Ari is the kind of kid who likes to pick out his own clothes. Sometimes he misses with his outfit choices, but he makes a good match over 80% of the time. (Not bad for a four-year-old kid!) This morning, I suggested, “You should pick out pants and a short-sleeve tee.”
“I want to wear the shorts you told me I could wear yesterday,” he replied as he grabbed the green and navy stripe shorts from his dresser.
“It’s too cold for shorts today, bud. You can wear them after your nap… or tomorrow. It’s going to be in the 80s tomorrow.”
“But it’s in the 60’s today.”
“No, it isn’t. It’s raining too. You don’t want to wear shorts when you go outside today.”
“Yes, I do,” my son, who could be considered stubborn, declared.
“But your legs will be cold!” I said.
“But it’s iiiiin the 60’s!”
I pulled put my iPhone to show him that it was cooler than what he thought. But when the weather app brought up the Lancaster temperature, it read 66°F!
I turned my phone and showed Ari the proof he desired. “You were right. It’s in the mid-60’s. But it is raining. So, if you’re willing to wear a hoodie, then you’ve got yourself a deal on the shorts.”
“Deal!” he said.
As I recounted a sliver of this story to my parents on the phone, my Dad teased me. “Jewish Mother Sweater Alert!”
It isn’t the first time he’s teased me about overdressing one of my children the way many Jewish moms are known to do. WPLJ, which was my favorite radio station as a kid growing up in the NY Metropolitan Area, used to declare a “Jewish Mother Sweater Alert” anytime there was a bit of a chill in the air on spring or fall mornings. It’s a phrase my Dad and I used to taunt my mom with whenever she’d insist on me adding a layer as a kid. Now, I am a Jewish mother, hence the necessity for an extra layer of clothing on a May morning.
Recently, Marc and I took our kids into one of the local Giant grocery stores since we needed several items that couldn’t wait for the big Sunday shopping. (If you’re a long-time reader of this blog, then you know I’ve been a loyal Giant customer ever since we moved to Central PA nearly a dozen years ago.) Moments after walking into the store, Isabelle and I spotted three people without masks and several more who were wearing them incorrectly. At every turn, there were noses and mouths in our line of sight. Seeing as my kids aren’t vaccinated, Isabelle and I split up from Marc and Ari so we could get what we needed as quickly as possible and get out of the store.
Now, you might think, just call the store manager. Well, I’ve done this at more than one of the local Giant grocery stores. Nothing seems to change. Things have gotten worse ever since the vaccine came out. Therefore, when we needed more deli meat this morning, I told Marc, “I’ve had it with Giant. I’m going to Stauffers today and I’m going to buy several kinds of turkey for you to try. I refuse to put the kids at risk for a preferred brand of deli meat.” (We’ve been discussing the deli dilemma for a while so this announcement didn’t come as a shock to him.)
The kids and I arrived at Stauffers and were greeted by this sign at the entrance:
I looked at the sign and declared to the kids, “This is my kind of grocery store.”
As we walked inside, I cleaned my cart (pulling from the ample supply of cart wipes) and walked to the deli with the kids where I proceeded to buy multiple kinds of turkey breast for Marc to sample at lunchtime. Then, we moseyed around the store since people were following the masking guidelines. Imagine that!??!
* * * * *
In the late afternoon, I went downtown to a new stylist for a haircut. NOTE: There was nothing wrong with my former stylist. She’s given me great cuts for the past decade! However, she works in a salon that’s located in a health club where masks are optional. Last fall, I told her I needed to find somewhere else to get my hair cut until I was vaccinated and the case rates came down. (I didn’t want her to think it had anything to do with her on a personal level.) She understood. I saw a new stylist in November who worked in a salon that’s Covid-safe, but the cut she gave me was mediocre and the one she gave Isabelle was dreadful. Therefore, I made an appointment another stylist, but I had to wait five months to get in!
This afternoon, I donned my mask and drove to downtown Lancaster for a fabulous curly cut. Before I sat down in the new stylist’s chair, I told her who’s been cutting my hair for the past decade and why I made a switch because of the mask-optional building she works in. She seemed shocked since she, too, didn’t feel that masking in an indoor space should be optional during a global pandemic.
I got a precise cut that brought my curls back to life. Once I was out of the chair I made an appointment for Isabelle to see this new stylist in late June. I’m confident she’ll work wonders with Isabelle’s curls too.
The grocery store in the early morning and the haircut in the last afternoon have me rethinking my allegiances. And while it may seem like a no-brainer to some people, this has been hard for me. I’m a brand loyal person. (I haven’t willingly used anything other than Colgate toothpaste since I was old enough to make my wishes known to my Crest-loving parents as a young child.) However, the pandemic has made me put health and safety first. While I’m vaccinated, I am unwilling to take unnecessary risks since I understand one could still get coronavirus, albeit less severe, after vaccination. Plus, it’ll be months before my kids get their vaccinations. Therefore, I’m choosing to support businesses that are doing their part to keep me and my family safe.
The kids and I arrived at Bombergers, which is a local hardware store, with a solitary item to buy: cracked corn for the ducks at the local park. I called the store ahead of time so I knew exactly where to go once I got inside since my kids like to take detours in Bombergers — because it is awesome! I told them, “we are only going to purchase cracked corn.” Isabelle said she understood. Ari remained silent.
Somewhere between the cart corral and the start of the brown tile floor, Ari found several items at his eye level to touch.
“Are-eee!” Isabelle scolded.
“Please don’t touch anything, Ari,” I said.
Halfway down the brown tile floor, on the way to the birding section, Ari discovered a cozy, outdoor chair. As I pushed the cart, I realized Ari was no longer behind us.
“Are-eee!” Isabelle scolded with exasperation. “Stay with us!”
Three masked men smiled as they passed us by, “I think he wants to buy that chair ma’am.”
“Looks that way,” I replied.
“C’mon, buddy, keep moving,” I told him.
Once we followed the brown tile to the right, I said, “Look, there’s the birding section.” But before we could find the cracked corn, Ari had his hands on everything from squeaky pet toys to wind chimes.
“Are-eee!” Isabelle scolded with a stomp of her foot.
“Would you please be more patient with him?” I requested of her.
“But he’s touching everything!” Isabelle whined. “Why is he touching everything?”
“Because he’s four and a half. This is what he does.”
Once we heaved two bags of cracked corn into the cart, we attempted to walk from the cracked corn to the cashier. However, the walk included more wind chimes, more chair sitting, and more toy touching. Isabelle grumbled, but tried not to admonish her brother. Until…
Isabelle and I got in line and Ari scooted off to some patio tables. He was in my peripheral vision when I noticed the checkout lines converging. As a woman and I went through the “No, you go first” motions I heard a few things fall. I looked straight over to where Ari was and noticed he dropped some marble-beads that were in the center of the outdoor table.
“Are-eee!” I scolded.
Isabelle smirked at me.
“I know he can be ridiculous too,” I confessed to her. “Would you please help your brother pick those up and then bring him back to the line?” I asked.
“Fine,” she stomped off towards Ari.
That’s when I looked at the woman whose line was merging into mine and said, “I think I will take you up on the offer to go first. As you can see, we came in for one thing, but we should probably get out of here before he breaks something.”
She laughed knowingly… as if she’d been in my shoes before.
With that I sanitized Ari’s hands, paid, watched him touch two more things, sanitized them again, and then left with both kids. Who ever thought a trip for cracked corn could be so entertaining for a child whose mom and older sister just wanted to keep him as germ-free as possible.
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!