Sunday, August 30, 2009

Differences Between Girls & Boys?

I really wanted to believe that there is no difference between girls and boys.

I offer trucks to my daughter and baby dolls to my sons.

And things seem to be fine.

But the boys never did anything like this:

My favorite high-heeled pumps were missing on Erev Shabbat. I was rushing to get out the door and I knew that the last time they were in my sight was a few days earlier, on Yael's little feet. A purse was slung over her shoulder and she had said "bye! I'm off to work!"

I asked the little girl where the shoes were and she said "I no know!"

No time to look.

Shabbat morning, I have a plan to find the shoes. I take the young lady into the bedrooms and ask her in each one "where are Ima's shoes?"

Nada. Zilch. She thinks it's hilarious.

A brain flash - I open the oven door of the play kitchen.

Neatly guessed it...the shoes.

She starts laughing with glee..."I put shoes in the oven!"

The boys never did anything like this.
I'm not even sure what to make of it.

But I have my shoes back and I'm hiding them from her.
Haveil Havalim is up over here.
P.S. If I'm quiet for a little while it's just my annual pre-High-Holiday-trying-to-take-a-break-from-the-blog-but-instead-using-it-to-procrastinate....

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Winner of Lovable Labels Giveaway

The winner is Heather, from A Mama's Blog!

To order your own labels, go visit - thanks to my friend Debbie for the giveaway!!!!

Become a Fan of Deb's Lovable Labels on Facebook to receive news of specials, offers, etc.

You won't be sorry...I'm off to order some more of the regular ones for labelling stuff for school. I just realized I've run out!

Happy Birthday, Gilad

Tomorrow (on Shabbat) is the 23rd birthday of Gilad Shalit.

How terrible that he has spent his last three years in captivity.

How terrible that Hamas refuses to allow contact with the Red Cross or any independent agency.

As a mother, as a human being, I absolutely cannot fathom what his family must be feeling - but my heart is so heavy for them.

The Twitter community "celebrated" Gilad's birthday on Thursday (because his birthday is on Shabbat) with "Tweet4Shalit" - which broke into the Trending Topics. Perhaps this kind of awareness will help bring Gilad home.

Happy birthday, Gilad.

May your return come speedily and may your next birthday find you at home, surrounded by family and friends.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Back to School Muffins

A while back, I posted my "breakfast menu," which has been somewhat successful in keeping my family from complaining about the breakfast options and also from asking for pancakes every morning. (Except Sam, who is addicted to toaster-waffles and really won't eat anything else these days...)

In order to properly maintain my breakfast menu, I need to have some frozen muffins on hand in case I'm not in the mood to bake right before a Muffin Tuesday!

I baked up 2 batches of these to freeze:

Blueberry Muffins
(Heavily adapted from the Brown Bag Lunch Cookbook)

2 cups whole wheat pastry flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 egg
2/3 cup orange juice
1/2 cup maple syrup
3 tablespoons oil
1 cup blueberries (or strawberries, chopped up, which was the second batch)

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour a muffin tin. (I use the spray with flour.)
In a large bowl, mix the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt.
In a medium bowl, beat the egg. Stir in the juice, syrup and oil. Pour this mixture over the flour mixture. Add the blueberries and mix.

Spoon into the muffin tin and bake for about 20-25 minutes until a wooden toothpick comes out clean. Let cool in the pan for 10 minutes and then cool completely before freezing.

(The original recipe was for a loaf pan - same recipe but baked in a loaf pan for 1 hour. If making a loaf to freeze, I slice and individually wrap each piece, then put together into a large freezer ziptop bag...)

Last chance - comments close on the $20 Lovable Labels giveaway at 8am Thursday!

Also posted as part of Life as Mom's Ultimate Recipe Swap: Make Ahead Meals (because these are great for freezing)

P.S. Go see the Kosher Cooking Carnival - up over here.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Back-To-School Tradition

What kind of traditions do you have for back-to-school?

Here's one of ours...(each one taken the day before school starts)


First Grade:

Second Grade:
Pretty neat to see how he has grown each year...
That's what works for me. What works for you?

Don't forget to click over for a chance to win a $20 gift certificate to Lovable Labels! 
(ends Thursday)

Monday, August 24, 2009

Label it or Lose it? Giveaway!

How many times has your kiddo lost his backpack? His lunchbox? His thermos? His water bottle? His hat?

Oh wait, that's just me.

No it isn't! I know you need to label your kids' stuff just as much as I do...

My friend Debbie is selling Lovable Labels - and they're so darn adorable!

Lovable Labels makes Regular and Slimline Sticker Labels, Iron-on Labels, Shoe Labels and Bag Tags (those really great ones shown above). All of the labels are dishwasher, microwave, washer, dryer and u.v. safe. I really like all the cute little icons that you can choose. PLUS they are so smart - I never quite figured out why to put icons on my kids' labels, but their reasoning is really smart - help your pre-reader identify their stuff. Great idea. I also like the press-n-stick clothing labels - I know they also sell iron-on labels but I am so grateful to skip the ironing.

Their current Back-to-School deal is pretty amazing - there's a ton of stuff available for a pretty reasonable price.

For more information about the back to school mega pack or any of the labels and to place an order check out


Deb is giving away a $20 gift certificate to Lovable Labels to one of my lucky readers!

Here's how you can win the $20 gift certificate to Lovable Labels:
To enter, leave a comment on this post!
Earn an extra entry by tweeting about it. Let me know below in the comments.

Comments will close at 8am Thursday, August 27th.
Don't forget to give me a way to get in touch with you if you win!

***COMMENTS CLOSED: The winner is Heather, from A Mama's Blog
To order your own labels, go visit - thanks to my friend Debbie for the giveaway!!!!

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Is it over already?

It's back to school week.

There, I wrote it.

It's almost more shocking than the fact that it's the month of Elul, the Hebrew month that precedes Rosh HaShanah.

It just snuck up on me.

So, in honor of Back-To-School week, and to give me something to distract myself from the impending craziness, I'll be hosting giveaways all week long!

So come back and visit.

It will take your mind off the fact that the flip-flop season is almost officially over.


See more last-of-summer stuff over at Summer Stock Sundays. And come back all week!

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

The Month of Elul is Here...

(the new month of Elul begins tomorrow, Thursday, August 20th)

as the new moon Elul approaches
the days begin to grow shorter
as the new moon Elul approaches
our minds begin to wander
toward the healing breaths
of the days of awe.

each day dawns
beckoning me to
pay attention
get ready!

my heart moves toward
the days of awe.
am i ready?
have i asked the questions?
forgive me
pardon me
raise me up
renew me
refresh me
bring my soul back home
so that i may fill myself up

plant the seeds of the new year
and watch them grow
small shoots of green that begin to poke up
during this month
they blossom and flower
into the days of awe
and i flower with them
reaching my petals, like a flower,
up to the Holy One.

The Jewish month of Elul, which precedes the High Holy Days, is traditionally a time of renewal and reflection. It offers a chance for spiritual preparation for the Days of Awe. It is traditional to begin one’s preparation for the High Holy Days during this month with the Selichot, the prayers of forgiveness. We look to begin the year with a clean slate, starting anew, refreshed.

It is also customary to recite from Psalm 27:
The Eternal is my light and my help.
One thing I ask of the Eternal, for this I yearn;
To dwell in the House of God all the days of my life,
To behold the beauty of God,
to pray in God’s sanctuary.
O God, hear my voice when I call;
Be gracious to me, and answer.
It is to You that I seek, says my heart.
It is your Presence that I seek, O God.
Hope in God and be strong.
Take courage, hope in the Eternal.

May this month bring hope, holiness, and restoration to us all.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Restful Vacation




We are absolutely blessed to have amazing friends with an incredible house on a lake...and they invited us to join them for a couple of days. Hundreds of pictures later, here are a few of my favorites.

August does seem to be the rabbi-vacation-month, and we were no exception. After this restful trip to North-central Wisconsin, we then took a trip to New York and New Jersey...those pictures are a later post.

Too bad I'm too late to join into either Best Shot Monday or Summer Stock Sunday. Oh well...that's the way the vacation crumbles:-)

Monday, August 10, 2009

Before I was a mom...

Before I was a mom, I imagined what those bedtime conversations would be like.

We would lay together in the dark, a small body snuggled up to mine, in those last few moments as the little one drifted off to sleep.

Quiet breathing, calmness would settle.

My little person would perhaps, sleepily, ask me one of the Big Questions:

Where is God, Ima?
When will I grow up?
What happens when we die?
Why are we here?

And I would begin to answer...and the child would drift off...and I would gently kiss a sleeping child.

That was before I was a mom.

Last night, I lay in bed with my 2 year old, her small body snuggled up to mine, those last few moments before sleep.

Quiet breathing.

And then the Question:

"When I get older, can I have gum?"


Written as part of MamaBlogga's Group Writing Project for August. Click over and join in!

Thursday, August 6, 2009

My Little Tom Sawyer

This morning, I asked David (age 7) to fold napkins.

Ben said: “Hello, Tom, you got to work, hey?”

Sam (age 3) observed the folding.

“Oh come, now, you don’t mean to let on that you like it?”

The brush continued to move.

“Like it? Well, I don’t see why I oughtn’t to like it. Does a boy get a chance to whitewash a fence every day?”

David: Hey, Sam, stop messing with the napkins!

That put the thing in a new light. Ben stopped nibbling his apple. Tom swept his brush daintily back and forth – stepped back to note the effect – added a touch here and there – criticised the effect again – Ben watching every move and getting more and more interested, more and more absorbed. Presently he said:

“Say, Tom, let me whitewash a little.”

Sam: Show me how.

"Oh come, now – lemme, just try. Only just a little – I’d let you, if you was me, Tom.”

David: Okay, here's how you fold the napkins...

The rest, as they say, is history.
Sam folded the napkins.
Tomorrow we whitewash the fences...

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Zucchini is Delicious!

My neighbor has a much bigger garden than mine. Today she came over with this zucchini. (Pardon the quality, it was taken with my Blackberry. The glasses are there for size comparison. It was massive!)
She gently challenged me to make zucchini bread - she would make some and I would make some, and we would compare! (She had another of these giant zucchini with which to work.) Always game for a bake-off, I shredded the whole thing in my Cuisinart:
Um, that's a LOT of grated zucchini! (Turns out, by the way, enough for about 6-8 loaves of zucchini bread)

Super-Yummy Zucchini Bread
* 3 cups all-purpose flour
* 1 teaspoon salt
* 1 teaspoon baking soda
* 1 teaspoon baking powder
* 3 teaspoons ground cinnamon
* 3 eggs
* 1/2 cup vegetable oil
* 1/2 cup unsweetened applesauce
* 1 1/2-2 cups white sugar (depends on how sweet you like things...I think the cinnamon-sugar topping and crust makes it really sweet.)
* 3 teaspoons vanilla extract
* 2 cups grated zucchini
* cinnamon and sugar for topping

1. Grease and cinnamon/sugar two 8 x 4 inch loaf pans. Preheat oven to 325 degrees F.
2. Sift flour, salt, baking powder, soda, and cinnamon together in a bowl.
3. Beat eggs, oil, applesauce, vanilla, and sugar together in a large bowl. Add sifted ingredients to the creamed mixture, and beat well. Stir in zucchini until well combined. Pour batter into prepared pans. Sprinkle cinnamon-sugar on top.
4. Bake for 40 to 60 minutes, or until tester inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool in pan on rack for 20 minutes. Remove bread from pan, and completely cool.

This recipe totally freezes well. I will cut it up, wrap each slice in plastic wrap, put the pieces into a freezer bag, and freeze it. That way we can take out just one slice for a quick home-baked breakfast, snack, or lunchbox treat! If there's any left...

The proof is in the faces!
(Going back to the idea of the bake-off, my neighbor's zucchini bread was mighty tasty too. She made a recipe with sweet potatoes!)

And that's what works for me this week.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

I ♥ Israel...a Tu B'Av Post

Wednesday is Tu B'Av, a relatively unknown "holiday" in the Jewish calendar. Coming fast on the heels of Tisha B'Av (the 9th of Av), Tu B'Av (the 15th of Av) is completely its opposite. It is a Jewish "love" day - young unmarried girls would dance in white dresses and sing in the vineyards of Jerusalem. Less than a week after the mournful day of Tisha B'Av, Tu B'Av offers a respite, a reminder that life goes on, that love goes on, that we must endure and continue to celebrate. It is a chance to be joyous and silly after weeks of preparation for mourning.

Yesterday, my brother made aliyah. This means that he "went up" to the Land of Israel, it means that he accepted his "Right of Return" available to all Jews all over the world, it means that he officially became an Israeli citizen.

He left Monday on a chartered Nefesh b'Nefesh flight and arrived at 6:45am on Tuesday in Israel. If you asked him why he was making aliyah, his basic answer was "I want to be Israeli. I want my kids to be Israeli. I love Israel." I have not always been thrilled with this choice that he's making. I love my brother and I want to have him around. I suppose in so many ways, I have been selfishly wanting to keep him here, to have him be a constant presence in the lives of my children and my family. But I have watched his determination in the last few weeks that he's spent here in the US with us, and I watched him kiss the ground when he got off the plane (thank you NBN's webcast!) and I cried tears of joy for him.

Some pictures that I grabbed from the NBN webcast. I wish I could have been there to celebrate with him. (captions below pictures)

Getting off the plane.

Kissing the ground (he and 2 friends did this - I actually saw less people do this than I thought. I would totally kiss the ground. Good job, Harry!)

Getting off the bus at the terminal

Waiting for the ceremony to start.

Many dignitaries spoke, including the Prime Minister. No matter what your political feelings are, it is a pretty remarkable event in this history of the Land and in the history of each of these individual olim (immigrants). What an incredible experience.

My little brother, the aliyahnik. My baby brother, the soldier. Yes, that's right, he's going into the IDF starting in about October. I'm so proud of him that I could burst.

And who knows....maybe someday we'll join him??? Life takes lots of turns and I'm not ever going to rule it out.

So today on Tu B'Av, a love of Israel that blossomed into an amazing, life-changing commitment for my brother and our whole family. May God watch over him and keep him safe, may his journey be blessed, and may he know much happiness and peace.

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Making Mud Puddles and Growing Up

Sam is 3 years old.
While I wouldn't call the threes terrible
I might call them...
He won't be four for four months.
But suddenly,
he's all grown up.

He's suddenly becoming a 
funny and wonderful 
little person 
and I'm so grateful.

P.S. Haveil Havalim (the Jewish Blog Carnival) is up over at Frum Satire.

Saturday, August 1, 2009

How Does Your Garden Grow?

Robin has been at this Summer Stock Sunday thing for a while now but we're having trouble with summer it seems this year here in the Chicagoland area.

Last summer, for the first time, I planted a vegetable garden. This year I added a few pots because it had been so successful and fun. But growing things just don't seem to be growing so well this year. I've heard this from veteran gardeners as well as newbies like myself. update on my growing things:

Here's a cucumber. It's cute, isn't it? There's a few more that are starting to grow but this is the biggest so far.
These will be yellow grape tomatoes when they're done. I hope.
And my pepper plant, which has a few of these pretty things growing on it. I thought they would be a little wider.
Does anyone know what the black stuff is at the joint of the branch of my pepper plant? Just wondering if anyone out there can tell me.

I know that we're coming into August but I was hoping to have some tomatoes to show for it. I do have a bumper crop of mint and basil, so I'll have to make something with all of that. Pesto, anyone? What do you do with a LOT of mint besides um...tea?

See more Summer Stock Photos here.