It's a week later and I can almost say that the smell of fried foods has left the house. Slowly.
It was a long, wonderful and hot Chanukah here in Florida. We had sleepover company, dinner company, Shabbos company, a bbq with new and old friends and more than our fair share of visits from the FedEx guy, carrying huge boxes. And now a stomach virus.
I can't say for sure, but I don't think I've ever gone almost a month without sharing here since I first started blogging. It felt weird - on many levels. I have so much to say and yet no time to say it. I kind of feel that way with my kids too - so many lessons to impart, so many ideas I want to share but between their hours in school, my hours in the classroom or planning for the classroom and then the few hours between school and bedtime, crammed with homework and baths and stories and playing outside, there's not too much time left to talk.
Which is why I really liked Chanukah this year. The kids are a little older and for the most part, were not passing out by the time we lit candles. And then there was all this time while the candles were burning to sit around and read with them or play board games; it was kind of like Friday night, but for eight straight days. We even sat around one night eating latkes, debating the merits of applesauce vs sour cream - even though not one of my children, and most likely Josh, have ever, in their lives, even tasted sour cream.
I know it's a little late, but here's a glimpse at Chanukah 2013, in no particular order:
1. Some of my classes made these menorah dripmats in art, right before Chanukah. I was not at all sure how they would come out - or rather how'd long they would last under a drippy menorah with lots of melty wax, but they survived. After eight nights, they were beyond covered in wax so I just chucked the ones my kids made (I know, I'm horrible) but it was throw them out or scrape the wax off with a knife. I hope you would choose the same.
We made them with 18" square floor tiles I found sitting in our garage when we moved in, some paper, scissors and Modge Podge glue. That's it. We let them dry for a couple of hours and then hand-delivered them to the waiting cars on the pick-up line. You want to drop your very-breakable-floor-tile project? Do it on your own time. I'm sending home intact projects.
2. Chanukah in Florida? It's weird. Lovely, but weird - it kind of feels like I should have been decorating the sukkah in 80 degree weather, not putting out menorahs. On the flip side, our tangelo tree is doing wonderfully. As is our palm tree. I'm just saying.
3. Remember the Chanukah raffle I was working on for the school? All I can say is - thank goodness it's over! It was super successful and I am super-relieved because can you imagine the whole thing falling apart on my watch? I can. I imagined it over and over and over. I stayed up at night thinking about it and my general anxiety level was definitely at code orange if not at code red. But as I've learned - mostly from having newborns - every day ends and another dawns and the "day after" always comes. The day after the raffle came and I breathed again. Breathing is really great.
These are the cupcakes I made with a friend for the dessert portion of the raffle:
A special thank you to whoever posted these cupcake toppers on Pinterest. They saved me.
4. I only have one thing to say about the jelly donuts this year:
They ain't from Brooklyn. And they ain't Dunkin Donuts either. But they'll do.
5. If you've been following along for a while, you might remember these Judah Maccabee cookies we made last year. If not, we made them again this year - and if I would have looked at last year's post before baking them, I would have remembered just how much of a pain they were to make. Oh well.
Packed them up and gifted them to a few individuals who've been beyond helpful to Josh since we moved here.
6. And finally, I just have to say again, even though it's not Chanukah weather, you really can't beat sitting in a hammock in December, even if you might need a little sweatshirt late in the day.
Winter break is coming quickly, here and in NY. The bed and breakfast is open, the guest room has clean sheets and slots are filling quickly. We'd love to see you if you're making like a bird and heading south at any point this winter. I'll even clean the bathroom before you come.
I grew up in New York and moved down south from New Jersey, so keep that in mind when I say the following:
I'm trying to be nice and it's not easy.
It's not my fault.
I am, by nature, an introvert and it's something I work on a lot. And also, as I may have mentioned, I'm from New York. When I used to work in the city, I could go weeks (months?) without saying so much as a word to anyone else during my commute. Just pop those headphones on (yeah, I'm that old) and go. If you don't keep your mouth closed and your feet moving, you'll get knocked over leaving the train station.
And then we moved to Florida and oh my. Because that's what people here say. They say things like "oh my" and wait, you'll like this one - "excuse me". So polite.
Everyone here is so, as Southerners would say, gosh darn happy to talk to everyone and their mother. Okay, maybe I shouldn't have said the and their mother part. Maybe that wasn't so nice. Arrrgh.
I don't know how to be fake nice. Is that what it is? Fake nice? Or are people really just so friendly here in the south? And when I say people, I mean people that I don't know - for example, the cashier, the mailman (mine is named Leonard), the lady who goes walking at the same time as me and for some reason must walk the same route at a slightly slower pace while humming. Okay, maybe that wasn't nice either. I'm sure she doesn't mean to follow me but it's so gosh darn annoying. And the humming, that she can control so no, I don't forgive her for that.
Okay, maybe that wasn't so nice to say either.
I'm trying, I really am. But I'm not one for small talk or chit chat or whatever you want to call it.
So in effort to be more, um, I don't even know what the word is, but how about this - LessNewYorky - I dedicated this past week to smiling at everyone I meet, saying hello and striking up a conversation.
This past week I have felt, in no specific order, crazy, creepy, and a tiny bit stalkerish.
And yet, oddly enough, also happy.
I tried to make friends with at least one person each day while I run errands.
(And please don't judge me by the fact that I visit a food store every single day).
On Monday I met a woman at Publix and we chatted for ten minutes about the Chanukah display at the end of the aisle, about which temple she used to attend and about how she thinks $1.99 for a box of Chanukah candles is an excellent price while I think it's highway robbery and that they should be max, 69 cents a box. She gave me her number and I pretended to create a new contact in my phone. I'm an awful awful person.
So I tried to be nicer the next day.
On Tuesday I talked to the cashier in Whole Foods for a good five minutes past the moment that she handed me back my credit card. I now know what she packs her kids for lunch in the morning (yogurt and some salami on crackers), how her husband should really pack those lunches because she works the morning shift (everyday) and how many croissants her son eats for breakfast (seven. Seven?!).
On Wednesday, I learned that the associate at Michael's actually thinks there is a better selection of paper punches at AC Moore and also that she prefers pistachio nuts in her brownies as opposed to walnuts. (Okay, Michael's is not technically a food store, but we talked food, and yuck, pistachios in your brownie!? Never mind. We're not being judgmental).
On Thursday, at World Market, I learned that the lady (Janey, if you must know) in the glass cookie jar aisle was also there trying to figure out what her husband should give out for holiday gifts at his office.
And then, after Janey and I parted ways, wishing each other luck and happy holidays, I headed to Publix to pick up a few things for Shabbos and there I met a woman who is in town on business. She stopped me to ask if there were any kosher restaurants in town and I had to say no, not yet but it didn't end there. I learned that she is from NY originally (and immediately wondered why she was talking to me) and that she moved to Atlanta a few years ago (so that's why she's talking to me). In my zeal to be friendly, I asked her if she needed anything, if she wanted to come for dinner (panicking at the same time because we have scrambled eggs on Thursday nights) and if she needed a place for Shabbos. Turns out, she travels for business often, is used to eating crackers and fruit and is staying in the same hotel as her conference so she can attend on Shabbos, and that it's all the way downtown.
But I did it. I was so proud of myself.
I made conversation with a stranger, I made small talk. I still don't enjoy it, but it's an important skill, one I have to work on further. My dream of sitting on my couch all day with an ice coffee and only talking to my best friends - and you know who you are - is probably not a realistic dream, especially that I live many many hours away from those friends these days.
So I will continue to make new friends. Random people. Because everyone has a story and if you listen carefully, you will see that the world around you is amazing, that each person has a past and a present that they are usually happy to share and at the end of the day, you have no idea how your smile or kind word changed someone's entire day for the better.
Unless people are warning each other that there's a wacko from New York who is still driving around with her New Jersey plates on her van, going around making eye contact and smiling. It's totally possible.
Look what I made today.
It took me five years to do it.
Okay, not really.
But I did buy this huge letter W five years ago. And it sat in the dining room, and then on top of the china closet, and finally, in my clothes closet. And then it got packed up and moved to Florida with us where it resumed its spot on top of the china closet - until today.
I was standing on one of the dining room chairs looking for something on top of the china closet and I saw the W and I thought about how ridiculous it was that it's been, literally, years, and I have not completed this project.
And then I thought about how many other things I push off, I pretend that I don't need to do or just can't plain make a decision about and so I keep that task or project or whatever on my to-do list and it never gets crossed off.
So today was the day. Or rather, this afternoon was the afternoon.
I thought it would take much longer to decoupage my W than it did. I started printing pictures at around 12pm and it's now 8pm and it's all done. But it didn't take 8 hours. That would be silly because I don't have eight hours to do anything, ever and also because in between 12pm and 8pm I made dinner, folded a load of laundry, did the 2pm school pick up, colored, baked corn muffins, did the 3pm school pickup, did homework, served a snack, sang a few songs, cleared the table for dinner, did the 4pm school pickup (!), served dinner, cleared dinner, washed the dishes, packed five lunchboxes for tomorrow, did more homework, cleaned up the playroom, got four kids into pajamas and everyone into bed.
So this project must have taken, what, five minutes?
No. Not five minutes. But somewhere between five minutes and three hours, I would say. I guess it depends on how big your letter is and also if you decide to decoupage the sides and bottoms of your letter.
But let me back up here for a second and tell you what I did.
First, many years ago, I saw this project here
and I loved it.
Pictures printed in black and white on regular printer paper. Nothing fancy here.
This is the back. It's what the front looked like before I started this. You gotta love a letter that looks the same front and back...
The first step is to sort through all your family pictures on the computer. I chose 25 pictures, copied them into a word document and played around with the sizes of the pictures so some were bigger and some smaller.
Then I printed them in black and white, cut them out and the layed them out on the W to see how they would look.
And that's when I realized that I did not have nearly enough pictures, so back to the computer for 25 more.
Wash, rinse and repeat. In total, I probably used about 100 pictures so just keep that in mind when making yours.
To attach the pictures to the W (which by the way, is nothing more than cardboard; I think it's a base for a papermache project, very light-weight) I used Modge Podge and a foam brush. Modge Podge dries clear so I was not neat about this at all, but I was careful because the printer paper is very thin and I did not want the pictures to rip.
Glue the pictures to the front and then do the same to the sides and tops and bottoms of you letter. The tops and sides and bottoms are really optional. In theory, you could paint them a solid color or just leave them as is, but many of my pictures wrapped around the sides of the letter a little here and there so it was all very uneven after I finished the front of the letter.
And I really do like how the W looks wrapped in pictures from all angles.
Now I just have to figure out where to hang it. I had the perfect spot for it in our old house, but now I'm not so sure what to do.
But I need to figure it out. It can't really live on the kitchen table.
Now on to the next project - pulling out all the Chanukah decorations and figuring out where they go in this new house of ours.
Oh, old house, how I missed you today with your fantastic W spot and awesome Chanukah decoration mantle.
I didn't know it would be such a challenge making this new house into a home.
We bought a couch today.
The picture below is the couch coming into the house through the backdoors, but first it has to get through the still-standing sukkah.
We are big fans of craigslist and yet every time we look to buy something, I get all nervous.
Will the sellers be crazy?
Will we hate the couch (air conditioner, toy, whatever) when we see it and then have to tell the seller no to their faces?
And the worst, how will we get it home?
That's what happened today. I mean, it's a couch, you can't exactly throw it into the trunk.
And also, both Josh and I wanted to see it, which meant all the kids had to come too. The six of us fit comfortably in the van, but no room for a couch here. So we took two cars, took all three booster seats out of the van, put them into Josh's car and off we went. The car seat stayed in the van. We'd have to be getting something a lot better than a couch to make unhooking the carseat worth it. Actually, I can't think of anything that would make taking the carseat out worth it, short of getting a new van. And even then, a new van is already so expensive, why not just get a new carseat to go with it, you know?
We got lucky with this couch. I don't think anyone has ever sat on it. And the owner steam cleaned it before we came. I don't even know what that means, but this is one clean couch.
We've been looking for a couch for the playroom for a while now - pretty much since we got off the train in Florida and yet, I just could not justify spending a thousand dollars on a couch for a playroom - or for anywhere really. So we've been sitting around on the floor a lot. And I'm okay with that.
But every once in a while I would take a little craigslist look and see what's going on. The problem is, usually nothing is going on - and I'm so not used to that. In NJ, every craigslist search included NYC and that was always where the motherload was because, - and I know it's wrong of me to gloat - but no one there has any storage space so haha, once city-people don't need their double city-mini stroller anymore, I'm right there waiting to take it off their hands.
Here, in our new city, there aren't as many people. And people have big houses. And big closets. And they seem to be keeping all their stuff. And that kind of doesn't work for me because I still need some kind of table for my front hall. There's nowhere to put your keys or stash your shoes.
Anyway, I digress. I do have a point here. And it's not that the couch got semi- stuck in the sukkah that hasn't come down yet on it's way in through the back doors. My point is that you never know what you're going to get, and you never know how something will work out. Craigslist is really all about taking a chance and we took a chance on the couch and we got lucky. It could have looked terrible in the room, it could have been too big, it could have been awful and we would have had to walk away, but it wasn't.
You have to try or you'll never know.
And that is what I have been trying to teach my art classes these past few weeks.
My students are very focused on their outcomes, which I find to be a terrible thing. They do not at all look at the process as the reward, they don't see that the making of their creations is really where the beauty lies and that is why I find myself continually trying to talk first graders down from the ledge of perfection.
They constantly want to start again.
They don't like one little tiny dot on their page and all of a sudden it's garbage.
I am finding that these kids do not understand what it means to be creative, to look at something that maybe didn't go as planned and try to figure out how to fix it or change course and do something different. Which is why I instituted a new rule in the art room.
(I mean, it's not that big of s surprise, I already gave it away in the title, but here goes:)
I'm not sure it's the right rule and I'm not married to it so I can always change back to letting them try again and again, but I really feel deep down that my students need to learn to look at their work and either go with it as is or change directions - their choice - but they do have to stick with it.
These past few weeks we have been working with watercolor paper and paints. The first week we learned how to write our names in bubble letters, use oil pastels to outline the letters and then watch as the water from the paints and the oil pastels interacted as we painted over the whole sheet of paper.
Last week we learned to draw robots, step by step, only using shapes - and I first saw the project idea here
. Then we watercolored around the robots after we colored them with crayons, again watching how the watercolors almost moved away from the crayon wax.
A couple of kids got it. A couple of kids were amazed at how all the different mediums played with each other. And the rest of the kids? All I had were complaints. Mine isn't perfect. I need to start over. I'm so bad at this. Why do we have to do things we don't know how to do?
Oh my goodness.
I was so sad for my students. So sad that they couldn't see the beauty and the creativity behind every move they make in the art room. It's art, it's not math. There's no one right way to do anything. And you know what, there's no one right way to solve a math problem either, despite what many teachers think but that's a whole other can of worms.
We talked about what the process
means, what the end
means, and what comes in between
. And slowly they started to understand. Very slowly and some kids still do not buy it, but many of them are seeing their work in a new light.
Maybe it was never explained before, but I don't think that's true because they had a great art teacher last year.
I think it might be because kids now - and I sound like such an old lady saying this - but kids are very used to instant gratification. If it's not immediate, they're not interested. If they can't do something the way they think
is the right way the first time, then forget it. Why work at something? What's the point? And I see it with my own kids too - if I cannot know how to ride my scooter (shoot a basket, play a board game, whatever) right out of the box, then I'm not doing it. And that kills me because I remember riding my bike up and down my parents' driveway for months before I learned how to ride without training wheels. Months! (Granted, I'm not very coordinated, but I did keep practicing).
And so that's why I have my no do-over rule. I started it two weeks ago with the bubble letters and the kids were horrified. They were slightly less horrified this past week and I'm hoping that once we start our projects this week (wait till they hear that this new project will take three weeks to complete, there's going to be a revolt. What do you mean we can't take it home right now?!
) that they will be a little less demanding of themselves. A little more forgiving that their paper doesn't look exactly like their friends.
We'll see, I can only hope.
Yup, that's right, you can win $1800 in cash and all you have to do is buy a raffle ticket
. (And I'll let you in on a little secret - it's a small school, a small raffle.
Buying one here will give you a much better chance of winning something* than
when you buy a raffle ticket from a much larger organization. It's the whole
little fish, big sea/big fish, little sea debate.)
Listen, I'll just say it. Josh is the new head of school here and it doesn't exactly look
great if the head of school's family (or you know, just the wife) can't even
sell the minimum number of required tickets.
So if you have the cash, then please consider spending it here. The school could really use it - and I know that every single school could really use it, but believe me when I say that this school can really
If you don't have the money, please don't feel like you need to at all
. Cause you don't. At all. Sending some good vibes our way is more than enough.
But just know that one of those cute kids on the website is mine. And they're threatening to take her down if we don't sell our tickets.
Okay, that's not true. But look at that face. She could use some new books in her classroom. Or markers. She's really not picky.
You can go here
to buy a raffle ticket now.
Or you can just send me a note wishing me luck for when I buy all the raffle tickets myself. Although, it would probably look bad if the head of school picks his own name out of the raffle hat. So how 'bout this - give him a chance to pick your name!
Okay, I'm done now.
Don't hate me for this. Cause I kind of hate myself a little for asking.
*There are other prizes too! And I know this because I have been going from store to
store asking for them. Yup, that's what I've become here in Florida. That person.
If you've been following along, you'll know that we have been running a 30-day
Paleo contest with the kids. In truth, it's not a real contest, it's more of a mandate
because I provide all their food so they kind of didn't have a choice but we're
calling it a contest. They like that and also, they kind of know that they are
getting their dollar-a-day-in-October prize either way.
Having said that, I am proud to say that the kids are still on the Paleo-train
and I'm still driving that train.
I have two recipes to share today but no pictures because I am feeling way too lazy to
upload any from phone, hence the name of the first recipe. But check out the stock photo above - looks like some darn fine photographer took that picture!
Anyway, our two recipes today are the Lazy Girl's Shwarma and Eggplant Sticks.
Both are paleo-friendly and both are super easy although I will admit that the chicken is
way faster than the eggplant. And you know what, I made them both up. I kind of knew how to make shwarma but not really, so I winged it and it worked. And the second, well, it's almost the beginnings of an eggplant parmesan recipe, but not.
I've been doing a lot of cooking these past two weeks and I'm all about a shortcut. Except
that my kids fell in love with shwarma recently and shwarma is a very involved
meal to make - there's the dicing of the chicken cutlets, the marinating and the
sautéing and or frying on the stove, and um, yeah, I can't do that right now.
But you know what works instead?
Not dicing the chicken.
Not marinating the chicken.
And yup, not frying it.
Mix together the spices, pour over the chicken and bake and you know what - it tastes exactly the same!
Lazy Girl's Shwarma
Here what I did:
Pour 1/3 cup olive oil into a small bowl.
Add 2 tbsps. cumin
1 tsp curry
1 tsp paprika
1 tsp salt
1 tbsp. garlic powder
2 tsp onion powder
And then mix it all up.
Here's the hard part. Ready?
Pour it over your chicken - I use a chicken cut into 1/8ths - but I don't cut it, it comes like that.
I know. It couldn't be easier.
And if your pan is big enough and you have room to throw in a bag of frozen cauliflower and a bag of frozen broccoli in under the chicken, do it. The vegetables come out amazing. It works with potatoes too.
The next recipe is a little bit more involved, but just a little.
Slightly Less Lazy Girl's Eggplant Sticks
For this recipe, you're going to need:
1 eggplant, peeled and cut into sticks - maybe 1/2" thick and 4" long but please, promise me
you won't measure.
olive oil or
flour or almond flour or any gluten free flour
For the record, I went with brown rice flour because
1. They sell it at Winn Dixie and that's where I was this morning and
2. I can't afford almond flour.
Start by mixing the eggs, honey and mustard in a bowl. I used about 2 tbsp. each of
the honey and mustard. If the honey won't mix in well, add a little boiling
water to soften it, but don't add too much because then you'll scramble your
eggs. Add maybe a tbsp of boiling water and mix it well, quickly.
Pour some of the flour into another bowl, but don't pour too much - this stuff is pricey and
once you dipped an egg-covered eggplant in the bowl, you can't pour the flour
back into the package - but you can always add more, so err on the side of caution.
Add the eggplant pieces into the egg mixture, mix well to coat and then let the eggplant
soak up the egg for a few minutes.
Heat your frying pan, add the oil and while it's heating, start dipping the egg-soaked
eggplant into the flour.
Add the eggplant to the hot frying pan one at a time, being careful not to let the oil
jump up and burn you.
Let the eggplant fry till it's golden and crispy on one side, flip them and do it again
on the second side. I can't say for sure how long it will take because we each
cut our own eggplants, you know? But it's not long. A few minutes, max.
When they're done and yummy looking, use a slotted spatula to lay them on a paper towel to soak up the oil.
I haven't served these to the kids yet, but I just had a few and they're very very good. You
can dip them in ketchup if you like, but they're already honey-mustardy so you don't really need to.
For what it's worth, I'm going to serve this tonight with unstuffed cabbage and roasted
Wishing you a great Shabbos!
The honeymoon is over.
The kids hated the almond-chocolate-coconut cupcakes from yesterday.
I too hate coconut but a cupcake is a cupcake you know?
I've decided to stick with things the kids know and love. And then just change them a little.
Like tonight, they love taco night, I've talked about that before. So we had taco night, but without the tacos, which I guess really just makes it sloppy joe night, but that's okay cause they like sloppy joes too.
Instead of the regular canned tomato sauce I usually use without a second thought but which has sugar and natural flavors (whatever those are), I used a can of crushed tomatoes and a can of tomato paste, each having just two ingredients or less: tomatoes and water. Maybe a little citric acid to keep things acidic but I'm okay with that. And no one even noticed the difference. Served it with some cole slaw, tomatoes, avocado and leftover corn and everyone left the table full. No tacos and no complaints.
My problem is still breakfast. I feel like I might make those cupcakes again but without the coconut. I'm just nervous of wasting the almond flour that costs just slightly less than eleventy million dollars on a hit or miss baked good. I think I'll sleep on it, maybe I'll get some cupcake clarity overnight.
The thing is though, I have to figure out breakfast because I don't have time to play around in the morning, I started teaching art last week and I am now a working mommy on Tuesdays and Wednesdays. And I have to say, this is totally cutting into my time for, how should I say this
, everything. I don't know how mothers everywhere work. How do they (you) do it? When do you do the laundry? Food shop? Cook for shabbos? Make dinner? Clean the bathrooms? And I only work two days a week. I feel like a complete failure. I guess in a way that feeling like that is good because it can only get better from here, right? See? I'm looking on the bright side.
Like I said, last week was the first week of art and besides for the fact that the whole thing made me so tired that I could have lay down on the picnic table at the playground, it went well.
I am excited though to share what we make in art class but I also have a confession to make: I am an unoriginal art teacher.
I would so love to come up with original and new things for the kids to do and make but who has the time? And with pinterest and every other art teacher and their husband blogging about their lesson plans, I kind of don't have to think. The problem is that it is very easy to fall down the pinterest hole and not come out for hours. I have to be very careful not to get sucked in. At the risk of sounding like someone's grandmother, I'll just say it - this should be the worst problem I ever have. Amen.
Anyway, thanks to pinterest and the many many people who blog about the same thing (does anyone do anything orginal?), we made coffee filter tie-dye art. I did this project with the 3rd and 4th graders and they loved it so much, I'm planning on doing it next week with the nursery throigh second. This
is the first place I saw the project, but it most certainly was not the last place.
It's so easy and the kids get to be creative too.
Take a coffee filter, fold it in half, then in half again and then once more in half. You end up with a small triangle.
Using a spray bottle (or in my case, a regular water bottle and my hand), wet the coffee filter and have the kids use markers to make dots on the coffee filter. Dots should be on both sides of the triangle, as in, if you make a row of red dots at the top of the triangle, make the same row of red dots on the other side.
Once the whole triangle is covered on both sides, unfold it and wow! A tie-dyed coffee filter. Each kid made a bunch of coffee filters - I had to cut them off eventually.
While the coffee filters were drying in the sun - yeah, we have art class outside, the perks of living in Florida - each student took a few minutes thought to finish this sentence: "This summer, my favorite round thing to do/make/eat/play was____."
I was so impressed with their creativity.
I got ice cream cones, bicycles, sunglasses, tubing down a river, flying balloons and so many others and I didn't even give them any leading ideas.
Once the coffee fliters were dry, we glued them onto large sheets of construction paper. Then the kids drew their summer stories around the coffee filters.
Here is some of what we did:
Riding a bicycle!
Ice Cream Cones!
More Ice Cream Cones!
Some kids even begged to take a few plain coffee filters home with them to show their parents how to do it.
Or to make coffee. I don't know.
More art to come.
Succos came, succos went. So did my parents. And now school has started again. How's that for a three week update?
Oh, and we took the kids off wheat.
And sugar, but sugar is really hard.
Its more like added sugar garbage that we're abstaining from.
Its going to cost me a cool $120 to conduct this experiment; I promised each of them a dollar a day for 30 days. Kind of like the kid version of the Whole30 except the only reward for the grown up Whole30 is feeling better. That's a good thing, but thirty dollars is pretty nice too.
The kids have been doing surprisingly well without wheat. They ask for cookies or bread or crackers here and there but I've been able to divert their attention for the most part. Breakfast is hard though, they are sick of scrambled eggs which is why I took a special trip to Whole Foods to pick up some almond flour and coconut flour - and now I have some chocolate-almond-coconut muffins baking in the oven. I really hope the kids like them and eat them for breakfast. I also really hope I find someplace else to buy almond and coconut flour because man alive, Whole Foods is expensive.
Needless to say, I've been spending way more time in the kitchen than I'd like to. But it's been worth it. My two kids who cough and just generally hack away all night long have been silent sleepers for the past five nights. And my five year old, who generally visits us three times a night has been sleeping through the night - not any later than she normally does - about 4:30am - but you know, baby steps.
My big coup this week was pizza night. The kids really wanted pizza and I really didn't know what to do. I saw a few recipes for cauliflower pizza crust but they all sounded like so much work. And then I thought an egg might do the trick. This took way longer than I thought it would but I made these pizza crusts. Each crust is one egg, fried into a very thin omelet. One egg per frying pan, cook it on both sides and wala (how do you spell that?!) a round something to put sauce and cheese on. I was able to bake six at a time in the oven, but I couldn't make them fast enough. So funny really, because it's really just pizza eggs, something we've been eating for years but I guess it looked enough like pizza that everyone was happy.
I didn't think of then, but you could also put mushrooms or onions or peppers or whatever on your pizza and get a few vegetables into the kids at the same time.
Week two of the wheat-free experiment starts now.
If you've been following along, you'll recall that today is decorate the succah day! And as we discussed yesterday, it's pretty darn hot outside and even hotter up on a ladder hanging decorations.
So in the interest of time (let's get back inside the house as fast as possible!) we mostly stuck to decorating the lattice. But I like it. Plain, simple, laid back, kind of like our new life in Florida is supposed to be.
Notice, if you will, my plastic bird which hangs in our succah. Keep looking at it and then come back tomorrow and I'll tell you a crazy bird story. (Yeah, Goldie, I'm looking at you.)
See you soon,
Lets be honest. Succah building is not for a Nice Jewish Boy. Or maybe it's just not for a Nice Jewish Boy with a Full Time Job. There, that sounds better. Because lots of Nice Jewish Boys can build succahs. Josh included. It's just that they usually - and I'm not saying always - but usually, those succahs tend to be pre-fab succahs.
For years I had no idea what 'pre-fab' meant but now I do - it would be pre-fabricated. As in, someone else did the hard work, you click these two poles together. Good job!
In New Jersey, we owned an awesome succah; it was huge, we routinely had twenty people for a meal with extra room to spare. And while it did not click together as easily as some other succahs, there definitely was enough clicking going on that the succah was built in an afternoon.
But now we're in Florida. And apparently, if you build a regular canvas or plastic succah, you will roast.
I've been watching wood beam and lattice succahs pop up around the neighborhood* for the past week or so and Josh has been strategizing his succah building game plan for weeks, consulting with his handy friends in NY. There have been scraps of paper and calculations and numerous trips to Home Depot. It was all very exciting, especially for my boys - Josh included.
It all looked great, on paper.
The other night Josh comes home from work all ready to go build the succah; my boys are pumped and the girls and I spread out the picnic blanket in the backyard to we can sit and watch. Everything is ready.
Except for the part when you realize you don't have a clue how to actually build a succah from wood beams, although after the fact, you kind of realize that building a wall should take place on the ground and not free-hand in the air.
Enter Art. He's a wonderful person whom we got to know over Rosh Hashana. Art also happens to be a contractor. I love Art. He's my new best friend, and not only because he built me this succah in two afternoons.
I love our succah and we haven't even decorated it yet.
Art says that he'll come back after Succot and make the whole thing a permanent pergola, with a detachable roof and a ceiling fan all ready to go for for next Succot.
May we be zoche to detach our whole beautiful succah from the house and transport it with us to Yerushalayim for Succot next year.
*I'll be honest, I really like it here in Florida but I gotta say, there's something missing when it comes to sukkah building season. I'm very used to going for longs walks in NJ, especially as the chagim arrive and the weather gets cooler. And I would always love walking around the neighborhood, hearing the clanging of succah poles followed by a string of words best muttered under your breath.
It's just not the same hearing a couple of nails fall down, or even a hammer. Oh well, I'll always have the memories.
Anyway, here, a pictorial of the Great Succah Building Escapade of 2013.
Lying in the grass or building a succah? These are my kinda kids.
Making the boys earn their keep.
We're framing out the succah and pretending to know what that means.
Look carefully and you can see one part of a part of a wall is up.
Uh oh! This wall was kind of like the London Bridge, not so much 'cause we were building a bridge but more because it came tumbling down. Now is when we called Art.
Notice, if you will, that we are now inside the nice air conditioned house and Art and Friend are outside the house.
There it is, some wood, some lattice, some Art and you have a succah.
Next up: The Decorating of the Succah Or It's too Dang Hot Up Here on this Ladder so We're Just Going to Decorate the Bottom Half.