Monday, December 26, 2011

Dec 26

Today I'm off to work, even though it is officially a legal holiday. My car is one of 5 at the train station parking lot.
Yesterday, New York traffic could not have been kinder. I think Jews everywhere appreciated that their Sunday Chanukah parties were on  December 25th.
This is something no one from outside the New York area can comprehend. A trip might actually be only 20 minutes, but you have to account for traffic and triple your expected travel time.
So today is a pleasure! I have a parking spot, the city should be full of tourists and free of commuters. It's the one day a year you can even PARK on the city streets!
Hope everyone else is enjoying Dec 26 as much as I am... even if you don't live in New York!

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Empowered by Technicalities: The Story of My Car

In my home, my husband takes care of all the finances and technicalities of our lives. Loans, plumbing, house or car repairs, insurance, and garbage removal.
Last week, however, we needed to take the car in to be repaired as the rear hatch aka the trunk was leaking after the wiring was installed for a U-haul hitch back in the end of July.
I took off a day from work to run around and scheduled a trip to Toyota to have my car repaired.
And this is how I started to learn all about a lot of things I wish I knew nothing about.
I got the the repair center and was assigned a representative, Bob. No really, his name is Bob. when I told him that the problem was that the car would leak when it rained, Bob informed me that it would take several hours to determine the cause of the leak (which I believed was from the hitch installation). Water testing takes a long time so I would probably have to leave the car there. Of course, just to frustrate me, I was ineligible for a loaner car (still unclear why).
I usually get VERY flustered when things like this go wrong. Here I was stuck in Hackensack at the Toyota repair sop with no ride home, pregnant, and emotional. LUCKILY, I kept it together and waited, figuring we would just have to reschedule the repair.
After about an hour, it was determined that the repair would take several days. Bob said he would try to get me a loaner vehicle for the interim even though it wasn't standard protocol.
They were able to get me a loaner and they gave me the largest car they had, a Venza (a car I secretly wish I owned). The service center staff helped me transfer my 5 car-seats to the Venza and I took off.
Then came the technical work:
First, I had to get documentation of the cause of the leak from Toyota.
After that, I had spoke to my lawyer-aunt to find out how to proceed.
Then, I called the insurance company to find out if this type of damage would be covered and process a claim.
Next, I dealt with Toyota regarding the repairs needed and the details including having the appraiser from the insurance company come to assess the damage.
I also spoke to the insurance company about suing U-haul for the deductible as well as the cost of the repair and made sure I got all the documentation required to do so. I can't wait until that part of this saga is settled.
And finally, I spoke to the bank that finances our car to ensure that we process the insurance payment correctly despite the lien on the vehicle.


The service center (and Bob) was so amazing that the technicians re-ran the wiring, allowing me to keep the hitch by properly installing it without ruining the weather stripping of the trunk. They also took my car to be washed before I come to get it. Because the repair also included replacing the entire car carpet (full of mold and mildew), I anticipate that the car will come back MUCH cleaner than my children left it ;) and in much better shape.

I can't wait to get my minivan back. And in the process I've been empowered and strengthened. (Let's just hope my husband doesn't see this as an opportunity to distribute his responsibilities...)

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Carpool Protocol

Today I got this request from a mom in my carpool: "I think there should be some sort of carpool protocol regarding which mom buckles the children in. Is it the mom in the car (the driver) or the mom whose child is climbing in?"
Apparently, since I am not home at the time of pickup, this mom must help buckle my child in. She is requesting reciprocity when her daughter comes into my car.

A. My 4 1/2 year old is quite capable of getting buckled herself.
B. Does it need to be tit for tat? We each have different needs- I am not home, other moms are. My babysitter has an infant in the house at time of pickup, other moms have older children home.
C. If you just sent your daughter out, I'd make sure she either buckled herself of that I helped her before driving off. Why the need to establish a "protocol?"


Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Aspiring Foodie

For all of these consecutive holidays, I have planned menus, shopped (thanks Jeremy for chipping in there), and cooked. In all my planning, I decided that we need to try some new recipes. So I turned to my twitter and Facebook friends and asked them for tips and ideas. I really got some good ones and experimented with some ingredients I have never before used.
So far, I made Pomegranate Brisket (click for recipe) and Kishka Stuffed Chicken from Joy of Kosher, and I adapted the recipe for a French Roast from Cook Kosher, made @karpoozi123's "Saucy Onion Chicken" that I may post later if I love it, tried and mastered Risotto for the first time off the rice package, and got recommendations for sweet potato pie from a friend on Facebook.
I learned a few things over the past 2 weeks and I am sure I will learn more as the holidays progress:
1. I love being a foodie and learning about recipes. I have been inspired by cooking shows and want to "up my game" to make more sophisticated recipes with flavorful ingredients.
2. I don't have time to be a foodie! I have stressed about how I will pull it all off and how the timing will work. So far, so good! I can't wait for my girls to grow up so they can join me in my kitchen as my sous chefs...
3. My food comes out pretty good, even with some adaptations. I am thankful that I can learn new recipes. Some people I know simply can't.
4. Social media is an amazing resource for tried and true recipes and ideas. There can be flaws... I tweeted for French Roast ideas, and got a response for French Toast! Yes, I know french toast is bread, eggs, milk, and cinnamon! But seriously, some great recipes are shared online. The only flaw is that it requires me to bookmark the sites on my phone and use it (without getting it dirty) in the kitchen. The time-out energy saver feature gets really annoying, but otherwise, it works!
5. If I keep this up, we will gain 10-20 lbs. per year! I do try to stick to healthy recipes and whole wheat pasta and breads...

One day, I hope to prove to myself that I am a foodie and really feel up to the task.
Can't wait to try more recipes!

Friday, September 23, 2011

It's Broken!

Last Tuesday, my daughter Arielle fell from the monkey bars and hurt her arm. As you can tell by the blog post title, it was broken, But we waited 2 days to see if it was healing. It didn't bruise, just remained red and swollen. So we decided to take her to the doctor as a precaution even though she said it was starting to feel better.
Jeremy was not happy that I asked him to go and take off from work. He thought it was a waste of time. I made an appointment at the pediatrician at 4:30. They said they'd send Arielle for an x-ray if necessary. I know now that we should have gone straight to an orthopedist, but at the time the pediatrician seemed like the correct doctor. So by 5pm they were seen at the pediatrician. Then, they went upstairs to the x-ray place and they got the scans which showed she broke her ulna and possibly the radius as well near her wrist. Jeremy then had to go back to the pediatrician who called the hospital and scheduled the orthopedist there to see her and give her a cast. They stopped at the house to get dinner and went on their way. When they got to the hospital, the ER gave her a temporary cast and told them to go see an ortho in the morning!
Luckily, Jeremy was persistent and insisted that the doctor on call try to reach the ortho. After all, we already paid two $20 copays and an ER copay of $50 without the correct treatment! The doctor agreed to call the ortho and locate him. (The pediatrician had supposedly called ahead and he said he was at the hospital.) Finally, the ortho came and gave Arielle a cast from just below the elbow up to her fingers.
Arielle was really well behaved, considering the pain, the effort of the day, and the fact that they only arrived home at 11pm! She even went to school the next day (it was Friday so a 1/2 day).
Arielle was concerned that everyone would be staring at her. But in the end, what really got to her was telling the story over and over again to everyone who asked her "what happened?" (A week later, people are still asking!)
On Sunday we took out all our permanent markers and she carried them around asking her grandparents, cousins, and friends to write on her cast.
Arielle needs some assistance with daily living needs now including dressing, washing, bathing, and sometimes eating. She is able to hold a pencil (though not very well) so she has kept up with classwork and homework.
A week has passed so far. We look forward to getting the okay to have it removed. Our checkup is in 3 weeks.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Back to School Madness

Back to school went off without a hitch. The kids love their teachers, adjusted well and didn't complain or cry at drop off (yes, even the 2 year old!). Wednesday was the practice run with kindergarten orientation and a 3 hour day at first grade. Then, Thursday I had all 3 kids off to their respective schools. I dropped off 2 of them and the 3rd was picked up by her carpool.

On Friday I ran 2 carpool runs- to first grade and to preschool. Kayla, the kindergartener was again picked up by her carpool.

Friday was quite stressful. I was convinced it would be impossible to make 3 carpool runs in one day, a feat I hope to accomplish Tuesday and Wednesday mornings. On Friday, the first grade drop-off line was LONG, to say the least. It took me 10 minutes to get through the lot. The school makes rules to expedite drop-off, but for some reason the parents were not abiding to these rules. For example, all cars are to come from one direction so that no one should be turning left into the lot. The cars trying to make that left not only added to the length of time to get into the lot, but blocked the exit for the cars who needed to turn left after drop-off.

On Wednesday and Thursday, the kids had lined up indoors due to the weather. On Friday they were finally going to be lining up outside. My daughter looked quite confused when I dropped her off as she did not know where to go and I of course directed her to go inside as she did the previous days. I only realized later that she was supposed to line up outside. And then I got emotional.

On my way to do the next pickup (preschool carpool) I was already stressed and late and I felt terrible for making my friend late too.

My only thoughts were:

Today is Monday and you will be happy to hear that I left 5 minutes earlier to the first-grade carpool and it was a breeze! I was in and out in 2 minutes and back on time to pick up carpool # 2. I had plenty of time to do another carpool (the kindergarten run on Tuesdays and Wednesdays) before driving to preschool. Today I restored calmness to my back to school madness and hope that tomorrow proves easy.

I have committed myself to 3 morning carpools and I think (and pray!) they just might work out!

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Raising Feet

My mother in law has a famous saying...
"I didn't raise children, I raised feet!"
Buying shoes is a chore for me, especially because there are no local children's shoe stores.
My beautiful 5 year old Arielle keeps trying to convince me that she has outgrown her shoes and that she NEEDS new ones. According to my not so expert training and unbelievable thumbing skills, she still has room to grow.
Last time we went to get shoes (3 weeks ago), I had to buy my 4 yo Kayla 2 new pairs, sneakers and dressy shoes, because her feet genuinely grew. While we were there, we had them fit the 2 yo Tzvi, who was just growing out of his shoes. We bought him a pair as well so that we would not have to come back to the shoe store again. We had gone to the mall where we parked on the exact opposite side from the stride rite location. We finally reached the store and accomplished by purchasing 3 pairs! Arielle was sized and it was determined that her shoes still fit. Relief for me, disappointment for her!
But not more than two weeks later, she is trying to convince me to get her a new pair anyway!
Am I raising children, or feet?

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Early Adopters: Tzvi and his ABC's

Yesterday I came home from work to be greeted by the following comment from my babysitter:
"Did you know that Tzvi (just turned 2yo in June) knows his ABC's?"
To which I responded: "I know! He sings it so nicely and is so cute when he responds to my pauses with the letters!"
Babysitter: "No, I mean he KNOWS the letters. He is up to 'G.' If you show him all the letters and ask him to point to the 'C' he can find it for you. I am teaching him throughout the day. I know it is possible because my sister taught me when I was little."
Okay, now this is too much!
My 2 year old son (who happens to be be very intelligent and whose language skills are ahead of his developmental age) knows the alphabet!!!!
I have not yet seen his skill in action, but I am anxious to test this out!

Talk about early adopters!

Monday, July 11, 2011

Back from the Big Blog Hiatus

My busy overtime work schedule forced me to take a 3 month hiatus from my blog, but I am back!
I have been enjoying the summer and coming home at a reasonable hour (I worked overtime from the beginning of March through mid-June). I enjoy getting my kids ready for bed, though at times bedtime is stressful and I rely on my husband to help me! When I get home the sun is still out and there is time to cook dinner (I am still getting used to cooking each night).
Here is a list of things I am still adjusting to and relishing now that I have my life back:

  • Going to sleep in the 10's (before 11pm). This is my goal! I LOVE the nights when I accomplish that!
  • Cooking dinner each night (see above).
  • Sundays to lounge around, shop, and complete household projects.
  • Exercise: I am trying to get back into shape for my 2 hours of basketball... Fat chance. Literally.
  • Pajama- and bed-time for the kids! Telling "Mommy Stories" aka stories of Mommy when I was a little girl.
  • Social media time: I can play on Google+, FB, Twitter, and get back to blogging. WHEW! I know you'all missed me :)
  • ... And last but certainly not least: Spending quality time with my husband. Whether we are eating dinner together, accomplishing those daunting household projects, playing with social media, or just chillaxing, it is good to have someone with whom to share these tiny moments.
You really learn to appreciate the small things in life!
Hope you enjoy my latest post and look forward to bringing you more.

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Hot Air Balloon Cake From @Parenting

Today I made a hot air balloon cake that I got off of the Parenting website. I served it for my four year old daughter's birthday. The connection there is that her camp has a fun song that says "our air balloon is set, on a trip you won't forget..." So Kayla was excited to have an air balloon cake.
Here are the EASY instructions to construct this cake:
Step 1: Bake a white cake recipe in a pyrex bowl filled 1/3 of the way and a mini loaf pan. Flip them over when cool and position like this:

Step 2: Frost the cake with any white or colored frosting.
Step 3: Decorate as you want- I threw all sorts of sprinkles, sugars and candies. Use Rice Chex for the basket and licorice strings for the rope. I dropped a small candy on top of the ends of the rope to make it stick.

Serve and enjoy!

Monday, March 14, 2011

Texting and Driving

I  just watched this video commissioned  by AT&T about the perils of texting and driving. It is very powerful and moving and if you were not already aware of the dangers, it should convince you.
Please take a moment and watch:

Make a pledge not to text and drive. Your life isn't worth those few words.

Monday, March 7, 2011

An Ode to the Bread-machine***

Put in the flour, salt, and yeast,
Push the red button to prepare for your feast!

People are coming to eat your bread,
Which you have prepared twelve hours ahead.

The smell lets you know,
There can be no doubt.

The bread must be ready,
You must take it out!

You must use your mittens because of the heat,
Tap out the loaf--process complete!

The guests arrive with obvious lust,
For the bread with soft inside and crispy crust.

You want the last piece, which is your first,
But someone else grabs it--they shall be cursed!

After they leave, you know what to do,
Take out the recipe and start it anew!

In just four hours, your loaf will be done,
You will eat it all up, and share with no one!

***This was written when I was in elementary school with the help of my mother who is really a great poet. I have already posted my bread machine challah recipe. I am thankful for this amazing kitchen tool!

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Birthday Blues

I know a lot of people who hate when their birthday rolls around. Either they dread getting older or they hate the attention of the day. I like birthdays and I enjoy celebrating with friends and family.
This year, however, I felt the birthday blues.
No, I didn't reach the big 3-0 yet... (I am GENUINELY 29 years old).
Actually, My birthday falls out Feb 5, and exactly one week later is what would have been my grandmother's birthday on Feb 12, and then one week later is my sister's birthday on Feb 19. So every year we would all celebrate our birthdays together. As my grandmother aged, we would actually be celebrating her birthday and her milestones, and used her party as an excuse for mine and my sister's (I was OK with that!).
It has been only 3 months since my grandmother passed away and it hit me hard when I could not celebrate with her. My grandmother was just about to turn 60 when I was born and since we were exactly 60 years apart, I always knew how old she was even when she could barely remember. Sometimes I would have to say, "Grandma, you are 88- remember? I know because I am 28!" And then we would laugh about how she could barely remember her name...
The memories are great but the void is greater. I still think I will just pick up the phone and call her when I have a few extra minutes or visit her every time I drive west on route 287. I wanted to plan our celebration of her 89th year just like we have done for the past few birthdays.
I guess the coming year(s) will be full of missed celebrations... birthdays, holidays, graduations, and family get-togethers.
I will certainly use these opportunities to remember Grandma but I know that missing her there will hurt.
My birthday has come and gone and hers will pass without celebration. Time will heal the wounds and I will begin to appreciate the days that remind me of my grandmother's legacy and life.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Bread Machine Whole Wheat Challah

I think this is one of my most popular (and easy!) recipes. My friends always ask me for it and due to popular demand, I am posting it on the blog. You can make it with all white flour if you like- it comes out yummy too!
This recipe is intended for a 2 lb bread-machine on the dough setting. I now have a 2.5 lb machine so I will put those quantities in parentheses after each item.
The ingredients must be added in order:
1 1/4 cups lukewarm water (1 1/2 cups)
1/2 cup honey
1/3 cup oil (1/3 plus 2 Tbl.)
2 eggs
1/2 Tbl. salt
2 1/2 slightly heaping cups bread flour (3 cups)
2 1/2 slightly heaping cups whole wheat flour (3 cups)
Make a dent in the center of the flour with a spoon and add:
1 pkg dry yeast
Put bread machine on dough setting. When it comes out it should look like this. You can let it sit in the machine a little longer if it hasn't fully risen to at least the top of the pan:

Braid it when it is finished and coat with egg and seeds as desired and bake (no need to let it rise again) in preheated 350 degree oven for 38-40 minutes.
Here is the result:


Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Caring Mom: A Blog Recommendation

Ever since I became a mom, I have been a lot more emotional when I read books or watch movies that involve children. I guess it is only natural to build an attachment by understanding the relationship between parent and child. Now when a child is depicted as sick, lost, disturbed, happy, determined, or sad, I relate strongly to the child and the characters. I relate the emotions of the characters to my own experiences, my own children, and my own family. I never thought I would react so strongly but having kids changed my perspective and made me very sensitive.

Lately, I have been following a blog that brings me to tears at each new post. The blog is titled Foster Parenting Adventures: Sharing my journey as a foster mother and clinical psychologist. It details the life of a mom who has 2 biological sons and has taken in a foster child. She chronicles her day-to-day experiences with her young foster daughter, CD, and the slow but strong attachment that has built over the past 6 months between her, her husband, kids and the new addition. The blog details the struggle to adopt CD and the threat of losing her to her (currently absentee) biological parents.

I am not a foster parent nor do I ever really intend to be one. However, I truly commend CD's foster mom for all that she has done so far. Her emotional journey is one to which I can relate simply because I have my own children.

Go ahead, check out the blog. I promise, you will be moved.

Monday, January 3, 2011

Media Management

I don't think I maximize my media outlets because that would require an initial investment that I do half-heartedly then regret that I didn't do well enough.
Case in point #1: iTunes
In order to use iTunes you must first import all your songs- faves, kids' songs, family music, downloads, old and new. But to really enjoy using iTunes you need to categorize them into playlists. Songs to play when you are happy or sad... Road trip music, exercise playlists, gleeky tunes, and any other category I might want to play at any given moment.
I am always too lazy to make the most of what I have on my iPhone in order to enjoy it most.
This is why I like services like Pandora, which organizes the music for me. I can pick their playlists depending on my mood.
Case in point #2: Twitter
Twitter gives me live streams from approximately 600 people I am following. There are people who follow 15,000 so my 600 should be manageable, right? Sort of. I have learned to scan and skip while reading tweets. Unfortunately Twitter has taught me that some people are just clutter!
Introducing Twitter Lists which are a means of filtering twitter streams into any category you want (similar to playlists). I should make lists like "moms," "jewcrew," "techies," "friends" and whatever else I listen to on Twitter. But again, like playlists, I am lazy.
This is where I think Facebook has been successful. Facebook's news fees provides an organic kind of list. I can choose to see more or less from a friend fairly simply. I can see recent posts or most popular (based on comments and "likes." Perfect for me.
Here's to hoping 2011 brings simpler media management or motivates me to actually invest some effort so I can maximize my media.

Come again!