Thursday, October 27, 2011


We finished our astronomy unit just before sukkos, and now we're on to chemistry. We'll pretty much just be exploring through experiments. We're using Janice Van Cleeve's Chemistry for Every Kid: Experiments That Really Work.

What I like:

The experiments are very easy to do, and they use materials that we already have or that I could easily pick up at the grocery store. So far, they all work too! :)

What I don't like:

I wish the explanations for the results of the experiments went into a little more depth. I would like more details both for myself and to be prepared to (inevitably) explain more than what is provided. Of course, I can look up the information easily enough; it would just be nice if it were there to begin with. The explanations are perfectly adequate for a bunch of beginning chemists.

The kids have had a great time with the eight experiments we've done so far and we're looking forward to doing more. I may be overlapping this with the Happy Scientist's units on Rocks and Minerals. Physical science is fun!

And, yes, I managed to pack 5 people into one suitcase that only weighs 33 lbs. Four outfits for eleven days. We'll just plan on washing lots of clothes! That leaves 17 lbs to bring home Jeff's Kosher Gourmet Sausage from Los Angeles. :) And then there's plenty of extra room in our carryon bags too! Hmmmmmmmm........ I wouldn't mind finding some real cheese too...

Wednesday, October 26, 2011



One airplane bag for mama.
Four airplane backpacks for kids.
One papa bag.
One Los Angeles suitcase. (I'm an optimist; surely I can pack 5 people into 1 suitcase?)
One Atlanta big backpack.
One toilet bag for everywhere.
One backpack for the two 4-hour car rides.
One cooler for bringing things home from Big City #1.
One small cooler for bringing home things from Big City #2 (Jeff's Kosher Gourmet Sausages!!)
Six lunches for car ride #1.
Six lunches for airplane ride #1.

It's a bit mind-boggling...

Avi's Birthday

Avi is four now!!! We had a nice little birthday dinner and cake for him last week in a friend's sukkah. He received a number of sweet little presents, and when he had finished opening them he put them in a pile in front of him at the table, hugged the whole pile with his arms and in a little earnest voice he said, "Thaaaaaaaank you! Thank you so much for all of my presents! Thank you!" He is so sweet, and always happy with whatever he has B"H.

Every year as the kids get a year older I think that THIS is my favorite age, and I still haven't experienced the feeling that time is passing too quickly. Time is passing in real time, I suppose because their lives unfold in real time before my eyes. Large chunks aren't missing for school or anything else. I love the time I have with them. I so appreciate that I have been given these wonderful gifts of husband and children, and so grateful that at the age of 32 I became Jewish and thereby opened a flood of untold blessings. I just feel myself sinking into each moment with complete gratitude for each day.


Menu Addendum

I forgot... one of the best things we ate during yom tov was the home-cured lox with garlic bagels. YUM. And tonight I made four loaves of whole wheat rosemary onion bread. Hadn't made that in ages!

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

The Menu(s)

Here's what we're eating over the next few days... Some good company and good food, and a little time left in the sukkah!

apple cinnamon challah
lemon garlic chicken
spaghetti w/meat sauce
broiled chicken w/chimichurri sauce
"refried" pinto beans
Mexican rice
lime cilantro coleslaw
Mexican chicken noodle soup
crazy spaghetti*
Greek potatoes
balsamic glazed onions
sauteéd mushrooms
caesar salad
baguettes w/olive oil/sea salt/garlic
roasted veggies
strawberry coconut sorbet
apple cake
roasted apples with coconut honey custard (for a gluten-free/sugar-free friend)
date squares
apple cheesecake

*Saw this on a friend's facebook page. Take pieces of hotdogs, spear them with uncooked spaghetti, then boil. SILLY SPAGHETTI! :) :) :)

Good yontiff and good shabbos!!!!!!

The Menu(s)

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Another Menu!

Another week whizzing by... What a strange time it's been. I had odd symptoms; odd symptoms fixed. Van had odd symptoms; odd symptoms fixed (for free!). Now the phone line has odd symptoms, and who knows when that will be fixed. If you're having trouble reaching me, it's because it's no problem to dial out, but dialing in is very iffy!

The sukkah has been going up, slowly but surely. I really wish it were all done and ready to go, but B"H another family is coming to the rescue early tomorrow afternoon to stay for the chagim and I can hand off the final decorating to them. Probably keep it kind of simple with two posters, lights, and whatever I have from previous sukkahs. I had grand ideas for this year's sukkah but, well... The sukkah will still be nice; it's 24' x 10' so lots of room for guests. The kitchen window will be a wonderful passthrough right into the sukkah. It will easily seat 20, plus a 6-foot table at the end for candles, food, etc. We added trellises extending out into the front yard from the sukkah structure for future BE"H kiwis, grapes, or other climbers. I'll post pictures soon, BE"H!

Now, for the menus...

caesar salad
green salad with pears and pear vinegar dressing
green salad with avocado, anise, grapefruit, and grapefruit dressing
surimi salad with spinach and fried wontons
carrot salad with honey, apples, and dried cranberries

carrot rutabaga purée
roasted potatoes
glazed cipollini onions
maple sweet potatoes
roasted mixed vegetables
roasted carrots
baked potatoes

chicken won ton soup
butternut squash soup

chicken with roasted pears and mushrooms w/balsamic glaze
shepherd's pie
chicken w/homemade bbq sauce
fish cakes
brie with raspberry jam and puff pastry
zucchini quiche and cheese quiche (unless I cave and just do deli sandwiches!)

almond macaroons (had to hide these in the freezer; WAY TOO GOOD!)
strawberry coconut sorbet
date squares
apple cake
apple strudel

And of course - CHALLAH! Mostly apple challah, plus a couple of raisin challahs.

Wishing everyone a good yontiff! :)

Thursday, October 6, 2011

So many things this week. Rosh Hashanah was lovely, despite a scientifically as-yet-to-be-explained invasion of hundreds of incapacitated dragonflies on our block. Very odd. Our car had a bunch of work done in the last few months (including a new-to-us transmission), and now all the same problems are back. For a while the transmission would work if parked on a flat surface, but that no longer seems to do the trick. Then erev Rosh Hashanah I got a toothache. On Monday I discovered that tooth needed a root canal, which will BE"H be done tomorrow.

Then today I went in with some potentially very serious health symptoms. B"H it was nothing a couple of prescriptions couldn't take care of, so tonight I'm feeling incredibly grateful that it's very minor (but it certainly kicked off a round of getting a regular doctor set up for myself!).

In addition, without going into all the details, I had a very upsetting encounter with a nurse tonight and told her that I thought she was being very unprofessional and inappropriate and requested that someone else tend to me. I was extremely upset by her comments (compounded by the fact that I had the exact symptoms of something very serious). The NP I saw both apologized and defended the nurse. I was livid and ready to walk out of there, but the dear friend I was with calmed me down enough that I was able to move forward with the exam. (And those who know me know that ordinarily I am a VERY calm person!) So, I got the good news (HOORAY!) and then my dear friend suggested that perhaps the nurse could come back and apologize. No, no, no I thought. I don't ever want to see her again, let alone talk to her. But of course, my friend was right once again.

The nurse came in, complete contrition written all over her face. She apologized profusely, said she had handled it incorrectly every step of the way, and to please forgive her. She did not offer any excuses, but took full responsibility for her poor judgment, and her eyes were full of tears. I extended my hand immediately and we ended up in a hug. She said that if I chose to ever come back here again she would take very good care of me and make sure that I got everything I needed. It was sweet and genuine and full of true remorse. And such an "odd" timing on the Jewish calendar, the week when we are paying extra attention to where we still need to make amends and apologize to those around us and to Hashem for everything we've done wrong this year and not yet done teshuva for.

It was very moving to witness someone do real teshuva (repentance) and to feel all my anger at her utterly dissipate in an instant. Just like when we turn to Hashem this week and ask him to forgive us for the aveiros we have done against him and he immediately scoops us up and forgives it all. And so too do I hope I will be able to ask forgiveness from other human beings as beautifully as that nurse did tonight.

A day of great anxiety had a sweet ending and for that I am most grateful - grateful for the loved ones around me and the loved ones who gave birth to me and cared for me as a child (and as an adult!), grateful for every moment I spend with my children whether it's tearing our hair out with math or chasing lizards or putting away laundry, grateful to have a husband who is as dear to me as he ever could possibly be, and grateful to be drawing breath each day. It is all a great gift from Hashem.