Monday, August 22, 2011


Today is the first day of school for my kids.


I originally thought of titling this post New Beginnings, but I got philosophical with myself and determined that all beginnings are new, because every beginning is a new opportunity for new experiences, even if the beginning itself may be the same as last year (school, for instance).  But a beginning of any kind is exciting - one has no idea what the end of the day will be like, even for the best planners among us, because life happens every second.  A traffic jam causes one to take an alternate route to work/school.  An offhand comment from someone causes one to think about something they weren't planning on originally...a flash sale convinces someone to finally make that purchase they were putting off for a while.

All of these things are beginnings, new little opportunities for new experiences, new thoughts, new chances.

The kids were welcomed to their new classrooms today - one had new teachers and classmates, one had a new classroom.  One was anxious, one was timid.  I'm confident that when I come home, I'll be bowled over by hearing all the stories of things they did today.  Both were fearful of today's beginnings, but I was excited for them.

It's a part of growing up, and fortunately for all of us, beginnings never stop, so we always have new chances.  It's comforting to know that there's always a new opportunity around the corner.  It's our choice how we approach these new opportunities and these beginnings, but thankfully they never give up on us.  My job is to role-model to my kids how to grab hold of these new beginnings and make them our own so that they too are excited.

But for today - I'll look back on their baby photos and just think about how much they've grown, how they've become these incredible little people and remember that, at the end of the day, what I hope will never change is how tight they hug me...

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Master Chef

Recently, my husband found this intriguing show on Hulu called Master Chef.  It's one of those reality-tv shows, but what's fun for us is that it's home cooks - people like us, basically - who are competing to be declared the Master Chef by the three judges, 3 formidable giants in the culinary world (Gordon Ramsay one of them, who I think is hysterical to watch).  The contestants come from all walks of life and are self-taught cooks, but they all have a passion to succeed in the restaurant business.  Since my husband and I love cooking and have fun with it, we enjoy the show.

The contestants have to battle it out through a series of challenges, which got me thinking.  I have a suggestion for a challenge:  shabbat meals.

Somehow, I developed a reputation (among a very small group of individuals, like maybe, 3) that I can whip up shabbat meals in about 2 hours.  On a Friday afternoon.  After I come home from work and the grocery store.  If you're unfamiliar with shabbat meals, the most common description is that it's like preparing Thanksgiving dinner.  And that's not really too far from the truth.  There are usually several courses and the attempt is made at preparing dishes that are special and different from what you'd serve during the week - all in honor of the holy day that is Shabbat.

There are books and blogs and articles all about how one can prepare for Shabbat ahead of time so that one does not feel disorganized as Shabbat approaches on Friday evening (this blog is dedicated to the entire notion of how to de-frazzle oneself).  They're all wonderful, and I try to implement them.  Preparing everything on Friday afternoon is not a sustainable solution, nor is it very nice to have a frazzled mommy who is running around preparing everything right up until the verylastsecond before candlelighting, when all preparation ceases.  <--oh, that's another important point here - one often prepares two meals, one for Friday night dinner, and one for Saturday lunch, due to the prohibition of cooking on Shabbat itself...

And yet, that is the situation I find myself in week after week (except for the frazzled mommy part.  I suppose I'm so used to my routine that I'm no longer frazzled but I do what I need to do and I just "git 'er done").

So here's my suggestion to the Master Chef show developers:  I challenge the home cooks to create two Thanksgiving-style meals in two hours - start to finish.  And I think I'm being generous by not throwing kids into the mix, because things always get more interesting when you're trying to entertain two little kiddos and get the chicken into the oven at the same time...

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

It's too hot - summer bucket list

At the start of every summer since I became a mom, I have this yearning to do all things summer-y, the kind of things that summertime lends itself to: drinking lots of lemonade, running on the beach, watching an outdoor concert, etc.  For some reason, with the kids I feel like summertime is a "more fun" time, though there's nothing that makes summer different from the other three seasons.

Maybe it's because everyone's mind goes slightly on vacation this time of year, or maybe it really is the hot weather.

I always try to come up with a list of fun things we'll do each summer, and this year I found out there's a real name to such a list!  A summer bucket list!  Now, usually this list is done before the season begins so that you're prepared...but it's never too late, and since I have a hard time coming up with ideas myself, here's someone else's summer bucket list.

With August here and school around the corner, the pressure is on to accomplish as many as possible...

1.Go to the beach - done!  We did it in Israel

2.Make Popsicles - Done!  We made them Tuesday night and the kids enjoyed yesterday afternoon.

3.Go to the movies

4.Paint using our feet

5.Tie dye shirts

6.Take a picture everyday

7.Roast marshmallows

8.Go for a boat ride

9.Go to an outdoor concert

10.Make homemade soap

11.Play with water balloons

12.Play with squirt bottles outside

13.Whip up some edible sand

14.Play with colored bubbles

15.Pick vegetables from our garden - I think we can take a pass on this this yea'rs since we're in a drought...

16.Make and play with homemade face paint

17.Have an ice cream sundae party

18.Try lots of different sunglasses on and take pictures

19.Build a sandcastle

20.Make frozen bananas - I have frozen bananas in the freezer to avoid throwing them away, does that count?

21.See fireworks

22.Celebrate the fourth of July

23.Go to a parade

24.Visit a farmer's market - DONE!  Went to the Airline Farmer's Market - like a shuk in Houston, but more subdued...

25.Visit new playground - well, we visited playgrounds in Israel, so I think that counts...

26.Play at a splash park

27.Go swimming at Grandma's house - the kids go swimming with their grandparents on the weekends, so that totally counts...

28.Have a late night movie night

29.Go berry picking - we tried to go blackberry picking again this year, but the drought damaged the crop, so not our fault...

30.Visit a fair

31.Make fizzing sidewalk chalk

32.Make smores

33.Visit a sunflower field

34.Make moon sand

35.Plant sunflowers

36.Go blueberry picking - see #29

37.Walk around by the water

38.Make our own strawberry freezer jam - DONE!  We take it up a notch and make our own jam on the stove...

39.Go to an outdoor movie

40.Fly a kite

41.Make our own bouncy balls

42.Make our own gak - tonight I made play-dough for the kids, does that count?

We're not doing too bad! We can make some modifications to fit the attention spans of a 3.5 year old and a 2 year old for the rest, plus we do have to take into account the weather. And then there are special considerations for certain things like an outdoor concert - they tend to start late here, so it doesn't make sense for me to bring the kids out, as much as I'd like to.

But this gives me a good list to work on! Do you have a summer bucket list?