Sunday, December 26, 2010


I am so blessed to have two grandmothers.
One lives close enough that we see her on a regular basis.
She's totally in love with Solomon.
I'm totally in love with the fact that my children know their great-grandmother and that she knows them.
She's seen 95 years so far.
Solly has barely seen 3 weeks.
What a great pair.

Saturday, December 25, 2010


A first important milestone.

Everyone talks about that "baby smell." Did you just give him a bath? That's a regular question. Actually, he didn't have a bath until this weekend.

Dignity is overrated - he had a full audience:
Bubbie had the honor of the washing. She's the bath expert. He was remarkably calm once he got into the warm water. Reminded him of his past...
And then snuggled up in a towel...

A delicious calm settled over the baby...
Each milestone is still a milestone - no matter how small. First bath is just a part of it, isn't it?

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Baby Brother Love

This is what's been going on around here.
A lot of sitting around and looking at their little brother.
Telling him stories...about Sammy & Solly.
There's so much more where this came from...

I love that they love him so much.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

It's a Boy!

Last Tuesday, our new son was born, quickly.
Even though I was waiting and waiting, when the time came, he didn't hesitate.
He just came exactly when he wanted to.

Everyone was incredibly happy to meet him, especially his big sister, who for the last few weeks has been saying, "I want a brother."
Sam was ready to share his lovey (Blue Bear) right away, although since this picture, he hasn't relinquished it again.
The biggest brother loves to hold the littlest one, and he has the rocking motion down pat.
There are four children in our family now...and it's noisy and chaotic and crazy and fun.
Solomon Levi is his name.
It's a big name for such a little person, but I think he will grow into it.
Our little Solly.
I can't wait to get to know him better.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Party of 6

Shabbat Shalom from our Party of 6...
We will welcome our new son into the covenant on Tuesday morning.
More blogging to follow...

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Monday, December 6, 2010

Sledding with Big Brother

It might have been cold outside but my heart was warm as I watched him take her sledding.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Picaboo vs. Shutterfly Photobooks

I've waxed poetic before about my Shutterfly photo books. And anyone who hangs out with me in real life knows how much fun I have lining up the photo books on the shelf in my house - I love to make these little gems of family memory. My kids love to read them, to page through their history. We're currently obsessed with the ones that contain the pictures of their births...for some obvious reasons.

But recently, I bought a Groupon for Picaboo, another photo-book service. I figured it was a good deal and I'd try it out. Truthfully, I didn't read the small print, which said "not valid with other offers" and so I stayed up really late to get my book done in order to take advantage of a Cyber Monday 40% off coupon...and then couldn't use it. But the Groupon was quite a good deal, so it's all okay.

But here I am to write a completely unsolicited review comparing my experiences with the two products. Mostly because I can't quite decide which one I like better! Both really give me a wonderful finished piece.
Yael, enjoying a photobook
Shutterfly: I am very familiar with their software, which is all online. It's really an improvement over earlier iterations of the process, with their new Storyboard feature being one of the best parts. I've always been a tiny bit frustrated by some of the limitations of their layouts, but I always thought it was a small price to pay for the ease of use that their system offers. There are also limited backgrounds and font options, sizes, etc. Recently they introduced full-photo covers, which are gorgeous. Oddly enough, the backs of the books are less customizable than I'd like, but the fronts never seem to be a problem. The "title page" of each book is also set to a specific number of layouts, which seems a little strange to me. The spine of the book can now be printed with words, which is wonderful. Each book is now identified by its dates, and I love that. The paper weight is heavy, the print quality is great. Shutterfly allows for amazing stackable coupons, which is another benefit. I never pay for shipping, and I always wait until they are running some kind of sale. (Actually, I bought a Shutterfly Groupon once too!) Production and shipping usually seem to take quite some time - usually it's almost 2 weeks from the time I click "order" until I have the book in hand.

Picaboo: You have to use their downloadable software. This is good and bad - I can only work on my one computer, instead of wherever I have internet access (like my work computer, for example), but the stuff is locally saved, which is also nice. Their software took me a little while to get used to, but once I realized its potential, I was so excited for the unlimited customizable effects I could make. I could do almost anything I wanted with the photos. There's no formal way to "crop" a picture, but I figured out that I could zoom and move them to get what I wanted. Borders, no borders, shading, no shading, and more - there were seemingly unlimited options, as well as fonts and sizes of typeface. I could also rotate pictures and captions at any angle, which is really great. The covers, both front and back, were fully customizable as well, and so was the "title page." You can't add text to the spine of the book, which seemed like a huge negative to me, since I so recently acquired this feature in Shuttefly and I've become accustomed to it! I spent a lot of time trying to figure out how to do it before realizing that it's just not possible. The most amazing thing? I ordered my book late Monday night and received it on Saturday. That was pretty remarkable. The book is really beautiful, even though I might have gone a little overboard in testing out all the backgrounds and fonts and things! I do think the paper weight from my Picaboo book is lighter than the Shutterfly book, even though my husband disagrees with me.

Bottom line? Both are great. Pricing is really similar, there are different options of book sizes and formats from one company to the other. It seems incredibly trivial, but the spine text is important to me and I can't quite decide if it outweighs the customizable layouts. I'll have to wait and see if I use one or the other more regularly, I have money left on my Groupon purchase on Picaboo, so my next book will probably come from them too.

Here's another comparison review of the two companies.

Do you make photobooks? Which service do you use? If not, how do you keep your family records? 

Full disclosure: I bought all my own photobooks, I didn't receive anything to write this review and I asn't asked to write it.

Friday, December 3, 2010

Readiness: The First Parenting Lesson

39 weeks and a little of my office
This was the status I posted on Facebook yesterday:

And many people responded to me with various "tried and true" methods for bringing on labor. One of which was wasabi on toast....

But that isn't exactly what I was hoping for. I don't really know what I'm hoping for.

About a month ago, I wrote this post, in which I said (weird to be quoting yourself, isn't it?)

Nope. I'm not ready cuz the baby's not ready. When the baby's ready, I'll know...that will be called labor. Until then, I'm here and enjoying every minute of this pregnancy.

And it's still true, I still agree with myself.

I think that the most wonderful Jewish wisdom and tradition is not to say "mazel tov" to a pregnant woman, but instead to say "b'sha'ah tova" - not to say "congratulations" but instead to wish her a "good hour." May the baby come when it's good and ready.

Which is really defined as the first lesson in parenting that we as parents receive. Our lack of control over every aspect and element of pregnancy translates exponentially into the lack of control we eventually have over many aspects of our children's personalities, physical traits, skills and abilities. Aside from the usual "man plans, God laughs" idea of it all, there is a deep lesson in this for us to learn to "let go" and figure out what's really important and worth stressing over.

From the very very very beginning.

So the bottom line is? Just because I am ready to have the baby, just because I have all my ducks lined up in neat, pretty, smiley little rows, doesn't mean that the baby is ready. I always say that children walk when they're ready, children talk when they're ready...and they emerge into the world at their time of readiness as well.

I just need to remember it and live it.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Chanukah Giveaway Winners

Winner of the Oh Nuts giveaway is Jessica of The Gaggle Photography!

Winner of the Eight Winter Nights book giveaway is The Angel Forever!

Please look at your email for more information - thanks for playing!!!

Sour Cream vs Applesauce: A Chanukah Debate

 Chanukah begins tonight! Are you ready???
Last chance for my two Chanukah giveaways today: Oh Nuts and Eight Winter Nights!

There is an eternal debate on Chanukah. I'm sure you're thinking, "candle lighting from left to right or right to left?" or "do we add a candle each night or take one away instead?" or even "how do you spell Chanukah?" but you would be wrong.

The big debate on Chanukah, perhaps the most important decision one can make in the month of Kislev, is this: Applesauce or Sour Cream?

And I'm here today to tell you why Sour Cream is the ultimate in latke topping.

Judith slaying Holofornes,
Painting by Cristoforo Allori
Maybe not the most appetizing illustration?

Let me tell you a little story about how dairy foods came to be a part of the Chanukah celebration. There once was a Jewish lass named Judith. During an Assyrian siege of her village (as part of the war that is remembered through the Chanukah celebration), she charmed her way into the enemy camp with a basket of cheese and wine. The enemy general, Holofernes, ate of the cheese and drank of the wine until he was unable to stay awake. The sweet lass Judith then took his sword and beheaded the muddled man. She brought his head back to her people in a basket and saved her town.

In her honor, then, dairy foods are consumed. What better choice than to top latkes, the perfect Chanukah treat, with sour cream, the perfect Chanukah remembrance?

Now, aside from the ritual value of the sour cream and the story that it allows us to tell at our dinner tables, there is also the added benefit of calcium (about 2 percent of your recommended daily allowance) and protein (about 1 gram per 2 tablespoon serving). These nutrients enable the latke consumer to create a whole meal around the latkes with no need for any additional protein source at the meal. Why is this beneficial? So the latkes can be the centerpiece of the table, a perfect solution for vegetarians and lighter eaters. No need to add meat to a latke supper, just serve sour cream with your latkes for the perfect combination of vegetable (potato) and protein (sour cream)!

Sour cream never goes out of season (unlike apples) and as long as properly refrigerated, will not spoil for the whole week of Chanukah. It is the perfect cool and creamy match to the salty, oily, crispy taste of a latke. It's a match made in heaven.

For what proves to be a tasty debate, scoot on over to for a rebuttal by an esteemed scholar. Direct link coming soon...