Sunday, May 29, 2011

The Big Fat Jewish Wedding

Jeff and I had the pleasure of attending his cousin Linda's wedding. It was a beautiful weekend filled with family and friends. If you have never been to a traditional Jewish wedding, suffice it to say you can just substitute Jewish for Greek in the context or theme of the movie, My Big Fat Ethnic Wedding.

Same premise, different food.

Linda married the nicest guy, Peter. We love him. He is already part of our loud, crazy, neurotic clan. I feel a special connection to him because his mother is a Holocaust survivor from Austria, just like my own grandparents. You could see her happiness
as she watched the bride and groom, she was kvelling*** all weekend long.

It would not be a Jewish wedding without dancing. The party got started with the most traditional of all dances, Hava Negilah.

I felt obligated to upload this video because the sight and sound speak volumes.

The service was truly beautiful but the reception afterwards was the real party. Everyone was enjoying the sights and sounds within the room, and the tastes were exceptional.

All of this beauty was created to honor the couple on their day.

Linda's cousin is a pastry chef in Tucson and she personally created the cake, drove it cross country and assembled it at the reception.

The cake tasted as good as it looked, and I would know, I ate two pieces.

Lilly was not the only one kvelling***, Bob and Loris, Linda's parents were over the moon too. This is their only daughter, her first wedding at age 50 something, so clearly they waited a long time to celebrate. There is a Jewish custom called the Mezinke Tanz: Dance to honor parents who have married off their last child- this is what it looks like

at the Big Fat Jewish Wedding reception. Underneath all the streamers and crepe paper, Bob and Loris were kvelling*** too!

These magical and miraculous moments courtesy of J-date and The Ungar-Landesman families. Mazel Tov!

Yiddish word of the day:
The overwhelming joy and pride in a moment of sheer bliss.
The Ungar and Landesman families were kvelling during the wedding weekend.

Friday, May 27, 2011

Charlotte's Happy Meal

While some kids are begging their parents to take them to McDonald's for a Happy Meal, my three year old daughter Charlotte, chooses sushi instead. Mr. Sushi is Charlotte's idea of a happy meal, and I could not be happier.

My parental influences are obvious. Some good, some bad, some delicious.

I love this kid. I enjoy spending time with her, and when she asked if Daddy could go to lunch with us, I shrugged my shoulders and said, "Where do you want to go?" Charlotte said, "How bout Mr. Sushi, I love Mr. Sushi!"

At lunchtime they offer a two roll special with miso soup and a salad for $8.95, it is a total mitz-see-ah***! So with that, I called Jeff and suggested an impromptu lunch date.

Here is my daughter, enjoying her Mr. Sushi happy meal.

Doesn't she look happy with the salad, unagi avocado roll, and shrimp tempura roll? She ate 12 pieces of sushi along with the soup and salad. This is what was left on her plate
when she declared she was stuffed.

It is all a matter of perspective. This is what my daughter identifies with lunch. I am just happy with the meal.

Yiddish word of the day:
A bargain, or a good deal.
They marked down the Gucci scarves at Filene's Basement and now they are really a mitz-see-ah.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Parental Common Sense

Lately, the media is paying way too much attention to stories about parents who are outraged at the so called negative influences on their children. For example, there is a group that wants McDonald's to retire Ronald McDonald because they believe he promotes eating unhealthy, and encourages obesity.

While I am all for experimenting with ways to raise healthy, happy, well adjusted kids, there comes a moment, when you have to step back and look at your method to check for common sense. Most of the extreme parenting folks, like the ones who want to retire Ronald McDonald, need a dose of common sense and a shot of personal responsibility.

If as a parent, you do not want to expose your precious spawn to horrible fast food chazzerai**, and if you cannot teach your children about eating in moderation, then do not take them to restaurants that serve the crap in the first place. It is the parents who control what and where their own children eat, so by all means, assert your parental instinct.

In fact, our friend, Barry Klein wrote the following article and he says it all much better than I can. I am cut and pasting an article he recently wrote on this exact topic. Barry Klein is right on the money here.

By Barry Klein

I'm the guy that started it -- the adman (not madman) who created the Ronald McDonald character long ago, and I'm proud of it...even now. Like Tony the Tiger, the Keebler Elves, Cap'n Crunch, the animated M&M's, Snap, Crackle & Pop, and many other such characters, the idea was to develop a spokesperson who would favorably represent the brand in communications, making it more interesting and helping the audience relate. It did not seem to be a dirty deed to sell products on television (or any other medium), even to kids whose parents show their love by buying some of what the kids requested.

It was not too long ago that most parents demonstrated their acceptance of responsibility by refraining from over-indulgence, limiting purchases and the amount of product consumed. A few parents did not, but not nearly so many as in recent years. Negativity about the messages that aired on TV programs for kids was almost non-existent then, except for the commercials that made false claims or showed magnified images of toys and games. The organization "Action for Children's Television" was quite vocal and effective in that area. But most of those people did not call for the elimination of all advertising on children's television shows. Healthy eating was what family meals were all about, and was not necessarily related to what kids saw on TV.

Today we listen to a cacophony of proclamations that television advertising is to blame for many children's problems. What is it that turned the situation around? Is it the ads...or is it the abandonment of parental responsibility? How did it come about that governmental action is necessary to substitute for a parent saying "No" to a child. And when did it become acceptable for the passage of legislation to block businesses from promoting products or services that are completely legitimate? Have the ranks of irresponsible parents grown to the point where they are happy with government taking over the parental role?

In a recent campaign, Ronald McDonald is encouraging kids to visit the website and upload pictures of themselves to be integrated into videos with Ronald. The videos can then be sent to the child's friends and relations to play recorded "Happy Birthday" or other pleasing messages. How can such an innocent, fun and pleasant social activity harm anything? That the mere connection to McDonald's will be harmful to the child simply stretches credibility, and panders to the belief that commercialism of any kind is to be avoided at all costs.

What's next? Banning McDonald's logos from merchandise that raises funds for Olympic athletes and teams? That's commercial, too. Should support for Ronald McDonald House be terminated because it's connected to McDonald's?

Products which are advertised on children's TV – movies, videos, amusement parks, toys, games, cookies, candies, peanut butter and other foods – are all at risk here, even if they do not employ a character as spokesperson. We need to understand that if any of those products are restricted to the point where the commercials have no effect on sales – or are banned completely – there will be no financial support for Kids TV, and that form of entertainment will be taken away all together.

Standing by and allowing restrictive organizations and governments to ban some of our children's pleasures is the same as (maybe the result of) stepping away from parental responsibility. Mom and Dad should be the ones to guide their children's behavior and enjoyment, drawing the lines between pleasure and potential over-indulgence.

No one ever said that raising kids is simple or easy. Making the task simpler or easier by avoiding the responsibilities involved is a cop-out...perhaps even a crime. How many "No-toys-in-kids-meals" laws will it take to make us vote the people who make them out of office? Some local legislative bodies are working on laws that protect legitimate products and categories of products from the passage of these invasive restrictions. Let's support those efforts.

Let our kids be kids, with normal parental supervision, and maybe they will grow up happily, just like us.

Thanks Barry, I really could not have said it better myself!

It all boils down to this- if you don't want your kids watching inappropriate programming on television, do not let your children have unsupervised access to your remote. If you believe fast food is the devil, don't eat fast food. Lastly, remember, Your Kids Are Your Own Fault, as in the aptly titled book by Larry Winget.

With friends like Barry Klein
and Larry Winget, there is a good chance I am surrounding myself with positive parenting role models. It is all really just common sense.

As for the Yiddish word of the day:
Chazzerai (HOZZ-ER-RYE)
Literally, it means Pig Slop, but more commonly it is used to describe junk or crap. "I went to Loehmann's looking for a dress but all they had was a bunch of chazzerai."

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Yiddish Word of the Day

Last week, before the Oy Vey Van bit the dust, Karl, our office postal carrier inquired about my license plate. Karl mentioned that he had heard that term before but did not know the origin or meaning. Jeff offered an explanation, and Karl was hooked. He asked Jeff to teach him a new Yiddish word every day as he came into the office to deliver the mail.

I know, I know, it is all too Cliffy Clavin, but if you met Karl in person you would realize he is just fascinated with all things words and knowledge. Karl is Jeff's student now, and the daily mail delivery has just gotten a bit more interesting.

Jeff types up a word, the phonetic spelling, definition, and a sample sentence on top of the pile of outgoing mail. Everyday, Karl leaves the mail, and takes the new word with him on a piece of copy paper. I am sure he studies these in his spare time, and is saving them in a binder. He is that kind of guy.

From that experience, I got the idea to post a Yiddish word of the day on the blog. For my non Jewish readers this will be a linguistic lesson, and for those who have Yiddish speaking ancestors, it can be a refresher course.

Since I have a tendency to throw Yiddish words into my everyday conversations, this may prove helpful in answering random Jeopardy questions, understanding various dialogue during Curb Your Enthusiasm, or expanding your ability to converse when in Boca Raton.

Here are a few of the words Jeff gave to Karl this week. If you double click on the images you will be able to read them more clearly.

Going forward, I will be adding the Yiddish Word of the day to the bottom of my posts, and Jeff will be able to lift the lesson for his own student. Having Jeff teach Karl Yiddish, is like the blind leading the blind.

Here are three basic words to get the ball rolling. Before Rosh Hashana you will be fluent.

Oy Vey was just the beginning.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Refrigerator Envy Anyone?

Last year, I made sugar cookies at my sister's house and I had a bad case of oven envy. Now, anyone with a gaggle of kids and a passion for couponing, batch cooking and buying in bulk on sale, will have fridge envy at my house.

Up until this morning, we had our side by side in the kitchen, the side by side from Jeff's old condo in the garage next to the big stand up freezer unit. My system for separating CJ's perishables included using the old bachelor pad side by side for all the gluten free stuff and as overflow for milk, yogurt, juice, eggs and butter. Up until this morning, when I discovered that the entire unit had shot craps.

I spent half an hour transferring anything from the freezer side into the giant freezer. I purged the fridge of all non necessary items like waters, sodas, unopened condiments and nuts. I then shuffled all the mandatory fridge items into the house. It was a pain in the ass, but fortunately, I discovered the problem before the food was spoiled.

The white side by side served us well. It was poached from Jeff's bachelor condo as one of the only items I thought we could use and that did not pose a decorating hazard to my health. Because the unit was 12 plus years old, out of warranty and not working, we collectively had to make a decision. Do we call out a repair service for a minimum of $75 just to say hello, discover that it costs more to fix the darn thing than it is actually worth, or do we buy a replacement and say eff you to $500.

The answer to that question can be answered right here. While browsing for a new replacement model, I saw these beauties in the showroom. Ahhhh, maybe someday. I was just dreaming until Jeff gently pryed my grip off of the handles and shuffled me over to the sea of white beasts in our price range. Humpf!

After a trip to the discount, aka scratch and dent department of Appliance Smart, we found a brand new but nicely dinged and dented
stand up refrigerator unit that came with a full manufacturer warranty, delivery, and removal of the old unit. DING DING DING. I made Charlotte pose next to my new luxury item. (notice her fancy pink dress for running errands with Mommie)

Check out the drawers and storage space in this sucker! No pesky wasted space with a lame butter dish either- when the fridge does not have a freezer area, the interior is properly designed to maximize the storage capabilities.

Nothing is sexier than a 20 cubic foot fridge for the garage. When parked next to my stand up freezer, I will be the envy of all my friends and family. What foodie would not covet such a prestigious set up?

To thrill me even more, I got an email from my friend Babette. She read my blog post about buying two Columbus Dispatch Sunday Papers just for the coupon inserts, and she offered to donate hers to my worthy cause. Getting extra coupons is a huge high, and getting them for free is the icing on the buy one get one free cake.

Now all I need is a triple coupon day for yogurt, cheese, eggs, butter and any other perishables. I am still dreaming about those ovens, but in the mean time, I can drool at my own deluxe set up. It is literally, so cool!

Monday, May 23, 2011

The Spring Fling

In celebration of Lag B'Omer at the Chanel School, we took the kids to the Spring Fling. This carnival fundraiser had been my currency with the little ones all week. Every day at kindergarten drop off and pick up I taunted them by showing them the big tent and rides from a far.

By the time Sunday afternoon rolled around, these kids were beyond excited.

Thankfully, the clouds parted, and the rain stopped for just long enough to enjoy this outdoor celebration. The Spring Fling was a rain or shine event, and I was not prepared to waddle through mud and muck for the better part of a Sunday afternoon.

As you can see

it was sunny and bright for the fling. Here is the documented proof that Jeff parented the children during the event. He wore his custom made tee shirt
and trotted round the school with his hands full.

The kids were not tall enough to ride a burlap sack down the FUN SLIDE, so of course, Jeff had to chaperon them on his lap. One at a time. Over and Over again.

I was beginning to think he wished the world had come to an end yesterday. He was a good sport, he climbed up to the top a few too many times, and when he heard the squeals of delight from each of the children, he agreed to go again and again. As much as I sarcastically bitch about him, he is a good daddio.

By the time we schlepped all the kids home, showered, fed, and night time routines all four, we had been flung.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Live Like You Are Dying

Jeff and I decided to spend the day of the rapture as if we were dying. We lived like we were dying not because we thought we were, but rather, because we could.

We chose to be responsible with our last day. Rather than charging our credit cards to the max, making careless decisions and acting like fools, we celebrated a fun filled Saturday in Fort Wayne with Uncle Silvan. Clearly we did not buy all the hype of the rapture because do you really think my dying wish was to see Fort Wayne one last time. I think not.

We slept in, skipped breakfast and rolled those calories into our lunch at La Margaritas. This is our must have food of choice when visiting Silvan. Famous for blue margaritas
and these killer handmade nachos, this place is a great restaurant in a bad neighborhood.

After lunch we headed to Target so I could snatch up some of the clearance sandals by Miss Trish of Capri. I did this last year and the selection in Fort Wayne was stellar. This time they had more in Natalie's size, but I still managed to find a few pairs of these stylish and embellished shoes.

I treated myself to a Venti latte from the Starbucks inside the store. I ordered a grande without the heat protection sleeve but the barrista upsold me into a Venti seeing as how the world was coming to an end in a few hours. I slipped my custom reusable sleeve
onto the cup and we were good to go. BTW, I bought this photo coffee sleeve at Carribou Coffee and I love it. I keep it in my purse and reuse it often to draw attention away from my gas station cheap-a-chinos. Is it tacky to put a Carribou Coffee product on a non Carribou cup?

I was looking for some teacher and graduation gifts so we cruised over to TJ Maxx. Silvan and Jeff hung out and shopped while I did my magic. I spent thirty minutes trying to make something happen and I left without making a single purchase. Jeff joked that the world really must be ending if I walked out empty handed. The sign of Armageddon is when Helene vacates a retail establishment without buying anything.

After exhausting the men folk, we went back to Silvan's bachelor pad for a proper nap. I felt like I had died and gone to heaven, but alas, it was dinner time. We met Uncle Marvin for dinner and I was seated at a table with three nice Jewish men on a Saturday night. Clearly this was my own personal sign of the Armageddon. We all enjoyed a beautiful evening and topped it off with an hour long Skype call to Silvan's dad in Florida.

We waited until 6:00 p.m. Pacific time to be certain we survived the rapture. It was late on a Saturday night in Fort Wayne but it was a party.

I lived to tell you about the day we lived like we were dying.

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Oy Vey on Friday

With Friday the 13th a week behind us, and the pending doom of the end of the world tomorrow, it is fitting that Oy Vey, my 2005 Toyota Sienna, bit the dust today. Oy vey all right.

On the way home from Pre-school graduation, Charlotte and I were in a car accident. Another car came off the highway and blew through the light, lost control, and plowed into the front of the van just a few inches to the right of head on. It was a loud, scary, and freakish moment and thankfully Charlotte and I were only freaked out. Both of us were in our safety belts/booster seats, and both of us, Baruch Hashem walked away uninjured.

The van was not as lucky. I took these photos at the scene, not so much for the blog as for the documentation of how hard we were hit,

and the proof of the damage to the van. I wanted photos for the battle between the insurance companies. I know that these claims are never simple.

Aside from the damage to the van, we would need a new license plate, four booster seats (it is recommended that the safety seats be replaced after a crash) and I made sure I took the images to show our claims adjuster.

As the tow truck arrived, I learned that the other driver was driving on a suspended license and was uninsured. This means that my uninsured motorist coverage will be billed for these items. It also means that I am on the hook for our $500 deductible. Oy vey.

I found it kind of funny that after she calmed down, Charlotte found the silver lining in the whole wreck. She was the only one riding in the van at the time. She got to be in a car accident and the triplets didn't. Sadly, this kind of experience was something she could not wait to tease them about. Nanny nanny boo-boo, I got to meet police, fireman and ambulance guys and yoooouuuuuu didn't. Ahhhh, sibling rivalry. My fellow multiple moms will totally feel me on this one.

The fact that Charlotte and I were unharmed make this all bearable. Perhaps none of this will matter if the world ends tomorrow. But just in case, I have to get a rental vehicle. The clusterfuck never ends. Oy Vey all right.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Curly Girls Have More Fun

Since this blog is a shitty substitute from my lack of scrapbooking, I have been posting photos of the kids to document their lives. I sure hope blogger improves their customer service since my missing post has not been recovered, over a week later. This blog is my kids legacy and memory book among other things.

Charlotte has always had the most beautiful hair.

Her curls have morphed into these long, shiny, ringlets of pure gorgeous locks.

I hesitate to even trim her hair in fear that curls may not come back. It is a known fact that curly girls have more fun.

Now that Charlotte is obsessed with fancy dresses, her appearance is always so girly. I have been scouring the after Easter clearance racks to score more frilly frocks. It does not matter where we are going, Charlotte wants to wear a twirly, layered, party dress. If I don't pay more than $5 for these dresses, I just let her choose one, regardless of where we are going. This explains why she goes to preschool looking like the belle of the ball.
Now, her best friend Pia is demanding to wear party dresses to school too. My little diva trend setter is so fashion aware at age THREE. Yeah, I am so screwed in the future.

Clearly, curly girls have more fun, and Charlotte is proud to be a curly girlie girl.

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