Thursday, December 2, 2010

Chanukah songs by Arielle (age 5) and Kayla (age 3)

My girlies sing Latke Latke. Kayla (on the right) learned it in school which is why Arielle needed her to help her sing it correctly :)
Here is the link:
The lyrics:
Latke, Latke, hop in the pan
Bake and fry as fast as you can,
Sizzle Sizzle merrily,
'Cuz you're the one I'll eat you'll see!


Wednesday, December 1, 2010


Tonight Chanukah begins. If you are not familiar with the story, you can read the details here.
Chanukah is one of the most exciting Jewish holidays for me. It is unique in that it does not disrupt the work week, but brings excitement and fun to the mundane. We light one candle each night of Chanukah and shower friends and family with gifts. We have parties and yummy food including potato latkes and donuts!
I even arrange a "secret Chanukah friend" at work--sort of like a secret Santa where we secretly give gifts to our coworkers and then reveal ourselves on the last day. I bought a bunch of little gifts for my children and plan to give them something small on each night. We also have 4 parties scheduled already including one at our shul (synagogue), 2 family gatherings, and a kids only party.
Aside from all the excitement of the 8-day holiday, there are also many lessons that we learn from the story.

  • Before the Jews lost the Holy Temple, the last major way to directly connect with G-d, He gave us a miracle of lights. The oil that was supposed to burn for 1 day lasted 8 days! G-d gave His people a special light to carry through the generations of darkness, throughout all the troubled times, throughout the years of distance from G-d Himself. He told the Jews to hold on to the light and remember the miracle. The menorah has thus remained the symbol of Jewish continuity and Jewish survival. We can stay connected and know that G-d is with us even when it's dark! This is also why ChanukFah is celebrated in the winter, during the cold and dark months. When we light the candles, we bring warmth back into our homes.
  • Dreidels (tops) seem like a silly symbol, commemorating a cute game that children used to play while hiding in caves at the time when the story took place. In fact, the Jewish children were disguising their Torah study by playing tops in front of the Greek enemy who did not allow them to study. Children were a major part of the story, defending their right to learn and to carry our rich heritage to the next generation. I am proud to say that I am passing these lessons along to my own children, teaching them about dreidels and Chanukah, and more importantly, about living the everyday life of a Jew- learning Torah and doing mitzvos (good deeds). No matter where we are and who might be fighting against us, we will continue to maintain our religious principles.
  • Chanukah  is a time of giving. We give gifts, gelt (money), and share with family and friends. As much as we like to receive, it is giving the defines who we are.
  • Sometimes in life it is important to take a break and spend time with one another. During the hectic hours of dinner, bedtime, and bathtime (if the kids are lucky!), we stop to acknowledge the miracles we have and give thanks that we have them.
So to all my readers, happy happy Chanukah and may you recognize all that is truly valuable. May you cherish and enjoy the light and miracles that surround us all.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Cranberry Crisp

Thanksgiving spurred enthusiasm for my Cranberry Crisp recipe. I give full credit to my mother in law, whose recipe it is!
1 cup oats
1 cup flour
3/4 cup brown sugar
1/2 c oil
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp ground cloves
1/4 tsp ginger
1 can apple pie filling (I like Comstock Brand, available in the baking aisle)
1 can whole cranberry sauce
Mix together all ingredients except apples and cranberry.
Line the bottom of 9x9 or pie pan with the oat mixture.
Add apple pie filling on bottom followed by the cranberry sauce. Sprinkle with remaining oat mixture to cover.
Bake at 350 for 40-45 min.

Friday, November 19, 2010

The Academic Blogger: Part III

The Academic Blogger who impersonated my father, Dr. Lawrence Schiffman, has been sentenced this week to 6 months in jail and 5 years' probation. Read more about that from the NY times article here.
The irony of the case is that Golb (who committed the crime) used the most modern internet technology, blogs, and social media to discuss issues of antiquity and theories of some of the oldest fragments we have.
History is fascinating and its issues are current and relevant!

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Terrible Two's? More Like 1 1/2's!

We've made it to the incredible age of 1 1/2! My little boy finally understands what is going on around him. He knows what the garbage is- though he doesn't always know what should go in there and what should not! He tries to put on his socks, loves getting his kiki (aka blanket), blows his nose (always with a stolen tissue even when he doesn't need one), and runs to the fridge when he wants his cup of milk.
While this is all adorable and completely delicious, he has this terrible habit of screaming. I know it is just the stage and I love him every minute of it, but I can't seem to remember my other kids screaming this much to get what they wanted. Maybe he screams more because he is a boy? When will he find words for all these desires? Being 1 1/2 is difficult!

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Lessons and Memories of My Grandma

While mourning the loss of my grandmother, Hilda Schiffman, I spend a lot of time thinking about all the times I spent with her. Of course, what remain most vivid are my memories of Grandma in the past few months. We have spent a lot of time together and I find her in my pictures throughout the course of the year.

The last day I spent with my grandma was October 24, 2010, just 2 weeks before she passed away. I picked her up on the most gorgeous autumn day, when the leaves were just beginning to change colors but had not yet fallen from the trees. It was 70 degrees outside and she was enjoying the sunshine. I was determined to find a park for her to sit and watch my 3 children play. We drove around until we found a beautiful park in West Orange that was at the top of a winding “country” road, which opened up to a large expanse of grass and trees. We walked about 20 feet and she sat down on her walker. She watched as my Arielle, Kayla and Tzvi ran and played ball, enjoying them as they went round and round. When we went back to the car, Grandma was reveling in the sunshine with her eyes closed. I remember asking her if she was okay, and she responded that she loves the sun and was happy to feel its rays on her face.

We left the park and went out to the local pizza shop where we met my sister, Leah & her husband Dovid and 2 children, Sari and Benjy as well as Dovid’s parents. We all sat and ate together. Grandma was smiling the entire time because we were all there to enjoy her company and we came to see HER. We had gotten together the previous Sunday for Arielle’s 5th birthday, but it was so busy with the entire family that there was not enough time to spend with all the kids. This day was different as we were all devoted to her and she was able to interact with each great-grandchild one on one.

And that is how I will remember her last days- reveling in the sunshine and in the kids. I am so happy that she got to enjoy my children (she even admitted being glad that I had 3 kids so close in age so that she could get to know them all!).

But it is the older memories that I will truly cherish but that take a little more time to conjure up. Some things I will never forget:

·         Playing in Grandma’s backyard and sledding or rolling down the hill.
·         Using the egg slicer and silver straws in her old fashioned kitchen.
·         Thanksgiving dinners with roast beef because I didn’t like turkey.
·         Grandma calling her cat back into the house after playing outdoors: “Patches, where are you?”
·         Riding with her to visit my cousins in New Jersey, betting a dime to determine if there would be traffic at the Jerome Avenue exit of the Cross Bronx Expressway (I always won the bet).
·         When Grandma gave me a dollar to hold for the toll and warned me not to let go with the window open. Oops, I let go anyway and it flew right out the window!
·         Getting rides to and from school just because I had to walk past the local public school to get home.
·         Mornings when Grandma slept over because my parents were away. These were the only mornings I actually ate breakfast. I knew Grandma meant business and I was not to leave the house until my breakfast was finished.
·         Playing ping pong in Grandma’s basement with my older brother, Dani.
·         When Grandma was determined to walk to my parents’ house from shul. When I arrived at the home she still was not there. Jeremy and I found her on Arrandale Avenue (5 minutes from the house) with a shopping cart she had appropriated from the supermarket to help her walk the distance!
·         Seder nights when she read from the famous blue hagaddah. We enjoyed many Passovers at her house, then at ours, and then at the hotel. Grandma always wanted to chop vegetables, make charoses, and explain why we ate the symbolic egg. Certain things were always reserved for her.
·         When Grandma came to visit me when I was in Israel for the year and we lit Chanukah candles in my apartment.
·         My trip with Grandma to Pittsburgh where I forced her to travel with me a day early and though she resisted, she thanked me later for bringing her early because she got to sit with her cousin who passed away the Shabbos we were there. Being with Dorothy that day before she died meant the world to Grandma and she was happy to have been with her and at her funeral.
·         Another Pittsburgh memory was when my husband Jeremy and I took her on a day trip with Arielle when she was still a baby. We travelled with her to the Duquesne Incline and took the cable car to the top of the mountain. We relished the view and took pictures, which I framed immediately for display in my home.

When you enjoy a lifetime of memories with someone you can’t really isolate memories. I am just happy to have had so much time with her. It was a lifetime of quality interactions. Grandma was an amazing personality, vibrant and personable. Grandma exuded a sense of dignity and life. She was the most vibrant person in the rehab center where she lived her last few months. Who else would wear orange moccasins and long beaded necklaces in the nursing home?

I would be remiss if I did not mention Grandma’s tremendous strength: physical strength, emotional strength and strength of will or determination. Grandma never gave up her dignity because she was too stubborn! Grandma spoke her mind whenever she wanted and she told it like it was even if you didn’t want to hear what she had to say. Grandma’s motto was: “You don’t have to listen, but I HAVE to say it.” So we learned to listen with one ear, take the criticism and advice, and follow her directions once we realized the truth of her words. Grandma always made sure to have her hair and nails done every week to ensure she kept her dignity. She made sure that she distributed her personal belongings including furniture, platters, silverware, and jewelry while she was well. She planned who would get what and then enjoyed seeing it in our homes. This brought her the greatest joy and helped her maintain her dignity despite the difficulty of disbursing her most valuable items. I am proud to light her candlesticks and enjoy sitting in my dining room, surrounded by her furniture each Shabbos.

I can go on and on, but I will close with this thought. Grandma taught me about the true value of family and appreciating each generation. She taught me to stand by your children and grandchildren no matter what life may bring. I will truly miss her and will cherish the memories and lessons she imparted.

Monday, November 8, 2010

We Love and Miss You, Grandma!

I am still recovering (if that is ever possible) from the events of yesterday. Yesterday I lost my grandmother, the only one I ever knew. She was a major part of my life since I was little and she continued to be part of my children's life as a vibrant and loving great-grandmother.  While I want to share a lot more about my memories with her, I will have to do that another time when I can think straight.  So for now, please read a little bit more about her from my sister's perspective.  I really feel like it captures her essence. In fact, so much of what Hadassah says was mentioned at her funeral.

Guest Post by Hadassah Levy:
"It seems callous to write a status update saying my grandmother has passed away. But it is also impossible to continue to interact with all of you on a daily basis without mentioning it - and this is true even of those of you I have not met in person.

When I was a kid, I assumed that everyone's grandmothers were like mine. As I got older, I realized our grandma was unique. I used to argue with her about whether or not she was old; no matter how many times she told me how old she was, I never saw her as an old woman. I could take my friends over to her house and they enjoyed it just as much as I did. We went to movies together, shopped for clothes, and did other errands my parents weren't available for. If the weather was bad and she knew my father wasn't home that day, I didn't get far in my walk home before she appeared to give me a ride home. She always told us that if we needed her to fight our battles with our parents she would be on our side.

It has been many years since we have lived in proximity to each other, but she was always on the other end of the phone for some fun exchanging of news. There was nothing she liked better than to hear the exploits of her grandchildren and great-grandchildren. She also considered her grandchildren's spouses to be her grandchildren and would introduce them that way to anyone she ran into when they were with her.  Whenever we visited, the first stop after reaching my parent's home was always her house and I will never forget the excitement of surprising her for her 86th birthday (well, almost surprising her...)

It is hard to imagine life without Grandma in it, and hard to be so far away from everyone at this time. I wouldn't exchange living in Israel for anything, but wish I weren't 6000 miles away right now."

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Let the Good Times Roll

It is with great pleasure that I present this post in honor of my old time friends.

Last night 3 of us gals got together to just catch up on life and hang out. Of course eating was a crucial part of this get-together! So we met at a restaurant and schmoozed about our jobs, families, friends, and the awkward date sitting at the next table. We laughed, we cried- okay, slight exaggeration but you get the point. We reconnected.
I really miss having day-to-day exchanges with my good friends. Life has taken us to different places on different timelines. Sometimes we have time to call, sometimes we are too busy. We nevertheless always care for one another and enjoy seeing each other.
I am so happy we got together and I only wish we did it more often!

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Apple Kugel Recipe

Based on facebook demand, here is my apple kugel recipe:
6 lg sour apples, peeled sliced thin
1 c sugar
1 c flour
4 eggs
1 t baking powder
1 t vanilla
1/2 cup oil
Sprinkle cinnamon
Mix all ingredients together except apples. Work batter, make paste. Add apples. Put in greased loaf or 9x9 and sprinkle top with cinnamon.
Bake 325 for 45 min.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Carpool Madness

Mornings are just not the same when you are part of a carpool. My mornings inevitably have 1 of 3 results: I end up being late, I make other parents late, or the kids are late!
I basically circle the neighborhood, sit in drop-off lines and convince a lot of little girls to make a choo-choo train so we can walk safely through the parking lot.
I wish we had busing but we don't- so I better get used to this!
Got any carpool tips?

Monday, October 4, 2010

The Academic Blogger: Part II

I mentioned the case of the Blogger, who impersonated my father and this past week the jury gave its verdict. The blogger was charged with several counts of identity theft/impersonation/harassment. The sentencing will be next month and he faces 1 1/3rd to 4 years in prison.
Since I have the inside scoop, I just want to mention that my father, Professor Lawrence Schiffman, victim of the impersonation, honestly told me several times that he did not want to see Mr. Golb go to jail. Sending a lawyer/academic /blogger to jail is not his idea of retribution.
Here is the Yahoo! News Article.
Once again, comments and thoughts welcome.

Back to routine

The Jewish holiday season has ended and though I truly enjoyed all the holidays, family, food, and napping, I am thrilled to be back to routine. My kids have had enough late nights, play dates, and unscheduled days. School just brings a scheduled discipline that I cannot imitate at home. We are back to waking up on time, wearing a uniform (for quick morning dressing!), and homework. I hope this will also help normalize the new level of moodiness that my 5yo has adopted.
I love vacation but routine is welcome anytime!

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

On Trial: The Academic Blogger

Today my father, Professor Lawrence Schiffman went to court to testify instead of NYU to teach his regular classes.
A blogger impersonated him and sent out emails in his name to colleagues and students claiming he plagiarized several works. He utilized NYU library computers and created several blogger identities to simulate an online community that was interested in these issues. The goal was to discredit his academic opinions about the origin of the Dead Sea Scrolls and point instead to his own father's position on the matter.
The trial opened today and my father was expected to be called to the stand. I am eager to hear the eventual verdict.
For more details on the case see this article:
Please comment and add any thoughts here.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Grandma's memories

I took my kids for a visit with my grandma on Sunday. She was thrilled that we came and that my visit was to be followed by my parents' visit.
We took her out to lunch at the pizza store. After pizza we dropped in at the CVS where I printed some pictures for her of the family- me, my sister & grandma, my kids on their first day of school, my aunt (her daughter) and cousin (her granddaughter) with my baby- for her to keep in her room.
She was happy to get pictures and mentioned that my aunt always offers her the old photos from her house but that she refuses because thinking of the past is too hard. She told me that the pictures I just gave her are perfect for her since they are recent. She is really having a difficult time grappling with her new reality.
She is in an assisted living and has disconnected herself almost completely from her old life. Somehow she feels that this helps her cope. That in order to deal with her current situation she should not have keepsakes from her days of independence.
I would argue that the opposite is true. If she would allow herself to remember and feel like her old self she would be happier.
Of course end of life care is so hard and I cannot judge her or discount her emotions. I just happy to give her some new memories to bring her hope and cheer.

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

High school reunion: reconnecting

My first big milestone since graduation was my 10 year reunion (I know, I'm younger than you thought). I somehow became the one in charge- organizing, setting the program, and most dreaded--locating everyone. The event went off without a hitch though only 1/3 of the grade came.
Here are my thoughts after the event:

It was so much fun seeing everyone and picking up where we left off!

I enjoyed seeing my close friends-who I am still in touch with- back in the old environment where we originally met

I literally cried when I saw a very close friend with whom I lost touch. It made me see what an amazing person I no longer have in my life. It made me feel like an awful person for not trying harder. It could be that the tears came because the last time I DID see this particular friend was at a memorial service for her father. Either way I was emotional.

Seeing the teachers was fun though not necessary. While they shaped our education throughout high school, the real experience was shaped by our friends.

There were natural cliques that formed at the reunion itself based on high school friendships. Rather than resent them as some might have back in school, I respected them and was proud people migrated right back into tight-knit groups.

Working with my former principal in preparation made me see her in a completely different light. We discussed the budget and the program and spoke more like peers or professionals working on a team for a specific program.

One member of our class became a teacher and inspirational teacher in the Jewish community. She wasn't an honor student or supremely outspoken at the time. It is amazing to see what each of us did with our lives to maximize our potential. We were honored to have her speak to the group briefly and were proud to listen to an eloquent presentation.

Though memories fade, friendships and our experiences remain with us always.

If you have read this, make and effort to track down and contact someone who means a lot to you even though you haven't been in touch. You will gain more than you will give.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Mayor Bloomberg and Camp Simcha Girls' Cancer Session! INSPIRING :)

Mayor Bloomberg greets the campers of Camp Simcha girls' cancer session before they march the "March of Hope" across the Brooklyn Bridge.
If you are inspired, please comment!

Wednesday, August 25, 2010


Last night I went to curves with a friend, completing our three free trial
Tuesdays promotion. As we were working out, the woman who works there started to show us how to utilize each machine and maximize our workout. She showed me which muscles to flex when and how to get the most out of each 30 second interval. She really improved my workout and made me think about joining!
Of course after we were done, she gave us her pitch.
21 days in their sample fitness trial means you have to commit to 3 days per week. They weigh, measure and train you. If you compete the trial, you get an additional 7 days to workout at Curves for free. All this for $20! And we are perfect because we have SO MUCH energy! We should just tell our husbands that it's our 40 minutes and leave everything! When we get home we will have more energy to clean up anyway because working out gives you energy of course!
The irony in the program is that the flyer asks for "volunteers" to be in their trial...! And then they charge you $20! Admittedly, $20 is a good price for 21 to 28 days at a gym. But do me a favor, call us participants, not volunteers!
Well this offer is only good for the month of September in my specific Curves location. Unfortunately, I have so many Jewish holidays coming up in September that getting to the gym would be really difficult! Even if I have free time, I will have to spend it for those holidays!
...or doing bedtime,
...or cooking dinner,
...or doing more laundry,
...or maybe even cleaning!
Don't fret, they open at 5am! ARE YOU CRAZY? And unfortunately they are only open until 8:15pm.
How will I ever get to Curves?!?!?!?!

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Umbrella girlies

My 2 Mary Poppins girls sing "Let's Go Fly a Kite."

Monday, August 16, 2010

The Man With the Truck

If you said the man with the truck to me 3 years ago, I would be asking you which man with which truck?
But now that I have school-aged children I know exactly who you mean, where he is and when he comes. You see, there is a man who has made a pretty interesting business as a traveling salesman (Death of a Salesman Memories?). He comes with a truck and unloads his wares. He stocks lots of basic goods at closeout prices including $2 ties, $14 uniform skirts, $10 modest robes, $12 long skirts, $1.50 headbands, Hanes underwear, t-shirts, pants, socks, and more!
He finds a local parking lot of a synagogue or hall and sets out his goods. He has been coming to my town now every Thursday as parents frantically do their last minute school shopping. He doesn't always have what you want, but will gladly bring it the next week.
I had visited the man with the truck in Queens once and was pretty successful-- though at that price you almost can't go wrong. Now that I moved to Clifton, I discovered he comes here too and he is cheaper than the local stores. Friends who live near his "store" tell me when he is there so I can get whatever I need. The problem is that he is only open until 8pm, which is a little too early for me.
Bottom line is that the Man With the Truck is a staple in my community. You might see me there this week (and possibly the next one too!).

Friday, August 13, 2010

Letter To My Bored Coworkers

I work in an environment where much of our work is seasonal. The workload waxes and wanes and the summer is pretty much DEAD. I work "Dinner Season" which is my fundraising event equivalent of the accountant's "busy season."
But today I sit here with not much to do, browsing and making work for myself. I am researching, preparing lists, and looking ahead for our next strategic fund raising moves. And when I decide to slack off, I surf the web, twitter, facebook and write new blog posts (quietly).
The other side of the office is not quite as resourceful. The boss is away and the mice will play. It is too loud in here and too frivolous for me. This is still an office, a workplace. There are other people with deadlines and work to do. Try to use your phone rather than screaming to one another across the cubicle walls. Please, try to talk about something meaningful!
I sincerely hope I haven't insulted anyone, but I believe there should be a certain decorum at work.
Thanks in advance!

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

My Quest to Find the Best Sippy Cup: Results

This morning I ran out to buy sippy cups. My 14 month old son is now using them exclusively and we only owned 3 for him. 1 leaked terribly when he discovered he could squeeze the top and spill milk. The other two were pretty good but we misplaced one of course. I had purposely bought 3 different designs to test them out on him. I also wanted to determine if they were easy to keep clean and wash since so many have valves that are hard to reach with a normal bottle brush. I have been known to use toothpicks and q-tips to clean them. And then they get too gross to ever clean again and I throw them out.

So, here are the results of my tests, from not bad to better to best:

Not bad: This cup is good for transition stage from bottles, around 1 year to 14 months, because the silicone nipple is really pliable, easily washable, and it comes with a cover too (which I of course misplace the first time I use it outside the house). It also had two handles coming from the cover that make it easy for baby to hold. Unfortunately, baby has learned to squeeze the milk out of the nipple. Also, the nipple spins as you seal the cap so that it isn't always positioned in between the handles. I have since mastered the skill of screwing the cap on and getting the nipple centered!
Pampers Natural Stages Airwave Venting System, Stage 4, Twin Pack, Pink/Blue, 7 Ounces

Better: Gerber Nuk cup has a soft nipple spout that is durable and still bends. The cup has a nuk valve which is better than playtex valves, which are hard to clean. Nuk valves are short and easy to reach with the small side of a basic bottle brush. The only down side I found to this cup is that the handles are positioned at the base of the cup so I can't throw it into the side pocket of my diaper bag or place it in the stroller or high chair cup holder because the base is too wide.
Best: Gerber makes the same cup only slightly larger and with handles at the top! This is it, the winner! I bought 2 more today and I am happy to use these!
This post may be completely irrelevant to you (sorry), or may actually help you choose your favorite sippy cup!

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Quiet Shabbos??

This weekend I had originally made plans to have some friends over- a family of 11 who had most of the kids away and was going to come with just 4 of them. Unfortunately, 2 more ended up home for the weekend, at which point we could no longer have them comfortably.
This was when I decided to make it a quiet Shabbos. I decided to go easy on the cooking and get some rest.
Well, "the best laid plans of mice and men often go astray."
It was really my fault because I was hungry while I was preparing. I made:
  • challah
  • chicken soup
  • chicken with stuffing!
  • meatballs
  • rice (to go with the meatballs)
  • chulent (served with turkey breast cold cuts)
  • colloci (cauliflower/broccoli) kugel
  • chocolate chip sticks
All this for 4 people (2 prefer to eat cereal and milk or yogurt).
So now I basically cooked a ton, ate a ton, and slept a ton.
Luckily, I like leftovers for lunch during the week.
Next time I plan a quiet Shabbos, remind me to eat before I cook!

Friday, August 6, 2010

Miss independent

My second daughter is super independent and extremely resourceful. But she is only 3. Sometimes her independence can wreak havoc. No matter what the situation is and what she might have done, she always has good intentions.
Example 1: one time when she was toilet training at age 2, we were eating lunch with friends on Shabbos/sabbath morning. All of a sudden she comes running over to me holding soaking wet undies. At first I assume she had an accident but the underwear was just too wet! I ran into the bathroom only to find she made and tried to flush it but dropped her underwear into the toilet instead! OY VEY.
Example 2: she always wants to help me with the baby to give him his sippy and help him in the morning. But she cant reach the crib so she usually just throws the cup at him, barely missing some body part or another.
Example 3: she wanted to serve the yogurt at breakfast so she went to the fridge to get the container and carry it to the table. Well the cover was slightly damaged (not her fault) but when she grabbed it by said cover, it spilled ALL OVER the kitchen!

I continue to let her "help" because I think it is a valuable lesson and I would never discourage helping. In the meantime I try to emphasize being CAREFUL since she could be a real help when she is. So i give her specific jobs i trust her with. For example, she's our official garbage bag replacement system. She has been going into the cabinet, opening the bag, and placing it in the bin since age 2. And she loves to wash veggies- something I don't think she can really mess up with.
So, I'll take the occasional mess for a helpful attentive child. Hopefully she'll learn to be a little more careful. For her sake. And mine.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Sufferin' in Suffern

I took the express train to Suffern!
Not on purpose.
For the second time in my life!
My husband has asked me, "Why are you so organized in your life, but when it comes to trains and commuting, you are a mess?"
Good Question.
Suffern is far- the train ride is about 25 minutes to get there and the return train came a half hour after I arrived in Suffern and that second ride is another half an hour.
I was so proud that I would be coming home early! My trip ended up being over 2 hours door to door.
And I was traveling with a friend! You see, we both messed up. We were distracted, talking. The train arrived and we hopped on. Two trains come on the SAME TRACK within 2 minutes of each other. The doors closed and the announcement came, "Express train. Express to Suffern."
Why don't they make the announcement BEFORE the doors close?
We run for the door but it is too late.
I can't believe I did that (again).

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

♫ One shoe on and one shoe off...♫

Growing up we always had a song or more like a cheer that went, "One shoe on and one shoe off, that's how Estee went to bed..."
Today I would sing "One shoe on and one shoe off, that's how Estee boarded the train..."
I kid you not. Here I am gunning for the 4:52 train (yes, I left 10 min early) and the train is announced on track 11. The furthest track of course. I get down with time to spare but the train is only 1/4 on the platform and of course I need to run the entire track to reach the open car doors. And as I run I can see briefcases and arms flying and hear the grunts of those running and the measured pitter patter of flip flops behind me.
I keep up my pace in line and head to the first car.
And then everything slows when the lady behind me steps on my heel and my shoe lands on the platform. Barely a sorry and she's back to the chase. The stampede continues with no room to squeeze by the other eager commuters. No room to retrieve my shoe. For a moment I feel like Cindarella escaping the ball, leaving my shoe behind.
My shoe just sits there on the narrow strip of the platform and not one person stops to wonder why or to help the barefooted.
I resign myself to the fact that I might miss this train. And I wait for the coast to clear and pick up my shoe.
Luckily, I made it to the train with both shoes on and happily stroll along as if nothing even happened.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Camp Simcha

Ok, I am slightly biased because I work here but this truly inspired and amazed me! Almost brought me to tears to see how amazingly strong our cancer campers are!

My husband is running the NYC marathon to raise funds for Chai Lifeline and camp as part of Team Lifeline. If you were inspired and want to sponsor these amazing children, click here to sponsor his run!
Thanks :)

Wednesday, July 28, 2010


Last night found me on a packed train going home. There was this lady on the train sitting in a tight handicapped seat-the kind that folds down off the wall. She was loudly complaining to the guy next to him saying "would you stay on YOUR side of the line and don't touch me with your sweaty body and shake your smelly hair all over me!"
I promise you this was a grown woman. I was wondering what kind of day she had at work to bring her attitude to the train. She was so loud that she was not embarrassing the infractor aka smelly sweaty hair guy but rather herself.
Contrast this with my experience in the next car (I moved up to avoid commutophobic lady).
I was standing after the long day and a huge guy who must have been 6 foot 4 offered me his seat. It was squishy so I said "no it's ok." He got up anyway and I felt bad so I told him it's a 3 seater and we can both sit. So now there were 3 of us and I was sandwiched between 2 big guys. I told them about the lady in the car behind us.
We all laughed and joked that we were crossing the line and should not take a seat when we need deodorant.
The 6'4" guy said maybe commuting is not for the faint of heart and that woman should reconsider her method of commuting!
Bottom line--I had a squishy but pleasant--ride.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Bathroom shops

We have been talking about building a master bathroom in my house and a new bathroom that will be the main bathroom for the hallway. We currently have only 1 full bath on the 2nd floor and a full bath downstairs on the main level.
We have had several estimates, designs, and ideas. My kids have met several new people who have come to take a look.
The other day we were at my in-laws and my three year old daughter Kayla had to go to the bathroom. I told her she could choose from 1 of the 3 bathrooms (they have 2 1/2 baths).

Kayla looked at me with a calculated face and said, "they have three bathrooms but our house only has two. That's why we needa get a new bathroom."

It was so adorably cute especially if you know her and she made it sound so simple! It's not like I just buy it from the shop and plop it into place. Wait till she discovers what it entails.
If only it could be that easy! I'm excited but having nightmares about picking out the detailing and designing it!
Wish me luck :)

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Neat freak wannabe

I wish I was a neat freak because then I would be able to maintain the cleanliness of my house happily. Instead I abhor chores and avoid them and do as much as I can calmly. Eventually it overcomes my efforts and the housework comes crashing down.
And that is when I freak. I get annoyed irritated and upset easily when my house is a wreck. I feel out of control and it affects my mood.
This is NOT a good character trait! I wish I was a neat freak and could actually stay on top of it all!
I scheduled the cleaning lady for this coming Tuesday. Hopefully she will restore my sanity.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Entitlement and Kids

The twitter topic of the day was whether our kids learn entitlement when we give them whatever they want. Or more simply put, how do we teach kids not to expect materialism and not to assume it is all affordable and coming to them?
Spoiling kids is easy to do. We all want our kids to have nice things and feel good about what they have. On the other hand, if everything is handed to them on a silver platter, how will they learn to work for their money and be thankful for what they have?
I don't have the answer to this but I do have some thoughts that might shed some light on the matter.
1. Don't deprive your kids. Your kids should have a positive feeling about what they have. Always wanting is just as bad for your kids and builds resentment and frustration.
2. You don't have to keep up with the Jones' but you should live somewhere where your material level is average. Your kids should not resent you or your career an hard-work because they can't have "x."
3. Teach your kids about earning and spending. Even if you have enough $ to give unlimited, don't. Set up a system for earning and spending so they learn the value of money. Teach them about saving up for larger gains later on.
4. Tell your kids about shopping deals and lead by example. The most wealthy people still spend (or invest) wisely. Explain when a purchase is not a good deal and how to find that bargain.
5. Don't chase after physical things. You can't take it with you. If you model this behavior your kids will learn it too.
Please add your thoughts and comments here!

Gaza Mall

I have been hearing a lot of jokes about the new Gaza Mall that just opened. I am usually not political especially on this blog, which is more about family and kids... But, I thought this was pretty funny...
Here is a quote from YNET News:
"Gaza Mall, the first ever shopping center in the Strip was opened last Saturday with masses storming the new attraction. The two-floor compound..."
Even their new mall is called a "COMPOUND!"
To view the full article, click here.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010


Shoes, glorious shoes!
It's that time! My little pipsqueak is walking at 13 months and we need to buy him shoes. It is an exciting moment, yet daunting as well. Now he wears 2 of the most expensive products out there for kids: diapers AND shoes!
This is only the beginning. Shoe purchasing never ends, though thankfully the diapers do sooner or later. He will need new shoes every 3-4 months!
I have 3 shoe-wearing, money-laundering, foot-growing monsters...
When do I get to treat MYSELF to a new pair of shoes?!?

Monday, July 19, 2010

Blogging again

I am back at least or now. I tried blogging before but work made me quit.
I think it is nice to keep a personal journal, keep friends and family involved and informed in everyday life- especially if the live far away, and to educate and build a community.
So my blog is back. Hopefully with my new social media iPhone app I'll send updates more easily. Most will come when I am on the run since that is the only real time I have to think anyway.
So here goes. Happy reading!

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Blogging Impediments

I'd love to keep a blog as sort of an online journal or a diary. I have never been a diary keeper, so this is hard for me to write constantly. Here are the true impediments to keeping an active updated blog:
1. I think of things to post or share at the weirdest moments. Often, I don't have time to type them up. For example, I am feeding my kids dinner... I can't (or won't!) stop to blog it and later I can't remember whatever it was. But my real-time moments are more important than the blog. I don't want to live in its shadow and miss watching my kids grow up! (Anyone see that blogger on House a few weeks back?)
2. Sometimes 140 characters is enough and simply easier. Hence the tweeting consistently :)
3. I am secretly scared that my blog will get so many comments that I won't have time to respond to all the readers! A blog needs to be a real dialog and not just my diary.
4. I work full-time! My best time to post is while I am commuting but I haven't decided to invest in an iphone app yet to blog. It's a catch-22. My blog can't grow unless I pay for a blogging app, but I don't want to pay for an app when my blog is not active enough. Plus, aside from paying, the apps are so fickle that I need to decide to invest in the $10 app that will actually work. Is it worth it?
So, I will try to continue blogging at my own pace and might not make it to virtual fame and advertising glory.
I'm happy with my diary for now. Just wish I could add more!
Hope you take it for what it is and enjoy anyway.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010


The latest social media trend is Google's new Buzz. I am probably a week late with this post, but I needed some time to test-run the new platform. I will not mention the ongoing lawsuits and privacy issues Google is now struggling with... (ok, maybe I will mention it... but that is not the point of this post!)

The advantage of social media is getting the word out. We spread our knowledge, comments, experiences, and information in a new public way across many platforms. We are able to post in one place, and the info is spread to Twitter followers, our blog, Facebook (#fb), and now Buzz...

One of the advantages of Twitter is that is had taught us to say more with fewer words-- and shorter words too! We only have 140 characters. But Buzz allows more, and it allows commenting in threads similar to our email inboxes.

So Buzz gives me another place to spread my idiocy online. It will pull all the random places I already profess my intelligence into one place for my friends. With Buzz, I can link my twitter, blogger, picasa, etc. accounts and all the updates will show to all my followers. Followers are made up of people I email with my gmail account. Or at least it begins that way. I can then connect with others by following their contacts in a way very similar to twitter and facebook.

So if my friends aren't already following me on Twitter or facebook, they can catch up with me on buzz-- I will most likely be saying the same things! The advantage is for me whose friends don't have the time commitment for twitter, but will post something quickly when checking their gmail. It's also a good way to connect to people that I may not be in touch with via email, but my friends are! It's a no commitment way to contact and hear from them.

A few other quick Buzz thoughts:

  • It's extraneous but pretty user friendly in the world of social media.
  • Buzz is what wave should have been.
  • You can choose to follow only your friends or you can look at it as an opportunity to expand your social media reach.
  • Buzzes can get confused with emails. Be careful not to reply to an email via Buzz and publicize everything that should have been private correspondence!

And lastly, if you have gmail, you have no choice but to learn Buzz. Don't worry, though- it is user friendly and you will most probably like it!

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Communication drives all relationships

Lately I have been pondering the concept of effective communication.

Many factors triggered this train of through including my personal experiences at home and with friends, my Twitter community, and my work environment.

Since I have hence revealed my true desire to consult, I figured I'd give

you a taste of my take on communication, specifically within the office environment.

So here are my insights and tips:

• Communication drives all relationships. The more you talk and share, the more you get to know about another person (or organization). We know this is true in marriage, and it is true in the office as well. Sharing and listening (information, planning, strategies, cross-departmental information) leads to understanding.

• You can share in many ways within your comfort zone. You may do so via email, phone, or in person, but the main point is to share with others to include them and empower them. Often it pays to stretch beyond your comfort zone to talk to people who share your goals and the mission of your company/organization. This will create a bond between you that will only improve the functioning of your office (assuming they are normal, stable people with whom you are communicating).

• Means of sharing include but are not limited to:

• Face to face discussion: uses tone, word choice, and body language to impart ideas, feelings and thoughts.

• Emails: always be careful with tone here because an innocent statement can seem accusatory. This is simplest in the work environment to pass on information and make plans and day to day communication.

• Blogs, Twitter, Facebook and other social media: This may not be as direct but they certainly reveal a lot about who you are and what you care about! Careful what you say; a lot of people are listening to you!

• Memos are an effective way to publicize new policies, processes, and systems. Memos should be used to keep employees in the loop when there are changes or new initiatives being implemented. Most workplaces are plagued by a lack of communication. So much can be improved by letting people know what changes have been made and what upcoming events and programs are scheduled. This also empowers employees at all levels as they are kept informed and feel valued.

• Communication practices at the employee level are specifically related to management's capacity to communicate. This is important for managers to realize because the tone will be set from the top down. If lines of communication are open from management to employees, they will foster an open environment that will ultimately create openness and closeness among employees, as well as open communication from employees back to management. Think about it like a parent/child relationship. If mom repects and speaks to child with openness and care, the child is likely to feel that and respond in kind. If trouble arises the mom can capitalize on the relationship she has created because her child will feel comfortable opening the lines of communication in return to share and discuss any issues.

There are so many ways to communicate and it is a shame that people don’t utilize the many methods available to them. The benefits of opening the lines of communication outweigh the effort it takes to share and listen. So if you take one lesson away from this post, it is to value others and respect them by valuing open communication.

Monday, February 1, 2010

IMG_5279 (1 photo), by Jeremy Lavitt

I'd like to share my Snapfish photos with you. Once you have checked out my photos you can order prints and upload your own photos to share.
Click here to view photos

Thursday, January 21, 2010

December 9th? Bosses? Consulting?

Has my last post really been on Dec 9th? Every time I think about blogging I have too much going on in my busy life to write anything! So, here I am finally coming back to the blog and saying hello to my long lost friends-- all 3 of my followers! At least I am not a loser on Twitter, where I have 377 followers- pretty respectable though I am sure 10% of which are bots.
Anyway, TADA-- here I am.
Work has quieted down because my boss was away. Of course today he is back but busy with meetings. I have too much to review with him after the whole week and I know it will all have to wait until Monday. Classic.
When I want to get something done, it takes me a week to talk to him... but when he needs something from me, he wants immediate response and completion.
How do I get to be a boss? Or better yet, my own boss?
My friend and I have a dream of opening up a consulting company to consult to nonprofits on communications, marketing, program evaluation, management and strategic planning. We decided that there is no way to accomplish this while we have full-time jobs... mostly because our bosses determine our timelines and deadlines... and until we can decide when we want to come and go and when we can work, there is no way to get this off the ground... aside from the major issue of FUNDING.
We need money to get the ball rolling.
So for now, we are both content with our paychecks and bosses. Hopefully, we will join the ranks of the consultants soon.
Then I will be a boss... and my own boss at the same time!

Come again!