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."
Come again!