Monday, April 27, 2009

The Pessach Marathon

I know Pessach probably seems like a fleeting memory of the past for some, but it is still very clear in my mind.

Partially because my husband and I are so cheap, we are still working on polishing off our last box of Shmura Matzah three weeks after pessach (Hey... for $20.99 a box we'll get our money's worth thank you very much!) and partially because it was the very first Pessach I made by myself as a married woman.

(It would be nice if I could say my last... but I won't go that far.)

Pessach is a wonderful holiday. I am not knocking it. Pessach evokes some of the greatest family memories -- sitting around the Seder table, my husband's precious marror, my precious charoses, stomach aches from the matzah and wine, all the interesting tunes during Nirtzah... you all know.

On the other hand, Pessach is a heart-breaker. It really brings out the man (or the woman, I should say) in you. I heard someone say this year that all women deserve a gold medal after pessach - for all the work before during and even after the holiday.

Finally, my mother likened preparing for Pessach to running a marathon... and boy was she right.

My experience went something like this:

I must start off by saying the sweat and tears of preparing for pessach were not my own. They were also my sister Rachelli's. Rachelli came to Des Moines for the week prior to Pessach to... well... help me make Pessach. I hadn't done one thing before that one week marker for better or for worse. Growing up in a house where chametz can only be eaten in the kitchen or dining room the day after Purim, this made me a bit nervous. On the other hand, we had one week in boot camp. One week to turn my three bedroom house (in which two kids under the age of two live, in which cherios, graham crackers, pretzels, and bagles can be found all over the house, in the very strangest places) upside down. I was ready - sort of.

Our game plan was to do as much as we can while both kids napped and while they slept at night. Knowing my history of crashing at precisely 9:00 PM when hopefully both kids are down the for the night, this was a bit difficult. But we did it. I don't think I ever bossed my sister around as much as I did that week. I made her clean, wash, fold, vacuum, move furniture. You name it, she did - but so did I. We made a great team. Not to meantion her method of payment was watching American Idol, Gossip Girl, and One Tree Hill while we cleaned. That and some ice cream and unlimited access to my laptop. Hey, a girl's gotta work for a price... I respect that.

Favorite memory: taking pictures of me sitting INSIDE the fridge and freezer in our garage cleaning it out. Least favorite memory: acting like some professional weight lifter and lifting couches while vacuuming at the same time.

Somehow, we did it. We finished it off with toveling new pots and utensils, covering the counters, oven, stovetop, and fridge - and finally looked around at our hard work with content smiles.

(In case you were wondering, I didn't mention the food part since my saintly mother cooked a storm for me when I was in Detroit two weeks prior to Pessach. Since we were having almost 20 guests from Josh's school for our second seder, my mother didn't want me to worry about cooking. It's a good thing I didn't have to - because... superwoman or not -- there's only so much I can do. Even with an all star sister like Rachelli.)

So, it was the day of Bedikas Chametz - and we had a Kosher for pessach house! Which was quite important, because I forgot to mention that my sister in law had a baby boy in Silver Spring whose Bris was two days before Pessach. Missing her and the family as badly as I did and wanting to be apart of the Simcha - I flew in and out of Silver Spring within 24 hours with Yehuda to be at the Bris. It was a bit crazy...but no regrets, I'm glad I went. I wouldn't have been able to do it though if Rachelli and I hadn't worked so hard the week before.

So - back in town and ready for Pessach. After some marror grinding, professional charoses making, and romain lettuce checking - we were set to go!

The first seder was just me and Josh. It was lovely. Can you imagine having a seder with JUST two people? I was actually the one egging us on to continue talking through Maggid. We were great. Engrossed in coversation, eating our matzah and marror, doing our thing. (However, after the meal, I must admit that I was too tired to continue and we pretty much said Hallel and Nirtzah to ourselves. And when Josh told me to search for the Afikomen after a brutal week and a half leading up to that very Seder I simply looked at him and said, "you've got to be kidding.")

Second Seder was a different story. Since Josh is the Vice President of the Jewish club at DMU, we had approximately 18 guests for our seder, including Josh's Jewish advisor. It was a whirlwind - but it was incredible! Josh and I were so thrilled to allow his fellow students to experience a genuine Orthodox seder. You could tell some of the students had memories of sederim from their childhood - and others were experiencing it for the first time. We laughed, we ate Matazh, drank some wine, said a little Maggid, and ate a huge feast. Naturally, the guests peetered out after dessert, which was fine with me and Josh. (We went ahead and said Hallel and Nirtzah to ourselves once again.)

The amount of food was offensive, but hey, it was a traditional Orthodox seder, right?

Josh was on such a high when it was over. Some students stayed after everyone left to ask us questions and talk a little more about Judaism. He felt so accomplished and proud of us as a family. He got all frum and said, "Hashem may have sent us to Des Moines just to have this Seder!!!" You know what, he may be right.

So what I've learned from my first Pessach: Gather your patience and your stamina - and grab your favorite sister to give you a hand! All the sweat and tears are worth it because even if you're having a seder with just two people, or inviting 20 non religious guests - or both in my case -- Pessach is a beautiful thing and it really brings people together.

I think with each year I'll become more confident in preparing the house and actually cooking all the food. And maybe even say Hallel and Nirtzah aloud :)

My Comeback

Wow. Flash forward 4 months.

You know how most people take a legitimate maternity leave from perhaps a job, position, professional commitment, etc? Well I took a maternity leave from blogging.

For those others out there watching two kids full time (in Iowa shall I add) or acclimating to some other life altering experience that combines exhaustion, sleep deprivation, a ridiculous amount of patience, creativity, and physical stamina, not to mention a bit of seclusion would understand why I've been preoccupied.

I'm not fact I don't ever remember being happier now that I have two kids. Skinnier, yes. Less bags under my eyes, perhaps, more time to focus on myself, maybe. But nope, never been happier. That's because on January 1, my little boy graced us with his presence and added a new element of joy (and unfortunately less blogging) to my life.

Now, I'm not a fan of sharing labor stories with the general public, but I believe you all deserve to hear a bit of this one... in Iowa and all. Let's start with the fact that I could not BELIEVE I went three days overdue with Yehuda. Aviva was two weeks early and surprised the world on her Pessach debut (remember the last blog about my mother missing Aviva's birth? This time around, I was nervous three weeks prior to my due date wouldn't be early enough for my mom to arrive.)



Boy did I learn my lesson. NEVER think you're going to be early. It'll destroy you. It'll make you impatient, grouchy, and feeling one hundred times bigger than you are. Believe me, I was all those things. When the Dr. told us at our appointment on my due date that I must be having a boy because he's "a mama's boy" and doesn't want to leave the womb, I just laughed and envisioned a mama's boy son attached to my apron strings for the rest of his life. Fine, I thought, I can live with that...just get it out of me ASAP, I can't stand being pregnant anymore!!

Well, on January 1st, one hour after my mother in law arrived in Des Moines, my water broke and I was officially in labor (Thank Gd!!) There must be something about my in laws that induces my labor. I'll have to remember that the next time I consider requesting pitosin. (No thanks about the drugs... I'll have my in laws instead). To spare you all the details, I had a very interesting and quick labor. I dilated from 4 to 10 centimeters in FIVE MINUTES no exaggeration. (I had a super effective method - call me if you want details.)

The nurse couldn't even believe how quickly I progressed. In fact, she told the Dr. to relax at home during my earlier stages of labor. Hey, enjoy New Year's, right?? Then.... five minutes later...when I was ready to push....she MANHANDLED ME back into the bed, called the Dr. frantic to get over to the hospital ASAP, all the while keeping me calm that the Dr. is on his way.

I vividly remember looking the nurse straight in the eye while she refrained me from pushing until the Dr. arrived and asking veryyyy sternlyyyy, verryyy slowwllyyyy: "Ok. Tell me, wheeerrreeee doooooessss heeee liiiiiivvveee?? Translation: How quickly can he get here?!? She assured me he'd be there in 10 minutes.

Silly me, this is Iowa.

In the words of my husband, no destination is more than 10 minutes away in any direction. Besides, it's 11:30 PM, New Year's Day. That means, either everyone is home sleeping off a hangover which means no traffic for my OB (or at least I hope.... he's not one of those people himself) or - everyone was so bummed New Year's was so dull in Iowa - they decided to sleep the whole day through... until the 2nd, which again, means no traffic for my OB.

Either way, the ten minutes my nurse assured me felt like 10 years. After a grand entrance from my OB running into the room, he graciously bowed his head, extended his arm, and told me in a calm, regal prince-like voice, "You may push."

Two pushes and 7 lbs, 3 oz later, our Yehuda Aryeh was born.

All in all, it was a great experience. I must say in Des Moines' defense... the hospital was WONDERFUL. The staff and accommodations were wonderful. Although they definitely were not used to Orthodox Jews in that my Dr. couldn't believe we weren't naming him for 8 days and the nurse was confused why we kept asking her to turn the lights on and off in the hospital on Saturday, everyone was very lovely. In fact, at Yehuda's first pediatrician appointment, the Dr. took one look at his Bris Milah and said - geez! that's the best circumcision I ever I saw! When I proceeded to tell her it was done by a Rabbi and not a Dr, she simply said, "Well I think your Rabbi could teach some of my Drs. a thing or two!"

Hey, Kiddush Hashems come in all shapes and sizes... and body parts!

So yes, my son was born in Iowa. We had a Shalom Zachar and a Bris. Our wonderful family came in from Detroit and Silver Spring, which made it just like home. So we had 10 people Friday night instead of 100 and the Bris was home made by our Shul instead of by a professional caterer, but beautiful nonetheless. When life throws lemons at you, you make lemonade. Besides, with a family like ours, there's no need to be lonely or upset. Someones only a plane/car ride away.

I still laugh about having Yehuda grow up telling everyone he was born in Iowa. Aviva will roll her eyes, his Rebbaim will smile, his friends will laugh, we'll probably do all three. Either way, we're thankful that everything went smoothly. And yes, we are excited to bring Yehuda back into civilization in a few years.

Monday, December 15, 2008

"If I Could Control Life " - to the tune of "If I Were a Rich Man"

It's countdown time.

"The final countdown...."

"Let's get ready to rumble..."


And all of the above.

Although I'm not technically due for another two weeks, I feel like I could have this baby any day. As I clearly know, man plans and G-d laughs - so I am clearly not in control.


What I would do if I was in control? Hmm... for starters I would have had this baby already and put an end to my aches, pains, and late night insomnia antics. But I'm supposed to be holding off for two important reasons: #1 - my mother is coming tomorrow night G-d willing and #2 - Josh ends finals of his first semester in medical school this Friday.

Both reasons have a special, if not infamous place in my heart.

My mother planned to come to Maryland to be with me when I had my first, Aviva. I was due April 21 - a full two weeks after Pessach and after much debating, my mother decided to stay home in Detroit for the second days of Pessach and come to Maryland right after to make sure she didn't miss the birth. G-d had other plans. On April 8th, As Josh and I welcomed in the second days of Pessach with a beautiful kiddish and the breaking of my water at my in-laws Yom Tov table we knew the plans had changed. I was going to have a baby within 24 hours and Yom Tov just started. Not only would my mother not be there, but we will have a child, possibly name it if it is a girl, and not inform her or my father until two days later.

And that is precisely what happened.

Aviva was born at 11:30 AM on April 9th, the first day of second days of Pessach. After sitting through what turned into a teary-eyed, emotional, anxious meal with all eyes on me - Josh and I headed out to the hospital in a taxi at about midnight.

(It was a miracle we made it. We almost lost our minds with the taxi service. The shul had a special code in the back of the phone book when calling a cab on Shabbos/Yom Tov so one would not have to pay the driver at the time. In the phone book, the code was labeled "The Aleph, Bet, Gimmel, Daled, Hey" code. Hmmmm... ok????

So when Josh was speaking frantically to the cab driver of Indian or Lebanese descent he kept on telling them the Aleph Bet Gimmel Code. Naturally, they thought we were crazy. But alas! Josh figured it out -- he tried again saying the "One, two, three, four, five code!!"

"Ohhhhhhhhh, the one, two, tree, for, faive people" said the taxi driver with the thick middle-eastern accent. "Sure!! Sure!! I know cho you are!" I'll be right there!

Oh, it's no wonder my husband got into medical school.)

So after Josh called the taxi, ran to his Rosh Yeshiva's house to have a 4.5 minute crash course on Halachos of dealing with your wife when she has a baby (which of course his wife begged him to attend weeks BEFORE she went into labor) - we were successfully off to the hospital.

And Thank G-d, 11 hours later - our most beloved daughter was born.

After all the excitement, adrenaline, and fatigue, I remember sitting in my hospital bed on the postpartum floor thinking one thing: My parents have no idea I am holding my child in my hands.

You have to know my parents. My mother would have sold her right arm to be there with me. Josh kept saying he envisioned her receiving vibes all the way from Detroit and SPRINTING down the Pennsylvania Turnpike in snow, sleet, rain, or shine to be there in the hospital. But she was not.

And as you may have guessed, since Aviva was born on the first day of Yom Tov - Josh walked to Shul on the second day to name her. We could have technically waited, but we already knew we were going to name her Aviva Bracha (Bracha after my father's mother) and we believed it was the right thing to do. Besides, I'm not a huge fan of calling babies "Herbert" or "Bob" before they are properly named.

"If I could control life...."

I obviously could not control when I had Aviva and I surely could not control flying my mother to Maryland on a magic carpet eating Matzah of course, since it was Pessach - to be there with me when I had the baby. Thank G-d, I had my more-than wonderful in-laws who were there every step of the way. They enjoyed the entire experience from beginning to end and will always remember that crazy night/day.

(And no words have to be said about how amazing my mother is - and I know she was there with me in spirit.)

The second reason why I have to hold off on having this baby is because of Josh's finals.

Yes, Josh is almost finishing his first semester of medical school. He can almost see the light at the end of the tunnel. ALMOST. I told him that despite what he thinks, he cannot go this entire week without sleeping AT ALL. Knowing him, he probably can't think that far ahead and will begin the trend unknowingly. I was quite pleased with him when he tracked into bed at 3:30 last night. The definition of a good night's sleep definitely alters when you are a medical student. 3:30 -7:00 is a relatively normal night's sleep.

Although this baby is more important than school (depending on who you ask... just joking) - it would be nice if Josh could finish his finals peacefully before the baby. Let me remind everyone that Josh took his MCAT FIVE DAYS AFTER AVIVA WAS BORN. Yes, that's right. It wasn't great timing - but he chose to take it that month. He slept by my side at the hospital on the couch with the baby in one arm and his MCAT book in the other. Of course the four nights leading up to the exam gave him little sleep - but of course, he was the happiest new father anyone could ask for. The MCAT however, will remain a less fond memory in his mind.

Point being - I feel like I owe him to a certain extent. I feel like he deserves a break. Either that, or we have to do a better job planning things because this baby/exam relationship isn't going over well in my head. Babies and books should have nothing to do with each other if you ask me.

But once again, I cannot control my schedule. It is in G-d's hands. Josh believes that I am convincing myself I will have the baby early since Aviva was two weeks early. I am not convincing myself and despite what he thinks, I cannot MAKE myself have the baby (although I would if I could) - I just feel ready any day now.

One thing I can control is making sure Josh is accessible this whole week in case I DO need him. Whether that be handing his cell phone to the professor during his 5 hour anatomy exam or wearing a pager that says "MY WIFE IS IN HER NINTH MONTH AND ABOUT TO POP" - I expect him to be somewhat accessible. And besides, it's not like I'm going to begin my labor and have a baby within 2-4 hours of his exam time right??? I should only be so lucky.

There are so many other things I wish I could control. What if it's a boy? Where will we get a Mohel? We're in Des Moines. What if it's a girl? Who will come to our Kiddish? Our friends live so far away. I also would love to control is Aviva's reaction to the new baby, but I know that is out of my hands. I hope she is understanding and compassionate - as best as a 21 month can be with a baby sibling. I have confidence in her though, she never ceases to amaze me.

I cannot control any of these things. We're here in Iowa and if a bris or kiddish will consist of Lander's Bagels and jelly so be it (although I'm sure my mother and mother in law will work at all leanghts to make everything beautiful!) We'll miss our friends pouring in the Simcha, but we know we're in their hearts and they're in ours -- miles away!!

So just as a note to self: wait for my mother and wait for my husband to take his exams in peace.

Easier said than done. My mother is coming tomorrow night - I think I can accomplish task #1. Task #2... will be in G-d's hands.

"If I could control life..."

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Community Calendar

Oh how my weekend is complete.

I received a gift wrapped in a plastic bag on my door knob this morning. (Actually, I received it on Saturday...but chose not to take it in until Sunday, yes I am very Frum. Either that or the big "L Word" = Lazy.)

Well, as I drove down my still icy driveway at 8:15 this Sunday morning on my way to Hebrew school in the 16 degree weather, I noticed the gift wrapped in plastic. At first I was hesitant. It looked like some sort of solicitation I'd throw directly into the garbage. But hence it was not a solicitation.

It was better.

Much, much better.

I had received the 2009 Windsor Heights Community Calendar.

Joy to the world.

Now, I'm not trying to be negative. It's actually a really beautiful calendar. I could always use a calendar in the house.

Nautrally, I looked for the Shabbos lighting times on Fridays and the Pessach and Sukkos schedule, but who was I kidding? I hate to break it to myself, but there are approximately 10 other souls in the city of Windsor Heights who are in need of documenting Shabbos and Yom Tov times on their weekly/monthly calendars. I began to think to myself - what's the point of having a calendar if it doesn't show Shabbos and Yom Tov times? I wonder...

I know! I can check to see what days of the week mine and Josh's birthdays fall out on.

Josh's birthday is on a Friday and mine is on a Wednesday. Lovely.

okkkkk, What next?

This is boring.

I then noticed there were small postings on many days through out the calendar. I wondered what they were. I looked closer at the title of the calendar reading "Community" Calendar and I then realized that there were community events written on various dates.

This ought to be good. Let's review together shall we?

1. Elk's Bingo Club: Meets Sundays at 2:00 PM and Thursdays at 7:00 PM
Senior citizens, hearing aids, a night of math = NO THANK YOU.

2. Lions Club Meeting: Meets at Hy-Vee first Tuesday of every month at 6:30 PM
I know that Hy-Vee is the local supermarket but I haven't the slightest clue what the Lions Club Meeting is. Honestly, it sounds like a gentleman's club... but I'm not going down there. And I don't know why they'd meet in a supermarket.

3. Mayor's Hour: Meets every second Tuesday from 9:00-10:00 AM at the Mayor's Office
I wonder what kind of issues they'd bring up? Kinder, gentler dog rights? More rigorous plowing trucks? Annual children-with-no-shoes day? I have a whole list of things that I'd bring up. Starting with prohibiting manual garages to documenting Shabbos times on the calendar.

Note to self - attend Mayor's Hour.

(What if Mayor's Hour means a discussion of the Mayor's agenda, not the community members' agenda. Oops, didn't think about that.)

Note to self - stop being so selfish.

4. City Council Meeting: Every other week 5:15 at City Hall.
Oh this must be where community members can voice their rights. Let the mayor talk during his hour, I'll be attending the city council meeting.

5. Community Coffee Club: Meets third Saturday of every month from 9:00-10:30 AM at Grounds for Celebration.
My favorite coffee shop in the city!! And they meet on Saturday mornings.
Great, the one community event I'm passionate about. Oh well, it doesn't beat Shabbos. Moving on...

6. Legislative Coffee: Meets last Saturday of every month at 9:00 AM at 3E.
OK, don't know where 3E is but I sure don't understand what the correlation between coffee and Saturdays is. Hello?? Include others!

7. Elk's Club Pancake Breakfast: Meets second Sunday of every month 8:00 AM - Noon.
Don't know who these Elk club people are, but I'm up for pancakes.
But wait, these are the same people that play bingo. I have a feeling no one under 65 will be admitted.

8. WHF Meeting second Tuesday at 7:00 PM/ / WHJCC Board Meeting last Friday of every month from 8:30-9:30 AM.
I don't know what WHF or WHJCC stand for - kind of reminds me of WWF. Who knows, maybe it's a Des Moines wrestling club. I'm not one to judge...

Well there are others, but that pretty much sums it up.

Despite the fact that the calendar lacks Shabbos and Yom Tov times, it does not lack humor in my opinion -- which is always well needed. Now I know what to do on days that I'm bored. Crash the local council meeting, covet the Saturday coffee club, steer clear of Elk's Club Bingo, and pray to Gd the Lion's Club isn't doing what I think they're doing in the local family-friendly supermarket.

This is Des Moines we're talking about. I should be ashamed of myself for even suggesting such a thing.

Oh and naturally, there are restaurant coupons on the back flap of the calendar.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

The Weather Outside is Frightful

Josh and I are having a bit of an issue. We're experiencing our first TRUE winter together.

We've been through winter weather before. We lived in Silver Spring for two years. Now I'm not going to get on a my bandwagon here because it drives my husband crazy, but Marylanders don't really experience the thrusts of winter like the midwesterns do. This is a phenomenon that I do not understand. It snows every year in Maryland, does it not? Marylanders have to drive in the snow, do they not? Then why does the city of Washington D.C. make the hugest deal when there are three inches of snow on the ground? The roads don't get plowed very quickly, the average speed limit on the highway drops to 35, and people begin to bring out their REAL winter outwear.... tiny little peacoats from Old Navy. Ohhhhh!! Now we're really prepared.

I've grown up my whole life knowing that winter coat shopping was a mere battle zone when it came to dealing with my father. (My friends relay similar stories of such battle zones.) My sisters and I would pick the trendiest coats - but we knew they'd have to pass the warmth test.. My father would literately have to feel the inside padding of the coat to make sure it was properly insulated. We'd plead our cases with googly eyes - but to no avail.

Warmth over style. We were forced to swallow it.

I have to admit - now that I am older and wiser (and a mother myself), I truly understand the value of proper winter outerwear. Because if it weren't for my father, I'd end up lost - like a typical Marylander with a peacoat when it's negative five degrees outside.

Like the time we went to Detroit in January with about 8-12 inches of snow on the ground. Of course, we didn't pack the most sensible clothing - but since I was in a house with three other Stawis women - I had my fair share of boots, hats, gloves, and coats (screened by my father) so I would be properly garbed when entering the winter wonderland outside. Then there was Josh. Josh is 6"1. My father is 5"9. My brother is 5"9 1/2. Josh putting on my father or brother's coats would be like an elephant squeezing into a turtle's shell. As good of a sport he is, he'd rather freeze thank you.

But then there were the galoshes. Somehow, some way, my father convinced Josh to use his extra pair of galoshes over his Shabbos shoes. Thinking it wouldn't be too harmfull, Josh squeeeeeeeeezed his beautiful patent leather wedding shabbos shoes into the rubber protectors and proceeded to wear them the entire morning. When he came home, not only were his toes red and completely malformed, he had officially ruined his shoes. So there we were, completely out of style, with our bodies completely misshaped, but once again---- we were warm.

(So much for not getting on my bandwagon... sorry Josh, please forgive me.)

We now live in Iowa.

I'm not sure if it annoys me or makes me proud, but the people here are so RIDICULOUSLY sensible when it comes to the weather. They wear REAL coats. They wear REAL boots. Walmart has been selling snow shovels and ice scrapers since the end of September (are you surprised??) - Don't worry, that hasn't expediated our need for buying these items. Sure enough, we waited until the middle of December to purchase these items, but that's besides the point.

I'll have everyone know that Aviva dresses very sensibly for the winter. She has boots, a Rothchild puff coat (I scored with the style and warmth with that item!)gloves, and a real snow hat that covers her ears and chin. She is a force to be reckoned with. She can roll in the snow and not get a flake on her. She makes me proud. She is the daughter of a Detroiter.

I have to admit, the winter weather has been quite controlled before we left for Silver Spring this Thanksgiving break. Sure, the temperature has been cold and it flurried here and there, but there were no major winter issues. That is, until the DAY we returned to our home-sweet-home. We were welcomed home HARD.

When we finally returned after our lay-over trip, Aviva and I patiently waited for over a half an hour for Daddy to fetch the car from the economy lot. The weather outside was definitely frightful. I was shocked at how much snow was on the ground even from my view on the plane. And to make things worse, it was coming down hard even as we were leaving the airport. Now for those of you who are thinking ahead.... economy lot = no car covering. Yes, we saved money, but yes, our car was covered in 3-5 inches of snow and no, Josh did not have the proper gloves, hat, coat, or scraper to get all of the snow off and retain his warmth. Being the good man that he is once again, he tried his hardest and got all the snow off bare-handed and all. The entire ride home from the airport we argued our "Detroit vs. Maryland winter argument" which ended in me not being allowed to go out to Walmart to buy the basic needs (milk, cereal, juice, etc.) after we returned from our trip due to the weather. I'm not allowed to say I can handle it because I'm from Detroit. That only makes him madder. So the milk and cereal had to wait.

The snow didn't end there. It's snowed most of the week since we returned from Silver Spring. Thankfully, our landlord has lived up to his word of plowing our driveway. Although this is a major help, if you don't shovel the snow as it comes down, it tends to pile up below the snow plow and freeze over - making a thin sheet of snow/ice even after it's been plowed. Great, just what we need for a sleep-deprived medical student, 9 month pregnant lady, and 1/5 year old who just started walking 4 months ago. Translation: Accident-prone!!

Despite the wonderful plowing, our walk-way and stairs that lead up to our front door are still covered in snow. And ice for that matter. Which is when I informed Josh that we needed to purchase a shovel and salt for the ice. (We purchased the shovel, but have not yet tackled the salt.)

It suddenly dawned on me that we needed to shovel ASAP because other human beings may try to enter our home i.e. the UPS man, a neighbor, or our babysitter, Jessica. Instead of proactively shoveling our walkway, we simply told Jessica to enter our house through our garage. This has been working well until we received a note from our landlord that our garage should be shut at all times unless we are pulling out or pulling in. (Geez, so many issues with the garage!! If there are going to be so many rules... why not install an automatic switch for us?!?! and take us out of our misery?!) bottom line is - we can no longer take the easy way out. Josh - WE NEED TO SHOVEL AND ICE OUR WALKWAY.

I hope people don't think we're rude or lazy or that we would G-d forbid want their children to slip and fall in front of our house. (although we don't want intruders and like our space, we would never ever do such a thing.) We're just really really busy. I know that sounds lazy and it's a bad excuse but it's true. I almost feel like we need to plan our housekeeping chores around Josh's exam schedule. The boy barely eats and sleeps, let alone remembers to do housework. I wish I could just snap my fingers and have it done!

Between you and me, I would seriously get out there and shovel and salt myself. I don't for my husband's sake. I wouldn't want to embarress him. I wouldn't want others to think he isn't a good husband and isn't helpful and is making his popping wife shovel the walk-way. I'll wait until he does it.

(which better be soon.)

I know he'll step up to the plate, as he always does. Just think, he entered Iowa as a naive pea-coated Marylander and will be leaving a man - a true Iowan winter pioneer.

And then there's me - the natural, the native. Just joking. It's not easy for me either. I have to get back in the groove myself. Although I do just smile and nod when Josh instructs me to call Hebrew school to see if it will be canceled when it only snowed about 3-5 inches.

I know better.

Monday, December 1, 2008

Our Short Taste of Freedom

For Thanksgiving weekend Josh, Aviva, and I had our short taste of freedom. i.e. Silver Spring.

Our excitement for this vacation weekend knew no bounds. Aviva was completely packed approximately 5 days prior to our departure. I actually had to remove her undershirts and socks from the suitcase in order to dress her at home the days before we left. I practically brought every article of clothing that I still fit into so that I would have multiple options of outfits to wear. I feel like such a shlub around the house at home - why not bring a million choices of clothes for my vacation when seeing my family and friends? And yes, I did leave Josh a small corner of the suitcase.

Josh was beyond excited as well. The night before we left he told himself he was going to start his vacation early and not study. He just sat on the couch with his eyes half-closed murmuring "I just want to go out and play some poker."

Ok A. we don't have a whole lot of money to spare and B. knowing our friends, you'll probably get to play some in Silver Spring.

Josh had slept for 2 hours over the past 48 before we left for SS due to two back-to-back exams. I can tell when Josh stays up the whole night (which unfortunately is not an uncommon occurrence). First of all, with my ninth-month insomnia predicament (inability to get comfortable in ANY position) I find myself gazing at the clock at all hours of the night. 1:15...3:45....4:50.... numbers I don't like to associate with the night time, only the afternoon time. And sure enough - no Josh to be found. Then I hear the rustling of papers and crumbling of food bags. Yup, Josh is raiding the lazy susan for "healthy snacks" at 4:00 AM (which I have yet to master on the shopping list) and shuffling his papers all over the coffee table. Sure enough, on schedule, he stumbles into the bedroom at 6:30 to take a shower mumbling under his breath that he is going to fail the exam and that sleep is overrated and for the weak. Hmm... I beg to differ. As a mother knows, large quantities of sleep may not always be possible, but it sure as heck is not overrated! When Josh stays up the whole night, he'll usually fetch Aviva from her 13 hour slumber after he hasn't slept a wink. When I come out, I find the family room a wreck with papers all over, pillows and food everywhere, and our chenille throw on the floor (which distinctively smells like Josh since he must cloak himself with all possible warmth due to the pregnant lady's thermostat altering antics). But sure enough, he picks himself up and takes that test making us all proud. And I get over the fact that he forgot to shut the lazy susan..... most of the time.

Well that was pretty much the scene right before we left. So again, you can imagine our excitement.

The day finally came! We shut the exploding suitcases, eagerly loaded the car, shut our MANUAL garage, and ditched our one-horse town!!

Maybe I should call it the one-gate town, since the airport is approximately the size of the Southfield Public Library in Detroit. When approaching the terminal, instead of seeing signs that read "Departures" or "Arrivals" there is ONE sign that says "Loading Dock" because you do both in the same place!! Yup, that's right - our airport sounds like a construction site.

When we checked in, the lady behind the counter printed up our boarding passes and inquisitively asked me, "Oh, when are you due?" That triggered panic on my part. The first thing I sputtered out was, "I have a note from my Dr.!!! I am fine to travel! I'm not due for another 6 weeks!" (that's a lie... I'm due in four weeks... and will probably have the baby early... so we're really looking at 2 weeks... but wtvr.) She just blinked and stared at me and said, "Oh. I was just curious."

Oops. Snapping at the check-in lady. Not starting on a good foot...

But then she proceeded to tell me horror stories of when she traveled pregnant and threw up all over everyone around her on the plane. TOO MICH INFORMATION. Besides, I hate when people share their horror stories. Ok, I don't feel so bad for snapping anymore.

Aviva was a hit. She ran through the entire airport (not such a large feat), played in the play area, which I have to admit was very cute, and was all-around pretty terrific through out the flights. Of course, we brought Josh's computer and let Aviva watch a few DVDs, which fully entertained her when she was not pulling EVERY item out of the service flap in front of the chairs including emergency information, vomit bags, and air mall shopping magazines. (Remember Aviva's "HELLOOOO IN THEREEEEE!!!" antic her Daddy taught her for Imma's tummy? Well, she proceeded to do that into the vomit bag. Everyone got a kick out of that one.)

The trip was even more exciting because my mother and sisters met us during our 3 hour lay-over in the Detroit airport. I was so beyond thrilled to see them... but they did bring... me.... PIZZA. FROM JERUSALEM PIZZA!!! Yes - I mean real, authentic pizza (not just homemade dough and tomato sauce pizza). It was such a beautiful moment. I think the best part was when Shevy asked if she could have one slice and embarrassingly, but whole-heatedly, I said absolutely not. We had a great time playing, eating, and talking, until we unfortunately had to trudge back through security (the torturous death of us all) and make our way to our flight to Baltimore.

We finally made it!!! Aviva's Bubby and Zaidy were beyond thrilled to see her!! It was a trip six months in the making! No words can describe the love and attention Aviva got through out the whole weekend! She received a new Elmo Live from her grandparents and great grandparents and was thrilled to see the abundance of toys Bubby brought down from her from storage. It was a virtual playroom! It was as if we never left... and I can't forget the uncles and aunt (singular) that gave Aviva so much TLC through out the weekend! It was all wonderful!

Of course - Josh and I enjoyed ourselves immensely. I told myself that I was not going to pressure Josh for any major social obligations or big trips. We were going to relax. We were going to SLEEP. We were going to be laid back. And we pretty much were. I ventured out to visit some friends on my own - and Josh caught up on the rested he needed (translation: 75 games of game cube mario baseball with his 14 year old brother - but hey, I'm not complaining. He doesn't get to do it year round... thank the Lord above.) And I did make Josh live up to ONE social obligation - visiting some of our friends at the Warwick Saturday night. We had a great time seeing everyone, ate pizza and played scategories just like old times. As usual, Josh was the hit of the night - asking Jeremy Goodman if he was "tickly" and having his wife claim that Tamir Goodman "flies". (sorry y'all... you had to be there.)

Oh, I forgot to mention - I was privy to watching a "Rocky" movie marathon with the Rosenbloom men. After yelling at the boys for a half hour that I don't want such profanity on while Aviva is roaming the house, I actually sat down and watched some of the movie. And crazy enough... I actually enjoyed it.

We were so sad to leave. We really value our friends so much and we miss them dearly. We hope they don't go anywhere and wait for us to return some day!! And I'm sure you can imagine, the family was pretty depressed as well. We all concluded that we can't go a full six months without seeing each other again. We stressfully packed up our 500 bags and trudged off to the airport once again.

After a relatively uneventful trip (minus the snow in Detroit, 3 gate changes, and 15 minute stand-still to watch the Giants/Redskins game on the big screen) we made it home only to welcome 5 inches of snow, a car covered in white, and our house that we left at 64 degrees (HEAVEN!!!!!)

Our short taste of freedom was much needed and much enjoyed. I can't lie that it doesn't feel good to be back in my own home -- manual garage and all. We're here for a purpose - and we're actually getting used to it.

We're looking forward to more tastes of freedom to come.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

You Learn Something New Every Day

The good people of Iowa have taught me a great many things.

Some good... some bad... some downright laughable.

Let's start with the vocabulary.

Now, as a technical writer (and a newly talented blogger), I consider my daily jargon to be relatively advanced. What else do you expect from someone who spends hours of her day writing? Well, besides the fact that my spelling isn't always perfect I believe I can definitely wing it where the English language is concerned.

However, that does not include strange, primitive, hick town phrases or words which I have never in my life heard!!

(Note: As is a usual occurrence in my blogs, I might be exaggerating just a tad bit, and the truth is - you may have ACTUALLY heard of these words/phrases before. Now I did not grow up a princess (although my husband and my brother-in-law may disagree on that point) but no, I am not familiar with slang terms for tools or words that describe farm-like physical exertions. Why is it that men know what these terms mean? I don't think it's because they look up the definitions in the dictionary. They just know it. They probably knew all the inappropriate words back in preschool before we women did because they make it their business to know. Either that, or they pretend to know what everything means and then just make us feel stupid when we have no idea what they're talking about.)

Ok, here's the vocabulary list:

1. Consignment Shop (otherwise known as a thrift shop - this one's for you Rachel!)

One day, I was on my way to TCBY ice cream with Aviva when I noticed a children's shop right next store. I immediately noticed that it wasn't an ordinary store - there was baby equipment (strollers, swings, pack-n-plays...) lined up outside and a sign on the window that said "Accepting Today". Accepting what I thought? Customers? Of course they are!! Then I thought, hey Aviva! Let's go in!

Once we went in, I realized what was meant by "Accepting Today". They're accepting items for their store!! People actually bring their used items to the store and depending on the quality and condition, receive money for it! Then the customers come in and have the option to purchase such items! Fascinating!! There was clothing, toys, shoes, books, videos. You name it, they had it. I called my mother and explained to her this wondrous phenomenon. She said yes, honey. That is called a thrift store. People bring in used items for other people to buy at a discounted price. She then probably mumbled under her breathe (Oh lord, where did I go wrong?!?!)

Now I have very dear friends who shop at these places and are down-right proud of it. You go girls!! That's not to say however, that I have not bought a single item from the store and each time I pass it, the only true thought that comes across my mind is "how much money can I get when I bring in my used items!!"

2. Sack

Now, ok y'all, I know what a "sack" is - but not in reference to grocery shopping! The first time I went to Walmart, the lady at the cash register kindly asked, "Would you like a sack for your milk?

A sack? for my milk? Whatever happened to "paper or plastic?" lady?! I'm going grocery shopping for Gd's sake not apple picking!

And yes, I would like a sack for my milk. Please don't make me feel guilty that I am not being kind to my environment. But I am carrying a toddler and pregnant, and it would just be a whole lot easier if I could carry my milk into the house in a SACK.

Now a friend of mine once told me that she thinks it's hilarious that her mother in law calls her shopping bags "parcels" or "bundles" or something of that nature... Well that least that sounds refined!! No, sorry. When I go shopping, I have to carry home my sacks of food.

3. Doohickey

Now, I actually had to look this one up in the thesaurus. It's a synonym for widget. Context in which I learned this word? Surely you are wondering because lord knows I would never use the word doohickey on my own.

Our landlord promised us an external paint job on our house pretty much since the day we moved in. Well, as July quickly turned to October, we had not yet received our paint job. Not to complain, because we've been very happy with our arrangements thus far- but I was really counting on that paint job!

Well, one day, out of the clear blue sky at the end of October, someone knocked on our door and asked my babysitter to move her car so the paint truck could park in our driveway. They were here! And ready to paint!! No call, no note, no heads up - just -- move your car!! We've got some painting to do!

Hey... gotta choose your battles. I said "Jess, move that car!!"

The paint job went rather smoothly. I was actually quite pleased with the two-toned ensemble they chose. Our house is a cream/taupe and the garage and front door are a deep brown. But when hick #1 was busy painting the garage, hick #2 went to work on the front door. Josh happened to have been home at the time, when hick #2 kindly asked him, "Hey man - what's that doohickey on your doorpost? Can I take it off to paint the door?

Oh great, the Mezuzah again.

No, we don't use it for witchcraft and no, no one has ever referred to it as a doohickey.

After quickly thinking on his toes, Josh realized the man was referring to the Mezuzah and kindly took 2 minutes out of his busy schedule to conduct a mini-kiruv session on Mezuzahs. And yes, kindly, after the paint job was over - hick #2 helped us put the our doohickey Mezuzah back on the door ever so lovingly.

4. Entertainment Packets

Last night, at my Student Advocacy Association Meeting, the theme of the night was "making inexpensive Christmas gifts". Granted, I wasn't going to stay for the actual activity, but I went to the beginning of the meeting to hear all the other announcements. Since the theme of the night seemed to be "being thrifty" one girl reminded the group that in the Sunday paper, there is a wonderful Entertainment Packet. What this is is not just a book of coupons for stores (which I understand that concept perfectly well), but the book also has coupons at restaurants - like "buy one entree, get the other one half off."

This just confused me. Maybe I'm sheltered because I only eat at Kosher restaurants and Jews would never do such a thing as mail out coupons for their entrees, but I just wondered what it would be like to hand a coupon to the waiter at a formal restaurant. Do they know they sent those coupons out in the mail? Is everyone on the same page here? Do they have to call the manager to scan it??

Hmm.... food for thought. (No pun intended)

5. Manual Garage

Pardon me, but no part of the word "garage" was ever manual in my lifetime. Until now. No clicker, no "open sesame", no playing with the garage sensor and making the door stop midway in its descent. Nope. It's called a rope. You pull it when you want the thing closed. You shove it upward when you want the thing open.

Enough said.

6. Elbow Grease

Now, my history with the term "elbow grease" goes beyond my Des Moines days. It started in my parent's kitchen on Harding Street when I was polishing the silver (one of my lesser favorite activities). When I couldn't get the hard stains out of the candle sticks, I maturely went to whine to my mother that we needed stronger silver polish solution. "Dear" she said, "It just needs some good old-fashioned elbow grease." Oh - why didn't I think of that?

5 minutes later my mother found me on the highest tier of our step stool in our walk-in pantry (no Stawis woman is above 5"4)with a frustrated look on my face saying, "Imma. You said it needed elbow grease. I can't find it!! Where the heck is it???"

A moment later, I had to literately lift my mother from the floor who was rolling in tears of laughter. For those of you who don't know, elbow grease means MANUALLLLLL LABORRRRR - it means grind that elbow a little harder!!! It means.... no.... it does not come in a bottle!!!

And by the way, I was not 11 when this story occurred. I was more like 20.

Point being, I've used a lot of elbow grease since I arrived in Des Moines. The real kind.

7. Crawl Space

This one I have to hand to my husband. I was thrilled to notice when we first toured our house that we had a lovely storage space under the stairwell. A great place for storing our suitcases, paper goods, folding chairs, (85 boxes which Josh cut and folded PERFECTLY and chose to keep until our next move). When we were in the depths of unpacking and moving in - Josh would say, "Malkie, put this in the crawl space!!"

The what?

I am not a toddler. I do not crawl. What space is for crawling? Oh THAT AREA?? That's a storage room. Why do people call it a crawl space? I sure as heck ain't crawling in there.

Well there you have it. Your daily dose of Iowan vocabulary. Like I said, some of you (most of you) probably heard these terms before. I did not.

Go ahead, laugh. Make fun. Call me a snob. But I bet when I leave this city... I'll sure know a lot more about doohickeys and shopping sacks then you ever will.