Tuesday, September 30, 2014

I'm 31 Today

Yea, verily, today I am 31 years old. I have been on this earth for 31 intensely perplexing, often stressful and emotionally exhausting, years.

I started my birthday with a 9-month-old pretending I was some mighty mountain to be conquered while spouting "Bahhhh" sounds and a notification that my bank account was overdrawn.

Then I got dressed in my birthday outfit (thanks inlaws!) and took off to Comcast (aka Xfinity), where I've been now three times over the past several days because some stranger managed to cancel our cable and internet over Rosh HaShanah. "We really don't know what happened," they continue to tell me.

And then? Then I went into my former place of employment and picked up my things and stuff and said "see ya!" That was both awkward, super awkward, and depressing.

Now we're trying to plan for -- G-d forbid -- the worst as Mr. T's grandmother appears to not be doing very well back in the UK, which means a nightmare of immigration problems as we are still, still, still waiting for his green card, travel documents, and work permit to come through. If we leave the country without getting approval, then the paperwork is canceled and we start again from scratch. Yay!

But hey. There's an ice cream cake in my future, a gift card to Old Navy to be spent, and, who knows, maybe I'll land an amazing job in the next few days or so. Unfortunately KISSmetrics was a bust (killed me, it was the perfect job).

Do I sound kvetchy? I am. Maybe Aimee Mann said it best in "31 Today." Minus the Guiness, of course.

"I thought my life would be different somehow."

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Shanah Tovah!

Although we're living in galut (exile, or better yet, the U.S. and not Israel), there is something special about this place during the holidays. Not living in Los Angeles or Chicago or New York or another city with a giant Jewish community means that the chances of running into a Jew, you would think, are slim.

Being in Denver this time of year, as Rosh HaShanah is on our doorstep, greetings and connections have popped up in the most unusual of places.

I stopped into Target this morning to spend a gift card that my in-laws sent me early for my birthday (yipes, turning 31 on the 30th) and heard greetings of "Shanah Tovah!" coming from nowhere in particular (seriously, I looked, I didn't see any Jews, I just heard the voices ... am I nuts?). Walking to the car in the parking lot after my migraine-fueled adventure into yellow cardigan purchasing, I saw a very tall, tanned blonde piling out of a minivan full of men.

As she approached our car, she took one look at our Na Nach sticker, one look at me (tichel wearing) and shouted "Shanah Tovah!" A bit startled, I responded in kind.

A bit later, while Ash and I did our final run out for groceries (seriously, does holiday shopping ever end?) at Trader Joe's (where everything is now pumpkin spiced, including the pumpkin seeds), the girl at the next check counter popped over to help bag our groceries.

Hannah, with a hamsa and star of David around her neck, wished us a "Shanah Tovah!" and proceeded to explain how she was working during the holiday. She did, however, make sure to pick up apples, honey, and a pomegranate. Although it bummed me out that she has to work instead of enjoy the holiday in all its joy and splendor, I understand where she's coming from.

I've always waffled between being Jewish being easier/harder outside of Israel, where being Jewish is a breeze, it's a given, it's carefree. In the U.S. you have to really try hard to find the little Jewish sparks here and there, especially when you don't live in a community like Teaneck, New Jersey.

And when you do find those little connections, it's beautiful and reminds me that the Jewish people are here, there, and everywhere -- in their own way and their own style.

Shanah Tovah everyone!

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Box-of-the-Month Club Review: Gwynnie Bee and Bluum

In an attempt to get work done I'm falling down the rabbit hole of the internet as I wait for iOS8 to figure itself out because I'm tired. I'm more tired lately than I have been because although Asher consistently wakes up at 6 a.m. every morning, I can't seem to get in a habit of going to bed early in order to accommodate such an early arising. Then again, we did just move houses and I did just spend the past two weeks sick (cough cough, hack hack), and I can't seem to figure out these mysterious hives that have plagued me for more than two months now.

But yipeee! There are glimmers of hope in the cloud of exhaustion and coffee-fueled mornings in the form of ... subscription box-of-the-month clubs! You may or may not recall that I used to work for a gluten-free box-of-the-month club several years ago, but it looks like these boxes have not lost their steam. The market wants variety, it wants to try before you buy, it wants to examine quality, taste, experience before going all in. 

I'll be honest, it's an amazing world we live in when you can order something for minimal cost, wear it as much as you want, and then buy or return. It's like a revolving closet. When it comes to food boxes, the ability to sample something before buying an industrial-size box at CostCo is brilliant. 

I'm currently subscribing to the first-month-free trial for Gwynnie Bee, which is a plus-size clothing subscription box, and the amazing folks at Bluum, goodies for mommy and baby, sent me a box to try out. 

The Bluum box starts at $20.99 and sends goodies for mommy and baby from pregnancy through preschool. The great thing about this box is that it's customized for your baby's age, which means you won't get any toys or treats that Little Timmy can't use for the next year. There are a bunch of stellar plans (monthly, three months, six months, a year), and there's always free shipping. 

By and large I was happy with the box, although the treat that came in (dried snap peas) was not kosher, so unfortunately we couldn't use/eat those. There were two items in the box geared toward the pacifier crowd (a pacifier carrier to attach to a buggy or bag and a fuzzy worm to attach to a pacifier), which also didn't help us because -- lucky for us -- Ash never took to a pacifier or thumb sucking. The Dr. Seuss bowl was a treat after my husband's own heart, and the book was absolutely adorable. Ash took his first own solo bath last night (with me in the room, of course) and absolutely loved chewing on the bath temperature ducky. I also have to offer up mad props for the really clean, colorful packaging. It's nice to know what your'e getting the moment you see the box in your post!

As for Gwynnie Bee, I couldn't have been more happy to find this box. There are a lot of really stellar clothing subscription boxes, but finding one that caters to the plus-size crowd is next to impossible. Oddly enough, even plus-size thrift stores/consignment shops has become quite the rage here in Denver.

How does it work? You subscribe to Gwynnie Bee in one of three ways: get three items of clothing per month, two per month, or one per month. It's a bit pricey, so the one-month free is a genius idea that will tell you whether it's going to be "worth it" or not for you. You fill up your online closet with selections from their bounty of brands, sizes, and styles, and the clothing curators at Gwynnie Bee will package and send your clothes out depending on your subscription. Then, you can wear the clothing item as much as you want or send it back if it doesn't fit and they'll keep sending clothes out to you with free shipping and free returns. 

Talk about a dream closet, right?!

Please ignore the earrings/head covering in the first photo. 
I would never wear that combo, but for the sake of blog photos ...

Of the eight articles of clothing they've sent my way so far, only one dress has really fit well and looked good and one cardigan is just cozy and beautiful. A third item, a beautiful black-and-white dress has the perfect cut (and pockets!), but I need a smaller size. They've been really great about swapping out clothes quickly when something arrived damaged. But I do wish they'd rethink their packaging. One accidental slicing and you've cut the clothes. 

Will I continue paying the $79/month for a three-garment plan? I'm still not sure. It's a great way to try out a ton of different plus-size clothing brands in one easy go, but even with the discounts on purchasing the clothing prices are pretty steep. Designer plus-size clothing is crazy expensive for reasons I just don't understand. 

Do you have a favorite subscription box? Have you been able to find any food-based boxes that cater to the kosher crowd? 

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

The Hardest Thing About Being a Working Mom?

It has to be this.

I watched this and was both so happy and so sad at the same time. Happy because my little boy is getting so big at nearly 9 months old and because his dad was around to watch him take his first unguided steps (albeit holding on to something), but sad because I missed this moment in his development and growth.

Being a working mother sucks sometimes. My baby boy is getting so big.

How do you cope?

Monday, September 1, 2014

It's Elul and the King is in the Field

The King is in the field, and I'm in Nebraska. There are, of course, plenty of fields here and on the derech (way) to and from Colorado. This monthly trip has become old hat for us, with our Shabbats spent in Omaha becoming a normal part of our lives. There is so much going on, so many emotions floating about. 

The Ba'al Shem Tov said that from Rosh Chodesh Elul (the first of the month) through Rosh HaShanah, "the King is in the field," prepared to listen, accept, and hear our prayers completely and wholly. 

Jews the world over are called upon to recite Tehillim (Psalm) 27 during this month as a segulah (something that changes your path or luck). Although the true source is unknown, the theory behind this custom is that it can reverse even the most set-in-stone heavenly decrees. 

Within Tehillim 27 is a refrain that has been a potent part of my life since I started this blog, as it was once in the header of this blog years and years ago. 

Hear (listen to) my voice, HaShem, when I call; 
be gracious to me, and answer me (7). 

It's easy to feel like our prayers are disappearing into an ether of unanswerable silence. Whether for a simple night of rest after so many sleepless sleeps with a baby at my side or for guidance, patience, and peace after experiencing the threat of forces trying to destroy my life, my spirit, my marriage —  the month of Elul is a time for all prayers. It is a time for impassioned pleas and tearful attempts at vocalizing the pain that this world brings to the soul. The King is in the field, waiting, just waiting to hear voices of repentance. 

When I light Shabbat candles every week, I have a regiment of things I say. I thank HaShem for so many things and then begin my pleas. Requests for guidance, patience, parnassah, work, and a path to be a good Jew. 

Teach me your way, HaShem (11). 

That's also part of the same Psalm. Every year I suddenly remember that this Psalm is my weekly prayer said by the light of the Shabbat candles. The important thing that I frequently forget, however, is also found here:
HaShem is the stronghold of my life, 
from who should I be afraid (1). 

And this, perhaps, is the most important lesson in the entirety of Psalm 27. I can ask, ask, ask and pray, pray, pray and repent all I want, but if I don't believe and trust that HaShem will protect me and provide me strength and never give me something I can't handle, then all is lost. And it's the first line in the Psalm! But my greatest fault and downfall in life is to forget that I'm not in control, that there is so much bigger and more powerful than I am. That I cannot control everything. That sometimes, I have to relent, repent, and remember that any fear I have is because I've forgotten who is responsible for everything. 

I just need to hear the shofar. Just once, and I hope my soul will remember. Traveling is hard when it comes to this time of year. Perhaps we should have brought our own shofar ... 

How do you remember — even in the hardest, most trying moments — that HaShem is your rock and strength? How do you personalize such an ethereal concept?