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.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Don't it Always Seem to Go that You Don't Know What You've Got till it's Gone

(Please keep an open mind)

My clothes. My beautiful clothes.

Where have they gone?

I know this sounds really shallow, but I'm in the process of pregnancy withdrawal right now. Put yourself in my shoes for a minute:

I spent nearly a month packing away my beautiful belongings from Silver Spring in preparation for my move to Des Moines. I ever so carefully folded my tops, skirts, sweaters, suits, dresses, into (FAR TOO MANY) moving boxes labeled "Malkie's precious clothing". (Just joking, the box didn't say "precious" although it should have). Josh was actually the one who labeled the boxes (Correction: Josh labeled the boxes, numbered the boxes, took digital photos of the inside and outside of the boxes, logged the box numbers and their contents in a spreadsheet, estimated the value of the contents in each you get the picture?) As I was thrown into the awful stresses of moving and kowtowing to Josh's organized yet torturing "labeling procedure", my one true pleasure was carefully packing away my possessions. I would pack my clothes thinking "Oh, I'll wear this this dress on this weekend" or "I'll wear this outfit when I meet this person..." (I understand there may be some of you who cannot relate to this idea. The idea of planning one's wardrobe. Well, the same people who take three hours to pack a suitcase because they have to plan out and try on each outfit for each occasion, like myself, truly understand.) This is what went through my mind as I was packing up for Des Moines.

So what if I don't know anyone! So what if I'm leaving my friends behind! So what if I'm leaving a city I can't wait to return to! I still have my clothing all packed up and waiting to be hung in a brand new house!


Wait a minute.

I almost forgot.

I'm 15 weeks pregnant.


Shoot! shoot! shoot! shoot! shoot! Scratch that idea. Then I thought, maybe it won't be so bad. I'll enjoy hanging up my new clothing in my closet and perhaps I'll leave my "I still can wear these although I'm pregnant" outfits at my front reach.

So that's precisely what I did. Although I will readily admit that Josh took charge of PACKING our belongings from Silver Spring, I was mostly involved in unpacking our 85 or so boxes once we arrived. (I cannot BELIEVE I don't recall the actual number of boxes we had... I sure hope Josh isn't reading this. He probably still dreams each night about the number of boxes we had an how our scammy movers ripped us off. Josh will dream about those number for an eternity. Such dreams belong in the category of "men who try to find the best parking space right next to the door although they constantly complain that they need more exercise to get into better shape." Men - stop being such men!)

Well anyway, since I was in charge of unpacking, you can bet I unpacked my clothes in quite a hurry - not to mention hogging all of the hangers we so wisely remembered to pack. (Note: Aviva's clothing are also extremely important on my list... so her belongings were unpacked very quickly as well!)

I enjoyed the scene. Taking out each garment with love and care. Wondering how I should arrange my closet. By season? By color? By favorite? The possibilities were endless. Husbands, when your wives complain that they don't have enough clothes, I suggest this tactic. Have them pack away all of their clothes and then unpack each garment one by one - marveling at each item. (I know it sounds a little over the top... but it just may work.) Or I have another suggestion. Get pregnant, leave your clothes for 9 months... and joyously return to the beautiful wardrobe!! Ok, ok, people should get pregnant for other more important reasons. Forget I mentioned it.

I'd like to take a break to mention - this isn't all about being snobby and obsessed with clothing (although it is about that a LITTLE). This is also about a need for organization. If you're the type of person who loves the smell of "a bouquet of newly sharpened pencils" (You've Got Mail) or you enjoy organizing your shoes in the order of how frequently you wear them, you will understand. Sadly, I admit, I can be that person.

Ok. So a recap of the scene: Clothes are unpacked, everything is organized, everything is beautiful. Except for the fact that I am entering my second trimester and I will not fit into these clothes in approximately 12 hours.

That's when I moved my wardrobe into the SECOND CLOSET! How wonderful to have a three bedroom house! I have been using the closet in our third bedroom as my "maternity wardrobe". It makes me feel important to rise in the morning and walk down the hallway to another bedroom to fetch my clothes. (Albeit, the walk to the third bedroom is approximately three steps and my ever-so glamorous closet is shared with comforters, suitcases, and Josh's 200 ties.)

Nonetheless, it made sense to me. One true closet and one maternity, "nine-months-seems-like-an-eternity" closet.

However, as the title of this blog reads "You don't know what you've got till it's gone". Each morning when I open my eyes (after I say Mode Ani of course), I look from my bed into my open closet and gaze at the beautiful colors and fabrics. It's such a beautiful image, I almost want to take a picture. How beautiful would your closet look if the clothes were unfettered for a full 9 months?! And after I stumble into my maternity closet and put on something I probably wore 4 times already that week, I peer back into my true closet and think of the days that I will no longer be 30 lbs heavier, exhausted, and completely reshaped.

Between you and me, there technically can be a third closet. The "I'm not pregnant, but I'm not a size ____ (fill in the blank) I used to be quiet yet." However, with Aviva sleeping in one room, the new baby sleeping in another, and me and husband in the third - I'm not quite sure where we can find closet space for that. Although my husband is a boy, he is entitled to his personal space and I will not stoop to the level of taking over his closet......................................................yet.

Again, for those of you who are having trouble understanding this (or those of you who understand it perfectly well and are disgusted) just remember, it's a hormonal thing. I'm 33 weeks pregnant, 33 lbs above my usual weight and just really looking forward to being the old me. In the case of pregnancy, I can say that the end surely justifies the means - and a baby is most definitely, absolutely, positively worth it!

That's not to say however, that I am already planning my outfit for this occasion, and that occasion.... hoping and praying to God that I will someday fit into those outfits once again!!

Monday, November 3, 2008

Halloween Confessions

I know, the words "Halloween" and "confession" aren't really a large part of the Jewish vocabulary. Yes, I am Jewish. No, I do not celebrate Halloween. Yes, I am writing about it anyway.

Halloween was an interesting event here in Des Moines. In the great Walmart spirit, costumes, candy, accessories, and decorations were sold in the store fore-front for about six weeks prior to the very important holiday. For Aviva, this was a bittersweet experience. There were some days we couldn't even walk past the aisles because some of the costumes were so God awfully scary. Other days, we regained our courage and searched the costumes for none other than... our best friend... Elmo. Elmo is referred to as "LaLa" in our house because Aviva's one DVD (Elmo's World) begins with Elmo's theme song, "la la la la, la la la la la, Elmo's world..." So when we were feeling brave, our Walmart experience consisted of finding la la (before the scary costumes could find us).

Our first personal Halloween experience happened when Aviva's Kindermusik sent out a newsletter inviting us to a "Halloween/Fall Festival Party". Ok, maybe I shouldn't have gone because the word "Halloween" was in there. But the word "Fall Festival" was also in there - and I felt that was pretty parve - so we went! Listen, on Sundays when Josh is studying all day I pretty much jump at any opportunity for a fun activity. And no, don't worry - I didn't put Aviva in a costume.

The party was fun. The kids pretended they were leaves falling from trees (Hence the "fall festival" aspect of the event title - see? parve, right??) They also sang "The Monster Bash" - Ok... I'll admit defeat when necessary.

After the singing was over, the kids were invited to a room full of fall activities such as jumping in a "leaf pile" (of scarves and pillows), riding through a pumpkin patch, and decorating wooden Halloween masks. Despite the wonderful other parve activities, Aviva chose to decorate a kitty-cat Halloween mask. As our parve outing was turning less and less parve, I decided to let it go. Aviva loves her mask, decorated it very nicely, and maybe will be able to wear it on Purim!!

Oh and don't worry - at our next Kindermusik class where the kids were invited to come dressed up in Halloween costumes, I did NOT cave. After much consideration of putting Aviva in her Purim bumble-bee outfit or Redskins cheerleading outfit (you can guess which one her father preferred) - I decided to stop the Halloween Mishigas and stand my ground as a nice Jewish family. It actually felt good :) And don't worry, Aviva wasn't the only kid left out. One other mother forgot to put her kid in a costume and she was looked at as the world's worst mother. I wonder what the only could have thought of me...

Well, after all the great anticipation, Halloween finally arrived. Now, you may not know, but the families in Des Moines are quite Frum. They go trick-or-treating on "Erev Halloween" - the night of October 30th, not the 31st. I was quite glad to hear this since October 31 fell out on a Friday this year and I sure was not in the mood for my barefooted neighbor friends to stalk us during our Friday night dinner.

I definitely overestimated the wonders of Halloween in our neighborhood. I had visions of the doorbell ringing all night with tons of kids bombarding us for candy. My mother gave us a good idea and told us to leave some candy on the porch and a note saying not to ring the bell or knock on the door - just take the candy. And hey, if one kid takes all the candy - there's no more! Sounds pretty easy. A sure way to keep the kiddies away.

Like I said, I overestimated. I bought three large bags of the Hershey's mini chocolates (milk chocolate, dark chocolate, Mr. Goodbar, & Krackle). I put up a note requesting that the kids don't bother us - and invited our guests to take TWO treats per person. Even though Josh rolled on the floor with laughter at my TWO treat rule (he explained to me that I was quite the dork) -it actually worked pretty well.

Our only true guests (who arrived before we put our note up) were of course... can you guess...? Our lovely neighbors!! Desiree was a cowgirl which was actually quite endearing. Although her brother (the one with the knives) was some horrid looking vampire thing on stilts that was sure to give any toddler nightmares. They were very pleasant and naturally... took the candy and ran.

I should say that we ASSUME everything went smoothly. I chose to attend Josh's volleyball game at his school that night and left the Rabbi's daughters to babysit on Halloween night. We didn't hear any horror stories and of course, we gave them tons of candy when they went home. We can only imagine what they think of us now. (Just joking... they totally understand).

In conclusion, to end our Halloween spirit, I purchased an Elmo trick-or-treat basket today at Walmart for 99 cents. Naturally, Aviva loves it.

Oh, and also - you can only imagine where our extra Hershey's candy is going.

I'm almost 8 months pregnant... you don't have to think too hard.