I’m in the midst of two professional book reviews. I’m prepping for an upcoming webinar. I’m in the midst of laying out the Author Spotlight Series on TWT. That’s a lot of I’ms…
I have a manuscript I need to read and a blurb I need to write about a forthcoming professional text. I have a short story to revise for my high school’s literary magazine (which I was invited to be an alumni contributor for). I have a blog series post to write. That’s a lot of I haves…
My neck is achy. It’s been bothering me for nine days. (Well, 22 years, but who’s counting?) There is just no way that I’m having an argument with anyone over dinner tonight. So, tonight is BREAKFAST FOR DINNER!
Most weeks, we eat breakfast for dinner — usually on Thursday nights. But this week, I have more plates spinning than usual so breakfast-for-dinner night is TONIGHT. Who cares if it’s only Tuesday!?!? (Trust me, my children will not care.)
It’s nearly 5 p.m. My work isn’t done. (Does anyone ever really finish with all of their to-dos in a day!?!?) My neck still hurts. But, my oven is preheating and I’m about to put the casserole in the oven. All I have to do is slice some fruit, set the table (Hey, kids! I have a job for you!), get the drinks, and sit down to eat at six.
Yesterday morning, I discovered Isabelle had placed our Mother & Daughter Journal on my night table. I went through the pages she tabbed with sticky notes and discovered she was finally entertaining the idea of getting her ears pierced. (NOTE: As I mentioned last month, the contents of our journal are private. However, since earrings are a public thing, I don’t consider this to be a breach of mother-daughter confidentiality.)
I approached Isabelle about what she wrote while we were coloring in the mid-morning. She seemed interested until I uttered the words my mom told me when I was six years-old, “Even if the first one hurts, you still have to get the second one done.”
And just like that, Isabelle changed her mind.
Throughout the day, we talked about it — with Marc — a few times. She vacillated as many times as we discussed it. Eventually, I told Isabelle, “It’s your body. It’s not my place, or anyone’s place, to force you to do something you aren’t ready to do. However, if you’re going to do it, it needs to be by next weekend since you have to care for the holes for six weeks after you get them pierced and I need the care to be done before you get in a pool on Memorial Day Weekend.”
She said she understood.
She said she wasn’t doing it.
Until she changed her mind again.
And then back again.
Isabelle had a day off from school today so I asked her, “Would you like to go to the mall to take a look at the earrings. Maybe they can show you the gun they use to piece the holes in people’s ears?” I was shocked when she replied affirmatively to my question.
We went to the mall.
She found a pair of earrings she liked (pink crystal flowers with 14K gold posts).
She inspected the equipment.
Finally, once she understood the process, I asked her, “Do you think you want to get your ears pierced today or come back another time?”
In the faintest murmur, I heard an affirmative response. However, I wanted to be sure.
“I didn’t hear what you said. Would you like to get them done while we’re here?”
“Yes,” she replied with a strong voice.
I watched Isabelle hop up in the sanitized chair. The man marked her ears. (Me, being overly fastidious, asked him to readjust one of the markings.) Then, he started explaining to Isabelle how he was going to clean her ears to get them ready for the piercing.
“Do you want me to stand close to you or away from you?” I asked.
“In front of me,” Isabelle replied.
Oh my G-d, she’s nervous.
“You can stand in the center, right there in front of her,” the man told me as he removed the alcohol swabs from their envelopes.
I stood in front of Isabelle watching her watch the man as he approached her left ear. He asked, “Do you want me to just do it or to count, 1-2-3?”
“1-2-3,” she stated.
He counted and Isabelle didn’t even flinch.
But then he informed me that backing didn’t release onto the back of the post, which it was supposed to do. I thought I was going to pass out* as I watched him check to see if the earring went through Isabelle’s ear.
Luckily, the post passed through the ear and he was able to get the backing on without a problem. Before I knew it, Isabelle’s second ear got pierced without any drama.
I took a few photos of Isabelle before we left the mall and sent “surprise” messages to Marc and both sets of grandparents, the latter of whom knew nothing about Isabelle’s desire to get her ears pierced.
* = A TOTAL SIDE STORY: I threw up all over the jewelry store after getting each of my ears pierced. I remember feeling light-headed after the first one got done, but I knew I needed to get both done since I didn’t want to walk around with one pierced ear and one regular earlobe. I vowed, at the tender age of six, never to have anything pierced for the rest of my life. I’ve stuck to that self-promise.
When I was trying on earrings for my wedding at age 30, I almost passed out in two different jewelry stores. The first salesperson told me that maybe I was getting cold feet about the wedding. (Idiot, I thought, before walking out of the jewelry store.) The second salesperson who saw me get nauseous and dizzy mentioned I might be having some kind of vasovagal response. I told her I rarely changed my earrings as an adult since I often felt woozy when I did. Something clicked into place at that moment! That’s when I realized I probably threw up in the jewelry store as a kid for the same reason that I rarely change my earrings. Something strange happens to me any time a piece of metal passes through my ear lobes. After nearly a quarter of a century, I no longer felt like a wimp after throwing up in the jewelry store as a kid.
I noticed decorated matzah filling up my Instagram feed yesterday afternoon. I clicked on the hashtag to see what #MatzahChallenge was about. Soon after, I found myself on the UJA Federation of New York’s website. The mission of the challenge was clear:
Create a tasty matzah treat.
Snap a photo.
Post it on social media using the #MatzahChallenge hashtag.
An anonymous donor would donate $18 to UJA for every #MatzahChallenge photo on social media.
Easy enough, right?
So, Ari and I reprised the matzah monsters we made (with Isabelle) over the weekend. (Click here to read Rebekah Lowin’s original post and check out the recipe for her Matzah Monster treats.) While I learned a few things about working with candy melts and melted chocolate since making the first batch of matzah monsters over the weekend, I also learned that perfect monster eyeballs were out of the question when working with my children. I threw out the idea of perfection and just enjoyed working with Ari to create a tasty matzah snack for a good cause. Here’s how they came out:
Mommy: It’s Passover. We don’t have any English muffins in the house. Would you like matzah with cream cheese?
Mommy: Would you like matzah with peanut butter or a scrambled egg?
Ari: I’d like a waffle with syrup.
Mommy: Waffles aren’t Kosher for Passover. They’re leavened so we don’t eat them on Passover. What else would you like?
Ari: An English muffin with…
Mommy: We don’t have English muffins in the house because they’re also leavened. We don’t eat them on Passover. Remember the four questions? Chametz o’ matzah? Well, on all other days we can eat delicious yeasty breads or matzah, but on Passover, we only eat matzah.
Ari: I know.
Mommy: So no waffles, no pancakes, no toast, no English muffins this week. What would you like?
Ari: How about a matzah pancake like Zayde made me yesterday?
Mommy: I wish I could make that for you, buddy, but I don’t have the recipe for it and it’s too early to call Zayde at home. I will make bubbelehs, which are special Passover pancakes, for dinner one night this week. Would you like matzah with cream cheese, matzah with peanut butter, or an egg?
It’s 12:30 p.m. and I have still have more cooking to do for Passover today. So far, I’ve made charoses and matzah balls. This afternoon, I’ll make a flourless chocolate cake. Also, I need to roast a chicken and some broccoli for tonight’s Shabbat dinner. It’s madness, yet I’m enjoying it! I’m thankful I can stand on my feet again. On this day, last year, I was only able to bear 2/3 of my body weight on my foot while on crutches since I was recovering from foot surgery. This year, I’m able to do it all. However, I know I have to pace myself so I’m taking a break at my desk and leaving some comments on other Slicers’ posts before I start on the chicken, broccoli, and the cake.
Before I began cooking this morning, I did something that didn’t have to be done today, but it mattered so much to the ten-year-old girl in this house. I offered to give her a manicure. I made her an early-morning deal: “If you can get washed up, dressed, and make your bed in the next 15 minutes, then I will do your nails.” Seeing as she’s only had nailpolish on her fingernails three times in her life, she raced through her morning routine and beat the timer, like I knew she would, so that she could get her nails done.
Isabelle picked out a pink bottle of Zoya nailpolish from my nailpolish drawer. I grabbed the Midrash Manicure nail artdecals, bottom and top coats, and an orange wood stick so we could get started.
After I applied the polish to Isabelle’s thumb I asked her, “Do you like the color?”
“I love it!” she replied.
I could see, on her face, that she felt like a grown girl getting her fingernails painted.
I took out the nail decals after the two coats of pink polish dried.
“Would you like to do one hand of biblical plagues and one hand with modern plagues?” I asked.
“Yeah, that sounds good,” Isabelle said.
Together, we picked out the decals that would go on each finger. As I applied each one of the modern plagues decals — which included French fries (for unhealthy food), a Like icon (for social media), a coffee cup (caffeine), mosquitos (for mosquito-borne illness), and a fidget spinner (for distractions) — to Isabelle’s nails we talked about how these are more relevant to our times.
Once we were finished, Isabelle couldn’t wait for her nails to dry since she wanted to show them to her teacher via Zoom. At 8:55 a.m., she ran upstairs to sign onto her remote school day early so she could share her manicure with her teacher.
This week has been one big carb load. We’ve eaten pasta. I’ve made meatballs. This morning, I took Isabelle to Starbucks so she could get a muffin before school. Tonight, we’re bringing pizza in for dinner. Why? Because PASSOVER BEGINS THIS SATURDAY NIGHT AT SUNDOWN.
Carb-loading aside, I’ve been preparing for Passover with Ari for the past few weeks since he’s reached at an age where he is curious about the holidays and is soaking in everything he learns.
This morning, after I got the chicken soup — the first of many dishes I’ll make for our Seder — simmering on the stove, we began gathering everything we needed for our Seder table.
Gathering the items we need doesn’t mean setting the table. (That won’t happen for a couple of days because four-year-old children, fine china, and crystal don’t mesh.) What it means is running around the house and finding all of the items that we’ll need for our Seder table. Thankfully, he was an agreeable helper!
Once everything was gathered, we took a nap. (I wish.) Seriously, though, we neatened everything up and went back to the soup.
Tomorrow, I’ll make charoses, matzah balls, and a flourless chocolate cake. The rest of the dinner will get prepared on Saturday.
So now you know why I’ll be missing from the SOLSC this weekend!
I had trouble falling asleep last night. I tossed and turned until almost 2 a.m., which isn’t like me. Something was off, but I couldn’t pinpoint what it was.
Today was busy. Passover preparations and major WordPress tech issues left little time for me to be alone with my thoughts. But I knew what day it was — all day. It wasn’t until after I sent an email to all SOLSC participants just before 9 p.m. this evening that I had the chance to reflect on the importance of today.
On March 24th, 2007, my Grandma passed away. As a result, she missed a joyful year of events (i.e., my graduation from Teachers College, my 30th birthday, and my wedding), which made losing her — my final living grandparent — painful. My grandfather (her husband) died at 80 years old in March 1990, which was a few months before my Bat Mitzvah. Knowing that I was going to have to navigate a banner year without my Grandma made her death feel like déja vû.
My Grandma learned how to use a computer & email when she was in her mid-80s so we affectionally nicknamed her “Ebubbey.” Ebubbey passed away at 92 years old with all of her faculties. On her deathbed she predicted Barack Obama would win the Democratic nomination for the presidency in 2008! Perhaps she was also clairvoyant since most people thought Hillary Clinton would win the nomination.
Speaking of Ebubbey’s deathbed, to this day I am thankful my former principal allowed me to drop everything — in the midst of parent-teacher conferences — so I could fly to Florida to be with Ebubbey in the final days of her life when I learned how ill she was. It still brings me peace to know I spent the final days of Ebubbey’s life beside her in the hospital. Besides talking about presidential politics, I had the chance to atone for being a snotty and impatient teenager. (She forgave me.) In addition, I used all of the days the NYC Department of Education gave for the death of a grandparent so I could sit shiva with my mom after Ebubbey passed away. Not a single one of my students’ parents complained to me about missing six days of school or having their parent-teacher conference rescheduled. These things made the loss of my grandmother a little easier to navigate.
Isabelle is named after Ebubbey. While she looks nothing like my grandmother, there are times she makes the same facial expressions. How is this possible? I often wonder. Ebubbey died nearly four years before Isabelle was born! I have photos, dating back to the time Isabelle was 11 months old, that make me do a double-take since it’s as if I can see Ebubbey in Isabelle’s face.
Nearly 11 months after Ebubbey died, which was a mere two months after my wedding), I was still missing her even though I knew Ebubbey lived a long life. I needed a distraction so what better way than to throw myself into writing alongside my students daily for a month while attempting to cobble together a challenge for adults online!?!?! March of 2008 was a little less sad since I was so busy teaching, writing, and blogging that it made the first anniversary of my grandmother’s death (and the 18th anniversary of my grandfather’s death) easier.
I try to stay true to the original mission of the challenge by writing small moment stories for my slice of life blog posts. However, today I needed to share a little bit about my grandmother on the 14th anniversary of her passing.
I’ll be back with a typical slice of life story tomorrow.
I woke up earlier than usual this morning. I thought I heard one of the kids’ doors open and close a couple of times. No one came in so I assumed it was Isabelle going back and forth to the bathroom. I was wrong.* After the third time, a teary-eyed boy plodded into my room and stood beside my bed.
“Mommy, I had a bad dream.”
“That’s unusual for you, buddy. Do you want to come in and snuggle?”
“Hold on a minute, I’ve gotta go and get Patchy.”
Ari ran down the hall, retrieved his stuffed dog, and was climbing into the center of the bed in a flash.
“Do you remember what your bad dream was about?” I asked him once he was snuggled under the covers.
“Um, uh, uh…”
“It’s okay if you don’t remember,” I replied.
“I don’t remember,” he said forlornly.
“That’s okay. Do you need help calming down?” I asked.
“Every morning, before I start my day, I always do a meditation exercise. I use an app on my phone. There’s a section for kids. I’ve tried some of these with your sister before. Why don’t we try do a short one together.”
“Okay,” he sniffled.
I selected “Calm,” which had the same familiar voice, Andy Puddicombe, who leads my daily meditation sessions. I was unsure if Ari would last the full five minutes, but he surprised me by following Andy’s instructions from the get-go. Andy told us to breathe in through our nose and exhale through our mouth and Ari and I followed his lead.
Later in the calming meditation, Andy asked us to wiggle different body parts and then let them rest. Ari did exactly as he was asked. I was impressed.
When the meditation as over, I asked Ari, “Do you feel calmer?”
“Yes,” he said.
“Calm enough to head back to your room?”
“No, I wanna stay with you,” he replied.
“Well, I’m going to do my meditation now. So if you stay, you have to be silent so I can focus on my meditation.
Ari was quiet and still for two minutes. Eventually, he left the room in search of adventure. Where was his next adventure? His \ big sister’s room.
And, thus, our day began.
*= You know how I know I was wrong? Ari went into Isabelle’s room to wake her up two minutes into my meditation. She was fast asleep. (Of course, he woke her.)
We planted two Cornelian Cherry Dogwood (aka: Golden Glory) Trees in our backyard last fall. Today, on the third full day of spring, I noticed yellow buds beginning to peek out from them, which is exciting! Therefore, I thought one of them would be the perfect tree to host a different kind of blossom, if you will, this spring.
Once he woke up from his afternoon nap and had a snack, I led him outside to see what was blooming in our backyard.
Good thing I used kitchen twine to hang the bars — rather than doing something Pinterest-worthy — since he was less than impressed with what he saw! Though, perhaps if I had gone all-out he would’ve been wowed. (We’ll never know!)
Alas, he did request to unwrap and eat one of them in the backyard before playing. So, I suppose his wish came true!