My brother-in-law came down to Florida to visit us this past weekend and while it is always very exciting and fun when we have company, for me, the most exciting part was this: (sorry, Yossi!)
I filled up the van with gas. All. By. Myself.
I know that this sounds completely ridiculous. I've been a driver for a good 17 years, but in New York you only pump your own gas by choice, and in New Jersey, drivers are never allowed to pump their own gas, by law.
It never occurred to me that it might be any different in Florida. So a couple of weeks after we moved, I pulled the van into a gas station with the kids in the back. And we waited. One minute, two minutes, five minutes we're sitting there and so weird - no one is coming out of the little gas-station-house-thing to pump my gas. I contemplated honking the horn but the one thing I did notice about Florida is that no one honks their horn. Almost like cars don't have horns here. I don't know. But I gave the horn a little tap and nothing, no one came. Annoyed, I drove home and figured Josh would go out later on and get gas.
Fast forward a few months, and I am much more at home here in Florida and also, very aware that it's every (wo)man for himself at the gas station. Josh took me a couple of times, and each time he talked me through it. And once, on the way to the airport to pick up my parents, I stopped at a gas station alone but panicked and wound up texting Josh a picture of the gas pump and he texted back instructions.
But this week, I did it and it was all by myself. It's such a small thing, something people do everyday but it terrified me. I still don't love going to get gas - it's all dirty, I don't even want to imagine how many germs are on the handheld part of the hose and will be eternally grateful to anyone who fills my van up for me - but at least I did it.
And you know what else I did this week?
I, by accident, let a rather large Pyrex dish fall off the countertop and smash into a million pieces. If you ever wanted to know what that might look like, well, here you go. And you're welcome. As it was falling onto my ceramic tile floor, I remember thinking - it won't break, that glass is so thick. I was wrong, very wrong.
It hit the floor and I went for my shoes and the broom. And also for a cardboard box to hold all the pieces of glass. I went into the garage to get a box and even though we have many many boxes in there, I could not find one that did not have a hole cut out of the bottom. Wanna know why?
You know I'm going to tell you anyway, so I'm going to make pretend you said yes.
My boys made a pretend yard sale yesterday. And the boxes were used as tables and to store yard sale items and also, as something to cut up because they like to use scissors. So no box for me, but here's a pretty funny (and long) sign one of them taped to his bedroom door, inviting everyone to the his yard sale in his room.
And thanks to Uncle Yossi being here, the kid actually made a sale (!).
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.
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.
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.
What happens when its 95 degrees outside and there's not enough ice cream in the freezer for four kids?
You make milkshakes.
These were delicious - and I can say that because I sucked up the last of all the kids' cups.
And no, these are not even a little bit Whole30 approved, but it was good. Very good. And I made a choice to eat it and I'm okay with that. I mean, I did down six cups of water after I had it, so the water probably flushed all that sugar out of me, right?
Here's what I did:
Put some ice cream in the blender.
Add some almond (soy, real, whatever) milk.
Press the milkshake button and yum.
Add straws and it's almost as much fun as actually going to Carvel. Except for me, it was more fun because I didn't have to put four kids in the van, wait for the air to cool it off and then drive to Carvel. Yahoo!
And on a totally unrelated note, did you see my kitchen floor in the milkshake picture?
It's sparkly and clean and beautiful and it's all because of this:
My new floor steamer. I think it's a Shark brand.
I am so in love with it, I want to buy it a shiny present. Or take it for ice cream.
If you're not so good with a mop and a bucket (like me) and have broken many (many) Swiffers, this little guy will be your new best friend. It requires no soap or chemicals, you just add water and plug it in.
And the sponge-mop-kind-of-thing that cleans the floor? It's reusable. Just use it, toss it in the wash and use it again. I really find that concept to be so wonderful - I was always running out of the Swiffer type stick-on pads and then I couldn't mop. And then I'd forget to get more and then I couldn't mop some more. Wash, rinse, repeat, and you know how that song goes. It always ends with a dirty floor.
But no more, my friends!
Go. Get yourself one. It's one of the best $100 I have spent in a very very long time.
I usually try to stay away from announcing to the world that I am trying yet another new diet because, well because, I'm not so good with the follow-through. I'm actually quite bad at it. But a girl's gotta hope, so here's hoping this new plan sticks.
And the new plan is (drumroll please): Whole30. It takes the clean eating that I have been working hard at and takes it a step further - no grains, no dairy, no sugar and no legumes - which means no quinoa and no chickpeas. I'm not sure what I am going to do. It's kind of like
if the Paleo diet went on a diet.
Whole30 is supposed to hit the reset switch on your metabolism. My metabolism could use a re-wiring, not just the flick of a switch, but you only do what you can do, you know?
I'm also lucky because a great friend is joining me on this journey. It works out well - she is very good at coming up with new things to eat and I'm good at, um, eating those things. So I guess it works out better for me than for her, but who's really counting? We're all friends here.
For the next 30 days (or really, 28 days, because I am currently on day 2), it's me against my pantry. I can't really throw everything my kids and Josh eat into a big black garbage bag(not that I didn't consider it), nor can I go live in the attic with my George Forman grill for a month (thought that one too), so sheer willpower will have to work. It would also be nice if I could lose so much weight that my long black skirt falls down, but I'm not holding my breath. However, my stomach does look flatter when I hold my breath, so maybe I should.
Anyway, on to the real question: So What Is There To Eat?
Good question, but let me backtrack for a minute. I did not do what I should have done. I did not go to Shoprite and stock up on everything I need, instead I am working with what I have for the moment and hope to get to Shoprite tomorrow. Surprisingly, I have a lot in the house: I have ground turkey, chicken breasts, flounder, raw almonds and cashews, a jar of
olives and tons of eggs. And lots of lettuce, tomatoes, carrots and sweet potatoes. Oh sweet sweet sweet potatoes, how I love you.
Oh, and many many water bottles. It's all about the drinking of the water - no matter what you eat.
I ate the same breakfast yesterday and today - I take comfort in the sameness of it all, the unthinkingness of it. Two hard-boiled eggs, a small handful of cashews, ten green olives and an apple for dessert. Sounds like a gross combo but it was actually good - kind of like ordering a bunch of different appetizers at a (very boring) restaurant. And I was full for a good three hours, which really surprised me.
I wasn't very hungry come lunch time. I know, I also couldn't believe it, but I was nervous about getting hungry and cranky later on so I had some plain tuna (no mayo), another apple (I need to go to the fruit store) and because I am a creature of habit, a couple of olives.
Dinner came and went and I still was not that hungry but of course, I ate anyway. I sauteed an onion in some olive oil, added a bag of cole slaw mix and let that steam. Then I added one pound of ground turkey and let that cook itself until it was done and mixed it all up. It was very very good and one of my kids joined me in my ground turkey experiment - he even gave up a pancake dinner.
How it feels? Well, it feels kind of like that last sentence - incomplete, a fragment, if you will. Around 2pm, I started getting a headache, my back started hurting and I felt kind of angry at the world. But then I told myself that the toxins leaving my body were going to take the anger with them and I felt, at least emotionally, better. I know, so yoga-ish to say that and I have not even been doing any yoga, I'm not even sure why my mind went there. Weird. Physically, everything still hurt so once the kids were in bed I took a very long, very hot shower and went to bed. And felt so much better in the morning.
Day 2 was better, physically. Also, I felt very even-keeled all day, which is a new feeling for me. One of the kids would do something slightly irritating and I didn't even have to bite my tongue, nice words seemed to be flowing out of my mouth of their volition. I know. Forget parenting classes, just stop eating dairy.
Today I ate the same breakfast as yesterday. Still have not gone to the supermarket - I had planned to go this morning but it was raining and I really dislike going in the rain. I don't like a wet shopping cart.
Lunch was leftovers from last night's dinner, the turkey and cabbage stir-fry.
Dinner was some plain rotisserie chicken, a baked sweet potato and some cherry tomatoes. I could really use something sweet right now but I already washed the dishes and did the lunchboxes for tomorrow so I am not going back into the kitchen, even if that means I need to park myself in front of the tv.
Let's see what happens on day 3. Should be interesting.
p.s. We love you. Won't you like us? We can now be found on facebook @ The Crumb Factory Blog. See you there!
While Hurricane Sandy was quite scary, especially because in our area, the worst took place during the night - in the pitch black - the days of blackout that followed were, for us (because we are quite lucky and have an intact house and car) quite boring.
We didn't last longer than 36 hours without power in our house; we moved on to my parents' warm and brightly lit house full of televisions and snacks quite quickly. However, in the brief day and a half that we did stay home, we compiled a list of fun activities that need no electricity and are not board games - for some reason, those got pretty old pretty fast.
Here, some ideas of ways to keep the kids entertained during a blackout*:
1. Set your kids up in front of a mirror with a pad of drawing paper and a pencil and have them draw a self-portrait. This is a fun and funny activity because the kids will inevitably think that their drawing looks exactly like them and you will not be able to tell which kid drew which picture.
2. Hand out a few paper plates and some crayons and tell the kids to color the plates completely. Glue a craft stick or tongue depressor onto the plate, making a handle. Blow up some balloons and play 'keep the balloon in the air'.
3. Break out a bag of beads and some string and have the kids make necklaces and bracelets. If they make enough of them, they can give them out to the kids in their class when (if) school starts again. Or just use Fruit Loops and use them for a snack later on.
4. Play hangman. And tic tac toe. Print out some word searches (before the lights go out) and store them with your blackout kit.
5. Use the balloons and paper plate and sticks from #2 above to play volleyball. String a long piece of ribbon, rope or just plain string from wall to wall and presto, a volleyball net.
6. Play charades. My kids had never played this before. It went well, plus all the running to the bathroom because they were laughing so hard made the time pass more quickly.
7. The old classic: build a fort with couches, blankets, sheets and pillows in the living room. Add a few flashlights, books and snacks and you're good to go. Maybe you'll even get lucky and everyone will fall asleep in there.
8. Grab some vinegar, liquid food coloring and a box or two of baking soda. Pour the box of baking soda into a pan - maybe a disposable 9x13 pan, but anything will work. Pour vinegar into 2 or 3 cups (or more, depending on how many cups of colored vinegar you want to make) and add a drop or two of food coloring to each cup. Using mini-droppers (the kind that come with baby tylenol - I've been saving those for years), pick up some colored vinegar and drop it onto the baking soda. Watch as the baking soda fizzles. It's very cool to see and will keep the kids entertained for a nice long while. Personally, I would make four pans of baking soda to keep the elbowing of siblings to a minimum. Count the number of kids in your house to see how many you should make.
9. Take a puzzle that does not have too many pieces - between 12-15 sounds good to me - and hide the pieces around the house. The hiding places don't have to be that good, just a puzzle piece on a pillow or dresser. The kids won't be expecting them anyway. Hand our flashlights and set the kids loose looking for the puzzle pieces. When they're done, let them put the puzzle
together. Then hand out snacks. Finding the puzzle pieces is hard work.
and 10. Play What's on my Tush? I found this game online, here. It basically involved you, the parent, lying on the floor face down, with a pillow (fun already, right?) and the kids get to take turns putting whatever (a crayon, a toy car, a ball, the sadly not working remote) on your backside. The kids give out hints and you have to guess what's sitting on your
tush. This can go on for hours. It's awesome. If you do nothing else, definitely try this one.
See, you can handle this whole blackout thing like a parent who doesn't want to just crawl back into bed with a good book, a drink and a flashlight, even, if like me, that's exactly what you want to do.
*Some of the ideas need specific items which you may or may not have in the house. Since I know that you are already putting together some essentials for the next weather-related
incident, such as the Nor'easter coming this way tomorrow, a quick stop at AC Moore might not be a bad idea.
Are you a Mom?
Of course you are,
your shirt is dirty :)