Friday, October 30, 2009

We're Feeling A Bit "Blue" This Shabbos

And that's no reflection on the *awesome* company we are expecting :D .......

(Kind of makes me wish I'd gotten a pedicure to match.........)

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Goodbye Daylight Savings Time

This Sunday at precisely 2 o'clock in the morning, we here in New York (and many other places) will "fall back" and say goodbye to Daylight Savings Time once again. Of course if you live somewhere like South Bend, Indiana, you do nothing and just wake up in the morning trying to figure out in whose time zone you are this month.......

In my house, Daylight Savings Time is an event approached with a reverence reserved for those of true German extraction.

Immediately following havdalah (for which great pains have been taken to avoid rushing through), Avram sets out to the task at hand. First the oven and microwave timers are set with great precision, making sure that the time is correct down to the second. From there we move to various Shabbos clocks and timers scattered throughout the house. This is followed by all manner of wall clocks and alarm clocks (did you know that many Yekkes have clocks in their bathrooms?). The final step, hopefully completed before the appointed hour, is the "Changing of the Watches". It's quite a ceremony... you should come by some time.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Avram's Got a Bravo

You might have an iPhone or a Blackberry, but look out technology buffs! Avram's got a brand new Bravo!! (though he only gets to keep it for 48 hours....)

"What's that?", you ask. It's a super cool new technology to constantly monitor his esophageal acid. Basically, they implant a capsule sized device directly on to his esophagus and it stays there and monitors the conditions and transmits the data to a device he wears on his belt for two days. In a few days, the device sloughs off and passes harmlessly through his system (Jen wants him to look out for it so she can see it..... yikes....).

Watch an explanatory video here.

So the next time you pass Avram on the street, ask him to tell you his current acid level (but please be prepared to host me in your home for the evening {grin}...).

Monday, October 26, 2009

Amazing Savings

I bought Chanukah paper goods yesterday. "Why?", you ask. "Why do people climb Mt. Everest?", I ask. Because it's THERE.

Following a trip to Party City (... why was half the store in line for Purim costumes anyway {wink}??... are we having fun yet?!?!?) in search of Bas Mitzvah Party paper goods ("Mommy, nothing too 'elegant'. No flowers, but it shouldn't look like a five year old's birthday party either... stripes or polka dots would be good"....), I swung by Amazing Savings because I hadn't yet totally maxed out my Visa card.

Avram likes to call this store "Amazing Spending", because you go in there not needing anything and come out lugging bags the size of which could conceal two small children inside. After all, who could resist their wares? At the risk of making efrex completely jealous, I'm gonna admit that I purchased a set of earthenware soup bowls with handles so I can finally make french onion soup at home and not shlep out to Shelley's (whose french onion soup with garlic bread and mozzerella is *awesome*, by the way). Now if only I had a recipe.....
Let me also mention that I discovered a new mathematical principle yesterday. $1.49 times a lot, adds up to a lot. Who knew? The stuff seemed so cheap. There were a few books for the grandchildren (such a bargain... I'm tellin' you.....), a silicone soup ladle (OK, this I really needed. You don't want to know what mine at home looks like....), a spare pop-up hamper (you never know when you're going to need one, right?), Terra Chips (Hey! Shopping makes you hungry!) and of course, Chanukah paper goods, because after all, Chanukah is right around the corner.......
Smiley Faces

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

A Light Unto Nations?

I don't usually link The Yeshiva World on this blog, but this article was one I felt I needed to share.
I think it's a pity how some people are raising their children in an atmosphere of racism and intolerance. This, to my mind, is not a way to teach kovod habriyos and certainly not a way for us to be a people that others look up to.
I'm interested in your thoughts.

Monday, October 19, 2009

I Really Hate Goodbyes.....

The “hello”s are invariably great, but the “good bye”s are always bittersweet.

Last night I once again bade farewell to my sister. The goodbye spanned well over half an hour and two apartments. Hugs. Kisses. A few tears.

Many times these partings are made easier by the glimmer of the next simcha on the horizon. Boruch Hashem, my sister and I have made 7 bar mitzvahs and 5 weddings between the two of us and we have had the zechus of sharing the majority of these precious moments together with each other and our growing families.

But this time, there are no more little boys awaiting their call to manhood and at present, no young adult entering “the Parsha”. There will be simchas in the near future iy”H, but not the kind we travel half a world away to share. When will we next see each other? I have no doubt that we will, but the uncertainty of it all is unsettling.

What am I missing most because we live so far apart? As usual with me, it is the little things. I like to think that if we lived nearby, we would gather the whole brood together once a month (Shabbos Mevorchim Rosh Chodesh perhaps?), alternating homes, for a rousing Friday night meal with children, grandchildren, aunts, uncles and cousins. It never ceases to amaze me that even though the members of our family are separated by an ocean, as soon as we are reunited it seems as if we’ve always been together, laughing, teasing, sharing family ‘in-jokes’ and picking up right where we last left off. Of course, cheap telephone rates and the internet have gone a long way to making these distances practically negligible, but I like to think that we share a sort of genetic magnetism in our blood that draws us closer and connects us as well. I hope to never lose that.

So if you have a sister living nearby, call her up today and tell her you want to arrange a Friday night family dinner together. I sure wish I could…..

(P.S. I just got home and guess what was hidden away and packed at the very bottom of our suitcase? A very adorable frying pan :D )

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Hey, It May Be Dirtier In New York, But At Least It's FREE!

Welcome to Switzerland, sir !
How can I help you?

Oh, you need to use the restroom? No problem. That'll be 1 Franc (appx. $1 nowadays) please.

What's that? Oh, you wanted to have a toilet that you can sit on?
Sure... right this way.... that'll be 2 Francs please.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Vacation - Day 1

(or is it day 2? Does the day of arrival really count???!?)

Well, here I am in sunny Switzerland.
I managed to pass through customs without much of a problem, despite my horrible cold, laryngitis, conjunctivitis, generalized post-YomTov-itis and the ENORMOUS Swine Flu Warning Posters splashed all over JFK airport. I've already begun to recuperate quite nicely though - - - after the meals the size of which we had on Succos, the prospect a week of no cooking and no dishes can be very therapeutic ;)

I landed yesterday in a horrible state, having not slept a wink on the flight and coughing up a storm. Some warm moments spent with family seen not nearly often enough, and a good night's sleep did wonders all around, and we set out today to do what every tourist must do - - shop for gifts for those back home. {grin/sigh}. I'm pleased to report that we spent more money on the same stuff available cheaper in the States were very successful in our endeavor. I will NOT (oh, yes I will) mention the adorable frying pan that I wanted to buy and Avram was less than thrilled to pack in our luggage. (He just couldn't see what was "adorable" about a frying pan ... ladies, you know what I'm saying, don't you?) I think he just didn't want to have to come back to the United States and have his buddies ask him to what he treated his wife on vacation and have to respond, "a frying pan....".

Excuse me. Gotta go now.... I'm off to get even by buying some Swiss Cheese to take up twice as much room as the fry pan.....

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Gone But Not Forgotten

After all the prepping, the planning and the cooking, Yom Tov has finally come and gone, but the wonderful memories stay with us for quite some time.
Personally, my favorite moments were ones with the family all together around the table or just relaxing and sharing special and spiritually uplifting moments.
We had the pleasure of Joey 2.0 (the "newer better" version from previous years) joining us for Yom Tov, along with all the children and grandchildren. If only one could take pictures on Yom Tov......

A short administrative note: Avram and I leave tomorrow to share in the bar mitzvah of my nephew in Switzerland. I hope to have internet and to continue to update you, but if posts are spotty, I will surely fill you in upon my return.

Friday, October 9, 2009

A Simple Question.....

Why do Arovos/Hoshanas cost so much?
I know all about supply and demand, so please don't hit me with that.
They are super easy to grow, are in large supply, don't need to be checked for bugs (at least not yet...).
I have been informed that in the "early" years of KAJ, Rav Breuer zt"l insisted that the shul sponsor the hoshanos free of charge for those davening there.
I have also learned that as prices soared in the following years, Rav Schwab zt"l said that Hoshanos may be re-used and one need not purchase a set for each and every family member individually.
But this still begs my original question:

Why do Arovos/Hoshanas cost so much?

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

I Feel A Rant Coming On....

My favorite Yom Tov as a child was Succos in general and Simchas Torah in particular. I loved the singing. I loved the dancing. I loved the candy. I loved the fact that my birthday was the following day.

I still love Simchas Torah in my neighborhood, but a lot has changed.
Let's discuss.

Simchas Torah In My Shul Then and Now:

Then - Hundreds of children 'mosh-pit close', shoulder to shoulder (some climbing over the inert, somewhat trampled bodies of those who were not aggressive enough) inching their way around shul carrying ENORMOUS bags which by the end of the evening would be hauled home, overflowing and trailing nutty chews in their wake. These children respond to every candy thrown into their bags with a bright, "Thank You!" {Full disclosure: Avram, as a child, was encouraged to choose the candy he really wanted to keep and give the rest to his great aunt who brought the stash to an orphanage on Governor's Island. I, on the other hand, in one of my greatest childhood traumas, was the only child in the whole shul [aside from my siblings] who was not allowed to "go collecting" year after year because my parents thought it was grabby and "not fine". Second full disclosure: The people who gave out the "good stuff" felt so bad for the little kids who weren't allowed to "go around" that they brought their candy over to us personally and handed it to us, so I made out probably as well as Avram, minus the stuff that went to the orphans.... it wasn't so much the lack of candy that was traumatic, it was the look of pity from my peers who, as they were busily mapping out strategy routes always took the time to look at me doe-eyed and say, "Oh, we feel so bad for you.....".}
Now - Dozens of children, most of whom daven in other shuls all year round but heard about the major candy blowout, mill freely around the shul with ENORMOUS bags that are far more optimistic than the situation calls for. Each candy thrown in to their bag will cause them to insert their entire head into their bag to examine the latest acquisition and either smile or wrinkle their nose in disappointment before ambling on to the next adult and shoving their bag out in silent demand. "Thank You"s are occasional at best. They will eat most of their candy during the course of the interminable evening (see below) leaving a blizzard of wrappers under the seats and great gobs of sour apple laffy taffy ground into the carpeting.

Then - Esteemed members of the shul, who davened there regularly, dance with the Torahs, which are resplendent in silver. The dancing is heartfelt and full of simcha. After the hakofos are completed, everyone goes home for a delicious and relaxing Yom Tov meal. The "young people", who still have energy, are invited back to participate in more dancing after dinner.
Now - Sons and sons-in-law of members of the shul, who come but one day a year and wouldn't deign to daven with the congregation even on Shemini Atzeres, heaven forbid, will descend upon the regulars and gyrate and jump in some form of something that they call "dancing" (I've studied this and it seems that whoever stamps the loudest and jumps the highest is the best 'dancer'). They will model wonderful derech eretz for their children by laughing in the face of the members of the Synagogue Committee who ask them to take a break between hakofos so that the baal tefilla can be heard singing the words of the next hakofo and the evening can continue at a reasonable pace. They will brazenly stamp louder and jump higher until the regulars (older members, many of whom were instrumental in building the shul) just get tired and go home before shul is over muttering silently to themselves, "They'll be gone after tomorrow... they'll be gone after tomorrow". There will be no hakofos after dinner for the young people, since shul is over long after those hakofos would have been.

With that all said, I still love Simchas Torah and I will be there {thanks to Costco} handing out 108 individually wrapped Twizzlers (Hint: I sometimes give doubles to the children who say "thank you" Smiley Faces ).

Monday, October 5, 2009

Applause Please

As I mentioned last week, my one year old wunderkind ahem, granddaughter has joined us for the week. Any time Kayla does something that she is proud of, entertained by or merely happy with, she gives herself a hearty round of applause. Judging by the frequency of her self-appointed accolades (several times an hour), Kayla is quite pleased with her life.
I'm going to take a page out of Kayla's book and applaud our Yom Tov. (To those of you who greeted me outside shul on Motzoei Yom Tov and mentioned that you were awaiting the update, sorry for the delay but you know how little free blogging time a one year old affords you Smiley Faces ).

First and foremost, I must applaud Hashem for our wonderful weather. I am not one of those people who secretly prays for rain so that we can eat in the comfort of our dining room. It is just not Succos for me if we are not eating outside with paper chains falling off the walls all around us and stray bees looking for sweet nectar. Thankfully for us, the rains held off each time until we were completely finished with our meals and safely back inside. So score one for the Big Man Above!

Secondly, applause goes to our guests. Louisa gave me a whole drasha on second night Yom Tov as to why having her as a guest garnered us more mitzvohs in one than having any other guest, but I didn't have a pen and paper at the time to write it down, so you'll just have to trust me on this (something about a)Hachnosas Orchim, b)being Mesameach a Kallah, c) being kind to the Ger.... but there were a few more, lol....). I'm not sure she wins out though over our sweet cousin, who joined us at the last minute after being stranded because his wife gave birth to TRIPLETS (numbers 4,5 and 6 no less!!!) just moments before the chag at the local hospital (even though you never comment - I know you read the blog, J - so mazel tov to the grandmother Smiley Faces ).

Thirdly, I must applaud my family. We don't have a succah in our back yard or in any way attached to our house. Our succah is a block and a half from our house (and down six flights of stairs). This year, with Yom Tov falling out on Shabbos, everything - and I do mean everything (food, drinks, wine, tableware, high chairs, bentchers, etc.) had to be anticipated, planned and transported down to the succah before candle lighting. Even with the trek, we ascribe to תשבו כן תדורו (you should sit in the succah with all the same amenities as you sit in your home.... yes, yes... we too had the conversation at dinner as to who has paper chains hanging in their dining room, but whatever.....) so we bring down stemware and good silver and an assortment of table linens. I couldn't have managed this herculean feat without the help of my family, especially my amazing husband.

Wishing all my readers a good moed and a good last day(s) of Yom Tov.
Stay tuned for sporadic, mushy Cheerio laden updates.

P.S. For creative succah decoration ideas a step up from paper chains, check out Creative Jewish Mom. She's amazingly talented!

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Wednesday's Wacky Signs Goes Local

From our very own neighborhood....
This is the local Israeli/Shwarma/Fast Food store.
They are looking for wait staff I suppose, so get your mind out of the gutter.
I guess that's what happens when Israelis are doing the hiring and they translate from Ivrit literally....