in numerous publications and magazine articles, they decided that warranted officially sanctioning it as a word and putting it in the dictionary.
So let me get this straight... If enough people corrupt the English language, then it's no longer considered a corruption?!?! What kind of logic is that? If enough people break the law, does the LAW change???

Sunday, July 15, 2007

Tonight is the 6th Yahrzeit for my beloved father Hachover Raphael Naftali ben Hachover Yosef Aaron HaLevi.
He was a very special man, and I don't just say that because he was my father. He lived through a time that none of us should never have to know from again .... separated from his parents in childhood, travelling to strange countries with only his brother along, and all the while retaining his yashrus, his middos and his emunah. He was a smart man, knowing at least a little bit about just about everything. He was a kind man, always seeking shalom. He was a creative man, using his talents to create many innovative and useful items for our Beis Haknessess. He was a talented Baal Tokeah who will not soon be forgotten by those who had the fortune of hearing him. I wish I could do him more proud.....



I went to visit him today. I always feel better when I do. I hope he knows how proud I am to be his daughter.
I hope to be able to feel the presence of his spirit, along with the spirits of other loved ones at Erica's wedding in a few weeks. I hope they are all together, blessing the union from above.

Saturday, July 14, 2007

Is It Me???

I don't know.... maybe I'm just old fashioned.... it's bad enough that I don't seem to think making a wedding into a facebook event is a particularly classy thing to do, but OK - I'll grant you that perhaps that is a generational thing.
But when people think that it is appropriate to send back "maybe" response cards, THERE I'm not going to back down! I thought that the whole point of response cards was for us to know who will be needing a seat at the dinner and who won't. If you don't know whether or not you can make the wedding, doesn't it seem more *logical* just to wait until you do know before sending your response in??!?!?
What am I supposed to do with all your "I'm not sure yet...." cards, hmmm?

Trivia For You - When Is A Valid Passport, NOT?

....apparently, when you are trying to fly to Israel for the summer with your family, with a stopover in Italy, on a passport coming due in September! Go figure. One would think that a passports expiration date is just that, but Aviv found out that things are not always as they appear. So guess who's stranded here without his family until he can obtain a new passport? We were most happy to host Aviv this Shabbos and I was really impressed at what a gentleman he is. He was putting drinks on the Friday night table before Michael and Joseph even had their jackets off (might have something to do with the fact that he wasn't wearing one himself {grin}). He was clearing plates between courses and even at Oma's house while my guys were keeping busy spouting movie lines. Oh, and I MUST mention the most amazing berry chocolate mousse cake he brought from Corner Cafe... I don't think I've *ever* tasted fresh gooseberries before....
It seems we weren't able to scare him off in one weekend - he'll be joining us again next Shabbos. Some people are just gluttons for punishment.
Erica spent Shabbos with Moshe so we were two short, but Oma was able to join us on Friday night.
Norby has taken a summer vacation from window decorations, though he told us for Shabbos Sheva brochos, he can be bribed (think iPhone....) and his parsha panoramas were sorely missed.

Sunday, July 8, 2007

July 8th

Last night we pulled out old home movies to show Moshe. Long after Moshe got tired of them, I was HOOKED. Today is my 23rd wedding anniversary and watching the children grow, and hearing the voices of those I can no longer touch, reminded me of the true value of this wonderful journey. We watched these videos until past 2 am and continued to watch them this morning. How the children have changed, yet keeping their essential personalities intact and true. How happy we were. How happy we ARE. How LUCKY we were AND are.
Binyomin came by today. He brought us this:

It is a copy of the Purim Grammen he wrote and sang for us this past year, while living in our house. He painstakingly added our photos, along with a "thank you" photo of himself. It means so much to me. It will have a place of honor in our living room. Thank you Binyomin!

Tuesday, July 3, 2007

This Was Forwarded To Me By Shellie

I'm not usually accustomed to posting forwards, but I found this one particularly interesting. In section 3, I highly recommend reading the linked Chananya Weisman article as well....

Societal Suggestions to Alleviate the Shidduch Crisis
by Hillel Fendel

It has become commonplace to discuss the marriage crisis that exists in Jewish-religious society, wherein too many men and women who wish to be married are not. Various causes have been cited, largely having to do with Western values, over-choosiness, mis-matched potential partner pools, modern society, poor dating skills, and many more. While a proliferation of books, articles, seminars and more are offered to help singles improve their spouse-finding skills, the following article lists four methods that have been suggested as societal solutions. Far from exhaustive, the list is meant to foster discussion and action.

1. Community shabbatonim (Based on an article written by Jewish communal volunteer activist Michael Feldstein): Hold singles Shabbatonim not as a weekend hotel event with dozens and dozens of singles - but rather in a Jewish community with an active synagogue, and with activities and meals integrated with the community. Singles are divided up into groups of six - three males and three females - for Shabbat meals, which are held at host families' homes. This makes for a much more natural and less pressurized environment for singles to meet and mingle. The singles also participate in Sabbath prayers with the community, and participate in the rabbi's class and the Third Meal. In addition to cost benefits and other advantages, singles increase their networking opportunities by interacting with members of the community.

2. Chananya Weismann, founder of endthemadness.org, quoting his friend Zevi Adler, suggests that when "proposing a match between two singles, the shadchan (matchmaker) says, 'I am so confident that this is someone you should meet that I am giving you $20 to help pay for the date. If you decide to see this person again, give me back the $20. If you ultimately marry this person, then pay me $2,000.'” Advantages: a. The relationship between the single and the shadchan becomes a partnership infused with professionalism and mutual respect, instead of shadchan-single condescension. b. Once the shadchan has proven that s/he has carefully researched his/her suggestion, and is willing to put money on it, it will be reasonable to expect singles to invest their own time, money, and energy on the suggestion. c. It is a wise investment for the shadchan, who will save time and effort in having to persuade singles to go out on the date. After all, the single will say to himself, “If the shadchan is willing to take a chance, then I’ll take a chance on it, too.” More dates will result, the shadchan's success rate will increase, and the investment will pay for itself many times over. d. Shadchanim who are truly serious about their work will have no qualms about investing in their ideas, just as businessmen do on a regular basis. Those who are even marginally successful will not lose - they will get their money back - and are likely to be amply rewarded; those whose suggestions are rarely accepted for even a second date will go out of business, to everyone's advantage.

3. Mixed seating at weddings - as advocated in this article by Chananya Weismann. Rabbi Shlomo Riskin of Efrat writes that though separate-sex seating at a wedding ceremony is halakhically indicated, it can be inferred from Maimonides' ruling that mixed seating at a wedding feast is permitted. "There is another positive aspect to mixed seating at weddings," Rabbi Riskin concludes. "There are often many young single men and women, friends of the bride and groom, who, by sitting together, may meet and which could lead to more weddings, with G-d's help... It goes without saying that there must be a complete separation between men and women during the dancing." Rabbi Aaron Rakefet of Jerusalem has similarly been quoted as saying that those who eat Sabbath meals in mixed company should celebrate their weddings the same way. He cites the "revered Rabbi Yosef Breuer" as saying that "young people should sit together at weddings [because] mitzvah goreret mitzvah [the fulfillment of one commandment leads to the fulfillment of another]. We want people to make shiduchim [matches]. We want boys and girls to meet. We want dates to come out of this [wedding]."

4. Some leading Religious-Zionist Torah scholars in Israel have called for the lowering of the age of marriage. Rabbi Yehoshua Shapira, head of the increasingly popular Yeshivat Ramat Gan, recommends that boys marry before the age of 22, while Rabbi Eliezer Melamed - Yeshiva dean, community rabbi, Halakhic [Jewish legal] decisor, and facilitator of singles events - has recommended that young girls pass up the accepted year or two of post-high school national service in order to be able to marry earlier.

Trying to Be "Dan L'Kaf Zechus"

Maybe it wasn't her who pressed the buttons.............

Monday, July 2, 2007

People Who Need Professional Help Amuse Me

D is a girl who lives in my building. D is supposedly an adult. D doesn't seem to like me, although for the life of me I don't know why. I'm a friendly sort of person....
D never greets me in the elevator in the morning. Moreover, as D pushes passed me to exit the elevator in the morning, she drops the elevator door on me. She then follows up by dropping the main building door on me as well, as we exit the building simultaneously. I've always chalked this up to the fact that perhaps nobody ever taught her manners when she grew up. Perhaps she never had a positive parental role model.....
Today though, D's dysfunction reached an all time high, and although I'm sure she did this to annoy me, she made my day!!!! I overslept this morning and was running late. Jen was in a rush to get to the camp bus stop and refused to leave without me. So Jen went to ring for the elevator as I was collecting my things. The elevator arrived before I did and, just my luck, D was inside. Jen immediately let the door go so that D wouldn't have to wait for my arrival and as the elevator descended, she rang for the elevator again. Wouldn't you know it? D did something I haven't seen since my sons were about 5 years old or so, and trying to annoy each other. D pressed every button in the elevator so that as the elevator returned to the 6th floor to Jen and I, it would first have to stop on each and every floor, thus slowing it's progress. Now, I know that D was trying to annoy me, but I must say that I had an all out belly laugh over it. These are the proud citizens of tomorrow???? These are the "educated singles" in our neighborhood. OK, now granted, most of our singles here wouldn't want to be categorized with D for a host of other reasons, but she really gives young adults a poor name.
But in any case, D, if you're out there THANK YOU!!! You made my day!!!! (... though in all seriousness, I think perhaps you should seek some professional help....)

Sunday, July 1, 2007

I've Been "Blogrolled"!

I was surprised to find out that I've been added to the blogroll of somebody whose blog I've never seen, read or heard of. That's not to say I'm not grateful - I AM. It's just that I've always thought that one "asked" to be added, a prospect I was not ever comfortable with. I mean, one should add you because they ENJOY you, not because they'd like reciprocity. I'm not even sure how she found me. But nevertheless, there I am, plain as day, in alphabetical order on the Awesomely Long List of Ortho Blogs. Thanks to the blogger whomever you are. I'd be interested to know how you found me. If any other blogger out there reads and/or enjoys my blog, you may feel free to do likewise, but this time, kindly give me a heads up so that I can thank you :)

The Buzz

You might have noticed that I've been writing a bit less than usual of late. That is because my days/nights/everything in between has been taken up by wedding plans and I have made a conscious effort NOT to expound on the minutiae of these activities.
The main reason for this is Erica and Moshe's privacy. A secondary reason is to avoid sounding like one big colossal kvetch especially since this is a very big brocho and I'm always trying to be conscious about "feeling the moments". And there have been many.... carrying Erica's wedding gown down to the bridal boutique on the A Train, and remembering all the trips on I've taken with my little girl on that very same train, watching Moshe try on his "chosson tallis", choosing wedding invitations, stuffing wedding invitations......
In addition to all the moments that have decorated our days since the engagement, I must also take note of all the colorful people that we've had the fortune/misfortune/amusement to encounter along the way. Like the Printer Lady ("Yogurt R."'s wife) who told us that her husband was so in love w/ Moshe's father that he was coming to the wedding with or without an invitation, the florist who was more interested in Eric's shidduch resume than our order (a short resume though... in her Yiddish accent looking at his loooong resume, "I dunt vant det KREP!"), and the guy from The Buzz today, whose Brooklyn accent was so strong and SO infectious that it took me almost an hour to lose the affectation that wormed its way around to me. Oh, but he was a character, reminding me that to speed things up we should tip the guy who was toveling our purchases BEFORE we stepped out, b/c there wasn't much point in tipping AFTER (more of a bribe than a tip if you ask me....).
My husband often quotes an apropos German phrase: "Die Liebe Gott hatt eine grosse tiergarten" (sp?) {grin}.

Which is Better?

Here's an eternal question for the ages.
Which is better? A great movie with a lousy ending or a lousy movie with an awesome ending. I've spent more time pondering this than I can afford, but I have come to the conclusion that I'll take a lousy movie with an amazing ending any day over the alternative.
Your opinions are welcome and yes, yes, I know.... we ALL prefer a good movie with a good ending.

Sunday, June 17, 2007

Is it summer already??!?

Tell me please, how it can be summer already (rosh chodesh Tammuz and everything...) and the first 'official' day of summer has yet to arrive?
This was Binyomin's last Shabbos with us, . We will miss him very much. We DO look forward to Joseph's imminent return though....
Shabbos was very pleasant. We had Craig, Alison and Oma for dinner on Friday night. Moshe stayed in Yeshiva, because he needed to study on Sunday for some big exams.
Michael was also not in attendance, as he was joining Rabbi Friedman on his last "shabbos yeshiva" before the summer. Lunch was a quiet affair, Jen having gone to Oma's house. Shalosh Seudos included the usual crowd - Yosef B, Craig and we were joined towards the end by Binyomin, Nochum G. and another young man. The singing was phenomenal guys! Judy and Nesanel stopped by as well. It was a three hour deal, because the kehilla was having it's annual "I don't speak yiddish but I'm not going to admit it" Shalosh Seudos, where the speaker talks in Yiddish and all the non-yiddish speaking, low self-esteem crowd, sits there nodding emphatically, smiling & pretending, all the while having NO CLUE as to what the speaker is saying. We welcomed everbody who got bored there at our table and not one of them was able to give over a single word of torah when asked..... now I ask you, what's the point of THAT??
Today - Father's Day is hot like the dickens. I bought Avram a really cool chin up bar. He was very excited and made an amazing first attempt at it in his suit and tie :)

Sunday, June 10, 2007

The Grass is Always Greener

We had a quiet shabbos this week. No company on Friday night and none for lunch either. {OK, don't bring up the fact that we had Craig and Yosef B for shalosh seudos... that doesn't count... it's a set thing...} We all caught up on some much needed sleep, I will say that. I even finished my (long overdue) book.
Don't get me wrong... we all needed this weekend, but it certainly makes us remember why we love the busy fuller meals. Last Friday night we had Binyomin, Lester, Moshe, Chava, Megan and Oma. It was Lester's last Shabbos in America and we wanted to make it special. Binyomin will be graduating soon and moving on to Yeshiva, but he really has become like a "third son" this year (or rather as Erica says, "he's the brother I never had".... WHAT DOES THAT MEAN?!?!? If I were Michael or Joseph, I might be mildly insulted....).
Binny came by to say goodbye before he goes off to the Israeli Army. When did they grow up? I guess I blinked. No more blinking....

Saturday, April 21, 2007

So Who *IS* Coming to Dinner??

.... well ... if you had asked me that question Thanksgiving Weekend 2005, I might have prophetically answered, "my future son-in-law". The thing is, I had no idea............
Yes, Lester was (finally) joining us for a Thanksgiving Shabbos (after the fiasco cancellation of 2004). There were a host of others coming to help polish off the turkey and fixings when, at the last minute, Lester calls and asks if he can "bring a friend". Another Lester? Can we really take two at a time? "Sure, the more the merrier".... And are we ever glad!
Thus began a year and a half long odyssey worthy of "Small Miracles". Hashem really does have a hand in shidduchim and He really does engineer the world. Our Hachnosas Orchim was rewarded with one of the most valuable gifts.
The Bas Kol went out......... we just needed to hear it!
Mazal tov Erica and Moshe!!!!!!!!!!!!

Thursday, April 5, 2007

Chol Hamoed at the Circus

So we went to the Ringling Brothers Chol Hamoed Pesach Spectacular - complete with performances by Uncle Moishy, Yeshiva Boys Choir, Bello the Clown (of course) and an all male cast suitable for most every level of observance.
Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket
I'm not sure how to effectively convey my feelings on this event but I will say that my Jewish Bretheren, as far as I could tell, did not create a chillul Hashem, which was something that often happens at such large gatherings.
I will also say that such an extravaganza - the entire Madison Square Garden, full of only frum Jews, selling only Pesachdik snacks, playing Jewish music, their world famous clown Bello, sporting peyos on occasion & dancing to the voices of a bunch of yeshiva elementary boys - is something that could only happen in America.
Although I'm grateful for this, I just hope we are all cognizant of the fact that we are still in golus......

Wednesday, April 4, 2007

Matzo Is Not Beneficial For the Digestive Tract


This is the picture BEFORE we all ate GENEROUS k'zaysim of matzo. Don't we look happy? 'Nuff said......
But I should mention that sedorim were WONDERFUL!!!!!!
Family, friends, words of torah, rousing renditions of Chad Gadya and Adon Olam and minimal wine spillage {grin}.

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Stating the Obvious

Never Trust a Guy with a Bad Haircut to GIVE YOU a Haircut.

For years, my darling Avram has been having his haircut by Enzo, a guy with a huge comb-over, and I have not been happy about it.....
Now depending on who you want to believe,
(a) my gentle prodding finally paid off,
(b) Yosef's insults were finally too much to bear or, more likely
(c) Craig's toe-tapping as he waited for Avram to do the whole "blow dry thing" after their gym workout was overwhelming.
But I don't even care who gets the credit for the change, because thanks to the talented folks at Dramatics, I've got the cutest looking husband around!!! {Don't mind my goofy face, I'll be grinning for a while}

Friday, March 23, 2007

I am NOT a wimp!

I cut my finger on the serrated edge of the Cling Wrap box today and it hurt like the dickens. Joseph tried to tell me I was being a bit hysterical by baring his latest ugly, festering, angry red, scabby sports injury, which covers the better part of his left elbow & forearm.
Just as I was about to feel truly wimpy, Eric said something profound. He said that our bodies expect wounds as large as Joseph's to hurt that much, but precisely because these tiny cuts are as small as they are, the pain we feel is totally out of proportion. This little cut, like many a paper cut, barely visible to the naked eye, can throb so badly that it makes us crazy. It hurts when you move it; it hurts when you don't move it; it hurts so much that even the air passing over it causes pain.
So thanks Eric, for making me feel like less of a hysterical female - - - oh, and thanks for the mac 'n cheese pizza too..........

Random Thoughts To Joseph Upon His Arrival Home

  1. Fancy cashmere socks are NOT supposed to be covered in lint. Oh and while we are on the topic, and fleece slipper-socks are NOT meant to be worn Friday night to shul with dress shoes, NO MATTER WHAT is written on the package.
  2. The lime green tie is nice, but I could do WITHOUT the obvious (ketchup?) stains on it.... {and this time, your standard line for stains won't work..."Don't worry Mom, the tie covers it"}
  3. 100% wool pants, when washed in the machine, come out smelling like wet sheep. {Follow up thought... you could have spent more on the dry cleaners this year than $8.37)
  4. If that bruise on your arm starts oozing, please see a doctor. Sports injuries are not in the same category as war wounds.....(though you might use them to impress a girl some day)
  5. Thanks for bringing some warm weather with you - I'll reward you with an apple/cranberry kugel tonight.
  6. I love you and I'm really glad you're home!

Quotes For The Day

"The nice part about living in a close community; when you don't know what you're doing, someone else always does" {This one is for you-know-who-you-are now grow up and mind your own .... [wink]}

"The best way to forget all your troubles is to wear tight shoes" {Have a GREAT weekend Erica....}

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

New Idea To Lessen the "Shidduch Crisis"

YU hosted a Dor Yesharim blood testing event last night. Michael participated (.....get in line ladies.....). Interestingly enough, what should have been a simple drawing of blood, actually developed into a nice forum for meeting & talking to other people. He came home very excited about all the interesting young men that he met there and how he might have found himself a few new chavrusas, etc. etc.
Now it occurs to me - if this event was so conducive to setting him up with new friends and chavrusas - imagine if Dor Yesharim had some sort of "supervised" mixed testing for young people! Yes, I do mean boys and girls in the same room folks... Find a mate and check compatibility at the same event. Talk about killing two birds with one stone........!
Am I inspired or what?
Now what catchy name for the event would you come up with? "Screen & Preen"? I leave the floor open. Feel free to comment.

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Sleep Deprivation

I'm entirely too tired to come up with anything of import to say here.... who are those people who can live on only four hours of sleep and how can I learn their methods??!?
Due to this sleep deprivation, thoughts are bouncing around my head in a most disjointed and disconnected fashion.
I'll share a few but remember to watch out for flying objects and be ready to duck at a moment's notice.
  • G-d's driving the bus..... (I just hope he lets me know where my stop is...)
  • Pesach will come whether or not I vacuum out the inner recesses of my closet that I haven't seen all year
  • I can choose to see any aspect of my life from either a positive or negative viewpoint.... choosing the positive never makes a person weak, even if it seems so
  • There are times in life when we need to realize that we just have to trust our gut.... (and pray a little)
  • Family and friends are the biggest gift in life
  • Hugs are very important
  • Do we really want to try the frozen pizza that is kosher l'pesach this year??
  • I love chocolate

Sunday, March 11, 2007

A Visit to "Grovers Corners"

I went to visit my father today. Every time I go to the Beis Olam, I think of Thornton Wilder's, "Our Town". In the final act, there is a burial scene in which the dead are sitting upright and erect, like tombstones, in rows of chairs on the front of the stage. I feel that way when I go out to our Beis Olam. Old friends and family; gone but not forgotten, are sitting there waiting for my arrival and greet me with warm smiles. It is a surprisingly calming feeling.
I also think of this particular play because of the underlying message it sends. It reminds us that people live their lives without appreciating or sharing the moment of living. They overlook the joy found in simple everyday activities.
I spent quite a bit of time davening at the kevorim of my family and close friends and asking them to be Melitzei Yosher for myself and my loved ones, especially since sometimes I worry that my own tefillos are not worthy enough.... I left feeling much better.

Friday, March 9, 2007

Lester Is Leaving Us :(

Lester has just informed us that after this school year, he will be returning home to Amsterdam. While we know that this is the right thing for Lester, it is a very bitter pill to swallow for us.
Hopefully, one day Lester will know how much he has given to our family. Right now he only sees how much our family has given to him, but it is surely a two way street.
Lester appreciates family. Lester will come by for no reason other than to hang out on our couch and have the feeling of "family" bustling around him. Last night Lester stopped by on the spur of the moment and stayed for several hours, even though none of the kids were home. He helped Avram set the shabbos table and even folded the napkins (cute fans!). His reward was an impromptu invitation to join us for Friday night dinner, which he accepted, only after stipulating that he could bring his pajamas before shabbos and change at the conclusion of the meal.... poor Lester... the stress of this decision, among other things has given him a nasty case of insomnia....
But Lester will land on his feet - he always does.
Now if we can only come up with a reason for him to come back and visit some time ;)

I'm Not Good With Change



Is it not contradictory that somebody who is as technologically savvy as myself can be frozen in terror at the thought of upgrading a cellphone? It is not that I can't learn to use the new phone - I am the one who studies the manuals like the final exam is around the corner.... it is simply that I don't do well with change. It's also the stress of dealing with the NICEST customer service people who make it impossible for you to curse at them, even though, the "system" is totally screwing you over....
Now keep in mind that the ONLY reason I finally went through with this ordeal is because my phone, and the system it was on, was so archaic, that my carrier was actually CHARGING ME A MONTHLY PENALTY to keep using it. Well, after hours and hours on hold and zillions of forced repetitions of "the last 4 digits of my social security number", I am proud to tell you that I survived the experience. And believe me, it wasn't easy... first one of the the phones didn't arrive, then one of them wouldn't "activate"; then some Einstein at Cingular (oh excuse me... the "New AT&T" - - - do I get any perks for being a customer since the days they were the "original AT&T"? NO!!!) thought it would be a good idea charge my two phones for TWO family talk plans instead of one..... oh, and lets not forget all the fun I had reentering my entire address book into the new phone. (though I must say that the photo caller ID feature gives me a childish thrill {grin}).
So I'm done, right? Not so fast............ now I gotta learn about Bluetooth.......................

Wednesday, March 7, 2007

Purim Seudah Grammen

It's in several "pieces", but I'm posting it by popular request... just run down the group in order.
Enjoy!















And NOW... for Michael's "rebuttal"

Monday, March 5, 2007

Purim Was Wicked Wonderful....

Although the last of the platters are still scattered across my counter, mingling with various junk food and homemade goodies, Purim has, in fact "left the building"...
As I finish cleaning up the detritus of countless shalach monos packages, 15+ purim seudah guests and various foot traffic in and out of the apartment for liquor, jello shots & of course haman men, I reflect on what a totally AMAZING DAY it was.
Michael leined in shul, the nursing home, the hospital, as well as for private people in their homes. Delivering Shalach Monos and checking out all the costumes was lots of fun and the weather was pretty forgiving. Purim seudah was very leibedig and was enhance by two highly entertaining grammens performed by Joseph (via telephone) and Binyomin. They had us in stitches. Michael inserted one (much deserved) rebuttal grammen stanza for Joseph. Both Michael and Binny graced us with words of Torah (thank you Michael for reminding me that Pesach is coming... I really needed that!!)
Everybody added something to the special atmosphere - - - Oma, Mark & Becky B. (and young'uns), Eric, Estie, Binny, Binyomin and Lester. Mark called it an "eclectic crowd". I call it family.

Friday, March 2, 2007

Are we there yet?

I asked Avram with great trepidation if the Haman men could go on the door when the taanis is over. You see, we usually put them up right after we break our fast, but since this year the fast is early, I was afraid he would make me wait until Motzoei Shabbos to begin the celebration (Eric won't even EAT A HAMANTASCHEN before it's time.... I on the the other hand, start doling them out Rosh Chodesh Adar).
Well, it seems that I have Dr. Erlbach to thank for this one. Avram said that the Purim Poroches will be hanging in Shul this shabbos, so he extrapolated that our door could sport the ten sons of Haman over Shabbos as well.
Of course, Erica pointed out that now nobody can get mad at anybody else this whole weekend . If the front door gets slammed too hard, the Haman men invariably fall down and crack.


Tuesday, February 27, 2007

I DON'T EXIST!!!!

OK, so tonight was a slow night... (for once!).
I decided to check on how many people in the United States have the same name as I....
See the results for yourself....

HowManyOfMe.com
LogoThere are:
0
people with my name
in the U.S.A.

How many have your name?



NO PEOPLE??!?!? NONE???!?!?
WHAT ABOUT MEEEEEE?

Now I know that my name is not exactly the most common out there, but I find it hard to believe that no other exists (forget the fact for a moment that I myself don't exist).
I was going to write to these folks and tell them that they are wrong, wrong, wrong... but apparently they KNOW THAT already.
Read their page on "accuracy" -

Accuracy:

Q: How accurate is this program?

A: More accurate than a Magic 8-ball. Less accurate than distributing and collecting 300 million surveys.

Q: No, really. How accurate?

A: Well, it's hard to say. In order to determine how accurate this program is, we would need a program that was completely accurate for comparison purposes. If we had a program that was completely accurate, we'd use that program instead of this one. At that point, discovering how accurate this program is would no longer be worth the effort. Therefore, we can fairly confidently say that it is impossible to determine how accurate this program is. (Confused? We're just warming up.)

In our completely non-expert opinion, we say that the program gives a decent ballpark estimate, but it shouldn't be used for anything more than that.

Q: Why isn't it more accurate?

A: There are a number of possible sources of inaccuracy:

First and foremost, the program is based upon a convenient fiction. Without getting too technical, the program makes the assumption that a person's first and last names are independent of one another. What this means is it assumes that the probability of a person having a particular first name is the same no matter what last name they have. It isn't.

So, for example: The program assumes that the chance that your first name is "Juan" is the same, regardless of whether your last name is "Arteaga" or "Epstein". Episodes of Welcome Back Kotter aside, we would hazard a guess that there are not that many people in the U.S. actually named "Juan Epstein". Depending upon what your family name is, it makes certain first names more likely, and certain others less likely. The program cannot compensate for that.

Second, the data is old. The data for this program comes from the U.S. Census Bureau's 1990 census. That makes the data about 17 years old or so. This is the most recent name data available from the Census Bureau (the 2000 census did not include name data), but it's still old, and it's accuracy may be slightly questionable.

Third, the data appears biased towards more formal versions of names. The data comes from forms mailed to the Census Bureau. It appears most people put their full, formal version of their name on the forms rather than a nickname. So, for example people who normally call themselves "Bill" would likely tend to put the name "William" on an official Census form. In fact, the data shows the name "William" outnumbering the name "Bill" 20 to 1. So, it appears that nicknames are under-represented in the statistics, and full formal names are over-represented in the statistics.

Fourth, not every name is on the list. A certain number of instances of a name were required to even make the list. About 10% of all responses were not included on the list because they appeared too few times. So, uncommon names are not represented on the list.

Fifth, we failed to make the required blood sacrifices to the gods of programming and statistics. Surely they will plague our endeavor with errors and inaccuracies.

Q: Can I use data from this site in my report / project / masters thesis?

Sure. However, we take no responsibility for any merciless mocking from your teachers and/or peers for using questionable data.

-------------------
I'm soooo glad... there are days that I feel invisible enough without this!

Chopsticks Like You've Never Heard Before

Simcha the Butcher Called - So Purim is "ON"

I love Purim. It's a Yom Tov and a party all in one! It combines the spiritual with the physical {Michael's article on Purim for Hakesher magazine expounds on this quite well. As soon as it's available online, I will try to post it}. I have many fond memories of Purim at Ami's house - - - decorated of course, with the requisite paper curls :) . We continue the tradition and take it one step further by hanging cookie Haman men from the chandelier and his ten sons from our door. I want to make memories for the ones I care about that rival the memories I cherish.
That is why I wanted a full table at our seudah. Little did I know....
Now the immediate problem is can we seat more than 14 without resorting to the dreaded "kiddie table" (the harbinger of much therapy...). But don't get me wrong; I am NOT complaining. I share the load. Jennifer is making all the placecards with her new skills in calligraphy (thanks Judy!). Joseph's grammen is going to require more and more stanzas; no guest is spared his rapier wit.
Back to Simcha: my personal butcher extraordinaire. He said... "don't worry, I promise I'll get you a roast that's big enough and in time". This gets filed back in the *I'm not easy to please* category...... Well, as promised, he just called to confirm that he's got a piece of meat in that will live up to my standards. So you can all exhale now - Purim will not be cancelled this year.

Monday, February 26, 2007

Finding Light in the Darkness

I read a very interesting article this weekend on how to view ostensibly bad things that happen to people. This article maintains that nothing that happens to us is "bad", when viewed on a larger scale. I'm not going to try to give the article over to you, because I thought it was extremely well written (and those who know me are aware that I'm a tough critic ) and I don't want to do it any injustice. Read it --- please --- trust me :) .


Saturday, February 24, 2007

In one kid and out the other

Thanks to this "lovely" custom Yeshiva's have gotten into of sending the bochrim out to the far corners of the earth to fundraise the week before Purim, we were the beneficiaries of another weekend with Joseph. (I'm flattered that he chose us over San Diego....). He spent the latter part of the week in Monsey and then arrived home chilly (Florida winter clothes aren't exactly Monsey winter clothes, lol) and rumpled, but smiling widely late Thursday night.
Michael already had plans to go to Rabbi Friedman's house for Shabbos. I suppose he felt that since Key Food already has Pesach groceries on the shelves :-O, it is merely a matter of days before Joseph will be home for Yom Tov again anyway, so he wouldn't be missing too much.
The meal included cantaloupe with kiwi, matzo ball soup, chicken, apple kugel, beet salad, asparagus and banana chocolate chip cake for dessert. {Don't tell the guests - - - they were supposed to have peanut butter crunch ice cream for dessert, but that stayed in the freezer when I noticed that nobody had eaten this week's crop of bananas, which means..... (all together now..... "BAKING TIME" ) Stay tuned for the ice cream next Shabbos}.
Oma commented on how colorful the plates looked, with the rich color of the beets (which matched the tablecloth) and the bright green of the asparagus. Chaya S. and Miriam G. were also present Friday night. Oma joined us for lunch as well, so that we could all be together the week that Joseph was home.
Joseph kept us all highly entertained with stories of Yeshiva, regaling us with all the Rosh Chodesh Adar antics, including, but not limited to, a fully grown uprooted palm tree in the Yeshiva lunch room and a live chicken. We were saddened to hear of the apparent suicide of the beloved Yeshiva Cat.

Norby's windows were a tribute to Aviva K.'s wedding this week. He seems to enjoy making chuppah windows.....

Saturday, February 17, 2007

Friends are necessary for mental health

What would we do without friends? It's not about quantity... it's definitely all about quality.
Of course, we have different friends for different things. There are your nearest and dearest friends - a select few - who know more about you than anyone else. Those who know the worst of you and yet, remarkably, have not gone running for the hills.
There are the "shopping buddies" those to love to shop as much as you do (or hate it as much... depending on what the case may be) - the ones who are able to answer with aplomb, the unanswerable question, "Do I look fat in this?".
And then there are the friends that you want to be around when you feel like you need to escape from the real world. Friends who won't ask you to repeat for the hundredth time how your cruddy week has been. These are the people who will just help you have a good time and relax. These are the "mental health" people in your life.
I like spending time with Estie R. She's fun. She's funny. And she smiles a lot. Estie joined us Friday just in time to prevent me from jumping out the window (and since we live on the 6th floor, this is no laughing matter). I think we were serving as mutual mental health friends this weekend. Her week wasn't too hot either ;) .
Aryeh and Dani S. came as well, which made the meal really fun. It'd been ages since they ate with us.
Once again there was too much food. Tricolor gefilte fish, matzo ball soup, chicken, glazed salami, yerushalmi kugel, sweet potato/pineapple rings, cucumber salad, beets and carrot cake for dessert.
Binyomin B. (a.k.a. Joseph 2.0) slept over for shabbos. He actually finished his shabbos lunch meal before we ever started ours, so he sat down and joined us for an impromptu second. We also had Yehuda C. for lunch, which included gruenkern (with more Baltimore smoked meat - {shout out to David A.!}).

Norby's windows were a personal disappointment for the first time ever.... a tribute to Rav G. and the Yeshiva dinner........... (oh please! Must I revisit the evening??!??)

Sunday, February 11, 2007

Zachor's, Kiddushim, and Aufshnit, OH MY!

Lester was ill this week. What a shame, because I like my guests to EAT! He tried, really he did, but I have more leftovers than I know what to do with. Lester arrived during shul, and I abandoned him curled up under Ami's blanket as I went down to visit Judy.
When we all returned home we had a pleasant dinner of gefilte fish, matzo ball soup, chicken, cucumber salad, spanish rice and frosted canada cake for dessert.
After dinner, Lester returned to his fetal position on the couch, this time with a good Wodehouse book and we set out for Yosef and Sari's shalom zachor - - - cute baby!!!
***If all this sounds insensitive to Lester - - - fear not. We really do care about him :) He knows this and that's probably why he actually comes to us when he's sick.

We were all invited to Rav Mantell for kiddush on Shabbos after shul. Jennifer discovered she likes herring (which brings to mind my father's "du liebst herring?" joke, of which I will spare you the details). Michael discovered that both he and Rav Mantell enjoy the works of Rav Tzadok.
Lunch was made extra special (aside from being extra late) by the fact that David and Sharon (having gone to their niece's vort in Baltimore last weekend) had sent us Baltimore aufschnit (with all the add-ins; olives, peppers, mushrooms, pistachios......mmmm....) and Liverwurst. Once again.........too - much - food.......... :) It was Michael's turn to eat at Oma's and he was able to enjoy Yosef and Suri's company as well since they were in for shabbos. (He'll polish off the aufshnit he missed on Sunday night when the rest of us go to the Yeshiva's Annual Dinner)

Norby's windows were {you guessed it} Matan Torah. The upended, sand coated salad bowl made a nice Har Sinai, though Michael questioned the size relationship between Moshe and the palm trees. I say it's all in the angle................

Monday, February 5, 2007

How I Spent Superbowl Sunday

The bar was set pretty high after last year's wonderful Superbowl Pool Playing Party at Amsterdam Billiards. Not that I'm into football, mind you... I couldn't give half a hoot about the game, but you know me... any excuse for a party....
After much back and forth, we decided that our superbowl festivities would NOT include watching the game :) . No great loss, if you ask me. So after a morning spent at an Achdus Group Brunch, followed by some *quality* gym time and a visit with our family in from Chicago, we went out with Eric and Arona and saw Dreamgirls, followed by dinner at Noah's Ark. It'd been a long time since we'd eaten there and I was hit by a wave of nostalgia, remembering Joseph running amok up and down the back ramp, and even earlier memories of snowsuit clad Michael stuffed in a stroller and smiling. I must say that it is a very enjoyable feeling eating a hearty good meal that I did not have to prepare or serve. Oh! Did I mention that the starry sky was awesome last night?! I picked out the big dipper, orion and gave a silent smile to my Dad.
We arrived home later and met up with Michael and Aviv, who were returning from THEIR superbowl festivities, which most DEFINITELY included football and we helped them whittle down the remainder of their evening's alcohol. Note to whoever cares: Arctic Berry Smirnoff is *not* a favorite... stick to the Raspberry.

Tu B'Shvat with Mark Twain

Friday night was a most pleasant affair. We were joined by Chava and celebrated Tu B'shvat by eating many different fruits and incorporating the Shiva Minim into the menu wherever possible.
We enjoyed challah (wheat), salami quiche, matzo ball soup, chicken, barley with mushrooms (barley), tomato salad, and fruit and nut platters for dessert (figs, dates, grapes, to name just a few...).
Michael gave a wonderful dvar torah and referenced a very interesting essay by Mark Twain, entitled "Concerning the Jews". Apparently, Mark Twain saw what we all know... the overwhelming contributions and "staying power" of the Jews as compared to our size. A definite must read.
Erica joined Oma for lunch on Shabbos.
Norby's windows depicted Kriyas Yam Suf, along with Miriam and the women playing music as the Mitzrim drowned.

Thursday, February 1, 2007

On Hot Dogs and Roast Potatoes

What is it about Thursday night dinners?
It's the only night of the week in my house when you can be sure of the menu. Hot dogs and roasted potatoes.
Originally this began because it was an easy dinner with minimal prep, that left me more time for shabbos cooking. Who knew it would become a fixture in its own right?
It became a way to meet and give family atmosphere to "starving dorm boys" - so much so that whenever Binny gets married, we joke that I'm making his Thursday night Sheva Brochos and I'm serving - what else? - hot dogs and potatoes.
When Erica would come home for the weekend from Seminary, what do you think she wanted waiting for her on cold Thursday nights? I think she even instituted the tradition at her boarding family's house in Cleveland.
So back to my original question. What is it about this dinner? The comfort food factor? The routine? My EXCELLENT potatoes? An early TGIF factor?
[ And why am I the only one eating eggplant parmesan ;) ]

Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Thoughts on Norby's Windows

I love to have company at our Shabbos table. I love to entertain. Why do I do what I do? A good friend of mine actually told me once that I do the things I do because I'm selfish. My friend says that I don't love cooking and entertaining because I like making people happy but rather I derive the pleasure out of being the one to make others happy. So my friend says that I'm not as altruistic as I appear. I don't really do it to see others happy, but rather to make MYSELF happy.
I counter that motives don't matter. Making people happy matters. Sharing a little bit of joy with others - making them smile - brightening their day.
Now I must say that Norby has got this all figured out. He "gets it". Every single time I pass his windows I can't help but smile. Norby takes the time to decorate the parts of his windows that he himself doesn't see, so that others will derive pleasure. He understands that sometimes in life, you have to forget politics, forget controversy and just spread a little joy. He appreciates the power of a few tulips artfully arranged and backlit.
For this I am infinitely grateful.