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Monday, August 31, 2009

Hey!

Ted's on imdb!
 
Weird!
 
And while I'm posting this, if anybody out there wants the coolest graphics, animation or personalized cartoon portraiture in town (great for any birthday, wedding, anniversary or other simcha), check out his online portfolio here:

Just Supper

I'm surprised the pasta machine hasn't gone all rusty:  I'm making homemade pasta tonight for the first time in FOREVER.  Like at least since Gavriel Zev was born.  Maybe since Naomi?
 
Homemade ravioli with chevre-spinach filling... basic tomato sauce on top, I guess.  Hope to get a few full-sized tomatoes from the garden into it!
 
Trying this recipe for the pasta because my pasta cookbook got torn up and maybe lost and I can't be bothered searching...

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Another homecoming...

Princess Big Girl is home once again, after a lovely weekend at a friend's cottage.  Every homecoming is another heartbreak for her, another evening of stomping around the house for us to put up with.
 
She is totally sleep-deprived and has alternated between pouting, shouting and apologizing since I picked her up 45 minutes ago.
 
Sigh.

Quick! Find this bochur a shidduch!

mafioso 007My, but he sure does look “official” in the hat & jacket (thanks to Sears for the suit (only $75!), and to my mother for springing for the hat as an early birthday gift for him)… this was the only picture I could get of him where he wasn’t smirking. 

mafioso 010Actually,  I did take a close-up that looked a little good when I saw it on the camera, but when we imported it into the computer, we noticed a wasp buzzing beside his lip.  I was like, “didn’t you notice it there???”

bugshotHe hadn’t.  Ruined a perfectly good shot, too:

Despite the fact that I shudder now every time I hear the word “green,” I took the littles down to the Green Toronto Festival at Yonge and Dundas Square, just for something to do.

Sara wanted to do BuskerFest instead, so she met us at Queen & Yonge and took Naomi while I headed up to check out the exhibits alone with Gavriel Zev. 

Fun fun fun had by BOTH of us!  Boy, I sure don’t get enough one-on-one time with that kid, and boy, did he have a great time.

While I was checking out the green vendors and swag (two free wubbas, a lunch bag, a bunch of pins), he got his hand painted, played with a couple of music thingies, checked out some drummers, breakdancers, and generally just people-watched.

For the hand painting, when I pulled up the carriage, the clown/lady asked how old he was.  I said, “two.”  She hesitated.  I said, joking, “why, is there a minimum?”  She said, “yes… two.”  Apparently, their skin is too sensitive before that for face paints.  Anyway, it is officially the 10th of Elul, making him OFFICIALLY 24 months tomorrow.  If that isn’t two, I don’t know what is.

(however, his birthday will be held as usual on the 11th of Tishrei, exactly one month from tomorrow… exactly one day after Yom Kippur:  oy!)

Anyway, he passed for two.  She didn’t card him. 

Nice.  We had a nice day.

Speaking of carding:  “Note to self:  Get health cards and birth certificates back from Elisheva!”  Haven’t seen them since I handed them to their grandmother in Calgary.

Supper:  Fresh corn and soup at my mother’s house!  Not sick of the corn just yet…

Rather droopy Shabbos bookay

mafioso 001Okay, the backyard flowers are looking terrific (relatively speaking), but I guess it doesn’t translate indoors all that well.  These are the most beautiful hostas, and Naomi Rivka said I should include them, but I didn’t realize until just now how droopy that bottom few flowers were.  Sigh… it really does look like an end-of-season “dregs” bouquet.

The Breakfast-Cereal Bypass

So if General Mills are going to be morons (see my previous post for the rather dreary saga), I decided to bypass them and go right to the source: Chirp Magazine, aka Owl Publications!

Will they take my very subtle hints in this email and send Naomi Rivka at least a trial issue, if not a 3-issue "mini-subscription" of her very own???
Will they at least sit on the General Mills people to get this stupid, trivial, little thing done for me?

We shall see... as the SAGA continues...

January 2010 postscript: the saga does indeed continue. January 6th here and no magazines yet. Read on!


----- Original Message -----
Sent: Saturday, August 29, 2009 11:51 PM
Subject: Chirp Magazine - promotional subscription


Back in May, we bought a box of Reese Puffs cereal that promised a free subscription to Chirp magazine. All we'd have to do is go to the General Mills website, enter a special code, and our three free issues would be on their way.

Well, we were all very excited (I grew up reading Owl and its sister publications, and my 4-year-old daughter loves both magazines and mail!) and went to enter the code right away.

Due to various difficulties with the website, the code was repeatedly rejected. I phoned General Mills and they, too, were not able to enter the code. They said to wait until the following week and try again. I wished I hadn't told my daughter already and gotten her excited; 4-year-olds are not known for their patience.

A couple of weeks later, after several more tries at the company's excruciatingly slow website, our code was finally accepted! I received an email assuring us that "You should receive your reward within 6 - 8 weeks of this confirmation email."

That was June 1st, just about three months ago.

On Friday, August 28, I received an email from General Mills pleading: "We need your help to send you your free read." Apparently, they have experienced technical difficulties (I knew that back in May!) and "some of the information you provided to us was lost" - including, apparently, our mailing address.

The email concluded in a most glib fashion with the word "Cheers" and the reassurance that we'd receive the magazine "in the next six to eight weeks" from September 15th. That will be, most likely, sometime in November - assuming, charitably, that they make the deadline this time. My daughter, meanwhile, gave up asking about "her magazine" long ago. Maybe she just assumes I lied to her.

Since you're in the business of kids' publishing, you'll realize that May to November - six months! - is an unacceptably long delay in the life of a 4-year-old.

I decided to contact you in case your company is not aware of how badly this promotion has been handled. For whatever reason, General Mills did not have the technical resources in place to handle a promotion of this type. I also wanted to make you aware that there is a very disappointed little girl in our household who was really looking forward to reading Chirp - at least, until she gave up waiting altogether.

Yours truly,
{moi}

Saturday, August 29, 2009

BCMOCRS - the saga continues (moron alert!!!)

Yes, I'm sure you all heaved a giant sigh of relief when our Breakfast Cereal Magazine Offer Code Redemption Saga was happily resolved back in June.  In fact, I reported here that we had received what I called "Cereal Satisfaction."
 
But wait - not so fast!!!  (okay, three months is not exactly fast)
 
Apparently, the MORONS at General Mills have lost our address!
Yes, after we successfully redeemed a book for the big kids ("Frindle") AND a mini-magazine subscription for me ("Canadian Gardening" - surprise, surprise), and countless follow-up emails from me, they no longer have our mailing address to send Naomi Rivka's subscription.
 
Yes, the one I promised her back in MAY.
 
Here's what they said.  Notice how they sign off with a jaunty "Cheers," like this is something businesses do all the time.  "Cheers; we lost your info!"  "Cheers; we disappointed your preschooler yet again!"
 
Cheers.  Morons. 
Also, the reply-to address was NOT an official General Mills address, so - deeply suspicious - I emailed them back asking them to verify that they are indeed associated with this stupid promotion.  Grrr...
 
----- Original Message -----
Sent: Friday, August 28, 2009 2:30 PM
Subject: We need your help to send you your free read

Dear Jennifer,

We realize you requested a free book or magazine from us and we
apologize for the delay in sending it to you. The Books & Magazines
promotion has experienced technical difficulties and as a result
some of the information you provided to us was lost.

If you are still interested in receiving your free book or magazine,
please reply to this email with your complete mailing address by
September 15. Your free book or magazine will arrive in the mail
in the next six to eight weeks.

Remember, the promotion ends August 31 so be sure to update
your profile and place all remaining orders before then.

Cheers,

The Books & Magazines Team at General Mills

Friday, August 28, 2009

Shabbos Food!

Shabbos dinner:
-----
Challah
Soup w/kneidlach
Meatballs - pineapple sweet & sour
Farmers' Market Fingerling Tatoes roasted w/ olive oil, salt, pepper
Farmers' Market Beets roasted w/ olive oil, salt, pepper
Squash - Eli Bass's Squash Kugel
PB Cookies
Choco chip cookies (Elisheva made these last night but now there are only 7 left!!!)
 
Lunch:
-----
Jar fish
Quiche
Garden fresh tomatoes
Lettuce salad
 
Keep it simple, silly!!!

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Superhero no more...

Well, I was feeling like a superhero...and then stuff happens.
 
Up from 4-6 a.m. this morning sneezing.  I am allergic to something, and at times like that, I know for a FACT that it is something in this house.
 
And all the sneezing, I am afraid, is breaking my nice new bellybutton.
 
It doesn't hurt as much as it did, but at times, it's up to 60%.
 
So sad.  I totally felt on top of the world, I really did, just doing stuff everybody takes for granted:  being able to stand upright, walk around, carry my children.  And they promised that stress from exercise etc wouldn't hurt the repair. 
 
Actually, this feels like it's a slightly different spot.  Stupid childbearing abdomen... probably sturdy as cheesecloth now that my four kids are done stretching it out.
 
Maybe I'm just tired.  Maybe it will go away.
 
The VERY GOOD NEWS is:
The periodontist didn't want to treat me.  I went today, I sat nervously in his chair, grinding the pages of Reader's Digest between my fingertips as he stared and prodded and took the World's Most Gruesome Photograph of my teeth (lips held open by a plastic torture stretchy device thingy!).
 
(At least, I thought it was the World's Most Gruesome Photograph until I saw dozens of other people's later on on his computer monitor... ugh, shudder, the proverbial Stuff of Nightmares; other people's Gum Decay, blah)
 
So he said, and let me just savour this:  "I see some recession, but there's no advantage to doing anything right away."  Instead, we are taking a wait-and-see approach.  I am supposed to go back in 10 months for another lips-stretched-out photograph and then he will compare the two to see if my gums are staying where they are or coming or going or what.
 
Hooray!!!  I may not be a superhero, but today, my gums were.
 
For the privilege of having the photo taken and an extensive and actually rather gentle consultation, we paid $215 out of pocket.  Hopefully, most of that will be reimbursed someday soon.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Sour d’oh!

I did it!  After four attempts, today’s bread was a SOURDOUGH SUCCESS.   I feel like I have successfully scaled Mount Sourdough.

breddy 2009-08-26 003Here is the outside of the loaf, which I made based on the recipe here (scroll down to find recipe and technique).  There seem to be two schools of sourdough thought:  the uptight “do it exactly right or you will screw up and your starter will DIE” school, and the more laid-back “it’s yeast… it wants to ferment; just step back and let it GO.”

So the recipe I used follows the second, mellow school and really made me feel at ease with the dough, including the tip (doh) that sourdough takes longer to rise than commercial-yeast-driven bread.  I never knew that!!!  Obvious, but true.

For once, we were eating fresh bread and it wasn’t Shabbos, so I took the liberty of snapping pictures of the Opening of the Bread.

    breddy 2009-08-26 005 breddy 2009-08-26 006 breddy 2009-08-26 008

Look at those thick, yummy slices!

Elisheva was really worried that the bread would be literally sour.  I pointed out that she’d already had sourdough bread last Shabbos, but the truth is, it wasn’t very yeasty/tangy.

I have never really had plain sourdough before (without herbs etc masking the flavour) and it was a learning experience for me.  She said it tastes like Swiss cheese, and I think she’s right.  It is a yeasty, fermenty taste without being a bad taste, perhaps along the lines of Marmite, the thought of which makes me shudder.

I think there is a learning curve before I love it, to be honest.  To “real” sourdough people (afficonados?), regular bread has no flavour; flavour is what a really active, living yeast culture adds to the flour and water – without it, what you’ve got is basically wallpaper paste.

My other thought about the flavour was:  creamy.  The active yeast culture makes the dough taste creamy – yes, in a bit of a cheesy way, but also in a rich buttery way.  Which makes a bit of sense, considering that some cultures like their butter a little more – ahem – cultured than we do.  They actually prefer it to have a cheesy tang that would send most of us rushing to our grocery store’s Customer Service line to exchange it for a fresh one.

Oh, and this time, water-spraying did the trick of getting the crust extra-hard and crispy!  It didn’t do anything last Shabbos, which my mother said was because it was so humid that it probably was crisp and went soft the second I took it out of the oven.  This time, I sprayed it a whole lot every few minutes for the first 15 out of 30 total.  I also tossed a bunch of ice cubes onto a cookie sheet directly underneath the bread, just for good measure…

This whole bread experience has made me happy because at the Farmers’ Market today we saw tons of yummy-looking artisan sourdough breads at the St John’s Bakery booth… and then had yummy-tasting artisan sourdough bread of our own waiting for us at home.

That has been my whole approach to eating kosher for a while, and I’m happy to be getting back to it:  if you can’t find it kosher, make it.  In the past, that has led to making dim sum, fresh pasta, sushi, Pad Thai and all sorts of curries and Indian sweets and flatbreads. 

Sourdough’s just the newest arrival to the list, but I have been away from “artisan” cooking for a while… feels good to be back.

On a high from a nice day.  I had fun.  A while back I said I wasn’t having fun, but today, I did.  Fun day.

Yawnnnn...

Farmers' market, fresh-baked homemade sourdough bread and fresh Ontario corn for supper, drove/biked to the Ex with Elisheva... and back in time to pick up YM for night seder at 10.  I am SuperMom and I can do/have it all!!!
 
(gack)
 
(sound of head hitting desk in fatigue)

SFG Update

Square foot gardens are actually coming along really well.  Note to self:  more climbing beans next year!!!

SFG #1 diagSFG #2 diag

Full slideshows of progress since March can be found (still) here:

slideshows (scroll down)

I can’t believe Mrs. ViKi starts again in less than two weeks.  Don’t worry; I will refrain from lamenting about where the summer has gone!

Yummy Corn Fritters

Mmm… this was last night’s supper:

coleus aug 001 coleus aug 004

The salmon was just pan-fried in butter with fresh lemon juice and I threw some garden herbs (lemon thyme, thyme and parsley) on in the last couple of minutes.

I used this recipe for the beer batter corn fritters.  I especially admire the simplicity of the ONE instruction.  Yum!

Tonight’s supper (Wednesday):

~ Sourdough bread (yes, I’ll keep trying ‘till I get it right!  and this one has risen very nicely so far)

~ Corn on the cob

~ Soup – maybe from a tin???

Summer: August Coleus Round-Up

coleus aug 040So enough about me, you ask – how are all your COLEUS???

(Caution:  the following is intended for Advanced coleus lovers ONLY!)

Yes, it’s late August and they are at their peak… well, okay, I guess they’ll peak a bit more in September, but come October, they’ll be gone and that’s it for the year.

Front-bed coleus:  these are 40 or so of the ones I divided and propagated under lights and in our windowsills over the winter.  There are five basic models, which I have grown for three years now.  They’re described here:  Meet the Coleus!  All but two of these originated from free (okay, stolen) cuttings (small ones!  nobody missed them!  I promise!).

So here they are.  Not as impressively huge as I remember them getting last year, but maybe they’ll grow a bit more still…

coleus aug 017 coleus aug 019 coleus aug 025

I love how rich the colours get by late summer.  Indoors, they are a pale imitation of their own colouring… sometimes in February I wonder why I’m propagating them, they’re so pale and weak.  And then, in summer, I remember.

Assorted side-yard coleus:

Purchased President’s Choice “dragon-type” (molten lava?) coleus, paired with miniature encliandra fuchsia and a white-flowered gaura in a pot on a rustic wooden bench beside the house:

 coleus aug 032

From seed:  giant green “tree” coleus!  Yerachmiel Meir said, “what’s the point of a plant if it’s green?”  Meaning why grow such a distinctive foliage plant (ie coleus) if its foliage looks like everything else in the garden.  He has a bit of a point.  The novelty of green coleus is a lot more appealing in early spring when not the entire world is green yet.

Still – it is big, especially considering it started out back in March looking like this.

 coleus aug 037

The rest of those March coleus seedlings are in a pot beside the garage, by the way.  I think they look nice together, if a little rag-tag and jumbled.

coleus aug 042

The trailing thing in the pot is helichrysum, not coleus!  It doesn’t love the shade, and I’ve just turned it around so it looks a little sparse.  Above the coleus pot is a hanging coleus I call “fingers” (it didn’t have a tag when I bought it this year).  It was one huge overflowing plant, but I just divided it today into two separate pots, on either side of the garage.  Hopefully, both will thrive. 

This one is definitely a keeper – really intriguing both from a distance and close-up (see photo at the very top of this post for a way close up “jungle” shot).  I don’t love the colour, though – maybe it wants a little more sun?  We’ll see – the new one on the right of the garage gets a lot more sun than the existing one on the left.

 coleus aug 038   coleus aug 043 

Here’s a close-up of the new Bi Polar By Golly coleus I’ve already complained about.  It’s a little freckly and bedraggled.  Hopefully, it’ll fill in a bit before we get frost.

coleus aug 045

Ooooh – speaking of coleus from seed, here are the three surviving “Black Dragon” seedlings, also from March!  I thought I had just-sprouted pics somewhere, but I guess not.  Anyway, here they are.  I think they’re lovely, and I even like the contrast with the mini hosta they’re planted with. 

Note to self:  must replant the hosta higher up in the pot with good drainage if it is to survive the winter.  It barely made it through last year, as the pot had a thick layer of ice on top of the soil a month after the rest of the yard had thawed.

 coleus aug 049 

Here’s an impulsively-bought coleus from my trip to Humber Nursery back in May with my mother.  It’s called Colorblaze Royal Glissade, and it’s a full-sun coleus.  It’s just now starting to show its distinctive yellowish-green speckles on the leaf tops.  I think it’s gorgeous.  I bought it because it already had a long hangy-down “arm” coming off it and I knew it would be instantly gorgeous in a pot.  Boy, was I right – another keeper for next year!

coleus aug 063 coleus aug 064

Finally, here’s my “tree coleus,” also from Humber, I think.  It’s called “Jingles.”  See how woody the trunk has gotten?  I planted lots of curly parsley around the base, which is a lovely shade of green and beautiful with the coleus foliage.  However, raccoons scrambled it up and killed one of the parsleys two months ago and I never got around to replanting.  :-(

Also, the “tree” leans at a distinctive angle that to me looks rakish and windswept, but to anyone else, probably just looks dumb.  A plant only its mother could love!

 coleus aug 066 coleus aug 067

So that’s Jennifer’s world of coleus for today!!!

Persicaria amplexicaulis “Firetail”

coleus aug 027

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

I hate beer, but wow!

This looks unbelievably good!!!
 
 
(I'm searching for a beer batter recipe to make corn fritters)

Feeling my age

I know you are as young as you feel and all that pep-talk stuff, but MAN.
 
Hanging out yesterday with a couple of mamas of kids around my little kids' age as they figured out where they knew each other from... until one of them said, "I know - you're Rabbi {Ploni}'s daughter, right?"  And she was.
 
Well... Rabbi {Ploni} was my choir teacher in Hebrew school - a crush and an inspiration all in one.  And I remember when he got married; I made my mother buy them some kind of gift (she bought a crystal tray, I think...I'm sure it was lovely and appropriate, though she rolled her eyes copiously at buying a lavish gift for this teacher who she probably didn't think all that highly of).
 
Did I go to the ceremony?  I don't think so, but I did drag her to his shul one Shabbos morning so I could bask in his commanding (and tuneful!) ambiance from thirty or however-many rows back. I remember thinking - yea, knowing - that his wife was the most beautiful woman in the world, the luckiest bride in the world (I guess I'd gotten over my Princess Di thing by then).
 
Apparently, that was 1979 (so I guess Princess Di was just Lady Di then).  Sheesh.
 
I sure hope you can read this over the creaking of my ancient knuckles as they feebly type this crotchety missive...

Driving!!!

Yes, it's official... my sister is a DRIVER!!!
(photo credit for this picture probably goes to her boyfriend Peter)

My Top 10 Favourite Posts

In my silly little mind, with my awful memory, these are my Top 10, but they’re in alphabetical order so as not to bias anything:

  1. Bad Day with a Good Supper – February 19, 2008
  2. Cast of Characters – January 18, 2006 (needs updating BADLY!)
  3. Eulogy for my father – January 31, 2009
  4. Gramma & Grandpa Monkey do Vegas! – January 27, 2008
  5. Little Kids Superimposed on a Pirate Photo – March 31, 2009
  6. Long-ago pics from the Garden – January 29, 2008
  7. My E-Z Bake Garden – June 11, 2009
  8. Purim Madness – March 10, 2009
  9. Seed Starting Chart for Toronto – March 15, 2009
  10. Six Plants I could not Live Without – April 22, 2009
  11. Uncle in Israel – July 22, 2009
  12. YM’s pictures from Casa Loma – June 16, 2009

Oops… is that twelve???  Maybe I’ll come back and edit it down.

Kind of strange that this blog is almost four years old, yet most of my faves are from the last six months.  Weird… though I guess I did skip two years, so maybe that makes sense.

Drat, the sukkah party

temp_sukkahInviteNaomi had so much fun at her sukkah party last year, so I asked her if she wanted to do one again this year.  The catch this year being that Yom Tov is on Shabbos and Sunday; there’s no good Sunday in Sukkos to have a party.  Drat!

I decided to do this last year because, most years, her birthday sort of gets swallowed up by Purim (it’s two days before).

(What to get the Two-Days-Before-Purim birthday girl?  A costume!!!) (or another costume!)

Anyway, we didn’t really do anything with friends for her birthday, so I decided to invite neighbourhood friends – Jewish and otherwise – to our sukkah.  We got great weather and everything!

This year, Sukkos has the advantage of being “early” (in quotes because it actually falls on the exact same dates as it does every single year – as long as you’re using the right calendar).  So it should be good weather.  The drawback is that a lot of Naomi’s friends will be in preschool – slash - kindergarten this year, so I am suspecting a lot of no-shows.

On the other hand, as long as they’re in Jewish preschool / kindergarten, perhaps they’ll be off school the week of Sukkos!  That still won’t allow non-Jewish friends to come, however.

Drat again.  I may change it to an evening time.  I may see if Ted’s off any day that week and switch it to his day off.  Or NOT, in case we want to go somewhere chol ha’moed. 

Well, stay tuned…

Gee, your house smells terrific!

Amazing what spilling a bottle of bleach in the basement will do!

Yes!

I invited somebody for Rosh Hashanah!  WAAAaay ahead of the game this year!

Monday, August 24, 2009

Luckily, there are even worse parents...

Just when I think I'm feeling like the lowest of the low for calling my daughter a "spoiled princess," I come across the blog of this couple who have recently adopted a 14-year-old girl after fostering her for several years. Keep in mind, they fought to get this kid. And now they're at a point in their relationship where their kid is hitting them regularly and telling her they hate her and they're sick of her. Ha ha! "Spoiled princess" is a compliment next to that.

It saddens me that this blog author came into the blog process all gung-ho about Jewish values and has since seemingly abandoned any semblance of spirituality - at a time when it sounds like that's exactly what she and her foster/adoptive daughter really need.

Speaking of which, YM hit me today in passing because I and I told him that he is a big boy now, and if he is EVER violent with me or any of his siblings, he will be going to live Elsewhere.
Which probably means with my mother. She has no knowledge of this plan... so far. But she has the whole basement free!

That is a Dr. Laura rule; you cannot keep a dangerous child in a home where they can be a danger to your other children. Period.

I don't consider him a dangerous child, but sometimes he can be dangerously impulsive. The difference being motivation - he never means to hurt anybody, but, like Superman as a kid, doesn't know his own strength.

Anyway, at least now I feel like a (relatively) good parent, at the very least for ending each day telling each child how very much I love them.

Better titles for a blog

I'm thinking Adventures in Mama-Land is kind of lame... but is there any title that could appropriately capture in relatively few words exactly what it is that I do here?
I'm so bad at titles; when I write an article, the title is always the hardest part - and then every single editor changes the title!  I always ask myself why I'm even bothering to create a title, but an article (or story) looks naked without one.
 
I could probably just use the words "UHU Paste:  Pros and Cons" at the top of every article I submit, just to give the editors something to change.  They always like the text okay, but no editor has ever kept my own title.
 
So - here's a list of titles for this blog that would be way cooler:
  • Lasagna Night
  • Mama Rant
  • Adventures in Mama-Land (Elisheva's suggestion)
  • Unimaginable Violence (a reference to this cartoon, which I find hilarious, while nobody else does)
  • H.M.S. SinkyTown (a reference to this cartoon, which is STILL my desktop wallpaper after 5 months:  I love it to BITS; it is my life in a nutshell!)
  • All the Boats Leak
  • Green Sleeves
If it was JUST a Judaism / religion / spirituality blog, I would definitely go with "all the boats leak," which I think I got from a Conservative rabbi somewhere along the line.
 
 

The Wrong Present

Guess what we got for Ted's birthday???  I will only say this once, and I will imply it very discreetly, in Hebrew (I'm reminded of the classic saying/joke, "if you can't think of anything nice to say, say it in Yiddish"):  נידה
 
Blah!  Definitely the WRONG GIFT for this occasion!!!

OK, mommy cred = ZERO. Diaper Disaster Day.

That's right - ROCK BOTTOM.  I called Elisheva a spoiled princess in Lawrence Square for insisting on the stupid bike that looked cooler rather than the one I really think would have been better.
 
And for making me drive her there, and setting her mind to buying a bike (okay, with her own money, which she earned).
And for whining and pouting and asking if we were just going to LOOK at a bicycle because naturally she wanted to walk out WITH a bicycle, otherwise there is just no point in living.
(roll eyes)
In fact, she'd already made plans to go biking with her friend Nechama this afternoon, so we had better find a bike RIGHT THEN AND THERE.
(roll eyes)
 
Did I mention I bought her a used bike last year that she refused to even look at, let alone ride, because, well, it was ugly?
Did I mention she had two bikes stolen this spring because they were used bikes that she had condescended to ride but they were not good enough, in her opinion, to actually lock?
 
Anyway.  We did find a bike, two bikes, and I thought the Raleigh would be better.  In fact, I said no Supercycles, because, frankly, every Supercycle I have ever seen is twice as heavy as any other bike, and once the newness has worn off, twice as clunky as well.  I guess they're not total garbage in that they last and last and last... but frankly, almost anything is better than a Supercycle.  I can't even say the word "Supercycle" without wanting to
 
But, alas, they dress the garbagey old Supercycles up to look sporty, with a bouncy front suspension and a seat that kind of floats in mid-air (dunno what that's called).  And it's a nice silvery colour and looks rather slick.  Whee!
 
And the on-sale Raleigh (regular $220, down to $150) just did not look as good alongside.  Okay, it was sort of a burgundy -slash- "blood" colour.  But in my opinion, it was made up of better-quality parts, and more importantly, seemed to weigh at least 10 lbs less.  The main drawback, in my mind, was that it had no kickstand.  Okay, also it has a quick-release front wheel and seat, which could be a security liability, given the theft situation at our local library.  But it also has a five-star rating from reviews at the Canadian Tire website.  The Supercycle is only 4-star.
 
Honestly, I was mad at the whole world, not really Elisheva.  Dunno why; just woke up on the wrong side of the bed this morning.  PMS???  Cumulative progesterone fatigue?
 
And then Gavriel Zev melted down, in the bicycles section.  I had him in the Ergo because that Canadian Tire store is (for shame!) not accessible AT ALL.  I knew from past experience that there is no way to get a carriage upstairs except the cargo elevator (ask me how I know...).  So I stuck him in the ergo,  having heard other mamas chatting about how lovely and convenient it is to throw their babies on their backs.
 
Well.  As soon as we got into the bike area, he started squirming, and then grabbing at the back of my shirt, and then he said, "kucky."  Which means POO.  But for him, it just refers to excretion in general, and not necessarily with any particular tense attached - in other words, he could mean the poo or pee of the past, present or future.  It's usually pretty random.
 
So I ignored him until he was grabbing my shirt hard and starting to cry.  I figured he wanted to go down and play with the bikes, so I let him down to go see them, but he kept on crying.  And crying.  And screaming.  "Kucky...!"  (rhymes with lucky!)
 
And so I called Elisheva the name, after we bought the Supercycle and left the store.  After I asked her to haul the bike to the car while I waited with the sibs at the curb.  But, of course, she couldn't lift the bloody thing into the car so I called her back to stay with the screaming baby and Naomi so that after the bike was stowed we could go to Fortino's and pick something up for supper.  Ha ha ha.  She couldn't get the bike in, so I screamed at her to come back and stay with them and then I couldn't lift the thing because it was so bloody heavy (I have hefted Ted's bike,  my bike, my sister's bike, my mother's bike into the car... so I'm not a total weakling!), and then it smashed my lip.  And then it finally went in and I slammed the car shut and went back to my screaming family and she just looked so SMUG and happy with her new stupidcycle bike.  I wanted to slap her but I called her a spoiled princess and walked away, leaving her to escort the littles.
 
And the baby screamed "Kucky, kucky!" all through Fortino's.  Non-stop.  He has never cried so loud and long in his life.  I said, "I know you are very uncomfortable, but you will have to wait until we are at home.  When we get home, you can use your potty, I will give you a fresh diaper."
 
He cried in the car.  Loud.  As we raced down Marlee to get to our house, I coached Elisheva to prep her for arrival:  "When we get there, I am going to grab the baby and run... please let Naomi Rivka out and bring the groceries."
 
FINALLY - home!  Got him inside, tugged everything off of him.  It was a WET diaper.  He had a WET diaper.  Okay, it was very wet.  But this is definitely the downside of potty training:  the awareness of being wet, the extreme discomfort with something that would have been NOT an emergency just a month ago.  The screaming stopped instantly once his diaper was off, and he did nothing in the potty, just wandered off to play after a minute.  Emergency OVER!!!
 
Hmm... I wonder if this is also the downside of having used disposable diapers for a couple of weeks in there?  (not that disposable diapers are not, in themselves, a down side)
Because he would never feel wet in a disposable.
 
Hey, but we did have a potty SUCCESS this morning.  After one pee-in-the-highchair and one false-alarm-in-the-potty, we had a POO-in-the-potty.  Yay!  One less "kucky diaper" to change.
 
Yes, "Kucky" should probably be spelled with an A.  But then it looks and sounds too much like khaki, the pants colour.  It looks really kind of stupid spelled like this, but on the other hand, it really does rhyme with "lucky" the way we say it.
 
So there it is.
 
I am so tired, so demoralized from the screaming, so disgusted with myself for calling a 13-year-old a name.  I'm probably resentful because their grandmother gets to spoil them so much.  Jealous?  Ha.  She lost her only son... I should be thanking Hashem every single day for all these amazing brachos.  And it's Elul, too, now.  I am doubly ashamed.
 
Here are pictures of the bikes.  Like I said, she chose the slick silvery Stupidcycle.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Cranky Complaints-Lady Buys a Plant!

Website note sent to Hort Couture, maker of such coleus as “Religious Radish” and “Morning After” (plus a plant suspiciously named Cuphea “Purple Nurple”), along with today’s striking new coleus find:

temp_bipolar“Came across Coleus "Bi Polar By Golly" in Toronto's Plant World store today.  It is a lovely and unique coleus, but I feel I should mention that, far from a fun fashion statement, the term "bipolar" actually refers to a rather serious mental illness.  I do hope to continue seeing your wonderful line of colourful accent plants in stores here, but also hope that, in future, you will be slightly more sensitive to the fact that certain names may be upsetting or offensive.  Thanks!”

Did I mention I’m in love?

Garden magazine, Shabbos.  Okay, note to self, do not read garden magazines on Shabbos.  They make me lustful.  And there it was:  Musa acuminata “Siam Ruby” – a big red banana.  The garden magazine described this thing and I fell in love.

Ten, today, at Plant World’s annual 40% off sale – well, I spotted ONE left on the shelf.  (okay, when I looked again, there were two… that’s not the point!).

It has deep-red leaves with splotches of chartreuse.  Okay, it looks a bit like a canna, but it’s not… it’s a BANANA.  Bananas come from one of two geni – musa or ensete.  I believe the most common banana, the ones we eat, are called musa basjoo.  Mine is closely related, but apparently flowers very rarely and will likely never bear fruit.  It can also grow from 6-8 feet, given the opportunity… which it will likely never have here.

banana bday 001 banana bday 004 

And here it is in my very own driveway…!  I wish I did have two, but perhaps if it thrives, I can dig one out and pot it separately next year, for the other side of the door (there are many stems in the pot but I don’t want to mess with it this year, as it will not have enough time to establish before I have to move it indoors). 

Meanwhile, I’ve tried to group it with other attractive foliage plants (mostly the horseradish, which is thriving, and - in my opinion - gorgeous), but it dwarfs everything I’ve got.

Other miscellaneous purchases at the Plant World sale:

banana bday 009They were selling off “Calico” purple pepper plants for 99 cents, so I bought three (anybody want one?).  They produce stumpy, round-looking purple fruits and the leaves have purple and white variegation.  Very pretty! 

I found two plant pots in the trash on the way home and one had some purple and white pansies still growing in it, so I stuck my purple-and-white pepper in with the purple-and-white flowers.  I think it’s kind of pretty… and who throws away a pot with flowers stll in bloom???

This picture was taken at absolutely the least-flattering time of day, with super-bright light hitting the neighbours’ white stucco wall and then splashing glaringly all over the plants.  I’ll try to get a better picture tomorrow morning.

banana bday 007Plant World also had this mostly-white Coleus called “BiPolar By Golly.”  What a stupid name!  It’s one of Hort Couture’s 20 top plant intros for 2009, which I guess makes it hot, but again, with our family having been touched by mental illness, I can only say again, what a stupid and poorly-thought-out name.

It is a gorgeous plant, though, and this picture really once again doesn’t do it justice.  It’s a sun coleus, and I actually just plunked it into the other curbside pot with one of the “Calico” peppers.

Only two other purchases, both on the “want” list for a while.  No pictures yet, sorry!

1)  Hakonechloa “Naomi” grass… it’s an all-bright-green flowing hakone grass for sun or shade which turns purplish in the fall.  I’ve stuck it in the front bed but it may be too dry there.  I already have one regular hakone there which isn’t dying or thriving; we’ll see what happens next year.

2)  The other was a “Fanal” astilbe, which  I even had a spot I was saving for it, so that one was definitely not an impulse purchase.  It’s an ideal astilbe spot, so I’m kind of excited… very shady, lots of moisture.

banana bday 006I had a lot more in my cart, but the cost of the banana made me put a lot of stuff back, including another “ghost”  fern, some groundcovering chamomile and one sad-looking but relatively inexpensive at 40% off toad lily.  Sigh… we can’t have it all, and did I mention, I am utterly in love with this gorgeous banana???

Saggy Sunflower

banana bday 012

And the corn, is corn…so corny!

 banana bday 013

Beautiful gift

banana bday 034Sara made Ted this awesome purple kiddush-cup set for his birthday.  There are seven cups and a tray (seven = just enough for us plus one guest:  her!). 

This picture was the closest I could get to doing justice to the rich, deep violet colour. 

It’s a food-safe glaze, but some of the glaze didn’t cover the bottoms of the cups entirely, so she took it back to re-glaze and will appropriately re-gift it to him SOON, I hope!

Sara’s back – and Happy Birthday to Ted!!!

 banana bday 020

The love of my life, my inspiration, yes, it’s sappy, but it’s true.

Sara came home from her summer away at camp, and convinced Eli to come along and celebrate Ted’s b-day.  I think she bribed him with this Starbucks, and then I wouldn’t let him bring it to the table because we were eating fleishiks (except Sara, who gamely munched on some dried-out-looking veg burgers).

banana bday 015  banana bday 024 

And here comes Elisheva with the cake!

banana bday 027banana bday 032 

Forty-six!  I didn’t have a four and a six, all I had was four single candles and an upside-down nine.  What a cheesy family… but he knew us long enough before he married me; he knew what he was getting into!!!

banana bday 031

Friday, August 21, 2009

We have AIR!

Okay, I spoke too soon; apparently, Ted does care.

ac 001

Ignore how grimy this window a/c unit looks… it’s already a couple of degrees cooler in this crowded little desk-corner where I currently sit.

I <3 a/c

What an ungrateful small-minded  miserable person I can be when I’m too hot!

And to be honest (hate hate hate)

I see Elisheva's point.  This house is a dump.
 
Ted has no idea how awful this house is, day in, day out.  Was I happier in the apartment?  Probably.  It was easier to air condition and less likely to break or flood unexpectedly like this house seems to - constantly.
 
(and there was someone to call - a landlord! - if something did break or flood)
 
When Ted refuses to put in air conditioners because it's not going to be hot for very long, that is so obviusly the perspective of someone who spends the day somewhere ELSE - anywhere ELSE.  Driving around in an air-conditioned car, mostly from one air-conditioned building to another. 
 
I hate this house, and there's no hope of ever getting out.
 
I spend half the year in it so cold that my fingers are numb and the other half sniffly and miserable because I'm allergic to the heat and damp here.  And sweating.  Ugh; coated in sticky sweat.
 
Even ten minutes of cool air would make the struggle to install the a/c worthwhile.  I would do it myself if I was strong enough; instead, I will throttle Naomi because she's refusing to nap and I am hot and sick and frustrated and, okay, yes, this progesterone IUD (Mirena) gives me cramps something like 21 days a month, and no, that doesn't help, though I guess it's not the house's fault, as such.
 
I told my mother I'd quit complaining about the house.  She feels guilty because they found the house and helped convince us to move.  (also put up a great deal of money)
 
But I can't stop.  This house feels as close to a hellhole as a building can get without being condemned.  I can tidy the playroom all I want; all the crap has to go somewhere and there are just not enough somewheres in this miserable stinky house.
 
And there is too much to do today and nobody else to do it but ME.

I wish...

Wish Elisheva was happier about being home.  YM is okay, you can stick him anywhere, but Elisheva is never happy to come home.  She acts like we're dragging her down from her palace into a pit of muck.  I mean, our house kind of is a pit of muck, but we do the best we can... :-(

Ice Cream Truck

Naomi Rivka:  "Mommy, I hear the ice cream truck and it's singing, 'put the chicken in the pot, stir it up, nice and hot...'"
 
Poor child will probably hear of "London Bridge" only as an adult and curse me for deluding her in this way...

Erev Shabbos Checklist

Checklist:
~ Mandelbroit - done!
~ Sourdough challah take 2 - done!
~ Iced tea - done!
~ Pickled brisket Phase 1 - done!
~ Chicken soup - done! (in crockpot, all afternoon!)
 
Why do I suspect tomorrow will be crazy-rushed anyway...?
(the kids get in at 2 p.m.)

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Cranky Complaints-Lady Totes her Groceries!

bags 001Email to the makers of the Bring Your Own Bag, who have a page on their website to “tell them your story” of using their remarkable (?) shopping bag.  Anyway, I didn’t submit this to that page; I thought that would be a tad snarky, even for me. 

So I just sent this to the general “info@” email address.  It’s not even all that cranky, in my opinion… guess I’m losing my touch.

bags 002“Due to a poorly-sewn side seam, this bag now has a finger-sized hole in one side.  I would love to get a replacement, as I just bought this a short while ago and was looking forward to using it at farmers' markets, etc.

It was purchased in Toronto at The Kitchen Table location on Spadina, just north of St. Clair.

Thanks!”

I do love how prominently my own actual finger appears in the hole I have referred to as “finger-sized.”  I am not exactly sure if they will appreciate the greatness of that photographic and literary touch, however.  It just tickles my own funny-bone, which, if you know anything about tickling, means I’m not tickled at all, because you really cannot tickle yourself. 

Unless you have some weird Oliver Sacks-like proprioceptive disorder that causes you to dissociate from the actions of your own fingertips.  I guess it’s possible, theoretically, to tickle yourself under those circumstances.  However, those circumstances generally involve a brain tumour, so you might not have the time or headspace to tickle yourself, even under those circumstances.